THE Primary Factor in self-protection/self-defense is situational awareness. Keeping in mind that crime is, more often than not, a product of opportunity, if we take steps to reduce opportunity to as close to nil as we can manage we have gone a long way to rendering our physical tactical training needless [that’s a good thing.]
Yes, having defensive tactical skills in the back-pocket is a great ace to carry day-to-day but all the more useful to saving your life or the lives of loved ones is a honed awareness, a ready alertness to what is occurring around you every single day.
Here’s the problem, maintaining such awareness is a Tough job with a capital T as most of our daily lives are safe and mundane [also a good thing] and this very safety allows us to backslide in good awareness practices. Without daily danger-stressors we easily fall into default comfort mode.
A useful practice to return awareness/alertness to the fore is to gamify your awareness, that is, to use a series of specific awareness/alertness drills on a revolving basis that allow you to keep your mind a bit above the day-to-day routine while also making a bit of a game out of what may save your life.
In aid of that I use an extensive series of gamified awareness drills culled from historical warrior traditions across the globe. Where appropriate I have updated the drill to fit the 21st century environment.
Below you will find just three of these many drills that you can take into your day to day life starting NOW.
The 1st Awareness Exercise for Warriors is from “Puewatsi Nemito” (The Wild Walker or Walk of the Wild) a Comanche warrior tradition.
“Tuhoit’u” [The Hunted One]
- Whether in an urban or a natural setting live as if you are a hunted man, a targeted woman, a person on someone’s Kill List.
- Know who or what is behind you.
- Look into the faces of the people around you, are they the one who hunts you?
- Look at the hands of all around you—is the method of your demise in any hand?
- Keep to the edges of trails or sidewalks-only confident or foolhardy animals cross open ground.
- Treat all security cameras as tools to locate you. Avert your face when passing by or beneath them.
- Treat all birds as possible drones.
- In short, live with eyes wide open, mind alert. Live as if you are being stalked.
- At the end of the exercise ask yourself what you learned from this bit of role play.
Warriors must be aware. Aware of what? Everything. A Warrior must be Awake. All detail is interesting, all detail may be important. We do not know what detail will change our lives. We do not know what detail will save our lives.
Here’s another Drill adapted from “Puewatsi Nemito” (The Wild Walker or Walk of the Wild)
This is an inverse exercise of Hukhiap’u Puniti [Shadow Watcher] Drill.
Today: Look for Reflections
- Today find all the reflective surfaces that you can. See what those reflections hold.
- Find the trees in the windows of your home.
- See the glint of the semi-truck in the window of a passing car.
- See the rippled reflection of the sky or yourself in a puddle of water.
- See the surroundings of the restaurant in the beverage glass before you.
- See the reflections of the road in the heat haze on the highway in front of you
- See the distorted you in the corneas of the person you are speaking to.
- The only reflection to pay no attention to—that of any mirror.
- Find any and all reflections-and mark how many surfaces provide mirror images.
I repeat: Warriors must be aware. Aware of what? Everything. A Warrior must be Awake. All detail is interesting, all detail may be important. We do not know what detail will change our lives. We do not know what detail will save our lives.
The next drill is an adaptation of a similar drill found in both Northeast Indian Warrior Traditions and the Viking tradition.
“If you are wise, be wise
Keep what goods the gods gave you
Don’t ignore five good senses
Seeking an unknown sixth.”-The Viking Havamal
“Don’t get caught looking for leaves in the trees in Autumn. Those leaves are on the ground.”-Comanche teaching
Or this short Puha [Medicine Man/Coach/Mentor] to a Ekasahpana [young warrior] exchange.
“Everything then you’ll never have to ask.”
WARRIOR AWARENESS DRILL: Take 3/Find 5
- Select a 15-minute period in your day to execute this drill.
- Take three steps, stop and list [verbally if possible] 5 distinct things in your environment that you can physically sense, These can be things you see, sounds you hear, scents, tastes on the wind, a breeze on the skin.
- Take three more steps, stop and repeat cataloguing 5 more things. Do not repeat anything in any of your prior inventory.
- Continue until the ¼ hour is completed with no repetition of what you noticed.
If you take the time to honestly commit to this exercise you will find there is far more to sense than we normally take in. We gloss over and glide through so much of life that what we miss can be astounding.
I repeat the above exchange:
“Everything then you’ll never have to ask.”
T’zare Tubunit’u Ekasapana! [Be Awake Warriors!]