Taught a very small class yesterday: two new officers and two instructors from another division who wanted to get a handle on this 'new way'. This is the basic course, eight hours. It is imbedded in just a handful of drills that are free-action (no scripts, no attempt to clone the students into instructors) and also (really appreciated this yesterday) carefully designed to avoid both the dangerous game habits of sparring and the equally dangerous belief that the drill is the fight.
The drill is taught, and they play. If you know how to move, you know something about fighting. They do the drill first with what they bring to the table. Then a short class/demo/practice on generating power in linear strikes; then they return to the drill. Then short range circular strikes and return to the drill. Long range circles. Close range kicking. Leverage points and spine controls. Locks. Everything goes back to the drill, just continuing with their natural movement but with some new ideas, new efficiencies.
A short change as they work an operant conditioning system for ambush survival. The drill changes here, instead of interactive chaos it becomes far less interactive: someone attacks you and they become meat, never given a chance to recover and interact.
Then the ground. How to move a body in three easy principles, which leads to a new drill. Application and limitations of pain. Remind them to apply the skills from before- locks, leverage, spine- in addition to the basic skill of moving another person. Striking from the ground. Strangles and neck breaks. Debrief, clean up and go home.
There's extra time written into the lesson plan. (aside: that seems like a lot to cover in eight hours but the skills are very simple if you look at them right. Joint locking is the most complicated and takes forty-five minutes to cover all the principles, how locks work, types of locks, experimenting with each type and a drill to start to learn to see the opportunity to apply a lock when the threat presents it. 45 minutes.) During breaks, the students hydrate and the instructors address any issue they think the students need to hear. Some of it is pretty standard- almost all of us go over the OODA loop, types of assaults, fighting the mind versus fighting the body, different reactions to adrenaline and how to read it in the threat, how to control your own.
These were new hires and I got to talk about the job and how much I love it. The nobility of being surrounded by dark and refusing to become dark. The restraint of using force for good in a world that seems to believe that all force is bad (because most have never felt or seen the effects of the small percentage of the population who use force for pleasure or convenience and can only be stopped by force). The unbelievable, supernatural feeling when training, experience and adrenaline intersect and you become a force of nature, something beyond human, doing things effortlessly that are clearly impossible. The thrill of sharing with students that they have entered one of the few careers where this is possible is... almost as good as the battle joy itself.
It's scary, too, because it is a glorious thing that can only be found in dark places. As horrible as violence is, if it were ever erradicated humanity would lose this experience also.
But there was a lot of frustration. It was petty compared to the love of teaching, but still it was there and it gnawed for hours. Why do people need to be taught to see? They have eyes, they have touch. The left hand is four inches from the threat's ear and the right hand is a foot from his ribs, yet they hit with the right hand because they have decide the left is their 'blocking hand'. They see that their knee is right behind the threat's and a slight pop will put him on the ground... the eyes see but the brain doesn't. The fact that the threat is off balance and a concrete wall is right in line with his weak line of stance is obvious and seemingly invisible at the same time.
If people could only see what is right in front of their faces and play with it a little, there is nothing special about fighting. It is seeing (sensing, really: many people, including me ,fight better by touch) and moving. That's all. So simple. So invisible.
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