Short, concise lessons and concepts helpful to students
The Hawk and the Art of Scanning
By Terry Bryan
The early Chinese martial artists watched nature and used what they
saw as a base for creating concepts of the world as it really is. Many
forms of martial arts were also based upon animal observations, and their
attributes inspired the development of various fighting arts and their
This brings us to the attributes of the Hawk. The hawk defends by staying
outside of her opponent’s range, circling, probing for weaknesses.
When she attacks, she darts in like a thunderbolt. She is vicious, ripping
and tearing with her talon and beak, and then quickly retreats before
her enemy can retaliate. These physical attributes are easy to see, but
what about the hidden success qualities the hawk possesses.
One of the key principles is that the hawk is a master at scanning as
a method of awareness. By moving her attention smoothly and continuously,
she builds a comprehensive image of the current situation as it develops.
There are two major errors in the scanning process that the hawk has
learned to overcome – fixation and omission. Fixation and omission
are universal errors in human attention. Fixation is deadly in combat.
It is imperative that the mind be alert in combat in the now, not detained
or focused elsewhere. When we become fixated on a given situation, we
are open to other attacks which could be equally or more dangerous. The
hawk sees everything, as it truly is, not giving it more importance than
is necessary to handle the situation.
Omission is equally dangerous, because if you deny the existence of
a threat, then you may miss the danger and get hurt. Each detail is paid
attention to with an understanding of how that detail is linked to our
own specific needs and goals. The hawk knows that she does not have the
ability to go toe-to-toe with the larger or stronger opponent, so she
has become a master of seeing what cannot be seen. Only by seeing everything,
can a true warrior make the right decision in the moment of choice. This
is the way of the hawk.
About the Author:
Terry Bryan is the former General Secretary for the USA-NKF (National
Karate Federation), the official governing body for the sport of karate
with the US Olympic Committee. He currently is the Executive Director
for the American Black Belt Academy, a 501c3 non-profit organization
located in Colorado Springs. His column, Simple Lessons, regularly appears