Wide Angle Vision
Wide Angle Vision is a lesson I first learned through Tom Brown, Jr., wilderness survival instructor and founder of the Tracker School in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. I first read about it in one of his books. Later I learned more about it in person at Hawk Circle Summer Camp, which was also inspired by Tom Brown’s teaching. Wide Angle Vision is a powerful tool of awareness that is highly beneficial to be aware of as a martial artist, as well as in a wilderness survival situation, and even in everyday life.
The idea of learning Wide Angle Vision is that it is simply a way of changing your perception of what you are seeing. There are no physical changes that take place in the eyes; it is a matter of intending to use more of the data that your eyes take in than you may be used to. Instead of looking at any one thing, which can also sometimes be useful, Wide Angle Vision is taking in everything that you are seeing at once. That way you can kind of “zoom out” and look at a whole landscape: then if you notice movement, you can “zoom in,” for example, if you are looking for an animal. In conjunction with slowing down your walk, in a natural area, Wide Angle Vision can be a powerful tool that can help you become more in tune with and part of what is going on in nature, rather than feeling like an outsider. In martial arts, this practice can help you remember to keep track as much as possible of what your opponent may be doing, rather than being focused on only one attack at a time, as well as still keeping track of what else may be going on around you. In any situation it can help you perceive more of what is happening all around you.
Here is an exercise that helps promote Wide Angle Vision:
Stand looking out, at any landscape. Hold your arms out straight at your sides. Wiggle your fingers toward the front of you. See if you can see wiggling on both sides. Slowly bring both arms forward, until you can definitely see all of your fingers, at the same time. Experiment with slowly moving them forward and backward. Then you can rotate your arms so that you are holding one arm up and one arm down, and repeat the same exercise from that position. Experiment opening up your vision to Wide Angle, focusing in, and going back to Wide Angle. You can also still move your head and eyes as necessary (that may seem obvious, but it took me a long time to realize that. It can be a lot of things to think about at once).