Situational Awareness and COVID 19, Part 1: Self Defence, Preemptive Striking and Social Responsibility

This past Thursday, Noah and I made the tough decision to close down CAIA for 2 weeks due to the COVID 19 pandemic, with us monitoring the situation to see how long we may have to stay closed for if the situation continues to escalate. This is not an easy decision for us. It will affect our income, sure. It will affect our members, definitely. If things really go south in a hurry, it may very well be the end of this amazing dojo, which has been the second home to both of us, as well as to all of our coaches, members and community.

So, not an easy decision to say the least. 

But we firmly believe that it is the right one. We believe in practising what we teach in our self defence and martial arts classes, and we believe that martial arts are a way of life. And that means that for us, right now, closing is not only the right option, it is the only option.


Any self defence instructor who has actual understanding of self-defence, will tell you that the most important thing in protecting yourself is developing situational awareness. They should, if they are really expert, tell you about trusting your intuition as well as how adrenaline affects your decision-making. They should explain the legal, ethical and moral consequences of your choice (or lack thereof) to engage in violence. They should tell you that you should avoid, escape, de-escalate and finally fight as a last resort – and in that order if possible. Finally, they should also discuss the notion that once you have made a decision to act – whether that’s avoid, run or fight – then you should go first and go hard. Being indecisive in a violent conflict can get you killed, and not making a decision is, in fact, making a decision.
(On a side note, if you’re martial arts teachers hasn’t taught you all of these, then you are not learning self-defence – you are learning martial arts).

Let’s start at the beginning then.

We believe that our training is about preserving and protecting life.

Perhaps the greatest challenge with COVID 19 is the complete lack of certainty, which is made worse by the flood of information, most of it unreliable, and the difficulty in being able to recognise fact from fiction, making informed decisions even harder. Regardless of whether you think this is the end of the world or that everyone is exaggerating, the fact is that this poses an extremely high risk to some people, and it is highly contagious. That much has been made clear.

So, let’s talk about situational awareness.

As responsible and ethical business owners, we feel that it is our responsibility to try and make sense of the constant noise of information and make tough decisions. In self defence being able to observe your environment, detect anomalies and decide whether they are potentially harmful and what to do about it is the absolute best way to make sure you stay safe. The same can be applied in the business environment.

This is the approach we adopted at CAIA.

We have been observing the rapidly changing environment and have made the decision that staying open will be not be the best thing for our community. That’s right. By staying open, we will be helping to hasten the spread of the virus. I think anyone who trains in the martial arts can understand why. All you need is one carrier in a 20-people BJJ class to make 20 carriers.

Sure, the disease may not be deadly to you, but if you then go home, shake hands with asthmatic mate or hug your parents, you may have just passed on a virus to someone who could be at high risk of being seriously hurt, or even die, as a result.

To tie that back, our situational awareness has flagged an anomaly that poses a high risk.

Let’s go back to the initial discussion. In the fact of a serious threat, our options are to avoid, to run, to de-escalate and finally to fight.

If we can avoid a risk, especially a potentially lethal one, it should be the first and best option. And once you have made the decision to act, you need to go first, go hard and be decisive. Just like in an attack situation - if I have no options left, and I wait for the other person to throw the first strike, I’m putting myself at a great disadvantage.

We’ve decided to take the first step, be proactive, go first, go hard and be decisive. We hope that by making this decision, we can help stave the spread of virus, and we may even save a few lives by minimising the spread. Some of you may think that I’m stretching the analogies here, but I believe they hold true.

Being aware of what is going on around us and making decisions based on anomalies and what we project might happen, trusting our intuition and being decisive in action, are keys to the successful protection of oneself. We have taken decisive action early and we believe it will help the community as a whole. We hope other gyms follow suit. 

As Randy King often says, fighting is problem solving at 100mph. With that in mind, we’d like to stay positive and also see opportunities for growth and change in this situation. We will be offering some cool, innovative training solutions, such as virtual classrooms and more, very quickly.

We believe they should also be exercised at a community level, and we hope to lead from the front and do the right thing in exemplifying these principles.

A final thought. 
Many small businesses will hurt badly throughout this time. We are already starting to hurt. We have asked our community to support us by maintaining their membership payments if they are able to make sure there’s still a CAIA here when this all settles and the response has been very positive (thank you!), but we also understand that it is not possible for everyone.

If you are one of those people or small business owners who have been hurt badly, are losing income, hours or your job, I’d like to invite you to reach out to us and we will make sure that you can continue training (online and virtually if not in person).
We will come out of this. But whether we better off or worse off depends almost entirely on whether we decide to help each other when it counts.

Stay safe, stay healthy and stay tuned – I’ve got a TON of new, awesome content coming out in the next few weeks.



Last modified on Friday, 20 March 2020 15:44
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Ron Amram

Co-Founder and Co-Director of Combat Arts Institute of Australia. Nidan Gendai Ryu Krav Maga & Jujitsu, Shodan Danzan Ryu Jujutsu, Brown Belt Dennis Hisardut, Krav Maga Instructor, Cert IV Training & Assessment

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