Saturday, November 26, 2005

Not So Simple

Context is everything. Internal and external context. In strategic terms, goals and parameters are primary aspects of the context. A martial arist asked me what my "favorite attack" was and it's just not that simple. A matrix of context decides what is best in a given moment.

One way to look at it is that there are four very different types of fights one can get in to:
1) You are completely surprised.
2) You suspect something bad is happening but may not be sure when or what.
3) Mutual fight- you know it's coming and you're waiting for it.
4) You initiate the first attack.

That's one aspect of the matrix. Your favorite technique in the early stages of an agreed on fight (say backfist/side kick combo) is much different than your best option when a bottle is broken over the back of your head or when the creepy guy is standing too close and reaching under his jacket or when you've decided to take out a threat when his guard is down.

In the second aspect, your best option changes depending on the goal you have: Do you have to get the mental patient in soft restraints with minimal harm? Are you willing/allowed to do serious damage? To kill?

This simple 4x3 matrix gives twelve separate situations with different solutions. In only one of them is a backfist/sidekick combo a good choice.

There is an old saying that if you give a child a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Martial artists fall into this too. Many, many different things fall under the general heading of violence: getting shot at as a civillian is different than on duty; conducting a military raid is different than getting mugged; a MMA tournament is different than a gang rape; being taken hostage is different than getting caught in a riot. Somewhere, somehow martial artists practice a purified and sanitized version of one aspect of this very big animal and convince themselves that they know it. That they understand it. That their MA hammer is the solution in a world of nails.

You see it when they ask for or offer simple solutions to vague situations. I want to be clear- the good answers, the good actions, tend to be simple and efficient. But it is a simplicity that stands out starkly against the chaos yet is largely dictated by the chaos. Simple, but not that simple.

1 comment:

Mac said...

And thus Awareness-based training. You do what needs to be done and the best time to do it with the most economical and practical solution that allows both sides to win. (Maybe a win for the bad guy here is I let him live.) The trick is in teaching awareness - can you teach someone to be aware? or provide a venue for them to find it themselves. This is the quandry - repetitive simplified standardized basics vs near-total creativity. Sight picture vs consim. Everythings a trade-off, but awareness expands consciousness and all knowledge, and skills, are contained therein. Open the box in the contextual moment and the person will find and be able to use the tool almost automatically.