I was taught to practice what was termed the "warrior gaze" by a martial uncle. This is described as how to look when in hand to hand combat. Essentially, I was advised not to focus on any specific part of my opponent, but to not focus on anything specifically, and take in all visual data, including peripheral. This has served me well in sparring and in life. It also conforms to the hunter's gaze which I learned in Tom Brown's Field Guide to Wilderness Survival when I was a lad, where the unfocused gaze allows the hunter to see slight movements of prey, where prey cannot be discerned except by moving.

  • Do martial arts systems teach a special way of using the eyes for self defense?

1 Answer 1


As far as I am aware, all martial arts systems that teach about the eyes use this practice. This practice corresponds to the use of peripheral vision, as opposed to foveal vision. Foveal vision is more sensitive and allows discernment or color and fine detail in a small area for tasks such as reading, while peripheral vision covers a wide area and specializes in detecting movement over color or detail. The human brain cannot visually process both fine detail and the whole field of vision at once; use of foveal vision can result in tunnel vision, where the brain starts to ignore things happening outside the small area concentrated on by the fovea. When fighting, you want to use your peripheral vision; movement in your peripheral vision comes from things trying to hit you, which you obviously do not want to ignore.

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