Managing Unknown Contacts: Task Fixation

Awesome article written by SouthNarc

Check him out at

You can also download a PDF of the entire article here.


Or you can also sign up for Total Protection Interactive and read the classic thread here.

Managing Unknown Contacts
I’ve been on the road now teaching citizen self defense courses for about a year, and it’s been very educational for me. I’ve been able to improve my own course work based on student feedback and more importantly I’ve been able to prioritize the presentation of my material.

As everyone probably knows at this point I’m a fanatic about contextually underscored training. We should always be examining the problem and focus our solutions accurately.

I’ve come to realize in the citizen self defense world are more often than not, merely paid lip service to. Most training focuses on technical development of motor skills whether that’s shooting, blade work, or empty hand skills.

So what we’re going to focus on in this tutorial are tactics, particularly pre-engagement tactics. I teach this block of instruction first in every class I do, regardless of the particulars of the skill-set, and I feel like it’s probably the most important.

Lee has already written an excellent piece on stranger confrontations, and this material is very in-line with his thread. This is just my take on the subject matter.

There have been several threads in The Codex already which cover the Criminal Assault Paradigm and it’s important that one study that material first. After all we must understand the problem, before we can discuss solutions.

We speak about this often in self defense and protection training and we even have models such as The Color Code to help us understand this
concept. Awareness is critical. The more aware we are of our environment,the earlier we can spot a potential problem developing.

Is there any key to “awareness”?
The biggest issue I see with the population and awareness is task fixation in public venues. When I say “task fixation” I mean allowing yourself to
become overly distracted by whatever menial chore you happen to have to perform.

Examples of this?

Talking on a Cell Phone

Talking on a Cell Phone

Now we all do this in public, but how often have we seen someone totally engrossed in the conversation they’re having and completely oblivious to the environment? I use an earpiece usually and this keeps my hands free and more importantly my head upright. We all use cell phones day in and out, but be cognizant of not allowing yourself to become so fixated with the task of speaking, that you forget where you’re at and what’s around you.

Finding the right key

Finding the right key


Is there any reason that one couldn’t do this in the safety of a well light supermarket, before they walk into that poorly lit parking lot?

Sitting in a stationary vehicle with the ignition off

Sitting in a stationary vehicle with the ignition off

This is a pet peeve of mine that’s a borderline phobia, I believe due in part to the number of times I’ve been assaulted in a vehicle. One is extremely vulnerable in a stationary vehicle. Is there any reason why we can’t wait to balance the checkbook until we get home? Now these are all simple common sense things, but unless you are conscious of the tendency we all have towards task fixation, it’s really easy to allow oneself to fall prey to it.

Avoid task fixation in public.

That’s the best advice I can give someone to increase their sphere of awareness.



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Posted in Awareness, Combatives, Concealed Carry, Mindset
One comment on “Managing Unknown Contacts: Task Fixation
  1. […] I try to scan my surroundings periodically, I am not foolhardy enough to think I am immune to task fixation. It can happen to all of us, if we have enough things vying for our attention. I’ve also […]


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