10 Ways to Improve Your Situational Awareness with Navy SEAL Chris Sajnog


Hey guys what is going on Chris Sajnog a retired Navy SEAL and founder of the SEAL training system and
in this video I’m gonna give you ten ways that you can improve your
situational awareness now let’s go ahead and get started all right guys let’s face it today
people are just not as situationally aware as we were in the past you know in
the past we used to live out in caves or in forests or grasslands or you know
wherever they weren’t in houses and they didn’t have all these little devices
that you see people with their heads in all the time and just closing off their
situational awareness so in this video I just want to give you 10 ways that you
can improve yours all right so the number one way that you can use to
improve your situational awareness is to use what I call the seal loop now the
seal loop is kind of like the OODA loop which you may have heard of and that is
to observe orientate detect and then act now the problem I found with this is
it’s not a loop it’s a linear sequence of observing orientating deciding what
you’re going to do and act there’s nothing looping it around but
luckily seal has an L at the end which allows me to loop it back around and
make it a true loop so the seal loop stands for see or sense what’s going on
around you so not just seeing not just using your eyes but also using all of
your senses using your sense of smell is just your feeling you know if you’re
practicing meditation and being able to detect what’s going on around you and be
present what’s with what’s around you you’re gonna be able to sense stuff a
lot faster and easier than a lot of times you can see it the e in seal loop
is to evaluate after you see your sense what’s going on around you you need to
evaluate quickly what you’re going to be able to do or what you should do or
should not do in that situation the a in the seal loop is to act so now
that you’ve seen or sense what’s happening around you you’ve evaluated
what you need to do now you need to take action and that action is obviously
going to depend on how you evaluated the situation and what you think you should
or should not do in that situation now the L which is what of course makes
this a true loop is that the L loops it back around and you need to learn from
each of your experiences that is the whole part of training and the whole
part of you know learning from these experiences is getting that loop
back around to go you know what went right what went wrong and how can I
improve in the future so that is the seal loop and that’s number one way to
improve your situational awareness number two and that is practicing your
positioning so what do I mean by that I mean in any situation positioning is
everything in the ODA loop they talk about orientating yourself or
orientating yourself to your terrain position yourself in the right spot to
observe what’s happening around you so maybe you go into a restaurant and
you’re like you know what to be able to have the best situational awareness I
need to sit with my back to a wall and be able to observe better from that or
maybe you’re in a crowded area as you move through that area think about the
position that you can be in so you’re not surrounded by potential bad guys so
positioning is number two number three on the list is to use all of your senses
now sensing what’s going on around you it’s not just one sense it’s not just
the sense of sight you also need to practice hearing what’s going on around
you and you can do that simply by just going outside going in a public space
and just sitting closing your eyes hopefully it’s a safe place right you
still want to maintain situational awareness but you know you shouldn’t she
shouldn’t be on high alert at all times find a good spot you can practice this
but close your eyes and just start making visual images like actually
picturing what is happening around you just by the sounds that you’re hearing
the other senses are your spidey senses you can actually work on that through
meditation and other techniques you can use to build up that sense of what’s
going on around you obviously your sense of smell not going to be too important
in your situational awareness unless you’re looking for some fast food and
you’re driving down the road I think they pump that smell out into the roads
hopefully you don’t stop too often I don’t but think about it think about
using all of your senses and that will help with your situational awareness all
right number four on the list is to know at least two exits where you can get out
of any situation so this is going to be a practice that you need to do all the
time where you are just constants looking for two exits for instance right
now I am in my studio here and I know that there are two exits one is the door
that’s right there unfortunately for me number two is going through the ceiling
which is the weakest part in here I have no windows in this office right here but
I do have the ability to make a hole up in the ceiling to get out of here all
right now that’s just one example let’s go back to being in that restaurant with
your family so the first thing you do is when you walk in you should start
looking for where the exits are as you’re going to your table or maybe
where what you’re waiting for your table and look around and go okay there’s the
exit there’s where I came in I want to try and find another exit that is
somewhere other than that the opposite direction and maybe it’s a window that’s
right next to you and then you just need to start thinking a little bit more
situational training and going how am I going to get out that window with me and
my family well okay is this table mounted down if it’s not maybe I can
pick up the table maybe the chair you’ve just got to think about it and come up
with it and you should be doing this all the time if you’re walking through a
mall or shopping center you should be looking up ahead and going okay I can
see a way to get out up there and then as that one passes that’s still a way
out but it’s now it’s one behind you mental note okay I’ve got an exit back
there and now I’m looking for one up ahead so I’m always going to have two
ways out and you should too all right number five on our list of improving
your situational awareness is having a full field of view at all times I talked
about getting your head out of your mobile devices you want to have better
situational awareness simply get your head up okay head up and we call it on a
swivel so your head is always on a swivel seeing and sensing what is going
on around you at all times and if your heads not up and on a swivel
you’re not going to be able to detect what’s happening around you and one of
the best ways I’ve found to Train this is to go running on trails so much
better than running on a treadmill although if you don’t run it all go
ahead and get on a treadmill that’s fine but when you run on a trail you are
taking in hundreds in thousands of bit of more information into your
subconscious all the time with every step you take you have to see what’s
happening up in front of you and then you have to remember where to put your
feet or how your balance should be when you get to that point and you’re
constantly improving your situational awareness just by going on a trail run
and guess what you are getting in better shape too all right number six on our
list is meditation now if you know me at all you’re probably surprised that this
is all the way down at number six but guess what surprise these are not in any
order okay so I would probably put meditation number one but meditation is
one of the best ways to improve your situational awareness and just very
briefly what meditation allows you to do it allows you to basically clear out the
clutter of thoughts and information that’s coming in and it allows you it
teaches you or you’re teaching yourself to focus on what you need to focus on at
that moment in time and with meditation it’s breathing but when you learn to
meditate you learn to tap into that power that we all have inside of us
you’re able to take that out into society out into the public and as soon
as you need to tap into it with enough meditation enough practice you’re able
to focus on what’s most important in that space in time for you to stay alive
and that is why meditation is so important with improving your
situational awareness all right number seven on our list is to
play games and what I mean by this is as you’re walking down the street say you
can do it with yourself it’s better with somebody else say I’m with somebody else
we’re walking down the street and I’m just walking forward and my friend is
going to observe a few things so say we walk by a group of people my friend just
says to me hey Chris that last group of people we walked by how many people were
they you know I’ll be like a three he’s like no there’s four okay what were they
wearing and then I describe what they’re wearing okay did anyone have a hat on it
anybody have sunglasses on and what you’ll find at first when you’re doing
this it’s really hard and you’re gonna feel like you can’t get anything right
but what happens is because internally our bodies don’t like that that sense of
getting it wrong it is going to start spanning our situational awareness so
now we are paying attention to more things as we’re continuing to walk down
the street and each time we walk down the street we’re gonna be getting better
and better and you’re gonna find that you can start answering these questions
better you do the same thing in your car I do it with my kids all the time like
hey boys we just drove by a street sign what did it say and they’ll be like oh I
don’t know dub my phone get them off their phone get them learning some
situational awareness and you can do it yourself there’s also some great games
there’s a it’s called a letter game think it’s just called letters but I
have it on my iPad and it’s great it’s it just shows a bunch of the same
letters or numbers and one of them is different
out of like hundreds of them and it’s super hard at first but again as you
practice more and more you learn to detect differences like what is standing
out and you’ll find it’s what’s really cool is you don’t look at the letter and
go oh there it is you’re you just look at it in general at the whole page and
you’re like something doesn’t feel right up in the top left and then you that’s
when you’ll look and you go oh there it is said those are some great ways to
improve your situational awareness all right number eight on our list is
practice people-watching there’s people apparently that love to
do this just for no other reason than they’d love to people watch so why not
make it part of your training and all you need to do is go back to that bench
where you were closing your eyes and practicing your auditory situational
awareness and now this time just look at people and observe them whether they’re
alone or with with a group of people try to figure out like what are they doing
like why are they there try to describe in as much detail like their entire life
and I know it sounds crazy because at first especially just like with the
other drills you’re going to be like this is impossible this it doesn’t
matter if you’re getting it right or wrong what matters is that you are
training your brain to come up with answers and you’ll find after time that
you’re starting to get these things right and it’s really crazy when it
starts happening but the only way you can do it is by practicing so watch
people like try to figure out who they are come up with a whole story about
them and as you get better you can actually start to figure out what their
gonna do next so maybe it’s just quickly somebody walking down the street and
they’re coming up to an intersection watch and go you know what I’m gonna
just guess that he’s gonna turn left and as you do this you start refining this
skill and you’ll start being able to do it more often and get correct more often
and you probably do it a lot of times when you’re driving you’ll be driving
down the road and you’ll see somebody up ahead and if you’ve been driving long
enough you you just know you’re like oh he’s gonna cut over and he’s not gonna
put a signal on which in California nobody does I think they disabled turn
signals in California maybe it’s the same in your state but I’ve noticed it
here but you can detect these things so it’s the same thing just practice it and
you’ll get better all right number 9 on our list is to practice estimating
distances in times we all have or you should have like a protective bubble
around you so we’ve got like our personal space that we don’t really want
anybody in unless we’re gonna be kissing them so that should be a short list of
people so you’ve got your personal bubble and then you’ve got your
protective bubble which is you may have heard of it before like people talk
about like 21 feet that’s not exactly right but it is a distance where you’ve
gotta kind of figure people are coming into my space and potentially they could
reach me and do harm to me before I could react so you need to start
detecting these different spaces and you do that just by guessing and estimating
different spaces now the other thing to practice is time and the reason time is
important is because especially in stressful situations guessing time and
estimating time is very hard and the reason it’s very hard is just like why
people say you can’t focus on your front sight under stress is because they
haven’t practiced that so if you are practicing being able to accurately
estimate time you’re going to be able to do it under stress and the way to do
that is just to observe somebody and say you can start your stopwatch without
looking at it and then you just start observing somebody doing something
doesn’t matter what it is you don’t even have to watch anything just close your
eyes and try to guess and say I’m gonna stop it at one minute and the more you
do this the more you get closer to what is accurate with time estimation the
better you’re going to be at it so safe for instance if you see somebody walk by
in front of your house and then a while later you notice the same person walking
by well if you can’t estimate time very well you have no idea really how long
that’s been so maybe that’s important maybe it’s not maybe if you cease like
if you see somebody that is taking pictures of a National Monument and you
you notice them because you’re observant your situation will be aware but because
you can also estimate time you notice wait a minute he has been there for way
too long for somebody who should be just taking a picture and moving on to
something else so maybe your spidey senses are gonna go off because you can
estimate time better so remember those two things practice estimating your
space your distance and time all right finally number 10 on our list is take
care of your body so there’s three things to think about and number one is
don’t drink and I say too much on this because I love a good glass of wine I
love me some good tequila but I also need to realize this is going to affect
me it’s going to delay my ability to respond to a stressful situation or to
even be situationally aware right and this is obvious we all know this so you
know I don’t want to come down on you and say no drinking because I do just
think about it if you want to be more situationally aware drinking is not
going to help that situation at all number two is getting enough sleep now
with sleep you need to get between 7 & 9 hours of sleep every single night and
they’ve done studies that show if you get less than 6 hours of sleep
7 days in a row your reaction times are the same as somebody who’s legally
intoxicated your ability to react to a stressful situation is going to be
hampered simply because you chose to stay up watching TV too late and you had
to get up too early in the morning for work so think about your sleep and the
last thing is exercise hopefully you are working out and exercising at least a
couple times a week but the more you exercise the more oxygen you’re going to
get your brain the more vigilant you’re going to be able
to be and the more situationally aware you’re going to be so that is it for
today use those 10 ways to improve your situational awareness and until next
time you guys keep paving your path to perfection hey guys if you like this
video and you want to learn more I put together 20 videos with the best
training advice I’ve learned over the past 25 years of training others and I
want to give those to you absolutely free just click on the iCard that just
popped up or go to Kris signer com forward slash free videos and I’ll not
only send you those 20 free videos I’ll also send you a free PDF copy of my new
rules of Marchman ship manifesto which is the framework for everything I teach
so here’s what I want you to do right now click on the iCard or go to www.ChrisSajnog.com/free videos and I’ll see you on the other side

12 thoughts on “10 Ways to Improve Your Situational Awareness with Navy SEAL Chris Sajnog

  1. Hey Chris, awesome video and tips for SA. Thank you!! Kudos to you! I am re-reading your best seller book "Navy SEAL Shooting" and it is just amazing the amount of useful information it has. Thank you!

  2. My problem is that I am situationally aware, and people think I'm paranoid. I do the whole noting who is around me, what they are doing, how long they are there, where the exits of a building are, pepper spray in-hand, dog, and gun with me when possible, avoid ambush cover, etc.. I'm 4'9",
    60 y/o, female, go anywhere I want, and never been attacked, so I guess it's working.🤣

  3. This video had several funny touches to it. It also had A LOT of excellent advice.

    It looks like the word orientated is British English.

    I learned OODA as Observe – Orient – Decide – Act. This sequence is repeated as time progresses.

  4. Just out of curiosity… what if I promised you that I could teach you to become a better shooter, save you time and money, AND you can do this all from your home…
    I know you’re interested, so I’ll see you on the other side: https://chrissajnog.com/newrules

  5. Hey Chris, great content. One comment: sense of smell doesn't only help you find a fast food rest., but once I smelled the cigarette breath and clothing of a creep hiding behind bushes

  6. I already became a member. Extraordinary content. You shouldn't be giving content away for free. Nevertheless, viewers not jumping into your generous offer are missing out priceless, life-saving content…

  7. Excellent content and presentation, Chris, so it is easy to absorb the material, thanks! Being highly active in a variety of pursuits in addition to self defense, I was surprised that for me bird watching (in a variety of habitats and hazards) ranked no. 1 for using the skill set you recommended for situational awareness (1. bird watching, 2. ballroom dancing, 3. bow hunting whitetails, 4. trail running, 5. technical rock climbing, …). Ballroom dancing almost ties for no. 1. Skilled dancers can waltz for hours around a crowded dance floor never bumping into or cutting off another couple.

  8. That was a great video. I used to take the train to a very bad part of the city I worked in and then walk just shy of 2 miles each way. High crime in the area around train station and the workplace, lots of drugs, etc. Did it for 5+ years, sometimes not leaving until 7 or 8 in the evening. And when I would talk to people about it when asked they thought I was a little weird with the daily mental exercises I would go through from the minute I got on the train until I got to work and vice versa. In that time I never carried a weapon of any sort, and can say I had interesting encounters with either individuals or groups usually in the evening hours, but because I had the awareness of the surroundings and knew how long it took to cover certain distances I felt safe as long as I stayed focused. One of the biggest lessons learned was, especially with a group moving towards my "bubble", was constant eye contact – letting them know that you are aware that they are there and I guess having a silent conversation with just the eyes. It was also a great opportunity, to do both, the people watching and the auditory visualization while on the train. Thank you for reinforcing that the things I was doing were the correct. I feel because I made myself go through those daily exercises it kept me confident and safe.

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