Threats and Miracles II

Most of our training time is spent getting the skills we need to deal with a possible assault. We get stronger, faster, more agile and more skillful in the use of our body and mind.

We train in threat awareness to alert us to the presence of a threat, before an assault can begin.

We think ahead. We scan. We tune in to predatory expressions, postures or behaviors.

Our training heightens our awareness of our environment – human and physical. We aren’t paranoid or hypervigilant or tense. We learn to stay tuned in. Not just to potential enemies. But to the presence of potential allies too.

If we were moving alone through a high threat area we would continually look out for ways to keep alive. We look for cover and concealment, food and water, shelter and tools, routes and allies. Our vigilance has to extend beyond threats and hazards in order to survive and prevail.

Most of us are not in such dire straits. But the example is instructive: as we train it is useful to be alert to the miraculous and the benevolent as well as to the brutal and predatory.

We are surrounded by all of it. And it all matters.  It can be as dangerous to miss the presence of accomplished and good-hearted people, as it is to overlook a lunatic or thief. 

If we can detect what is good, nourishing and beautiful in the world and connect with it, we can make use of it, take care of it, and further it.  If we foster those qualities in ourselves, we attract good fortune from without.

When we model decency and dignity, honor and purpose we encourage the best in other people. We are surrounded by people who could use some inspiration. Instead of a grim sense that the era of heroes is over, let them see what it means to be strong, upright and generous.

There is no shortage of toxic examples to emulate. Our eyes, ears and minds are flooded with images of failed values and harmful behavior: selfish, careless, indulgent, crude, manipulative, ignorant and brutal.

Our martial arts training, our values and the calm, clear awareness we cultivate in the dojo, has a role to play beyond physical self-defense, in inner self-defense. As we teach physical skills, as we work hard, over time, to polish and perfect them, we have the opportunity to teach much more. It is a great opportunity.

There are no ordinary days. Every day we remain vigilant: for threats and for miracles.


Post by Jeffrey Brooks, Mountain Karate, Yamabayashi Ryu. Copyright © 2021.

Photo by Cameron Casey via Pexels, detail.

Note on the photo: The guy at the focal point – is he a threat or a miracle? Or is he the person scanning his environment? Look at the other people around him. What are they up to? What impression do they make on us? What is their state of mind? How long does it take to assess this? How do we know we are right? How do we respond in our own hearts and minds? In our actions? How does it make us feel about our world? As with the photo, sometimes what we see is what we expect to see, or what we are looking for, not what is “there”.



  1. daniel beck says:

    Wonderful Wisdom as always , Thank you .


  2. Jeff Moriber says:

    Thank you! Always stimulating thought and awareness. Greatly appreciated.


  3. Arne Rosenstock says:

    Well writ. May a safe and healthy year be for a blessing.


  4. They say “opportunity is knocking”. We can wait a lifetime for the “knock, knock” at the right time and the right place. It’s rarely, if ever so. Observe, engage, ask questions, and assess. “Once in a lifetime” is all around us, but we need to be open to it, yet watchful for the opposite. Excellent piece, Sensei Brooks.


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