Color Code of Mental Awareness
The Color Code of Mental Awareness is is a concept originally conceived by Jeff Cooper.
It is a great concept on awareness and the ‘readiness to defend’ and is a critical concept if you carry a concealed weapon.
Condition White: (Oblivious)
This is the first level in which you are absolutely calm. You are relaxed and oblivious to your surroundings. You have no clue as to what is going on around you. People in this condition completely unaware is where you become a victim.
Ideally, you would only in condition white when asleep, but realistically we often drop our guard when we are at home or in some other environment we assume to be safe, like work. If you are attacked in condition white, you may very well die – unless you are lucky. I prefer not to depend on luck.
Condition Yellow: (Aware)
At this level of awareness you are still relaxed, but still observant of your surroundings. This means you are paying attention to the sights and sounds that surround you wherever you are at or while moving in public. You are aware of people and movement things happening around you, but you don’t look paranoid. You are calm & cool. This is the level we should be in more often than not. You do not want to find yourself in level White while in public.
Condition yellow means you have moved your alertness to a level of attention that will prevent you from being totally surprised by the actions of another person.
“You are merely conducting an inventory of your surroundings and the other people around you.” I came up with a exercise that will help you greatly increase your awareness and I teach it in class. Your student booklet also has an extended second on the color code.
If you are attacked in condition yellow, it should not come as a total surprise. Your response to a threat should have been pre-planned to some extent, allowing you to simply run an existing plan rather than having to make one up quickly while under fire. In my class, I talk all about having and developing a plan of action.
Condition Orange: (Alert)
At this level, one of two things has happened. Either something has caught your attention and you sense something might happen, or you didn’t see anything in particular, but you are still very uncomfortable. Your environment is unstable. In this level, you must choose a course of action.
This is also referred to as “fight or flight.” If you can safely leave the area, this is the best choice.
In Nevada, we have the Stand Your Ground law. I talk all about it in class, what the ‘certain conditions’ are, and actual news events related to SYG.
In condition orange, adrenaline begins to flow, your heart rate increases, your attention becomes focused on your environment.
If you are attacked in condition orange, you should be expecting the attack and hopefully you’ll be near or behind cover and be facing your attacker since you have already shifted your focus in his direction.
Condition Red: (Engaged)
If you find yourself at this level, you are actively defending your life. There is a direct and immediate threat to your life, a family member or a third party. In Nevada you can come to the aid of a complete stranger as long as AOJ is present. I cover this thoroughly in class.
This is where shots get fired. An intense level of adrenaline is flowing in your body.
How you much you train, how often you train, and how competent you are with your weapon and weapon system will be a direct factor in the outcome of the fight.
The transition between yellow-orange-red could be a few minutes, a few seconds, or it could be instantaneous. The things we notice in Yellow could determine how quickly we find ourselves in Red or out of the area all together. Be aware of aggressive behavior and take a mental note of routes to exit the area. Suspicious behavior and anything out of the normal should be a ‘red flag’ that things are not right with your environment.
If the focus of your attention in condition orange does something you find threatening, you will shift to condition red.
If possible, in both conditions Orange and, especially Red, move to a position that provides a tactical advantage – Cover.
I cover this extensively in class.
If you are attacked in red, you should be fully prepared to defend yourself. Whether or not you have a gun in hand, or on target will depend on the circumstances, but mentally, you are already ahead of the game.
We must be alert at all times. Keep your eyes open, and question the things that are out of place. Your life depends on it!