Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Spent yesterday getting fourteen officers up to speed as instructors for the next round of Defensive Tactics instruction for our agency. They were, for the most part, veteran fighters. About half were experienced and ranked martial artists, about a third experienced instructors. The class is set up to be principles-based (as described before) so in about eight hours everyone was up to speed with the material but a couple were hesitant about teaching it.

When are you ready to teach?

Afterwards, Devin and Sean came over for Scotch and talk. (Hmmm, Devin, Sean and Rory- the mad Gaels).

Sean and I came up from different paths to a very similar place in terms of tactics, beliefs and ethics. I doubt if he realizes how important he is to maintaining my sense of conditional normality in this world. By that I mean that certain events, especially long term exposure to violent people and conditions can change you, but only as much as you let them. Our culture, the media and popular opinion hammer two things- you cannot fight monsters without becoming one and/or you will eventually turn into an alcoholic bastard with no friends who mistreats his wife and children. Seriously- when was the last time you saw a media depiction of a jail guard who was a good guy? Or any officer who wasn't 'conflicted'? Sean is living proof that those images are bullshit. He does his job with a great sense of duty and honor.

Devin is an excellent technical fighter who is searching for the answer, the one right way. He is young and believes that there is a right answer and a best choice in all situations. A lot was said last night about how old fighters look at things like attitude versus skill; justice versus duty; right versus effective; the cost even of the best choice in some situations; what it means and what it doesn't -- much more than most non-professionals have ever heard.

He asked at one point about what allowed us to go solo into a cell with someone in obvious excited delerium and talk them down. He asked if we just always convinced ourselves that we would win.

Sean and I both said, after a lot of thought, that we hadn't thought in terms of winning in years. We couldn't even put our finger on when or way that had become an irrelevant concept- but Sean pointed out that it was probably because we don't think of it as a contest.

To the other part of the question... nothing gives us the confidence to do it. It needs to be done and we do it, but there's no belief that it will turn out okay.

I kicked the question to Devin, "What's the difference between being brave and faking it?"

Think about that.

Because if you fake being brave, doing what needs to be done... you are still using will to overcome fear. That is bravery, right?

What's the difference between confidence and faking confidence? I get the jitters every time I teach a roomful of strangers, but no one knows. I pretend to enjoy it... then I start to enjoy it.

When are you ready to teach? If we waited until we knew everything, there would be no teachers.

George Ledyard, an aikido instructor in Seattle wrote an excellent essay several years ago. He wrote about the thousands of martial artists who talked about their 'amazing' instructors. Then he challenged them- When are you going to decide to be amazing?

Decide to be amazing. How simple is that? Work hard, but work hard to be amazing, not 'good enough'.

When you decide who you want to be and you get stuck, fake it. Not the bullshit trappings- don't pretend to be rich when you can't afford the monthly bills- the stuff that makes up you. If you want to be brave and you're shaking in your boots, fake it: Act. You want to be compassionate but you're too self-absorbed, fake it: Listen. You want to be strong and you're small and out of shape, fake it: Pump some iron, run. You want to be confidant, fake it: Talk to a beautiful stranger.

These habits become you, and you pretend your way towards your ideal.

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