Martial and Tactical Muse : Awareness and workspace / area of operations


My dad’s wallet just got stolen. In broad daylight, right under his nose.

He was at a counter, talking to the person working there. He then turned around, his wallet placed on the top of the counter table. He turned back and it was already gone. Several seconds was all it took.

It’s really scary how quick things happen. Worst of all, the lady at the counter didn’t even bother to care or keep a lookout, but that’s another story altogether.

Just last week I witnessed a snatch robbery happening just next to my table while eating out. It got me really thinking about surrounding awareness and how it is ever so important. It also brought to mind the concept of ‘workspace’ (to be explained below).

The thing is (and don’t take this as a marketing attempt), but there’s something I learnt practicing FMA (Philipino Martial Arts). It’s the concept of ‘checking’.

In FMA we don’t practice blocks. Because in a confrontation where blades are involved, blocking is a dangerous way to go. The blade strikes at multiple angles and a block deters the incoming threat only in one dimension. For a skilled knife fighter, a block is just a static wall that can be outmaneuvered.

What FMA practitioners do instead is tapping (although in some other FMA practices, mine included, we use tactical approaches instead). The basic concept of tapping is to redirect the threat with one hand instead of blocking it head on. And to add on to it, once the threat (the blade) has been redirected with hand and footwork, our secondary hand steps in to ‘check’ the weapon hand of the opponent. Checking is the act of placing the secondary hand on the opponent’s weapon arm in a strategic position for control and also serves as an information feed on where the threat is. That way, it’s an auto info-feed that doesn’t require additional effort for us to look for the threat, adding on to the plethora and rush of information coming into our receptors during the altercation.

Checking as a concept is something we can apply in our everyday situation, especially our belongings. It’s the idea that you know where everything is in place. We have to place our belongings in positions where we know where they are and we can be aware of their presence passively instead of actively.

A wallet for example can be kept in-hand even when transactions are going on. Some people attach security chains that connect their wallets to their pants. Even security personnel have cables attached to their firearms so if it drops they know where to find it. In the civillian world we have many tools that help us to do such a thing. Key-chains to keep track of our keys, belt clips, shirt pockets and so on. It’s all to place the item in a specific safe position. Positioning is a form of tactics that does not only apply in combatives but also in our everyday life. It lessens the burden of our attention, adding on to our response speed.

In military and police circles they have the concept of ‘workspace’. Items – be it ammo clips, or firearms, or melee impact or edge weapons are kept on chest pockets, or on belts, thigh holsters and so on – where in the event of an altercation, the hand immediately knows where to go get the items needed. Positioning of a rifle, to the sidearm, to the blade – all have been thought out or is being improved upon to improve on reaction speed so as to minimize the window for error. It’s all about tactics, from the execution of the military operation down to the attire. There’s always a practical reason why something is done, efficiency constantly in mind.

Because in the event of a disaster, every second (sometimes even milliseconds ) can make a difference. As the saying goes, “One should not worry about what can be expected but what hits you on some idle Tuesday.”

In such a situation the question then comes to how fast you react to it. Tactics offset timing to your advantage. Awareness of your surroundings gives you that preemptive edge to completely avoid trouble and disaster altogether by providing data-feed that would otherwise be overwhelming in an altercation filled with stress and adrenaline.

When you think about it, awareness and timing is actually positioning in regards to timing and location.

All in all, please do be careful out there whoever you are, wherever you are, whether day or night, rain or shine.

Some ask how is it that I can relate anything to the martial way. I would like to say that the martial way is just a part of the human condition. It was created with the human anatomy and mentality being used as the template to build upon. It’s just an extension of what humans do. It’s not about learning the techniques but of getting the concepts and the hidden message behind the techniques. It’s all connected to us and our lives.

Everything that is part of the human condition is connected to our being whether directly or indirectly. It’s interesting to be able to connect one thing to another. As I’ve mentioned in my previous post “The World Is Still Beautiful”, discovering and making that connection is what is exciting.

Stay safe everyone. =)

3 thoughts on “Martial and Tactical Muse : Awareness and workspace / area of operations

  1. There is so much humanity and wisdom in your post. This post is another great read. I love the way you highlight some of the connections we enjoy as humans (like martial arts), this adds value to each day.

    • Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. It’s hard to find someone who actually has an interest in reading something that is related to martial arts (where I’m from anyways).

      And seeing the connection is something I found rather interesting and exciting to do. After all, anything made on earth by men is just an extension of the human condition. It was built and made with our basic anatomy as the template for its design. 😀

      • You make a great point. I love the thread of philosophy you weave into your work. I am familiar with basic Tai Chi and it is an amazing art. Reading your words gave a deeper insight into my practice. When something is connected I think it becomes more real. Thanks for the insightful post.

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