My teacher, Grandmaster Joe Manley, emphasizes the importance of safety and of understanding, wherever you are, whether you are safe. He’s captured this process of assessment with three simple questions:
Note that the first question (Am I safe?) refers to whether there are any threats present, while the second question (Am I protected?) asks whether there is anything present to mitigate those threats. The third question is very important to understand. If you are on a road, where could you leave it for safety? If you are in a room, where are the doors or windows and are they accessible? If you are in a fighting situation, where in space can you move to that may be safer?
These questions apply in all kinds of situations. If you are sparring or are in a situation where you may need to defend yourself, the answers to these questions will change moment by moment. The questions can also apply to situations of health and disease, and are especially relevant today as we all assess our potential risk to the coronavirus. With the COVID-19 virus affecting so many aspects of our lives, you might ask yourself these very same questions:
- Am I safe? Is anyone near me or in my enclosed space potentially contagious?
- Am I protected? Is there anything separating me from contagion? A mask? A plexiglass barrier?
- Where are my escape routes? If I am not comfortable with the current risk of contagion, where can I exit to reduce that risk?
In every day, we are constantly changing from one situation to another, either through our own movements and choices or through the movements and choices of others. We may also choose to make informed decisions to enter into a situation that is not safe and in doing so, will need to continue to assess risk, possible protections, and options to exit if needed. Try noticing the changes in your environment and see how your answers may change over the day. Let me know what you discover!