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Situational Awareness Drills – Mark Hatmaker

THE Primary Factor in self-protection/self-defense is situational
awareness
. Keeping in mind that crime is, more often than not, a
product of opportunity, if we take steps to reduce opportunity to as
close to nil as we can manage we have gone a long way to rendering our
physical tactical training needless (that’s a good thing.)

Yes, having defensive tactical skills in the back-pocket is a great
ace to carry day-to-day but all the more useful to saving your life or
the lives of loved ones is a honed awareness, a ready alertness to
what is occurring around you every single day.

Here’s the problem, maintaining such awareness is a Tough job with a
capital T as most of our daily lives are safe and mundane (also a good
thing) and this very safety allows us to backslide in good awareness
practices. Without daily danger-stressors we easily fall into default
comfort mode.

A useful practice to return awareness/alertness to the fore is to
gamify your awareness, use a series of specific awareness/alertness
drills on a revolving basis that allow you to keep your mind in the
day-to-day routine while also making a bit of a game out of what may
save your life.

In aid of that I use an extensive series of gamified awareness drills
culled from historical warrior traditions across the globe. Where
appropriate I have updated the drill to fit the 21st century
environment.

Below you will find just three of these many drills that you can take
into your day to day life starting NOW.

Situational Awareness Drill #1

The 1st Awareness Exercise for Warriors is from “Puewatsi Nemito”
(The Wild Walker or Walk of the Wild) a Comanche warrior tradition.

“Tuhoit’u” (The Hunted One)

Today: You are on the Menu.

Whether in an urban or a natural setting live as if you are a hunted
man, a targeted woman, a person on someone’s Kill List.

  • Know who or what is behind you.
  • Look into the faces of the people around you, are they the one who hunts you?
  • Look at the hands of all around you—is the method of your demise in any hand?
  • Keep to the edges of trails or sidewalks-only confident or foolhardy
    animals cross open ground.
  • Treat all security cameras as tools to locate you. Avert your face
    when passing by or beneath them.
  • Treat all birds as possible drones.
  • In short, live with eyes wide open, mind alert. Live as if you are
    being stalked.
  • At the end of the exercise ask yourself what you learned from this bit
    of role play.

Warriors must be aware.

Aware of what? Everything.

A Warrior must be Awake. All detail is interesting, all detail may be important. We do
not know what detail will change our lives. We do not know what detail
will save our lives.

Situational Awareness Drill #2

Here’s another Drill adapted from “Puewatsi Nemito” (The Wild Walker
or Walk of the Wild)

This is an inverse exercise of Hukhiap’u Puniti (Shadow Watcher) Drill.

Today: Look for Reflections

Today find all the reflective surfaces that you can. See what those
reflections hold.

  • Find the trees in the windows of your home.
  • See the glint of the semi-truck in the window of a passing car.
  • See the rippled reflection of the sky or yourself in a puddle of water.
  • See the surroundings of the restaurant in the beverage glass before you.
  • See the reflections of the road in the heat haze on the highway in front of you.
  • See the distorted you in the corneas of the person you are speaking to.
  • The only reflection to pay no attention to—that of any mirror.
  • Find any and all reflections-and mark how many surfaces provide mirror images.

I repeat: Warriors must be aware.

Aware of what? Everything.

A Warrior must be Awake. All detail is interesting, all detail may be
important. We do not know what detail will change our lives. We do not
know what detail will save our lives.

Situational Awareness Drill #3

The next drill is an adaptation of a similar drill found in both
Northeast Indian Warrior Traditions and the Viking tradition.

If you are wise, be wise
Keep what goods the gods gave you
Don’t ignore five good senses
Seeking an unknown sixth.
The Viking Havamal

Don’t get caught looking for leaves in the trees in Autumn. Those
leaves are on the ground.”
Comanche teaching

Or this short Puha (Medicine Man/Coach/Mentor) to a Ekasahpana (young
warrior) exchange.

Look.”
At what?
Everything then you’ll never have to ask.

WARRIOR AWARENESS DRILL:
Take 3/Find 5

  • Select a 15-minute period in your day to execute this drill.
  • Take three steps, stop and list (verbally if possible) 5 distinct
    things in your environment that you can physically sense, These can be
    things you see, sounds you hear, scents, tastes on the wind, a breeze
    on the skin.
  • Take three more steps, stop and repeat cataloging 5 more things. Do
    not repeat anything in any of your prior inventory.
  • Continue until the ¼ hour is completed with no repetition of what you noticed.
  • If you take the time to honestly commit to this exercise you will find
    there is far more to sense than we normally take in. We gloss over and
    glide through so much of life that what we miss can be astounding.

    I repeat the above exchange:

    Look.”
    At what?
    Everything then you’ll never have to ask.”

    T’zare Tubunit’u Ekasapana! (Be Awake Warriors!)

    For More Instruction From Mark Hatmaker Click Here

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54 thoughts on “Situational Awareness Drills – Mark Hatmaker”

  1. Excellent article Mark. Exercises 1 and 2 are variations on something I practice all the time. I agree that if you don’t make it interesting, you WILL miss things. Exercise 3 though, was very interesting. Although I believe I am aware of most things around me, this was an interesting way to look at what is all around me. I will be adding this into my daily routine. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Great article, and good tips for developing situational awareness. Good stuff to learn how to live in condition yellow.

  3. Really good advice. It’s so easy to sleepwalk through life until the day a predator you were never aware of tears you to pieces. Staying alert and aware will keep you safe and these drills are great for practicing essential survival skills.

  4. Be aware of your surrounding. I always get angry when someone sneaks up behind me. It’s friendly of course but to me I think “what if… “