Just to be the devils advocate here, since this is something that bothers me often.
''Awareness and avoidance''
Yes that's fine, but what many people who preach this need to realize is that something can happen regardless of the neighbourhood/establishments you frequent and the time of day.
Awareness of the two is actually more important, but violent criminals often use tactics that can get even a well trained or suspicious individual to lower their guard for a brief moment.
A common method is to simply approach politely and ask for something like a smoke, the time or something else that typically requires you to go through your pockets or purse - even if the person declines flat out saying they don't smoke, or knowing the time without having to look at their watch typically we will be less suspicious of someone approaching us civilly and politely in speech.
Also this action gets the individual close enough to initiate an attack with little chance for the victim to simply run away.
So my point is... Avoidance is somewhat common sense - you wouldn't go walking around at night wearing a suit in the worst neighbourhood in your city, would you?
Awareness of the two is mort important but as I said before experienced violent criminals will use very effective tactics to approach you to try and catch you off guard.
So teaching self defense what matters above all else is teaching self defense techniques instead of ''fighting techniques''
The difference is very big. If there's a ''fight'' we are prepared for it or at least we get some sort of warning.
A self defense technique is in response to an attack we have no warning for. Someone blitzing you, someone grabbing you from behind, grabbing a limb, threatening with a weapon and so on.
So of self defense in general ''awareness and avoidance'' is an introduction course, 1% of the formula. When we have to defend ourself we need to use our weapons wether they are effecient techniques or fast legs, being avoidant & aware wont get you out of a situation that is already occuring.