Transitional Spaces: Unavoidable Danger Zones

Transitional spaces are uncontrolled spaces we must pass through when going from one place to another. A transitional space could be a parking lot, a shopping mall, a gas station or a bad part of town. Transitional spaces cannot be avoided and usually present a increased level of risk. Being aware of the increased dangers and how to avoid them can help keep you safe in transitional spaces.

We are relatively safe and secure in our homes, workplaces and schools. However, as soon as we step out of our home we enter into an uncontrolled, public realm that brings with it increased dangers. It is how we prepare for and conduct ourselves in transitional spaces that will often times keep us out of harm’s way.

Here are a few things you can do to stay safe in transitional spaces:

  • Plan Your Actions Before Entering: Do not blindly enter transitional spaces before having a plan regarding how you’re going to conduct yourself. If you are entering a dark parking lot consider the following. Are your keys in your hand prior to entering the parking lot? Do you have a light to illuminate dark areas? Are you free of clutter and distractions such as cell phones, bags, etc.? If you’re carrying valuables are they visible? Plan to move efficiently and with authority to minimize the time spent in a transitional space.
  • Safety In Numbers: If possible, time your movements so you are with others. Leave work at the same time as your co-workers. If theses not possible hang out in the lobby of a crowded place and wait until others are leaving in blend in the group. The idea is to avoid isolation and use the presence of others as a safety net.
  • Avoid Focus Lock: Put the cell phone, headphones, reading material and all other distractions away before entering a transitional space. Criminals look for easy target who are distracted and oblivious to their surroundings. Do not focus on any one thing. Stay alert and constantly scan for threats.
  • Understand Boundaries: Understand what delineates a transitional space and an area of relative safety. Getting into your car doesn’t take you out of a transitional space until you lock your doors. Pulling into your garage doesn’t take you out of a transitional space until the garage door is down and locked. Do not let your guard down until the boundary between the transitional space and the safety zone has been secured.
  • Have a Contingency Plan: Nothing is guaranteed and your safety is no exception. Always have a plan for when things do not go as hoped. Constantly scan for avenues of escape. Have a weapon in your hand or easily accessible. Try to determine beforehand what could go wrong and plan for potential scenarios.

Transitional spaces are a fact of life. However, with a little planning and vigilance their risk can be mitigated.

By |2016-11-16T14:16:00+00:00November 14th, 2016|Self-Defense|6 Comments

About the Author:

Founder of Mindful Defense™, an effective system of self-defense for all skill levels regardless of age, gender or physical ability. David is a full-time martial arts and self-defense instructor at his studio, Overland Park Karate, in Overland Park, KS.


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  4. Matt October 29, 2018 at 6:31 am - Reply

    Nice explanation thanks

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