Color Coding Self Defense Responses
In our F.A.S.T. Defense programs we use a color coding system
to help our students identify the level of threat and the corresponding
level of self defense readiness. Just like a stop light we use
yellow, orange and red.
There are three basic levels or "codes" we use to clarify our
self defense preparedness. Yellow alert is our normal state of
good self defense awareness. Orange is when we sense that there
could possibly be some danger or even an unusual situation that
our "gut feeling" tells us something is wrong. Red is high alert.
At this point you know that there is a real threat and you prepare
yourself for attack. Let me take each level of self defense color
coding and explain the details of each.
First the yellow alert is just being aware of your surroundings.
Walking with your head up, shoulders back and noticing what is
going on around you. Criminals interviewed tell us that one of
the first things they look for in a victim is someone who is not
really alert or aware of what is happening around them. A good
yellow alert status would be to make the habit of noticing people,
situations, unusual conditions, etc., that are nearby. Being able
to look a passerby in the eye shows assertiveness and silent power.
We go to orange alert when something looks, feels or obviously
is wrong. It may be something small or something we can't really
identify cognitively. When going to an orange alert we should
instinctively bring our hands up from our normal standing or walking
position. It can be done quite subtly as if to cross your arms
or rest your elbow on one arm while with the other hand on your
chin as if you are thinking. This position brings the hands closer
to a defensive position without becoming threatening to the other
person. This is important as the threat, at this point, may not
be real. It does put the hands in a better position to defend
and counter attack.
Red alert comes into the picture when there is no question that
there is a real threat. The arms go up with the hands open and
palms facing out. One foot should be place a little in front of
the other. Hands should be held about face height. From this position,
you are prepared to either block or strike. Also as your adrenaline
level increases, you are better prepared to use that adrenal power
to fight off your attacker.
Along with the body posture in both the orange and red alert
modes, the voice should be used to both access the level of danger
and to help develop the assertive demeanor. Asking a question
like, "What do you want?", can quickly find out the motives of
a possible aggressor. Becoming progressively more assertive here
can have several benefits. As you become stronger it is important
to use your voice stronger as well. Both in intensity as well
As you become progressively more assertive in a self defense
situation there is a good possibility that the aggressor will
back off. It's easier to find an easy victim than to mess with
one who may put up a fight. This is especially true if you give
him an honorable exit.
Another benefit to progressive assertiveness is that it naturally
brings up your adrenaline levels so if an attack ensues you are
prepared both physically and mentally. Your hands are up, although
in a non agressive posture. This can be changed in a moment if
A hidden benefit is that it protects you in court, especially
if there are witnesses. Your assertive posture (not aggressive)
and your words, congruent, strong, assertive and telling the aggressor
to "back off", "I don't want any trouble", "I don't want to fight".
"Just leave me alone". These words may have kept a 'soccer dad'
out of jail recently.
The entire assertive behavior model is explained and demonstrated
in Street Self
Shihan Michael Pace