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Warrior Awareness: The Killing Hand by Mark Hatmaker

There is a 90% chance that you, Dear Reader, are right-handed.

Left-handedness has an approximate 10% distribution in human populations.

Some research shows there is an approximate 30% of us who delegate tasks between hands, so called ambidexterity. But if we dig deeper on this mixed-handedness, it is not true even-handedness. This 30% still shows a hand preference on fine motor skill work.

Disclosure: I am a righty who boxes southpaw, signs my name with my right hand, works the Bowie knife and tomahawk with the right hand, but finds that my left hand is more facile in gunwork. I’m in that 30% twilight zone but…when confronted with a new task or as skills deteriorate under stress-drills [extreme cold et cetera] the right-hand dominance manifests more starkly. So, keep in mind ambidexterity is not a true 50/50 proposition.

For my boxing Brethren out there, even the “ambidextrous” Marvelous Marvin Hagler was not truly so. When it hit the fan we see the shift to the preferred side.

For our combat purposes today, let’s look to a skill that was part and parcel of indigenous warrior ability and is still a huge part of awareness for today’s law enforcement and wise civilian operators.

The ability to spot pechari mo’obe.

That is the Comanche for the ability to see “the Killing Hand.”

The Killing Hand, is the hand that will wield the weapon with utmost facility, the hand that will flick into the face with the greatest speed, the hand likely to be wound up in the uneducated haymaker, the hand that indicates the side of the body that will show greatest facility and likely tendency in grappling and scuffling once an altercation hits the ground.

Good Warriors were expected to train themselves to spot handedness at a glance and this was not merely in humans. Other species show left and right preferences with almost the same 90/10 distribution.

A good warrior would watch which hoof the mustang scratches the ground with to know which is most likely to strike in a forefoot strike, and the good horseman can make a better approach to the off-side.

Toss a toy to your dog and/or cat and watch which paw performs most of the pinning work and you now have a read of the left/right dominance. And if your animal should ever turn feral in the coming domestic pet zombie apocalypse you have a better strategy as to which side is the off-side for corralling and approach for the killing shot.

As for reading human handedness…

Whenever anyone walks anywhere with anything in their hand, they tell us what they value.

It may not be the dominant hand itself doing the carrying but we are getting a read on value—more on hand and value in a moment.

The flip-side of the Killing Hand was Hiding your Killing Hand.

Many warrior traditions ask that you carry nothing in your hands that is not a weapon, a tool, or a loved one. Carrying anything else showed weakness, insecurity, and tipped your hand so to speak.

The lesson in modern context would dictate that modern men and women who consider themselves Warriors should walk with nothing in their hands ready to face whatever is out there. I don’t care if it’s a trip to the grocery store. The only things that should be in your hands are a tool you are getting ready to use [shopping carts count], a weapon at the ready [only in dire times or hunting], the hand of a loved one, or a burden you are carrying to a car for someone else.

Anything else in a Warrior’s hands is a security blanket telling a story of dependence, if it’s a phone in hand that is not being used, well, we have a story of dependence. 

If we feel the need to travel with an item in our hands, we are signaling that we “need” it.

The Warrior tradition asks us to look at what we hold and question our relationship with it.

Non-PC Observation: Women are the more attractive half of our species.

Women are curves. Men respond to curves. Woman respond to curves as well. Woman dress for curves—whether that be accenting curves you consider of good advertising value or de-accenting curves one sees as detriment. It’s about sleeking up the curves.

No woman would buy jeans that makes her posterior look boxy. They would be selected from the rack, tried on, glanced at in the mirror, and re-racked asap.

And yet there is zero compunction for many about throwing that boxy phone into the back pocket and throwing off the curvature. This signals the phone is valued over the presentation. That signals something pretty significant—you are gonna be dealing with that phone.

Watch for this phone-in-pocket signal and tell me I’m wrong.

Handedness Signals

A few fairly hard rules for detecting handedness.

·        The presence of firearm on hip and butt-positioning is a rather obvious tell.

·        Which front pocket carries keys is fairly certain for men. Look for the key bulge in the dominant side pocket.

·        Women primarily carry purses over the non-dominant shoulder, so the dominant hand can pry into to extract contents.

·        Men usually place billfolds in the non-dominant back pocket, so the non-dominant hand can remove the billfold and the dominant hand can pluck contents.

·        Phones in rear pockets of either gender often the same rule as billfolds. Non-dominant pocket so extraction can be done with the non-dominant hand and the dominant hand can swipe, poke, and prod to its content.

·        The hand that reaches for an item, more often than not, is as useful a signal as watching your pet pin a toy to the ground.

·        An infant is often carried in the non-dominant arm, so the dominant can attend with finesse.

These few should get you going.

The Assignment

For the next week attempt to mentally call the Killing Hand of any and all you see.

With a little bit of practice if becomes second nature and you can wander a crowded public square with the mental tally running of “Right, right, left, right, could be left…no right he just stopped to tie his shoes giving me a definite right signal.”


For the next week, each time your place something in your hand consider your relationship with it. Is it a tool for immediate use?

Is it an interaction with a loved one?

Or is it a dependency gesture that gives away your own Killing Hand easily to other eyes wide-open warriors?


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