Be aware of your surroundings Be mindful of your thoughts and actions Because you never know who is watching
There is a saying in warfare, "A talented hawk hides his talons." This is because in battle, the element of surprise is the number one asset any warrior has over their opponent. We were taught that we should always assume that our opponent is of equal or greater skill. This mindset keeps us ever vigilant in our training and thus enable us to not fall prey to our opponents surprise attack.
I read a recent article on CNN.com about travel advisories that recommended that people "exercise vigilance" while traveling abroad.
Martial artists are supposed to vigilant people. Our training teaches us to be ever aware of "what is going on" at all times. We don't have to "exercise vigilance" because we are always vigilant.
But, what does it mean to be vigilant? Furuya Sensei used to say, "Always act as if your teacher is watching." With this assertion, we will be aware and to be aware means being diligent in our approach and to act accordingly at all times. If we are present in the moment then we can be aware of ourselves and our surroundings. If we "fall asleep" then we lose the ability to monitor our own thoughts and actions and will completely lose track of our surroundings.
One can only be surprised if one didn't see it coming. To be vigilant means to be first self-aware then secondly aware of one's surroundings. How could we possibly be caught off guard if we are always on guard? Always "act as if your teacher is watching."