Friday, September 11, 2015

Tonpo: Counter-Tracking

This article was inspired by something I saw posted on the blog. While bioprepper is a prepping and survival site, the issue of evading someone following you has many self-defense applications. The article How to Escape Your Tail And Avoid Being Followed can be viewed here & its fairly basic...

You need to understand basic tracking to understand how to avoid being tracked. The first step to this is understanding mental conditioning of the tracker. Trackers need to pay attention to details and to know their environment and terrain. This is required to find spore & spore is more then just foot tracks... and following spore is called Sign Cutting. Sign Cutting is simply the process of following one spore to another, literally cutting a trail from one sign of a person or animal's passage to the next sign.

Types of Spore:
  1. Tracks & Foot Prints: Anyone can follow tracks in the dirt or mud, that is easy... but what about on hard ground? A person crossing a stream by stepping on rocks will leave a trail of damp or wet rocks. A person travelling on hard packed dirt will leave a diminished or partial print more visible from a lower position to the ground. Soft soled shoes without heels such as tennis shoes, kung-fu shoes, tabi boots and moccasins leave less of an imprint the heeled or hard soled boots like combat or hiking boot. 
  2. Waste & Trash: Animal or human waste is a good indicator of one's passing. This why burying or bagging said waste and transporting it with you is used to conceal one's presence.
  3. Bedding & Camp Sites: Fire provides light and can be seen at a distance, even a cigarette "cherry" can be seen from over a mile away at night. Even if one uses a fire pit, the digging and burying the pit leaves disturbed ground. Fire is should not be used except at mid day to cook and using only dry hard woods to produce as little smoke as possible. Many animals will dig dens and gather grass to make bedding for their rest. Some will eve preserve food by burying it to return to later.
  4. Movement, Shine, Color, Sound and Scent: Drab clothing and gear is best, too dark or too brightly colored clothing can make you visible. Tans are an almost universal color for going unnoticed, it will often blend with sand or stand stone perfect for urban and desert environments and match dead foliage on the ground in most forests. You do not want loose items or clothing to be snagged on objects or make extra sound. You also want to conceal scents such as cooking by boiling foods & not using spices or sweat by "dry washing" regularly or using scent blockers such as animal urine and smoke to cover one's scent. 
  5. Disturbed Ground: This applies to tracking by looking not tracks but spore produced by attempting to hide spore, such as disrupting one's tracks by brushing over them with branch (a favorite of cowboy movies and spaghetti westerns), this leaves an even straight line pattern which is actually unnatural and this creates spore.
  6. Broken or Bent Branches & Grass: Broken branches and bent grass can show were wieght has been applied or where someone has passed. Many times this includes snapped fabric or fur from whatever passed by. A ninjutsu technique called a sweeping cat step, is intended to prevent such spore but it is not always possible and a mistake can leave spore at sporadic locations while cutting sign.
A person learning to track must first learn to pay attention to details and to always scan their environment for details.

Take deer for example (I am a hunter), they are creatures of habit and will use the same paths and trails. Stags will also leave rubbings on trees from rubbing the Velvet off their antlers. Deer also hang around watering holes to drink and to eat the plants. Deer are common known to bed down on high ground to see or hear a possible threat at a distance and avoid it. So even you aren't following Spore (Tracks) you know a water source is a likely starting point and so is a high point like a hill top in the predawn moments.

Tracking people is often easier then tracking animals (cops do it without any specialized training), human's are the only animals that move in a straight line from point A to point B barring terrain obstacles. We are also creatures of habit and social animals. So if a person is moving say South West, you don't have to "track them" you just have to know locations associated with them, basic habits and general places they would provide shelter and/or resources. Police use this method by staking out the "hunting grounds" of criminals. The criminals move into those zones to commit criminal activity maintaining their habit and needs... Like a deer returning to the same pond to drink and eat or a wolf pack staking out the trail of said deer to ambush the deer for food on its way to said pond.

Avoiding being tracked is also simple, 1) exercise noise and light discipline, 2) avoid high points, 3) maintain a 360 degree view of your environment (this is where a ninjutsu pivot step applied by the individual comes in), 4) travelling in a round about manner (S-pattern) and staying off trails and roads, 5) doubling back at regular intervals, 6) bury trash and waste, 7) use fire pits and only with dirt walls to conceal the glow, 8) use a turning step to obscure and confuse one's spore, 9) as a last resort use an ambush with the goal of injuring and slowing down your tail, 10) pay attention to animals around you they will alert you to others in your area, 11) Do not travel in valleys  as this can be used to predict your path of travel (the sides of hills just under the ridge line is best), 12) do not cross rivers or streams at regular fords, 13) use decoys to draw attention and divert those tracking you, 14) scent can be concealed with smoke or used to lead a false trail, 15) if being tracked by dogs ambush the dog handler first this will confuse the animal, ambush the animal second, 16) booby traps can be used to slow down a trail as well (even if it is noticed the psychological effect will cause delays and 17) when crossing stream move down stream and double back to cross at another point & 18) apply all individual stealth walking methods.

As a group, 1) travel one behind the other stepping in each other's foot prints to hide numbers, 2) spread out on soft group to obscure the trail, 3) maintain all the individual skills. 4) In urban locations you can use things like glass and polished vehicles to look behind you, 5) stop and prepare to defend at potential ambush sites. 6) cross roads and trails at bends in the trail & 7) cross roads by posting a 360 security on onside and crossing as individuals maintaining 360 degree security.

You don't have to be an expert tracker to prevent being tracked and maintaining certain actions and tactics means that anyone can prevent or delay being tracked by anyone short of an expert tracker. Even then an expert tracker can be delayed but not prevented. There are few expert trackers in the world... technology and the use of blood hounds makes sign cutting a dying skill.

Here are some basic Shonobi Aruki methods from an older youtube video I did back in 2010.

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