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How to know if I am being followed (walking)
Why is it important to be able to tell if someone is following us?
As we said many times, a big part of self-defense is made by prevention (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method). The fact of becoming able to understand if someone is following us could avoid us to face bad situations like:
Attempts to theft
Collecting information about us
Note - This article has been asked by one of our Core Course practitioners on Patreon (see how to attend our home study classes here Learn Kung Fu online: a beginner-to-expert course).
Before starting this path toward the study of deception, we must stress that:
With this first tutorial, we do not aim to spot a professional (eg. a private investigator)
We are considering a civil context
Without practice and constant attention (read Avert dangers: the concept of constant attention), what we are going to say is almost useless
The self-defense scenario
The type of scenario we are talking about could (for example) be this one:
We are walking in a city
We are alone
There are many people around us
We have the sensation to be followed
The potential followers are unknown people
A note by Master Kongling - When we talk about "sensation" we do not refer to a pathological state of feeling persecuted or to a "sixth sense": we refer instead to an instinctive but rational collection of information that leads us to recognize anomalies in relation to the context in which we find ourselves (through trained skills like the overall view, read The overall view: see everything, do not look at anything).
7 methods to understand if someone is tailing us
Let's see some interesting ideas to spot someone that is following us:
Turn 4 times in the same direction - If the environment and (above all) our knowledge of it allows it (we do not have to go into blind / dark / deserted alleys), we can turn 4 times in the same direction (i.e. turning until retracing the initial portion of the road); if the stretch of road we travel does not have the characteristics of forced passage, panoramic (eg. around a historic building) or shared by many (eg. the road to get to a parking lot), whoever turns (consequently to us) for 4 times is very likely following us
Loop the path - Another option (similar to the first) is to simply walk from a point A to a point B (where AB is not a too simple / straight / short path); arrived at B, we return then to A and (if necessary) again to B; if without doing anything else he follows us, he is probably tailing us; to work, this method needs us to repeat the same path
Enter in a place open to the public and... - If the situation allows it (eg. the level of danger is low due to the number of people present), we can choose for example a shopping center (let's never choose a small place, he must feel safe to cross the threshold); if he enters, we have to execute a rapid task (eg. asking for information to a shop assistant) and then exit; we can even repeat the game 2 times (not in a too close time), if he syncs with our necessities there is something wrong
Take the risk of being alone - If we are martially prepared (read How to learn to fight: all the steps), aware of the place where we are and more than sure that the potential persecutor would be unable to act against us (harmless, unarmed, too exposed, etc.), we could even choose to opt for a path completely deserted (without shops, etc.) and leading to no specific place (preferably long and with possible emergency loopholes); if he follows us and then he turns back without a reason, he was probably searching for us
Do not trust in coincidences - If we continue to see the same person (or group of persons) around us in totally different contexts (that have no connection) in a small or periodical range of time, there is certainly something strange; to be clear, we are not talking about people we know that, for example, visit our own pubs, we refer to someone who, for example, is at the supermarket, in front of our home and near our working place without a plausible reason
Vary the routine - If we feel to be periodically followed (eg. every day going at lunch), let's change the path each time but not the destination; if we continue to see the same people following different paths, they could be collecting information about us (eg. to study our habits)
Logic - Last but not least, logic could be the key to give meaning to our previously confirmed suspects; if in the conceptual scenario we are involved in, what we are, what we represent, what we have, what we have done or what we are going to do can justify the fact of being tailed, our assumptions may become certainly more consistent
A note by Master Kongling - When we talk about "scenario", we refer (as always) to everything gravitates around us, even the "conceptual" aspects (from the conformation of the terrain to the potential aggressors, to the reason why we are there, to our body shape). In this case, it is particularly important to specify it because if, for example, we are going to the bank to deposit something of value, this is a fact to be taken into high consideration in our environmental assessments.
A few conclusive thoughts:
A smartphone with a fast and precise navigator app can be a good help to do what we said (especially in those places of which we are not experts)
The biggest part of the methods we have listed, alone, are inconclusive but crossing them we can easily reach a good level of reliability
Nothing can provide absolute certainty but it is useless to underline that when one or more of the methods listed gives a positive result, it is better to act promptly to protect ourselves (we will see how in the next few explanations)
Naturally, not all the people who follow someone have bad intentions, some could need information, some could think that we know the place they want to reach, etc.; let's do not become paranoids but in any case, the fact of being tailed is not normal and remains in the range of situations where our attention must remain high
It is better to smile after having wrongly suspected a person in search of a toilet than crying for being the victim of an aggression; when a stranger approaches us, we must be courteous and respectful but at the same time ready to get away and / or to react with the utmost determination (more about this in the next explanations)
In the next tutorial of this series, we will deepen this topics.
Invisibility: hiding in the shadow - How to effectively hide our presence in low light conditions
Invisibility: how to hide heavy breathing - A small trick to do not emit dangerous noise (eg. while hiding)
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
Have you ever been followed?