The old saying, “Can’t see the forest for the trees” refers to letting the clutter of life distract you from seeing the big picture. However, in combat, the saying should be “Can’t see the forest because of the tree.” If you watch a tree, you will not see the forest. If you concentrate on one soldier, you may not see the surrounding army.
Military pilots are aware of the “target fixation” phenomenon that occurs when concentrating on the target so much that you forget where you are. While in the Navy, I was stationed at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nevada where pilots practice bombing at bombing ranges located in valleys between mountain ranges. Sometimes pilots focused so much on the target that they flew straight into a mountain. When riding a motorcycle, you learn not to look at something you want to avoid. If you look at a rock in front of you, you will probably hit it. To protect yourself in combat and to be an effective fighter, you must learn to look not look at the opponent, but to look beyond the opponent.
Focus involves close attention or concentration upon one thing. Tell a fighter not to worry about an opponent’s jab and the fighter will concentrate either upon watching for the jab or upon trying to not watch for the jab. Either way, the fighter will be focused upon the jab and not upon the opponent’s other weapons. In some activities, such as bowling, golf, or target shooting, focus upon the target is essential; you want to ignore noises and other distractions. However, in combat, target fixation will get you killed; you must always be aware of your surroundings.
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