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Guidelines for Stealth Walking

Excerpt from The Mystic Arts of the Ninja by Stephen K. Hayes
Posted on the Trackers mailing list on the Internet in 2000

1. Maintain balance control by allowing your body weight to sink and be carried by deeply flexed knees.

2. Remember to breathe along with your movement. Unconsciously holding your breath can unknowingly produce unneeded muscle tension, and could result in gasping release of breathe if you are startled or accidentally unbalanced.

3. Stay alert to the entire scene. Do not become so engrossed in watching your feet that you do not notice other people an elements entering the surroundings.

4. Use all joints for movement, emphasizing fluidity through the engagement of the ankles, knees, and hips for stepping. Avoid the lazy and dangerous habit of stiffening knees and swinging the entire leg from the hip.

5. Maintain your weight and balance on your grounded leg while you move the other leg into position to bear the weight. When absolute silence is a must, avoid distributing your weight over both legs at the same time.

6. If practical, allow your hands to float lightly in front of and beside your torso, one arm higher and one arm lower, to detect possible obstructions before your committed body weight encounters them.

7. Pause and hold your position if you feel that you have accidentally caused too much noise. Listen for signs that you were heard, such as the movement of others or the immediate silencing of background noise following your slip. Sink a little lower on your knees to physically relax that could normally jump into your body with alarm. Take a deep breathe and release it slowly to further relax. Continue your pause for as long as you feel is necessary to regain composure and allow possible listeners to decide they did not hear anything after all.

8. Be as patient as possible. If speed of travel is not important, take as much time as you can. Impatience and the resultant hasty movement that it encourages are the greatest dangers to the person who must move silently without detection.

9. Keep your movement appropriate to your surroundings. Do not go to greater lengths than necessary to conceal your movement, while at the same being aware of what others entering the area may see if they cannot hear. Total silence may not be needed when moving through wooded or densely populated areas where scattered noise is a natural part of the environment. Also be aware that low profile crawling or sliding may be the only way to move silently without being seen in some locations.

Addendum, contributed by Leonard Henry  (Dec 2001)

Weight Transfer  --  progress SLOWLY with small steps, but most importantly, body weight is placed on the ouside EDGE of the advancing foot and then the foot is rotated in slowly inward testing the ground under foot until about half your body weight is on the ball of the foot.  When balanced, begin the process with the other foot.  

Wait and LISTEN  -- when there is covering noise, such as wind or bird or small animal movement, use their sound in the leaves to mask your own.  Never brush up against or touch surrounding limbs, twigs, or other vegetation.  

Every contact, however minor, leaves a scent trail.  

Top speed with this stalking is about 500 yards in two hours - but you will be amazed at the animals and surrounding detail in the forest that you will begin to see.  I have stalked mature Bucks on the ground in dry Fall leaf cover to within twenty yards with this technique, and shot very wary swamp squirrels from as close as 15 to 20 feet.  This Stalking technique was treated in very good detail by Ken Wee in Primitive Archer Magazine several years ago.  It takes patience and effort to master, but gives consistent results in the woods.