As a Karate-ka, it is natural to always be aware of your surroundings.
At least if you have been training for a long time.
Maybe this is what the Japanese sometimes refer to as Zanshin. You know danger can always be close, thus you are not taken by as much surprise as a normal person if something unexpected would happen. Relaxed alertness.
And I’m not just talking about being physically assaulted by someone, rather more trivial things like for example: crossing the street, checking that the door is locked, tying your shoelaces, choosing the best seat on the bus/restaurant/train, how to walk around the corner, how to walk on the sidewalk, how to greet/help people, and so forth.
In all of these things there is a way of doing that is “better” than other ways, and using your awareness and “safety-thinking” you can easily find that way. Most people just don’t think about it.
A way that maximizes your safety and awareness, while still maintaining the social norm.
This is not something that is easy to learn from a book (or a blog for that matter). It is something that evolves naturally in an sharp and focused mind, with the relevant experience.
But you don’t need intelligence to have this awareness, I doubt Einstein thought of things like these when he went out for a stroll.
You just need that special feeling.
So how do you get it?
You get it when you are exposed to it, it’s a direct result of experience. That is why a Karate student most likely will have a good sense of this awareness, because he/she is exposed to potential conflict in his/her training (although in a somewhat safe environment), and thus evolves a sense for it. People punching, kicking and screaming at you three times a week is a whole lot compared to what a “normal person” is exposed to, in terms of conflict.
And this experience, combined with the right type of mindset, will produce a sense of awareness not found in other people, except maybe some people working in the security business, military and so on.
This is not something new though, even the samurai knew about this. Actually, people have always done, since the birth of mankind.
But in our current “safe” world, this skill is degenerating quickly.
The famous samurai Miyamoto Musashi had this to say about the subject:
“Both in fighting and in everyday life, you should be determined though calm. […] Even when your spirit is calm do not let your body relax, and when your body is relaxed do not let your spirit slacken…
– Miyamoto Musashi
This is what my whole post was about.