Notice the bite of the bitter cold sink in as you step onto the curb, a reminder, awaken to the world around you, before you, even behind you, above you, and beneath you.
How often is anyone aware of what goes on around them? Truly aware of the person watching them, studying them from across the room, across the street, across the complex, or from the front of the city bus??
Do they notice the guy afar with constant traffic, exchanging words and gestures for a few seconds before one set of people leave and another arrives, constantly checking his six, eyes darting here and there?? Obviously THAT guy is aware, but how many others even take notice?
How long does it take you to notice a person has just walked up and stood next to you?? How many exits do you count in a building? How many avenues of escape do you have?? Did you even take notice??
How many Dojo include drills on this?? Little games to test this sort of 'situational awareness' in order to hone in on subtle and not-so-subtle behaviors, patterns, and breaches in patterns (anomalies)??
It has been an ongoing practice of mine to be aware of everything around me, to know who is in my vicinity and who is going to be in my vicinity within the next few seconds, or who has exited my vicinity.
What I have gathered from this day to day practice is that most are unaware of anything that goes on around them because they are buried in their cell phones, chatting with their friends, completely oblivious to everything and everyone around them until they suddenly, and quite surprisingly to them, find it in their direct line of sight.
This is a major problem, especially when these figures include members of the Martial Arts Community, members of the Security Patrol meant to keep an eye on property and people, even members of Law Enforcement as they go about their business, but less so in this area.
The things you notice when you start to pay attention, truly pay attention, will astound you. For one, people that you notice are aware tend to become aware of you and tend to avoid you, eye contact is broken as they sweep their gaze somewhere else because you are, like them, aware... This means you are no longer an easy mark, if that was their intention, and more often than not that was exactly their intention.
Not only do you become more aware, you begin to project more, you hold your head up, you feel bigger and, therefor, you look bigger, you ARE bigger.
With this comes a sense of groundedness, you no longer need to seek to constantly move from your center because you are already centered, you move AS your center and this, too, projects outward... The experienced feel this much in the same way animals feel the presence of an Alpha... Exactly the same way.
Can you establish a baseline in any given area in order to become aware of patterns that surround you and, thus, pick out the anomalies in order to gain early insight into what is going on??
A person might act interested in something, but which way are their feet and their mannerisms pointing?? Are they just feigning interest in one thing in an attempt to hide their true intentions and their true target?? Their body language cannot conceal their intent for very long.
These are things to think about the next time you think you are a killer-kung-fu-hero as you train in the Dojo, Dojang, Kwoon or whatever it is you like to call that special place.
This is not to get down on anyone for training, quite the contrary, it is meant to bring awareness to an extra layer that can further enrich said training and bring it closer to operational status.
In the old days Sensei would have those of us who were Seniors remain vigilant for teaching opportunities, we called them openings, and taking an opening to teach a lesson was called a 'cut.'
It was a game for us, but it taught us to remain on guard, to never do anything half-assed, to always follow through and, when an opening was discovered and we received a cut, to improve upon ourselves by never allowing ourselves to present such an opening in the future.
Outside the Dojo we can all be friends, but on the Dojo Floor we are training, we are seeking openings and seeking to eliminate our own openings, on all levels, so that we have none left when we are out on our own facing down the cold on the curb and the person studying us from across the street.