Self-Defence Part 2

What strategies can we use in self-defence that will keep us safe from predators?                                                                  Women Self Defence Class Zenshin Martial Arts Geelong

How can you avoid an assault/attack?

Do I have to be physically strong in order to NOT be a victim?

In this blog we discuss various ways of mental awareness by implementing  thought processes which assist us in handling different scenarios and understanding how to adapt to the escalating assaults in today’s society.


Mental awareness is a crucial aspect of self-defence situations. It involves being mindful, alert, and mentally prepared to handle potential threats or dangerous encounters effectively.

When conducting these courses I always start with educating my audience about the following ‘A’ words:

AWARENESS – ALERTNESS – ANTICIPATION – AVOIDANCE. If you are unable to avoid an aggressive physical confrontation revert to – AGGRESSIVE ACTION!


Colour Code of Combat

Understanding the ‘colour code of combat’ is the first step to being able to fully implement your self-defence skills in society. Colonel Jeff Cooper, a combat firearms expert, originally developed these particular colour codes.

Never underestimate the importance of the mindset represented by the following colour codes:

Condition White

This is the state of least preparedness. You are not ready for anything. Your mind is in a haze, unaware of who or what is around you. For example, you may be tired or preoccupied with worry. You may be influenced by drugs or alcohol. In condition white you can be so quickly overwhelmed that you don’t even know what happened – you will be a victim!

Condition white is appropriate when in a safe and secured environment at home.

Condition Yellow (Awareness)

Condition yellow is the ready state. Once you leave the confines of your home you instantly become aware of your surroundings. You are calm and relaxed but alert to any possible threats within the environment. You cannot be easily surprised as you scan your immediate area. If you are confronted you are able to take the desired action for self-preservation.

Condition Orange (Alertness)

This is the state where your intuition kicks in. You sense a potential threat approaching which requires your immediate action. You are fully prepared to implement the appropriate evasive action. You mentally start to formulate an escape route or attack plan. In this state you are on high alert, completely focused to either execute the  ‘fight or flight’ response – an automatic physiological reaction to an event that is perceived as stressful or frightening.


Condition Red (Aggressive Action)

In condition red you are in the fight situation. You are being physically attacked and you must respond in order to protect yourself. You cannot talk your way out of the situation and it is too late to escape! In this situation you use all the physical skills of self-defence to stun the assailant in order to flee from the aggression – Aggressive Action.

Reference – The American Success Institute.

Mervyn Nelis

Martial Arts experience over 55 years

Security Industry experience over 40 years.



Are you concerned about crime and violence?

Would you like to know you could take care of yourself if you had to ?

You don’t have to be a victim!

Be safe, confident and in control. This will be part 1 of several blogs covering the importance of mental and physical well-being.

The first consideration is – AWARENESS!

Awareness of your surroundings is one of the most important elements, and is one of the most effective methods of avoiding frightening or dangerous situations.

Awareness is the ability to perceive, feel, or be conscious of what is happening around you. In the context of self-defence, awareness means being alert and attentive to potential threats and dangers within your environment. It involves being aware of your surroundings, people around you, and any potential hazards.

Heightened awareness skills allow us to detect and avoid or de-escalate a potential physical assault.

There are two levels of awareness – external and internal.

External awareness  involves asking questions such as, ‘What is the physical and emotional environment that I am in?’ ‘ Is there suspicious activity of any sort?’

Internal awareness is our intuition, sixth sense or gut feeling. The denial of internal awareness is the common ‘this won’t happen to me’ attitude. This type of thinking is pervasive and can be life threatening!

Here are some reasons why awareness is extremely important for your well-being and personal safety:

  • Prevention – Being aware of your surroundings and potential threats can help you avoid dangerous situations altogether. For example, if you are walking alone at night and notice someone following you, you can quickly take action and change your route to a more populated area or seek help.
  • Early detection – If a potential threat does arise, being aware of your surroundings can help you detect it early. This allows you time to react and defend yourself and/or escape, potentially avoiding serious harm. If you scan your environment you can perceive potential threats before they occur and take evasive action before it is encountered!
  • Confidence – Being aware and prepared can give you the confidence to handle any potential danger that may arise. This can assist you to remain calm in a high-pressure situation, making it easier to defend yourself effectively.
  • Personal Empowerment – By staying alert and aware of your surroundings, you are taking responsibility for your own safety and well-being. This feeling of internal awareness can help to build confidence and self-esteem, which in turn can make you less vulnerable to potential threats.


By being vigilant and alert in your environment you can identify potential threats, take proactive steps to avoid dangerous situations, maintain control over a situation, and empower yourself to remain safe.

Whilst physical defensive techniques are important, they are only effective when combined with awareness and a proactive mindset, thereby increasing  our chances of avoiding or surviving an attack.

Remember, the best defence is often prevention, so always stay alert and aware of potential dangers in your environment.

N.B. The best way to win a fight is to avoid it altogether!

Next blog we will discuss the colour code of combat and proactive avoidance strategies as well as the mindset of the assailant.

Mervyn Nelis

 July 2023



My name is Mervyn Nelis the founder and director of Zenshin Karate in Geelong, Victoria. For this first blog I would like to describe Zenshin’s  Martial Arts  recent beach training session at Torquay . I hope to be publishing martial arts related articles monthly. I was born in Geelong and have been involved in martial arts for over 55 years. I teach full-time with my son Jai and we have a branch in Leopold. I have been very fortunate to have made a career in martial arts and it has been my life-long passion. In my formative years of training I travelled overseas and trained under Grandmasters of the arts particularly in Japan, U.S.A, Israel and New Zealand.



Zenshin karate at Torquay.


                                                                                                                             Traditional Ceremonial Training Session

This is a traditional Japanese training session to welcome in the New Year and is referred to as “Kagami Biraki” – meaning “open mirror”. In Japanese culture, the New Year is the most important time of the year, more important than birthdays and anniversaries. It is a fifteen-day celebration whose importance over-rides  any demands of ordinary business and commerce. My first experience of this traditional session was whilst I was undergoing intense training under Grandmaster Tadashi Nakamura in New York, U.S.A. in 1983.

On Sunday 5th February at 8.30am Zenshin Geelong students arrived at Torquay beach in their gis (uniforms) eager and excited to participate in this special group training session. Participants ranged from our Kids Karate Program through to our Adults Program (which included Leopold and Ballarat students). We had many senior Black Belts setting the example for all students to follow. The day started with stretching before practising basic techniques with everyone sweating and becoming enveloped within the energy and spirit of the atmosphere.


                                                                                                                                         Explanation of “Kagami Biraki” 





Midway through the session the significance of this special training session was explained to the students. At the front of the class was a representation of two round rice cakes (kagami mochi) stacked on top of each other, interspersed with pine boughs and topped with an orange. It was explained that this still-life image had great meaning. Sometimes in Japanese homes, seaweed was also mingled with the pine boughs around the rice cakes. Taken as a whole, the decorated rice cakes represented abundance, health and plenty throughout the seasons of the year. The idea was to have something from the fields (rice), from the mountains (pine boughs), from the sea (seaweed) and from the orchards (orange) – to symbolise the whole range of natural sustenance on which our health and survival depends. The rice cakes were made in a round shape. Kagami means an old-fashioned hand-held mirror that was always round – like a circle, round and smooth. The message from this image is to keep things round and smooth, always striving for the harmony symbolised by the rice cakes. Be happy, enjoy and appreciate our real abundant blessings!



                                                                                                                             Motivational Messages for Life


This was an ideal time to reflect on every student’s attitude and commitment as we begin this New Year. The term Kokoro (spirit) reminds us that we should endeavour to maintain a strong spirit throughout each and every class we undertake throughout this year and beyond. A memorable quote that Zenshin students are familiar with – “Nana-Korobi-Ya-Oki” – translates…no matter how many times you get knocked down, whether physically or emotionally, you must always program it into your mind that you will get up that number of times and even one more – Never give up!

The term “RenMa” ie. Ren – train or cultivation, Ma – drill or refine. Hence this term means in relation to the martial arts – to cultivate and attain perfection one must continually polish and practice technique over and over  (repetition). Students are reminded that basic techniques must always be practised with strong spirit and determination.

The themes for 2023 are  Organisation and Flexibility in our lives. Plan your coming week beforehand. Set time aside for important duties. We should all strive for balance within our life and be open to change and not be overwhelmed by problems that may arise. We will always experience change; nothing remains constant indefinitely. View these new challenges as opportunities to grow, evolve and progress – Be flexible! A quote from Dr. Stephen Covey – “It’s not what happens to us…it’s our response to what happens to us that makes us what we are” should be our mantra for experiencing life to the full. Another quote which I like – “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty” (anonymous).






The senior belts participated in sparring in the water and this was engaged in enthusiastically, and with fun, as many students were unceremoniously dumped into the water to the delight of everyone around! Afterwards we finished the session with many basic punches – the energy was high and motivational. We meditated on the sand facing towards the ocean – contemplating and reflecting on our personal goals for the year ahead. Thank you to all who attended and made it such a successful and uplifting morning. I hope you, the reader, enjoyed this  synopsis of Zenshin Karate Geelong’s celebration of Kagami Biraki for 2023.

Written by Mervyn Nelis Feb 2023.