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kailstark

Being gray and situational awareness

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this is my first thread I've made so if its not in the right spot feel free to move it.

 

I've heard both of these terms used a lot lately, any my questions are what exactly do they mean, and how do you achieve/practice them?

 

thanks in advance

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Well, the gray thing is basically just skating through society unnoticed. Drawing attention to yourself can bring 'harm' in a lot of different ways, especially an urban environment.

It is 'achieved' generally through common sense and not being flashy, like buying a digital camo backpack to carry when you are downtown. Cops stare, people assume military, and if something happens you're first one with his ass beat and backpack stolen because the sheep knew you were prepared.

 

Situational awareness (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Situation_awareness) is sort of a requirement for the whole gray thing. Or knowing when to remain gray at least. Also begin with common sense, then with being observant of everything going of around you, and a lot of people watching.

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My neighbor craz has it pretty right but situational awareness is in HMO the more important of the two, situational awareness is what gets you half way to the pool before the baby falls in, has you braking to the shoulder before the A-hole in the little tuned rice burner pits himself off the truck and end for end across the median and in to oncoming traffic, has your holster unsnapped before he tells the cashier to open the register. It is simply a higher level of having your head out of your a$$! And you learn it by practicing looking around you and pick out the 5 things that are around you that could end you and how you would deal with them. This action will although break your grey sometimes to others, but it will also help you identify the other wolves amount the sheep when you start seeing the others who are taking your weight and measure. This is a hard one to teach trust me I've been trying with the kids, and they are slowly learning.....my oldest constantly test mine pink panther style....he tries to sneak up on me, or ambushes me I keep telling him that when he actually gets good enough to succeed I would not be responsible for his broken nose and that it's generally a bad idea when I first get home as I am often still strapped.

Edited by DonDon

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Being gray is, essentially, being a forgettable face.

Situational Awareness is working to be constantly aware of your surroundings - even to see other 'gray' people for what they are... being able to perceive threats that others might not and the like.

 

As far as achieving and practicing them... well, that would take many many paragraphs to go over. Best way to practice being gray is not being too flashy, blending in with those around you, and not making an impression with people you come across. Situational awareness can be practiced in lots of different ways... it's kind of like a constant game of "I Spy" with the world around you.

Edited by Rampart

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Example of the difference between the two:

Living in a dangerous urban area, there are certain things I purposely do, as a cautious effort to be 'gray'. SOme would also call this being 'street smart'.

 

Situational Awareness is when these cautious efforts become 2nd nature and become a hieghtened innate awareness of your surrounding.

 

Conscience efforts to be 'gray' will eventually lead to Situtional Awareness.

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Agree with NavyVet. Living in a major urban area you learn (or should learn) to have both these skill sets just for everyday living. Lot of it is common sense. To me situational awareness is largely being aware of your surroundings and its learning to hear (and listen) to your instincts. Don't walk down the dark 'shortcut' after leaving the bar, take the longer better lit street. Etc, etc.

 

My wife and I are pretty well tuned to what's around us, which sometimes leads to funny stories when we are out visiting family down south and think someone is about to try and mug us in a Walmart parking lot, but turns out to be just a friendly old man walking near us. :)

 

And kailstark. Take this or leave it, but I would change up that ole user pic. That is not grey and could be taken the wrong way. Just my two cents.

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this is my first thread I've made so if its not in the right spot feel free to move it.

 

I've heard both of these terms used a lot lately, any my questions are what exactly do they mean, and how do you achieve/practice them?

 

thanks in advance

 

Welcome to the threads, sir and good questions. There is an excellent post (I wrote it so I think so;) ) at http://survivalcache.com/reading-the-signs-survival-situational-awareness/ that discusses this issue.

 

Being gray is simply, as others have said, being unnoticed. You may be at a party but afterwards, no one really remembers what you look like. You've probably seen the 'mall ninjas' running around in tactical gear and cami-this or cami-that: definitely NOT gray. Think of the Men In Black opening when "J" joins up - the line, "we are them, we are they, we are the ones who were never there - we are the men in black" or words to that effect. That is who you want to become. "Oh, yeah, I met Kailstark .... I think .... well, maybe I did". That is the reaction you want.

 

Wear standard clothes, standard gear nothing flashy or to stand out in the crowd. Control your speech and your manners. Become the one that no one notices. For me that was tough because, like many, I have opinions on a great variety of subjects. The difference is I am right and they are often wrong so I want to explain it to them!:rolleyes: I've learned to resist that temptation but it isn't easy. Being a rather proud individual it is difficult to not talk about me.

 

Along the same lines, it isn't the mall ninja that is the threat to you. Oh, he may be dangerous but you've spotted him and can take appropriate action if needed. The threat is the guy sitting over in the corner with his back to the wall drinking a Sprite with a twist while everyone else is drinking 'adult beverages'. He's watching who comes in and what everyone is doing. He is aware but, even in plain sight, not visible to most of the folks in the room. Everyone "KNOWS" he is the designated driver and leaves him alone. He just sits there and observes. He is gray and therefore, a potential danger. You want to be that man as well.

 

A good thread and we haven't had this discussion in a while so again, welcome and ask questions if you have them.

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Zombieland actually had some good lessons about situational awareness. One of my favorites (Rule #2 is obviously the best!) was #22 "When in doubt, know your way out." You should always know your way out of where ever you are! Captain Bart hit the nail on the head, both with his article and with this post.

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well first thanks for the replies everyone :) and second, i live in a very small town and rarely make it to truly "urban" areas. Urban survival was just the forum i figured this thread would be best in. but since i never get to any urban areas there aren't many ways i can practice either of these just by doing. so if anyone has any other ideas for practice that would be great :) maybe any "games" or anything i could involve my friends in where i could practice these skills.

 

With all the being gray stuff I'm actually reminded of one of my friends, he was in the marines for 5 years and is in Afghanistan right now, he is at least 6 feet tall and one of the most in shape people i know, but every time we go out somewhere he has always worn either a baggy jacket or shirt and walks around with bad posture that makes him look a good 4 inches shorter then he really is, maybe he stays gray in public.

 

Agree with NavyVet. Living in a major urban area you learn (or should learn) to have both these skill sets just for everyday living. Lot of it is common sense. To me situational awareness is largely being aware of your surroundings and its learning to hear (and listen) to your instincts. Don't walk down the dark 'shortcut' after leaving the bar, take the longer better lit street. Etc, etc.

 

My wife and I are pretty well tuned to what's around us, which sometimes leads to funny stories when we are out visiting family down south and think someone is about to try and mug us in a Walmart parking lot, but turns out to be just a friendly old man walking near us. :)

 

And kailstark. Take this or leave it, but I would change up that ole user pic. That is not grey and could be taken the wrong way. Just my two cents.

 

The pic is from Halloween last year, its my zombie hunter costume i put together out of random articles i had laying around....yes i do have my own gas mask in my closet. gotta be prepared.

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Being gray is the ability to move in any environment and blend in. In the country or country club. Good example of your friend that wears baggy clothes. The aspect of being over looked and under estimated is part of being gray. Most of use would see an older gentleman at walmart that shuffles around and looks as if he might be a little bit lost or confused. Easily dismissed as a threat to anyone. But in reality that little old man is carrying a colt 1911 and could down a man with his cane. His bewildered look is actually a cover for his looking around to become situational aware and constant reassessments.

 

as for games or practice on situational awareness try this one. When you are out of your house and you spot a friend or acquaintance before they spot you then you score one point. If they spot you first then deduct a point. This will get you into the practice of noticing the people that come and go in your close proximity which in bad times equates to identifying possible threats before they id you.

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Kailstark,

 

Being Gray and Situational Awareness can be applied anywhere at anytime. Rural or Urban.

Being in your early 20s, I can probably figure you go have a few drink with ur buds from time to time.

Here is a 'game' you can play with your friends to actually practice this: NOT a drinking game...

THe goal of the game is to try and make objective, realistic, instictive 'assumptions' about people from a distance. DOnt talk to any of them. Just watch people, learn to read body language. Guessing age/weight/height... are they alone in the bar? ask yourself why. Are they with others? Look at the people they are with. Do they look and act like life-long friends or maybe just co-workers? Lovers maybe? All the while you are doing this 'people watching' dont let them notice you watching them. Later, maybe even move in closer to eavesdrop on a conversation and see if any of your assumptions were correct. After you've been in the bar for bout 10-15, take another look around the place and ACTIVELY look for those people that didnt first catch your eye. THose are the gray people. Because, the ones that stand out more are probably also the ones you are placing bets on. This really isnt something you can turn into a 'drinking game', that could be dangerous. But place your bets :P

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Kailstark,

 

Being Gray and Situational Awareness can be applied anywhere at anytime. Rural or Urban.

Being in your early 20s, I can probably figure you go have a few drink with ur buds from time to time.

Here is a 'game' you can play with your friends to actually practice this: NOT a drinking game...

THe goal of the game is to try and make objective, realistic, instictive 'assumptions' about people from a distance. DOnt talk to any of them. Just watch people, learn to read body language. Guessing age/weight/height... are they alone in the bar? ask yourself why. Are they with others? Look at the people they are with. Do they look and act like life-long friends or maybe just co-workers? Lovers maybe? All the while you are doing this 'people watching' dont let them notice you watching them. Later, maybe even move in closer to eavesdrop on a conversation and see if any of your assumptions were correct. After you've been in the bar for bout 10-15, take another look around the place and ACTIVELY look for those people that didnt first catch your eye. THose are the gray people. Because, the ones that stand out more are probably also the ones you are placing bets on. This really isnt something you can turn into a 'drinking game', that could be dangerous. But place your bets :P

 

that actually sounds really fun, i'm going to have to try this... though being grey seems like it would be hard for me.. i can't go anywhere without at least one person i dont know coming up to me and claiming they know me, then after about 15 mins of them trying to figure it out they give up....they even keep trying to place me after i tell them i have one of those faces and that i'm usually mistaken for many different people

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that actually sounds really fun, i'm going to have to try this... though being grey seems like it would be hard for me.. i can't go anywhere without at least one person i dont know coming up to me and claiming they know me, then after about 15 mins of them trying to figure it out they give up....they even keep trying to place me after i tell them i have one of those faces and that i'm usually mistaken for many different people

 

DOnt make eye contact with anyone you dont wanna talk to. THis is a habit of mine as well, as part of adapting to the Professional IT industry and dealing with customers/clients. Making eye contact blows any gray plans out of the water.

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First Take down the Photo you have of yourself in your personal section...

 

Start with everything said above!!!!

 

If your from Missouri,than Speak like it!!!

 

After living in the south most of my life Im still asked if Im from here because my"Michigan" comes out when Im pissed and speek quickley!!

 

Dad had a very deep southern draw,I speek southern when I trade for things..

 

Just SAYING..lol

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I still have my Kentucky accent, but havent lived there since I was 19. Ive lived in many different places temp. throughout my life but the accent remains. Ive been in Michigan for 7 years now and doesnt take long at all when speaking to someone to tell im not from around here. So... I really dont say anything if I dont have to.

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One drill I practice, a remnant from my time as LEO, is to mentally describe people around me, Gender, Height, weight, race, clothing from top to bottom, hair & eye color etc. Same with cars. A couple of minutes later I walk thru the drill to see what I remember. Your brain has to be taught how to be become aware of your surroundings.

Good thing about this, absolutely nobody knows you're doing this!

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One drill I practice, a remnant from my time as LEO, is to mentally describe people around me, Gender, Height, weight, race, clothing from top to bottom, hair & eye color etc. Same with cars. A couple of minutes later I walk thru the drill to see what I remember. Your brain has to be taught how to be become aware of your surroundings.

Good thing about this, absolutely nobody knows you're doing this!

 

Very true. Another drill: when you walk into a room find 3 things (not on you) that you can use as a weapon and at least one and preferably two exits other than the one you used coming into the room.

 

As for your suggestion, I'd add; see if there is someone who is gray in the room. Pay attention to them because they could be dangerous.

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I thought an interesting take on situation awareness was in the first Bourne Identity movie, when he's freaking out that he always seems to be hyper-aware of what's around him and how that implies he's something other than an ordinary person. The scene from the movie goes:

 

Jason Bourne: Who has a safety deposit box full of... money and six passports and a gun? Who has a bank account number in their hip? I come in here, and the first thing I'm doing is I'm catching the sightlines and looking for an exit.

 

Marie: I see the exit sign, too, I'm not worried. I mean, you were shot. People do all kinds of weird and amazing stuff when they are scared.

 

Jason Bourne: I can tell you the license plate numbers of all six cars outside. I can tell you that our waitress is left-handed and the guy sitting up at the counter weighs two hundred fifteen pounds and knows how to handle himself. I know the best place to look for a gun is the cab or the gray truck outside, and at this altitude, I can run flat out for a half mile before my hands start shaking. Now why would I know that? How can I know that and not know who I am?

 

Capt Bart's article does a really good job explaining the basics. Other things to consider when thinking about situation awareness:

 

  • It's not enough just to notice exits and who's around you when you first enter a space. Don't get so engrossed in any activity that you are no longer aware of what's going on around you, like the big group that came in for dinner and is now at an improvised table that blocks access to a side door, or the guy at the back of the room who has been drinking steadily and losing at pool all night and may now be spoiling for a fight.
  • If you are working with other people, don't assume that THEY are as vigilant as you are. Draw attention if necessary when you notice someone who isn't looking around, isn't carrying their weapon at the ready, or whatever might be necessary for the circumstances you're in.
  • Don't just assess what's out there - also assess what you're bringing with you. What are your physical limitations? What equipment is most likely to give you trouble? etc. Use what you know about possible problems to reassess the situation over time, because that will have an impact on exit strategies and the like.
  • Keep your true goals in mind. If you're focusing on your own survival, that may mean choosing not to engage with someone who is "asking for it" even if you are certain you could win, simply because you are unwilling to draw attention to yourself or your group. It may mean choosing not to follow through on a task because it's unsafe at the moment, so you will have to gear up and do it another day. It may mean taking a longer route or leaving behind extra supplies simply because it will put you in a better position to respond if something unexpected happens along the way.

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An example of situational awarness..or educated guess....

 

Coming home while in the Navy, my light duty truck, Xhappened , ran off the road and got stuck in a ditch. Was able to hitch a ride a few miles up the road to get help. THey dropped me off at a gas station/mcDonalds. It was kinda busy that day. Looked around, there was a 4x4 dualy 3500 chevy in the parking lot. I walk in , glance around, walk up to a dude and ask if its his truck. WHich it was. (First guess)he agreed to help and the rest is history. Good judgement or Situational Awareness ?

 

Bourne trilogy , my fav

i dont know bout this new one coming out... it just isnt the same without Bourne (Damon)

Edited by NavyVet_77

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My ccw instructor years back had a great way of defining situational awareness.

 

1. Life is good, home eating snackys watching a movie, life is good.

 

2. Out and about, aware of what is going on in your car mirrors, knowing the nearest exit in the restaurant, basically the great advice given previously in this post.

 

3. Shields up. Something is wrong. You may not know exactly what but your gut is telling you to be somewhere else, now.

 

4. It's on. Escape or fight.

 

He also emphasized that 2 and 3 are the best ways to avoid 4.

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Knowing when and HOW to avoid certain kinds of trouble/conflict is also a critical part of staying gray. I do have a habit from

years of law enforcement at "looking har" at people. So, I shift my "look" (gaze) to their hands. I want and need to know what their hands as doing/holding to asses them correctly. many years ago, I started wearing my watch on my right wrist I'm right handed. On patrol many a parolee or former county inmate made the mistake of assuming I am left handed. Good for me, not good for them. Nowadays, I usually hafe a gram child in tow, so I do things like telling them in a voice which potential thugs can hear, "Hold grandpa's hand so I won't get lost..." the mopesaren,t sure (usually) who is the child. I also wear a hat from Disney that my girls (when teens) got me that says POOH on the front and has a cute embroderied winne-the-pooh on the back. I try to look harmless and not worth the "trouble". it has worked so far. I've got nothing to prove to anyone in this life, there is always somebody bigger and bladder than us out there, and it is our job to NOT meet them. Some may think this is a wee ie approach, I've been in serious fights in my professional career and there's NO such thing as a fair fight. If I have to go to fist city or to guns, I feel I've already had

bestial relations with the pooch and lost. Just my personal opinion is all.

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