What To Watch in a Fight
Here is an illustrative excerpt from Han Erh – Book Four of the Dragons of Wulin:
He made his stance and prepared to fight again, then stopped and stood up.
“Fast hands cannot be followed by the eyes and the thoughts, Han.”
“What should I do then, sir?”
“Don’t look at them,” he said. “Don’t look at the feet either. Too fast and too far from the greatest danger; which is the hands and what they might hold.”
“I don’t want to argue with you, sir,” I said, “But Master Kano says it is the attack and not the attacker that brings death. Men attack with their hands and feet. If I don’t watch those, then all that is left is the head and torso.”
Cadet Song nodded and said, “But is it not a common teaching in all your studies to watch for danger and to know from where it comes?”
“Yes, sir” I said. “That would be the hands and feet. But if I am not to watch them…”
“Know them, Han Erh. Notice that the term is to watch for danger, not to watch danger itself. Watching for danger gives you more of a chance to preempt it, and it does not tell your enemy that you are watching. Watching one single point of danger most often blinds you to other sources of danger. But when fighting a single man, what is the source of all danger?”
“His whole person, sir.”
“Then watch that,” he said. “Be aware of his eyes, but diffuse your eyes over his whole person while directing your gaze on his chest.”
Back when I was in the police academy, they repeatedly told us, “Watch the hands. They’re the greatest source of danger.” It’s true for the most part, with untrained people, but who can be sure the suspect you are dealing with is untrained. It’s a foolish assumption, and focusing on one source of danger is considered both primitive and juvenile in the advanced martial arts. I would never tell my students to do such a thing.
You can aim your eyes generally at the spot that gives you the best overall view of the whole situation and greatest sources of danger, but you should keep them moving and never assume the sources of danger that you know are all the sources there are.
Do what Cadet Song tells Han Erh in the above excerpt: aim your eyes at your opponent’s chest, because that gives you the best general view of all his weapons and the movements of his torso give good indications of what he is about to do and capable of doing, but don’t fixate your eyes on anything. A good martial artist will know by the movements of the torso what the limbs are doing. Only a great martial artist will be able to hide it.
You can find the source of this excerpt HERE and find many more great strategies and philosophies inside.