Developing Your Five Basic Senses

Learning to fight and to perform good kata is usually expected of one who has obtained the rank of black belt. Most martial arts styles set standards of what they expect the student to learn along the path to this once lofty goal. Some styles have very high expectations while some others may have very low requirements.

Our mission, as teachers, should be to create the most knowledgeable black belts and to make this rank very special. One method of doing this is to teach an art within an art. There is a long list of these special arts that I believe an educated person should learn before he/she can become a true master. It does not matter if you have earned your rank from a terrific style or if your instructor is the greatest teacher ever, there is a lifetime of esoteric arts to be learned.

I have written and will continue to write on the arts within the martial arts to let the student realize that there is more to training than only kicking and punching. Some of these subjects will dig deep into the mind and spirit. The goal is to get the real, lifetime student to explore her imagination on her quest to becoming a true master and to possess special knowledge that others have never learned. I want you to travel through the jungle to locate that mysterious grandmaster who lives there and to be able to sit at his feet and learn his secrets.
Let’s begin that journey.

In this article we are going to look into developing and sharpening your five basic senses; Feeling, Hearing, Seeing, Smelling and Tasting.

Have you ever noticed how your pet dog will perk up his ears and hear sounds that you do not hear? How he will raise up his nose and sniff the air because of his highly developed sense of smell? When outside, he may take off running toward an object that he sees far off in the distance that you cannot see. Dogs can sense danger and will start barking long before we humans are well aware of it. His extraordinary sense of taste will alert him if something is safe to eat or not. For you old movie goers, Tarzan, king of the jungle, had developed these senses to a fine pitch. Since he was raised and lived in the wild he needed these special skills in order to survive.

Since you as a martial artist are creating a trained and skilled, fast reflective body, an alert and quick thinking mind and a deep spiritual thought pattern, it is only logical that your five basic senses should become more highly developed than the non martial artist.


To be aware of by instinct or inference, to be conscious of an inward impression, state of mind, or physical condition. Notice, observe, experience

Can you feel someone watching you even though you cannot see them? You probably have experienced this many times but just passed it off. The next time that this happens to you stop and observe your surroundings to see if you notice anything unusual. If so, take appropriate action if needed to insure your safety or to protect your privacy. Learn to trust your intuition.

A second point to be made is to learn to feel and control your own physical body. Sit in a chair in a comfortable position . Concentrate on your various body parts. Can you feel your feet, your arms, legs, ears, etc.? We take our body for granted until pain or tiredness occurs, and suddenly we remember that what hurts is part of us. Take sense control of all these parts and develop them by determining to stay in top physical condition. As an example, your feet will feel as if you are walking on air if you develop a comfortable stride. I have often watched someone plodding along as they drag their feet on the ground. I wonder how tired they must be at the end of the day?

Have you ever observed certain individuals as they plop into a chair instead of gently sitting down? Watch other people as they climb the stairs gripping the handrail tightly, actually pulling themselves up the steps. To many it is a major struggle. These people have very little control over their own bodies and react accordingly to what their bodies tell them what to do, instead of them telling their bodies what they want it to do.

Feel your body within your inner senses, be light on your feet, sit down easily, get up quickly, use the stairs if possible instead of the elevator, walk around your neighborhood, control your body weight and develop your physical reflexes. Think light and bouncy and pretend that your legs are springs. Develop inner and outer strength.

A weak body will just plod along with time, but a strong and confident body will control time. Inner strength will only happen after you have developed your senses to a fine edge. You know what your body is supposed to do at all times. You have a certain control over your body. Your mind is alert to your physical actions and reactions every day of your life.

The statement is often made about an individual who seems to have control of himself, his job and his life, that “he has a feel for things”. What is actually being said is that this person has acquired certain traits and habits that are not easily explainable that make his life go much smoother than the average person does.
This individual has “hit” upon the right combinations, through trial and error and learning experience, that propels him through the events and tasks of the day with a certain energy and vitality. With practice you can also develop your own “feel for things”.

Some individuals have developed a feel for problem solving. Certain people can see a problem taking shape on the horizon and take the necessary steps to correct it or avoid it before it actually occurs. This comes through experience and intuition.

Another statement often heard is that “I can feel it in my bones”. This is an inner feeling that something is about to happen. If you experience this …STOP, analyze the situation and take any necessary steps needed to make the correct adjustments to place this feeling or situation in your control. Do not let this feeling linger. Step back, assess, make decisions and do something about it.

A word of caution here. Be certain that you do not make decisions based solely on “gut feelings”. Research any problem or objective before taking any major action. By combining your sense of feeling with accurate information you should be capable of making decisions that are favorable to your cause. Learn to be a take charge person.


To perceive or apprehend by ear. To gain knowledge, to listen, discover.

Go outside on a clear night and listen. How many different sounds can you hear? What does each sound mean? Try this experiment in the city, and at another time, in the country. You may be surprised at the many sounds that you have taken for granted, sounds that you daily “tune out”. By ignoring everyday sounds your ears become somewhat deaf to what is actually occurring around you. This “tuning out” will deaden your acute hearing sense causing you to lose grasp of the little, but important and interesting sounds.

Train your ears to “pick up” everything that is happening around you, to give you that extra edge that most people do not have or even understand. Acute hearing may allow you to pick up danger signals; someone walking behind you, two people off in the distance talking to each other while watching you approaching them, a car door opening or closing in an underground garage, or just any unusual sounds that may not be familiar to you.

When I originally wrote this article in November of 1987, I was sitting at a desk in a trailer located in the spare parts yard of a large steel company. The sounds that I heard was the wind that blew strongly across the 103 acre field, the hum of a portable heater at my feet, the bubbling of water that was moving around in a water cooler behind me, a dump truck that passed by my window, the beeping horn of another truck as it was backing up somewhere in the distance, the squeak of the swivel chair as I moved around in it, my stomach growling because it was getting close to lunch time, an airplane flying overhead, and the person in the next room turning the pages of a newspaper. No one was talking as most of the workers were out in the field unloading a truck, so by all circumstances this was considered a quiet time, but was it really quiet?

Now, of course, to get any work done at all we automatically tune out certain sounds and concentrate only on those necessary to perform our task. Most people consider this as a natural process, but we really do miss so very much. However, if a loud boom was heard we would all run outside to see what all the noise was about.

If we would stop what we are doing several times a day for only a few moments and listen to the sounds around us, we would be creating a “sound habit”. With constant practice we could in time go about our daily routine while at the same time be able to keep in tune with the details going about us. This does take a lot of practice, but the rewards are well worth it, and it is fun and relaxing at the same time.

A mother with a small baby has purposely sharpened her hearing senses to listen for any unusual sounds that her baby may make during the night, even though she is sound asleep. I have even read where the human female species is born with this talent, where the male species is not. The father ignores these sounds and sleeps through the night because he knows that mother is on the job. Mother “tunes in” while father “tunes out”.

The Sense Of Seeing.

To perceive, detect, experience; to come to know, examine, ponder, pay attention.

What can you really see? Can you listen to someone talking and read, or better still, see between the lines? Is there a hidden message there? Is the chronic complainer really looking for answers…answers that another person may be able to provide? Is the child that is always getting into trouble telling the world that he/she needs attention? Maybe that mom and dad should stay home more often with this child. Do you see a lack of involvement in a case such as this?

While observing a person’s face or his eyes while listening to him, do you hear the words telling you one thing while you see in her face an entirely different story? When you look at a person’s manner of dress do you “see” a message that they are trying to tell the world something about themselves? Are they saying that I am neat and I care about myself, or I am sloppy and do not care? Their apparel may make the statement that, I am a rebel and do not want to be like other people, or I am a follower and not a leader and I will dress the way my favorite actor or stage performer dresses?

Learn to see with your eyes, but observe with your wisdom.

When you walk look up, look down and look around. Develop the same instincts for seeing as you did for feeling. Train your eyes to observe what is taking place around you at all times. Notice the little things, do not block them out. With practice your subconscious mind will be taught to have a keen sense of observation, and with constant use, it will take over these traits for you.

Now you should be at the stage where you can feel things, hear things and see things in detail. Another talent of the master martial artist.


An acute smelling nose can distinguish between various odors quicker than the average human nose. This alert nose can detect the odor of burning wires before serious damage could occur, or someone burning leaves a block away, or the smell of gas fumes and quickly pinpoint the location.

As in other sensory organs we must practice and pay attention to details in order to develop an acute sense of smell. As you go about your everyday routine stop every once in a while and see what odors, pleasant or sour, that you can detect. Are they gas odors from vehicle traffic, or food odors from a nearby restaurant? Does your automobile have a new or old smell to it? Can you walk into someone’s house and detect the aromas that their lifestyle emits? What about the musty cellar, or the fragrance of flowers in a vase?

You should be able to tell something about an individual’s personality just from their body smells. Does he have after shave lotion on that is pleasant or overpowering? Does she emit the odor of fine or cheap perfume? Is his body odor fresh or stale? Is her breath clean or bad enough to make you back away?

Do not ignore the subtle odors of the day. Keep alert to them to help you quickly determine various factors about a person, an area, or an object. You should be able to detect the odor of cigarettes that linger upon a person who smokes or upon someone who has spent some time around smokers. Now you can make a quick decision. Do you want to constantly be around this smoker or not? It simply depends on whether cigarette smoke bothers you or not.
When I travel I must have a non smoking room in the hotel where I am staying. When I walk into a room that is for smokers, even though no one is there, my eyes start to water, my throat closes up and I begin to sniffle.

John walks up to you and shakes your hand. He is a friendly person whom you believe that you could easily like. Upon close inspection you detect that he is a heavy smoker, his body odor is strong, his breath is not fresh, he is wearing very overpowering after shave lotion and his clothes have a very stale smell to them.
You think to yourself, goodbye John, it was nice meeting you but I have something very important to do, like getting some fresh air. Whew!

Sharpen you sense of smell and it will give you insights into hidden areas that may help you with decisions that could be important to your way of life, or even keep you out of danger. It could also make life more enjoyable while savoring that pleasant coffee aroma, or that turkey roasting in the oven during the holidays. How about that beautiful red rose that is blooming in the garden. Don’t just look at the rose but bend over and smell it with a deep, satisfying breath.

Remember the little things and pay attention to them and the big things will take care of themselves.


To become acquainted with by experience, to perceive or recognize.

This sense is known as the “pleasure sense”. Taste sensitivity is known to be tied in closely with normal hormone changes that take place in healthy people. When you get up in the morning the amount of cortisol circulating in your blood is the highest it will be for the entire day. At that time your taste sensitivity is at it’s lowest. As the day progresses, the amount of cortisol in your system declines and your taste picks up. By evening cortisol is at it’s low point, roughly the time most people sit down for the largest meal of the day. No wonder so many people eat large dinners and keep snacking until bedtime. Food taste better to them now than at any other time of the day. If we would learn to taste our food better by eating slowly while seeking out foods with superior taste, we could gain better control of our eating habits.

Life could be more enjoyable and more worthwhile if we would only slow down and learn to develop our taste buds to an extra fine pitch. Our busy schedules force us to swallow foods in gulps which fills our stomachs in a hurry so we can be off to conquer new worlds.

Perhaps this unhealthy habit began in the public school system where the students are allotted a few minutes to eat lunch, or in the work place where many employees eat lunch on the run. Hurry, hurry, hurry, run, run, run. This is the way of many people in the world. Run to and fro, watch the clock, eat fast foods….STOP!
Now sit down and think of what you are doing. Is it really worth it? Take some well earned breaks and enjoy the time.

You can begin by enjoying the pleasures of eating that your taste buds were created for, Prepare wholesome foods, sprinkle with herbs and spices. Throw away the salt shaker. Sit down and eat slowly. Tantalize your taste buds. Even the simplest of meals can be made more enjoyable with a little time and effort. You may say, who has the time? Make the time, for no matter how important you may feel you are, after you are gone some other person will step in and fill the void that you left, and they will do it very quickly. The beat goes on.

Your sense of taste is able to distinguish between sweet and sour, tangy and mild. Mankind has lessened his taste sensitivity by employing harmful habits, such as cigarette smoking. Smoking dulls delicate taste buds while it also destroys the fine hair like structures in the throat that aids in swallowing. When we cover our foods with huge amount of salt, that is exactly what we taste, salt, not food.

Do you remember your first taste of beer and how bitter the experience was? After enough time of drinking this product your taste buds simply gave in and adapted to the change. Do you also remember your first cigarette and how you choked and coughed?

Then there is the “sweet tooth”. This is simply a way of expressing that we have crammed so much sugar down our throats over a period of time that now our taste buds crave sweets.

Let us face the hard facts, cigarettes are harmful to our health and natural enjoyment. So is alcohol, salt and sugar in large amounts. Don’t you think that it is about time to modify these habits and give our bodies a well deserved rest?
It is time to redevelop our sense of taste to enjoy the finer and healthier things in life.

The greatest taste problem that we face is the unnatural assault on our taste buds by the commercial food industry, aided by the chemists who manipulate artificial flavoring ingredients.
There are two aspects to this problem. First, food processors know that there is a weak spot on our tongue that is overly sensitive to the flavor of salt and sugar. They also know that these flavors are addictive, the more often that you taste them, the more you feel that you need them.
So salt and sugar are put into processed foods well beyond the upper limits of nutritional logic. Another trick is to rely on artificial flavors combined with artificial colors to create the image of a food reality where none really exists.

Much flavor chemistry is formulated to jangle the taste buds to get people to eat more than they need or want, thus making you spend more money on their products. No wonder your grocery bills are so high.


Develop and hone your five senses to a sharp edge. Create in your body a state of the art atmosphere. Be observant of your surroundings and take notice of the details. Be quiet and listen to the distinct sounds that constantly surround you.
Notice the unusual. Feel the many vibrations that are emanating and pulsating throughout your personal universe.

Smell the hidden scents that can give you clues to the insights of the bustling earth. Taste the wonder and goodness that life has to offer.

Electrify your senses and open the secret passageways. Your ultra tuned senses will combine together to create a sixth sense that will permit you to become sensitive to the sights and sounds of the planet earth. To have that knowledge that others are missing.

Life will be working for you, and not you for it. You will find a new excitement in decision making.

Why not start now?



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