Kyoshi David Baker, Chief Administrator,
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA
Under the Direction of Hanshi Robert Scaglione
Be Aware of Your Entire 360°
This principle is from the Green Book
(Building Warrior Spirit). I suggest you read the section
on Gan, especially Warrior Perception on page
and the section starting with the first paragraph of page
26, until the end of the Gan chapter.
Be aware of whats around you, to respond to a circumstance
or attack that endangers you or a loved one. Study the Green
Book for the Gan precept and the perception necessary for
a warrior. Our training, especially kata, develops that
remote sensing of all that is around usAwareness
Carry this training over into your life, so that it protects
you and your loved ones as you go about your daily activities.
And once you incorporate it into your daily life, guard
especially that you dont become complacent, especially
when in a familiar setting. This is because we tend to relax
our defenses when at home or at work or on our commute.
Complacency training. Which erodes the Awareness
training were trying to accomplish.
Study the strategies and techniques from the Gan chapter
to keep you vigilant.
Use your visual perception to scan your environment.
Military pilots speak of their 6 oclock position
(as in Watch your 6)whats directly
behind thembecause that is where theyre most
vulnerable in the sky. But their vulnerability actually
extends in each direction of all three dimensions. Left
and right, up and down, forward and back. This holds true
for us too, only conceding that falling objects are rare
and below us holds risk primarily for uneven or wet pavement,
curbs, stray objects, etc. But normally, not by attacks
from above or below.
The normal human binocular visual field is approximately
200º, so a normally sighted person can see everything
in front of them, plus a little to each side (approximately
10º), while maintaining the eyes forward. However,
we can increase that, to see what is next to us and even
slightly behind, by rotating our eyeswhile still remaining
fairly covert and facing straight ahead. (And in an urban
setting you can double your effective angle of sight behind
by using reflective surfaces such as store windows.)
Yet, we must be aware of our entire 360°. And if we
are to accomplish this visually, we must rotate our headbecoming
overt in our scanning.
However, someone who looks sideways or behind may draw undue
attention as being anxious or scared, and therefore be perceived
as prey, i.e. a target.
The ideal, then, might be to be wary without being obvious.
Casually scanning. And if predators notice that were
aware (but not scared), theyll probably choose an
easier, less attentive victim anyway.
But the worst is to be so cool (or afraid) that
you refuse to show your wariness altogether. You dont
scan at all. Afraid that looking around appears afraid.
That willful blindness is an open invitation to a predator.
And there may be times when you must drop all guise and
look directly behind if your instinct suggests there is
something that requires immediate attention. Use the skills
youve trained to prevent being the victim of an attack.
(#knockout game) After all, your instincts are barking at
you, in this instance, for a reason. Their arousal is one
of your best defenses. Learn to read your instincts, trust
them, and develop them further.
When walking the dog late at night Ill keep an approaching,
suspicious person in sight, and then surreptitiously turn
my head as he passes next to me on the sidewalk until Im
convinced that he wont double back on me. After all,
if he sees me looking back at him, then hes looking
back too. Revealing all three of us as mutually wary. (Did
you forget to count the dog?)
Also, take cues from the reactions of others. If youre
engaged in conversation with someone in front of you and
a sound behind you diverts their gaze, that could be a warning.
Or a ruse.
But to be aware of our entire environment, we must develop
all our senses, especially to fill in the visual void due
to the fact that we dont have eyes in the back of
Listen to your environment and discriminate between near
and far sounds, heavy and light, fast and slow, urgent and
normal. Discern meaning from what you hear.
Smell? Touch? How else can you fill in the sensory void
behind you? Know too that some common things we wear, such
as hoodies, headphones, etc. are blinders of our senses,
making us more vulnerable.
Sometimes, something unknown will make the hair on
the back of your neck stand up. That might be important.
Danger might be nigh. Again, learn to trust your instinctstheyre
And act quickly and decisively. Hanshi writes about an incident
in New Jersey on page 29 of the Green Book where ten or
more teenagers surrounded a man. He was struck from behind,
in the back of the head, with a blunt object.
The lesson here is to be aware at all times, and do everything
you can to prevent from being surrounded if you sense an
imminent threat from a group. In that case, try not to be
surrounded. Dont let them close the circle behind
Rather, put a wall to your back, as in Nihanchi kata. Or
punch the ringleader in the nose and run while the others
stare in shock. (The lesson of the story on page 62 of the
Green Book, where the homeowner shot the first intruder,
instantly immobilizing the entire gang.) Or find the weak
point of the circle and burst through it. Or shout for help.
But do something before the circle closes.
But to do that, first you must be aware of whats around
you, and especially behind. You need to be aware of your
From Kyoshi David Baker, Chief Administrator,
Ueshiro Shorin-Ryu Karate USA