Sunday, April 30, 2006


It seems my primary teaching modality is "training to the glitches". Put the student in a scenario or a drill and watch for the subtle hesitations and freezes. The things they either can't do or have to consciously force themselves to do. Each of those little freezes is a problem, a place where the mind and the will aren't working together. It's all about integration.

Obviously, you have a body and a mind. You have had them your whole life. I will not be able to teach you anything about how to move your own body that you don't already know...unless you have (deliberately, though subconsciously) either hidden information from yourself or ignored it. So combatives isn't and can't be about teaching you how to move. Side effect of having a body and being active is that you have hurt yourself in hundreds of ways over the years- so it's not about teaching you how to hurt a human body (not that there aren't nuances or information at the upper ends of force, e.g. what brains smell like, that you probably haven't and don't want to learn first hand).

If it's not about moving or hurting, what is training in combatives all about? Integration.

Mauricio Machuca talks about capability versus capacity. As you train, you become more and more capable of certain actions, but it doesn't automatically affect your capacity. I can teach you how to break a neck in a few minutes. Whether you could actually do it to a real person who was breathing, struggling, crying- that's a matter of your capacity, something training doesn't automatically address.

Capacity is largely a matter of integration and clarity. If your tactical mind says killing is the appropriate response, but your conscience has never clarified when it is acceptable to kill, you will glitch. If your reasoning and observation leads you to believe that a calm, neutral expression is your best option but your panic makes your voice squeek, there is a glitch.

So you look for glitches, for inconsistancies.

Here's an aside- have you ever watched a martial arts class where hours and hours are spent on basics, and then when they spar it looks nothing like the basics? That's a glitch... but the ugly truth, for the arts that I am thinking of, is that the techniques that work well in real life look a lot like those basics, and nothing like their sparring. FWIW.

You watch the talented student who can knock the shit out of the heavy bag but can only lightly tap a person. That's a glitch. Is it moral? Spiritual? A conditioned response from childhood? Decades of expectations?

The officer who gets hit with the ConSim paint bullet and 'dies'. Who trained him to die?

Adults who freeze when they get slapped in the face. Or when they suddenly see an unexpected knife in a drill. Trained martial artists who try to get control of the weapon when they know they need to shut down the brainstem. All glitches, all things that came from somewhere. Too often, they came from training.


Anonymous said...

I think you've contradicted your own argument. Combatives, all life, is all about movement. It's when the movement stops (like fear freeze or deep meditation) that you learn. The integration comes when the movement starts once more. Movement is application, is integration but it's very nature prevents learning. Because you can do or you can learn - the constant rotating cycle of the two (yin-yang, etc) brings either success or failure. So maybe you are right. Or maybe your mental glitch brought an epiphany that you take to be the whole. Maybe --

Rory said...

Don't be too critical, old friend. I think I lerned this from watching you teach me.

Anonymous said...

sorry, playing catch up on here, from being caught in those "glitches" more than once, it is more than just a stop while you learn, it is not always fear's a damn leg that has been knocked off that big 3 pieces of learning...permission. It messes with you the most when you do not know it was missing. Think about the implications of that.

nurse ratchet