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Getting backstabbed is shit. Not only have you been outwitted, you’re now in a merry panic about what else snuck through and you’ve automatically turned around to deal with the threat leaving your back open to whatever you were dealing with before in the process. To avoid this you will need to blend the three types of awareness:

  • ENVIRONMENTAL AWARENESS – The lay of the land. This covers everything that is not a person. How many trees are there nearby and where? Do I have a run off point? Can I make it there in time? I am fighting up or down hill? Is my footing good enough to sprint? To stop? To jump? Can I hide in anything? Can I back up without fucking up? Where is the sun?
  • PERSONAL AWARENESS – Knowing your own limits and what you have to work with. How many hits do I have left? Are my legs or arms more important to block right now? Do I have the weapon set it fight the enemy in front of me? Am I quick enough to negotiate my enemy? Can I beat the threat in front of me.
  • SITUATIONAL AWARENESS – Having an appreciation of the wider flow of the battle. Are we being flanked? Is the person I need to defend safe? Do we have the power to push them back? Are there gaps in the group? Do I know all the places the enemy are? Where will the enemy come from next?

Environmental is the easiest: trees don’t walk. If you are a shield fighter up against a long get yourself into some dense trees – make them struggle for every shot. Meanwhile if you are that pole user make sure you draw a fight to open ground. If you know your run off point involves a narrow bridge then be prepared to stagger your exit – make sure you have enough tank at the back to ensure a slowed down escape can be coped with. The sun is a cruel part of the environment and if you can move an enemy to be dazed by it then you will have an advantage. (Be prepared for dickheads who don’t change their fighting style despite being blinded.)

The second, Personal, is a case of hard truths. Suck up your ego and be honest with yourself; if you are ic then ask the character if they think it is time to run. In practise we encourage people to ignore personal in the sense of who they are fighting – fighting people better than you is a sure way to improve. However, when your character’s life is on the line and they’d run because they know their ass is about to be handed to them – run. Personal is about knowing the way you fight, your strengths and your weaknesses and being conscious of what you have going for you. If you have the hit advantage and you know it get stuck in. If you need to be patient because you are defending: do so. Make sure your actions are decisions rather than panic driven responses.

Now there is a beauty to this one – if you can understand why you act as you are you can flip reverse it onto your opponent. If you see them suddenly change from offense to defence it might be because they are on their last hit. Likewise if a person comes in to fight you or always backs away from you use your lure or repelling powers to move them to where you want them in a fight.

Finally, situational, is the awareness most associated with leadership: it is looking at the wider situation and dealing with it. It is seen best in battle lines and skirmishes. When you get good it is the ability to be subconsciously ask yourself the questions that matter to pre-empt the problem. Thankfully this is the one most easily developed. Learn from every fight and every mistake – take on why something failed and add it to your mental question rosta. Keep tabs on yourself, your corners, your enemies movements, your position on the field. Eventually you will build a birds eye view into your head and so long as you keep up your wider focus you can maintain that. This awareness is the most easily destroyed and has a see-saw relationship with personal awareness. The more you are focusing on yourself the less you have on everyone else. Ever wonder why most leader work from the rank behind you? Because if they are trying not to get killed by the guy ahead of them they won’t have the headspace to save your ass too.

Mastering these three ideas helps look after yourself and team-mates. Not only will they keep you safe but they help you predict  anticipate and decide rather than be caught with your trousers down.