Self Defense


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 volume.

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 necessary.

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 Defense 101.

Shihan Michael Pace


A-1 Self Defense Home Page