Thursday, February 15, 2007

Tool Boxes

Giving some serious thought to Martial University 2007 in Seattle. What I have in mind will be very, very conceptual. If it hits the right students at the right stage in their development, it will be fantastic information. If I can't pry their minds open, they won't learn anything. That's the point, really. I don't want to teach anything specific, I want to teach how to think, how to organize information, how to strategically envision your training.

Here's the format for the first class. If you plan on making MU, consider it a preview. If you think that there is no chance of pulling it off, let me know that, too. This is stuff that is important to me at my stage both as a practitioner and a teacher, it may not be what other practitioners need or want.

Toolboxes. Fighting at any level can be described, trained and envisioned in many different ways. Here are three different ways to look at infighting skills.

1) Technique. There are only a few general classes of technique: strikes, locks, gouges/pressure points, takedowns, strangles, wrestling/grappling/clinch, entries ...and biting (for KJ). That's it. In training, you work them all and pay particular attention to the areas you are weak on. Especially practice 'live'- sparring or randori- so that you recognize the technique as well as opportunities to apply the techniques. In a fight, you need to recognize when and how to apply one or more of these and do so, ruthlessly. (As well as stack, be able to apply multiple types simultaneously).

The technique toolbox is a good way to train and great for concrete thinkers. It's also the slowest and least effective in a real fight. There are too many specific options to think about.

2) Effects. You can look at the same situations through this lens. With this toolbox, instead of focusing on what actions you can accomplish, you look at the effects you can produce in the threat. In any given situation you can move a threat (unbalance, takedown, throw, wrestle, misdirect, etc.); you can cause pain; you can damage; or you can shut down the system- shock. In application you do which ever one of these (or combination- remember stacking) that is either easiest or best serves your purpose.

You have to be comfortable with a range of techniques to think at this level, but once you can it is much, much faster than thinking at the technique level. It also tends to broaden awareness because it assumes that the threat is your cat toy and you are the actor in the situation, not the victim or the respondant.

3) Critical skills. In some ways, this is an intermediary step between the last two, but it includes some pretty sophisticated concepts. The critical skills for infighting are: damage, unbalance, freeze and clear. Damage is the same as in the effects toolbox and you think of it pretty much the same way- internalize targeting and power generation and move decisively on any opportunity. Unbalance and freezing are two opposite ways to control the threat's body. It introduces "core fighting", using his anatomy to affect his ability to act 'by remote' such as pressure on his shoulder to prevent his foot from lifting. The fourth critical skill, clearing, is based on using or creating negative space in combat. What this means is that instead of fighting his strength, dealing with the threat's arms and legs, you fight against and move into the spaces where he is not- the space between his arms, off his flanks or under his chin, for instance.

In many ways I think this is an attempt to back-engineer what I am doing now. The technique level is important for learning and training and it was definitely my mindset for my first several fights. Effects is a place I go when I need to get stuff done. At the critical skill mindset the threat is just a toy, an incidental.

There's so much more here. Without the Big Three (Awareness, Initiative, Permission) none of this will mean a damn thing. Without integrating environment, you aren't ready for reality. And these are still focused almost entirely on playing with the body, not the mind.

And none of these are reactive- there's no blocking. I just noticed that. No where in my mind is there any though of preventing the threat from doing something to me, that is all an assumed effect of doing something to the threat. Even thinking about reacting cedes initiative.

Still... what do you think? A good first class for this audience?

1 comment:

John said...

As one who's going to be at MU, I'm concerned whether you can cover all this in a single session. However, the topic is _very_ interesting.

I tend to learn by doing (or having done to) so please allow time (either during your seminar or after) for showing all the good stuff you'll be discussing.