Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Cooper, a veteran of two wars and founder of the American Pistol Institute, postulated a scale of threat awareness that goes like this:
Condition White – Unaware. A person walks down the sidewalk engrossed in his phone conversation, totally oblivious of possible threats in his environment. He’s not looking around and not prepared. This is common among civilians (untrained people), but a martial artist should NEVER be in this state.
Predators (muggers, rapists, serial killers, etc.) look for victims who are in code white.
Condition Yellow – Relaxed awareness. There is no active threat. You are not on edge or ready to fight. You are simply aware, just a pedestrian is aware of the cars when he crosses the street. You keep your head up, look around, and notice the people around you. You notice recessed doorways, dark alleys, and other places from which an attack could come.
This is the state a martial artist should be in at ALL times.
Condition Orange – Caution. There is a possible threat. You evaluate the threat and take precautionary measures such as crossing the street, going to a place of safety, or readying a weapon. You are ready to react.
Condition Red – combat. For an experienced martial artist, trained to walk away from verbal conflicts and to avoid unnecessary physical confrontation, code red is a state that would generally be thrust upon you. A predator comes after you or your family with the intention of robbing, raping or killing, and boom – your’e in code red. There is no discussion, no thought and no delay.
So again, a trained martial artist should normally be in Condition Yellow. This does not denote paranoia, or walking around with your finger on an emotional hair trigger. It doesn’t make you more likely to fight than someone who is in Condition White. Just the opposite – because you can spot threats in advance, you are more likely to avoid them. And when conflict is thrust upon you, instead of responding with, “Oh my God, why me?”, you respond instantly and efficiently, dealing with the threat as you were trained to do.
Wael Abdelgawad, Founder