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Tune In Dammit!!!!
Your eyes and ears are like funnels in the moonlight…
Lesson 1 was all about posture, and becoming aware of the way you’re carrying yourself through your life. Now let’s talk about about tuning in to your environment, just as a predator is tuning in looking for prey. We should tune in too. There’s a difference between awareness and paranoia. We aren’t always looking for danger, we are gathering information… Tuning in. “hey cool… baby ducks, and wow, there’s a sale at the used record store” could be the result of your tuning in that day, or “That guy’s been following us for 2 blocks.”
In this town, it’s usually “Hey, that guys leaving!!!” and you can finally end the 15 minute saga of finding a parking spot, but did you just park right next to a shady guy who could use a couple bucks and you instantly put it in park, and send a text…?
This is basic Situation Awareness
When tuning in, we are making our senses available to our environment. I’m not a fan of touching or tasting things out in public, so let’s just keep our eyes, ears, and noses alive. Try and resist the urge to touch strangers.(now you’re the weird one) I also assume and/or wish for all of us, that we all have the ability to sense danger without having to taste it, but hey, it could happen. “That guy tastes like he’s up to something…” nah… but danger comes in many forms, if the milk tastes blah, then stop drinking it.
If you were hunting and gathering, looking for food, resources, or in todays world, parking, or a busy thrift shop where… THERE WILL BE ONLY ONE OF THOSE!!! The environment may have potential danger, potential competition for resources, and/or supplies, heck… maybe something to “mate” with. Those resources may be scattered for miles. Your eyes would funnel out. The small point being the eyeball, then the vision would open up to see as far and wide as possible. I sometimes call this “Splatter Vision.” Similar to a wide angle lens. Taking in the entire landscape.
When you get a text message, or you’re trying to remove a splinter. This is the other funnel. The reverse funnel. Your eyeball is the largest part and the vision reduces down to a tiny point. This could be tunnel vision or just being focused on something. However you slice it, you’re tuning out your surroundings. Personally, this is usually when I walk into a pole or a building sneaks up on me. Woah… Those things just come from out of nowhere.
In nature, tuning in is a necessary skill. It can mean many things: friend, foe, or food. Same as in a city. This is nature no matter how fancy you become. It’s basically an anthill with traffic, separated into tribes and economic classes that devour things from our ant friends in China… umm, maybe it’s a little different than an anthill… Do ants have art? Tune in while driving, walking around, riding your bike, or any other time your not in a safe place to tune out.
Surprise!!! I want your money!!!
The act of ambush relies heavily on you not being aware, and please realize that it’s not a competition, it’s all about using their strongest tool against your weakest. This isn’t the octagon, we aren’t agreeing on anything. So, eyes and ears up and out. Remember what I said about posture… the next step is realizing that if a predator has a choice between a tiny gimp staring right at them, or a giant in shape beefcake staring down at their phone and not paying attention. I’m eating beefcake tonight. Usually predators don’t just run up and give you a “SHATNER!!!” double handed chop to the back of the neck. There’s usually a weapon involved. A good rule is something that I learned from a boxer: You get hit by what you don’t see.
No offense to John Wayne, but in real life he’d get his butt kicked by the first homeschool softy with decent footwork and a basic jab.
This is why if someone does approach you, even with just a “Hey”, look around… even say hey back. If you’re too frail to look up, you’re easy pickens, so let them know that not only can you look at them, you can also make sounds out of your face. ONE OF THE MAIN REASONS YOU SHOULD LOOK AROUND IS: They might be distracting you from their other friend behind you and relying on the fact that the shock of a stranger acknowledging you in a strange place might make you fixate on them and you won’t see their partner.
When I moved to CA, I moved into this complex where I see the same people walk by everyday. I used to be working outside and I’d say hey. I wasn’t up to anything too weird, it’s not like I was there with my tin foil hat trying to signal the mothership. I’m from the south… we say hi.
Only twice has anyone looked up and said hey back. (both of those people are now a part of this community) I just stopped saying hey eventually. Think from a tactical or just a community building point of view. Basically, if my hello makes you funnel down and tune out, grow a pair and say hey back, at best, you’re not “ALL THAT” and I feel rejected and like my neighbors are robots (yeah I said it, OMG…) at worst, I’m just checking to see if I can find an opportunity to kidnap you and make you practice esoteric martial arts while listening to obscure import albums of artists you could give a shit about. You don’t know though, honestly, It could be the love of your life, or someone trying to take your Schnauzer. Do it for you not me, I got plenty of friends, so I know it’s not my eyebrows. All it took was returning a small hello.
Listen… (get it?)
I love my headphones too, (they’re custom… What!?!) Just know that if someone wants to hit you in the head or surprise you and take your stuff. You’re easy prey. They could do it in a tambourine suit while saying, “I’m gonna hit you on 3.” You still won’t hear it coming.
Tune in!!! Not to your Pandora station, but to your environment. I’ve heard a stick crack outside my tent, and when it’s obviously a big stick, I wake the hell up!!! Now, life is loud. Learn to tune in. I listen to the sounds of cars and have trained myself to hear them. This is why I’ve now had to relearn how to not get killed by those damn electric cars. It’s like they’re manatees just gliding up to you. A little V8 please!!! After the second WTF moment of looking at my shopping list while crossing the street and almost having my toes run over by a Tesla driver trying to scroll through the screen options to find what should be a simple volume knob. I have to realize these aren’t spider webs, they’re cars, and if you run into one, you can’t just flail your body to get them off of you in hopes that the poisonous driver isn’t somewhere in your hair waiting to lay eggs… Thus I have to put my money where my mouth is and TUNE IN!!! (this makes me appreciate those douchebag harley guys, setting off car alarms… if you get hit by one of them, it was on purpose)
Anomalies and Safe Spaces
Again… There’s a difference between awareness and paranoia. We aren’t always looking for danger, we are gathering information… Tuning in.
The way I was taught to see anomalies was to ask:
Is there something there that shouldn’t be?
or: Is something not there and should be?
So… This would mean I’d have to know… What is normal? For the spaces I’m in. This is easy at our homes, cars, jobs, our friends, even our neighborhoods. My teachers would call it a baseline.
This doesn’t mean danger, it means tune in more. I once heard a humming noise in my living room. My living room doesn’t hum. Thus I tuned in a bit more, and yep. There was a hummingbird trapped inside. A beautiful anomaly. Remember when a cop or the scared straight addicts would walk through your highschool? Everyone in the halls knew that they weren’t parents.
Let’s don’t look at this as looking for constant threat, just witnessing things out of place, in the wrong place, or not there at all. Socks on the kitchen counter, or someone wearing a large jacket on a hot day. These are anomalies. Socks on the counter could mean you’ve fallen down a “bachelor hole” and perhaps when your dates coming over, put a leash on your freedom… Large Jacket on a hot day, could mean many things. Again, this isn’t about judgement, it’s just a sign to TUNE IN a bit more.
The problem with learning this stuff is to think it’s one thing or the other. With any martial art, it’s not going to be one move that will protect you, it’s a sequence, or a combination of moves. Even a simple punch is a chain of events. Training to fight can protect you when in a fight… Situation awareness and Lesson 1’s Posture can often keep the fight from ever happening in the first place. Learn to see things one at a time, then move into seeing
Seeing one anomaly is just a message to tune in a bit more… Coming home and your door’s unlocked doesn’t mean you’re being robbed. Look deeper. Ask questions. Do I have a roommate? Are they supposed to be out of town? Do I have a family? Oh yeah it’s a half day at school (LOCK THE DOOR BEHIND YOU NEXT TIME TIMMY!!!) Does anyone have a key other than me? I admit…
I have a key to a couple places, and umm… I was in that part of town, traffic was bad, and the coffee kicked in after some questionable food the night before. I abused my key privileges to poop my brains out in my friends apartment while they were at work. If they’d happened to take the day off and I hadn’t have called, assuming they were at work and using the “no harm no foul” rule. A way this could have played out was. They came home, noticed someone was there, and now they get to watch their pooping friend being tazed on the shitter. Thus, I called, and no surprises. All was good, and I enjoyed the blocked up roads with smooth gastrointestinal grace, enjoying my podcast and taking my time. I would assume that Diarrhea in traffic will make you drive unsafe too.
Maybe Lesson 2-A will be all about
“The Gut” Follow it, and make sure it’s healthy… it will lead you towards true love, success, or just the bathroom.
Clusters are important. If you notice someone following you, that happens all the time, but have you ever been walking down the street and a person comes out of a shop, now you two are walking kinda close and at the same pace? Yeah, awkward right? We usually try and speed up to pass, and that doesn’t work, “what are they a professional speed walker on their way to a sale on fanny packs?!?” Then we just slow down or cross the street or something… why? BECAUSE IT’S AWKWARD!!! It’s even awkward when we’re driving… what’s the usual protocol when someone is driving exactly your same speed in the other lane right at the end of your rear bumper? Slow down or speed up. It’s dangerous and honestly, a little tacky.
The cluster is: Someone’s following you or walking the same pace as you, SA ON (SA is situation awareness). Speed up or slow down, if they do the same, now they’re pacing you, SA super ON!!! This is when you prepare to run, or go into a store, it’d also be a good idea to have a pen, pepper spray, or some pocket sand, ready… However, if they’re on their phone, they may be oblivious to you, and not notice, this has happened before, however, it’s easy to fake being on the phone. I’ve had two friends assaulted both by people ahead of them and stopping to tie their shoes. TWICE!!! in the same area.
This is my next view of clustering.
There are certain areas where the first sign is the location itself!!!
It’s not judgement, some places are more dangerous than others… I have a couple rules that help me out. (will write more on these later)
- Know where home is: (Safe Spaces) Some places are more dangerous and have more risk than others. Home is where you’re safe, it can literally be your home, or in martial arts, I feel home becomes a good stance with your hands up… it’s basically where you want to return to. Make sure you’re always aware of how to get back home.
- Walk with purpose: Walk like you know where you’re going and like you’re allowed to go there. Use your body (posture), eyes (SA) etc… even if you’re lost, own it… don’t go overboard, this isn’t the catwalk, just walk with purpose.
- People out past 12 can get weird, accept it: in my life as a touring artist that doesn’t drink or do drugs, let me just tell you that I sat around for years watching people and realized that most of our problems and drama whether it’s fighting or relationships, could have been prevented if someone would have said “NO” to drugs or alcohol. (prescription or street). Even if we’re not out at the club fighting and it’s the next day… now you’re irritable, or need some time to recover. I’m not saying don’t do it, just be aware of this and make sure that we are getting to a safe place, or have a handle on ourselves at a certain time, so we can enjoy ourselves safely. Shouting “MAINTAIN!!!” at your friends rarely works.
- Turn your SA on: When you’re out or your environment changes, turn on your senses… Look up sometimes, and of course behind you… the trail often looks different on the way back.
- Phones in public make you unaware: I know you want to check that text. again find a place or look around before you do it… If you’re parked next to a car and there’s someone sitting alone in the passenger seat. I’d suggest moving on. Stuff like that.
- Emotions, excitement, and substance abuse, make you a little dumb: just be aware of this… a breath could save us a lot of grief. This isn’t an attack on your intelligence, we are all this way.
- Don’t shit yourself: Martial arts is a path to actualization. If you train properly, you’ll understand that power is real and we can carry it responsibly. We explore our capacity, power, and fragility all at the same time. As I said in the last post. You could fight off 10 dudes and save a bunch of kids from a burning bus, then a 6 year old might throw some strawberry scented glitter in your eyes and you’re done. If your teacher is teaching you brutality without responsibility, and you’re excited to use it… please find a better school. If you’re learning techniques that work in practice, it’s not guaranteed that they work outside of your school, or under the stress that is the anomaly of you being all dressed up and in fun mode, then you have to fight without warming up or being in the mindset for it. Be honest with your practice, and practice should allow you to be a witness to your capacity.
You see… I learned this stuff from people that were learning it to actually protect themselves from life and death on a regular basis. I guess, In a way we are, but our examples won’t be as extreme… we should be responding with appropriate tools to get back home and back to the community that we care about. I’m a musician, I just want to deliver the hammer of ROCK!!! Not the hammer of justice. Still here… Still safe… Still doing it…