Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Thanks for the comments on the last post. Everything happens in a time and a place- in a context in other words- and that drives the particulars.

Teaching for a private company instead of publicly wasn't a decision as much as an artifact of the context. This is the first time in fifteen years that I can expect to be on the same schedule for two years running. In the past I've taught noon and midnight classes (when I was on swing shift) and 0800 classes (when I worked nights). Shift change every year meant new students. How many people who can make a midnight class can also make an 0800 class the next year?

New students, especially when you lose the old ones just as they are showing great potential is frustrating. I got tired of teaching a regular class and for the last two years have just taught cops on duty time; seminars; and a small group of private students purely on a 'when we can get together' plan.

As it stands, I'll be on a ten-hour day shift for the next four years. Stable schedule! Yipee! And relatively normal hours! But one of the prices is that I won't commute into town on my days off. Family time is sacred right now. So, if I'm going to teach I need a space available around 1730 fairly close to work or between work and home. A couple of dojos have let me use their spaces in the past, but they all have classes going at those hours.

That was the context dilemma. I've been looking (not exhaustively) for a space. So have some of my old students. The place I found only allows people in who work for the Governmental section my agency is under. Hmmm- not many students and the good ones I already teach at in-service. They know where to find me.

The ideal place would be public, roomy, mats would be ideal but aren't strictly necessary. Some place that would carry the class on their insurance (it's worked in the dojos I've taught in previously). Cheap or free, since I usually either don't charge for class or charge a mat fee that goes directly to the person who owns the place. And not easily scared. It sounds stupid, but for some reason our training classes tend to scare spectators. No idea why, but one of the dojo owners used to make a point of telling prospective students who happened to see one of my classes, "Don't worry about that. He's not directly affiliated with us and you won't be doing any of that. Unless you really want to."

Irena came through. It's a good facility, nice people, and it serves my secret purpose- to experiment with training civilians and beginners.

There was an anonymous comment on the last entry:

"If you think you can turn a cross section of society into the martial expert that is Rory, you might be in for a big letdown. But I think you will have fun trying, and everyone in your classes will learn something they wouldn't learn anywhere else. "

Assuming that wasn't pure sarcasm, here's the deal:

I'm no expert. I'm a nearly crippled up middle aged man with some skill, some experience and some mean. But I'm consistently successful against people who are bigger, stronger, faster and/or more proficient than me. My theory, and what I want to do with this group, is not to teach them to move like me. I want to teach them how I think.

Most martial artists learn how to move, then they use this 'right way to move' and either attempt to understand violence through that filter or ignore it altogether. I want to set up violence as the world, the context. From my mind and their own experiences teach them how to think about it, how to plan, what to see, how that drives reaction... and then have them work on their own movement in that world.

Less forging a sword than growing a tree. Oooh- better analogy: Martial arts tries to create warriors. I want to re-introduce a predator to the wild. Not build, but awaken.

Thursday, May 24, 2007


Just been asked to consider teaching a regular class for a large company locally. It's a big re-think.

Normally I have two types of students- cops, of course. These are men and women who either know how to fight or are painfully aware that they don't and they want me to help them be more efficient. These are great students. We share a common language, a common understanding of why we are training and what we are training for and generally we either know each other or know about each other.

My other group, the private students and the seminar attendees, are usually extremely skilled martial artists who come to me to learn about violence. Probably half this blog is about differences between Martial Arts and violence, so it is something I have a good bit of experience in communicating.

This will be different, though. They want a self-defense class, true, and I feel very comfortable teaching that. But they also want something in the nature of a martial arts class, something that people could attend for years and continuously improve. I'm fairly comfortable teaching that.

But both?

It's rarely done well. The primary conflict is that the physical actions of self defense must be dead simple, but humans refuse to do anything simple for very long. They start embellishing. They make it 'cooler'. They make their own fun.

I am so looking forward to the challenge.

The group will be a mix. Irena has already pointed out some of the people who are interested. Most are in good shape, some have martial arts experience, most don't. They all have the happy well-fed look that comes with civilization.

This will be so fun- an experiment and an exploration. I want to take them as quickly as possible into a visceral understanding of violence and instill an awe for and admiration of ruthless simplicity... then slowly work on pieces. How to move, how to hurt, how to think, how to observe... but never leaving the two touchstones of a realistic gut level understanding of violence and the benchmark of the quest for the most efficient line.

So they will get more data all the time- types of confrontations and ambushes; legal and moral issues; adrenaline effects; dealing with 1234s; weapons; first aid; old bushi culture; crime; avoidance; de-escalation; animal behavior... but all the time touching back to violence and efficiency.

I think, I hope, that I can literally alter their minds- make pain merely a data point; teach them to thrive in physical chaos; learn that their bodies are nothing but toys- and so is the threat's. Bring them to the point where they enjoy receiving a good hit. Where they realize that violence is the way of the world and can then choose to rise above it out of choice rather than hide from it in fear.

Lots to think about- the Big Three, right away. Stages of preparation, maybe one per class as they work the other physical skills every day. Principles. Alternative mindsets. Specific techniques- ukemi and irimi certainly. Movement, pain, damage and shock. Power, timing and targeting. Goals-strategy-tactics-technique. Force justification...

This might be very, very cool.

Monday, May 21, 2007

Martial University and Synergy

Saturday at MU was spectacular. Good people who I really like- Kris, Lawrence, Restita, Sherril, the Johns, Matt, Bob, Aaron and others who have become sort of an annual thing. I enjoyed my classes and thought they went well, had enough time to drop into Bob's "Street Judo" class...

Here's the difference between someone who knows what he's talking about and someone who doesn't- discussing arm bars Bob said that learning them in steps is okay for the dojo but in real life you have to train to recognize the opportunity and then grab it... I wanted to give him a big hug.

The best part, most important for me, was the class on stages. I hesitate to call the people who attended "students". It was an incredible energy- with the bare framework of what I wanted to teach and their questions and their observations it made a feed-back loop of data and insight. The class ran over, but this ninety minutes could easily make a book. A really, really useful book and possibly an easier way to organize the information on violence. It was a good time.

If you wanted one of the "Toughest Men Alive" teaching you strangles or a gentle elderly refugee showing you aikido; a stunt woman teaching baton fighting or to work with a Chinese straight sword; if you wanted to explore the differences between Russian and American judo, experiment with healing massage or Japanese calligraphy or learn to break a rock, you should have been there.

Factor Three

This is oversimplifying a bit, but there are four factors that come into play in every conflict.

Number Four is luck. You can't do anything about luck- you can become more aware and adaptable, you can change in response to luck, but you can't make luck go away. Like many things in life, you can do stuff about you that can change the effect luck can have, but don't pretend that you are changing luck itself.

Factor one, of course, is yourself. A lot of training focuses on this factor- how to move. What you can do.

But the second factor in the fight, the threat or threats, are part of the equation too. They change everything- hitting correctly is different than hitting a specific object correctly- especially when the object moves and doesn't want to be hit. The sheer physical presence of threats change the equation, but more so- the threat moves, makes decision, has his or her or their own goals and plans and tactics and actions. At a very simple but profound level your training changes when it shifts from "How do I strike, kick or throw?" to "How do people break or fall?"

The third factor is the environment. It is always in play, but in most training it is minimized so that you can work on one or the other two without distractions. It affects everything in large and small ways and covers everything from footing to found weapons to temperature and clothing and internal chemicals states.

Note well: a good fighter is someone who knows all four factors. A great fighter understands the dynamics and the interactions between each and all of the factors.

Thursday I took my team heavily into environmental fighting. There was a short class and practice on using walls and corners and curbs and found weapons and doors and... Then they got a little practice. Then we went to the room.

The room was about forty feet by sixty in an abandoned warehouse. Part was set up for classes so there was a big desk, chairs, benches. It was cluttered with the trash that accumulates in abandoned buildings. Concrete pillars and water pipes ran from floor to ceiling. Except for six green glo-sticks it was pitch dark.

For an hour, we brawled in there. Thirteen experienced fighters in full tactical gear (minus live weapons) going at it specifically looking for opportunities to smash heads into walls or bend backs over corners. It was a blast- hot and sweaty, fun and instructional. Chairs flew, both at heads and kicked into the knees of a charging threat. We found ourselves frisking the opponent in the middle of the grapple and pulling things from his belt to use as a weapon (handgun magazines make great fist loads). One team member noticed that if he threw a glo-stick, eyes would follow the moving light and he could blind-side people.

Grappling I found myself torn away with the facemask/spine twist throw I'd taught 'em yesterday and had to deal with two at a time at grappling range, one of whom had over a hundred pounds on me.

It was an incredible day. To sum it up in a scene: Shoulder slammed my guy off balance and slip into control of his neck and near-side arm and pivot, dropping... and stop. His eye with both our body weights behind it is poised over the corner of the bench. "You see that?" I ask. "Yeah, that would suck," he says. I loosen the grip and give him time to push away from the danger and continue the drop where we both continue fighting on the ground.

Full scale judo falls on concrete in gear. Strangles against the edge of the body armor. Telephone book slams. Flying, swinging and sliding furniture.

And at the end: "Injuries?" Fat lips. Scrapes. Bruises (almost everyone has a holster-sized bruise on their hips from slamming into the floor or wall). Nothing else.

I can't think of any other group I could do this with- the skill and absolute control make them, in my opinion, the best I've seen in this business.

Good times, baby, good times.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Training Today

I love training my team. Tough, smart, dedicated. Experienced fighters, thoroughly controlled professionals. Training days are great days. So now I am bruised, and scraped with a little fat lip and a little blood trickling from my scalp, a few joints stretched a bit beyond their comfort zone.

This is our second day of three consecutive training days. Yesterday started with classroom- how our tactical team will coordinate with the Negotiations Team; how the Incident Command System is supposed to work and how it will actually work in the reality of our agency and what steps we must take to make it efficient; an overview of mission profiles; and a video on a specific threat profile.

Then hand-to-hand training and cell extractions. The HtH was all about knocking threats down- with your hands, without your hands, with their moment or creating it, spine take downs and sutemis, modifying the follow through for little, none or great damage. Cell extractions are brutal. I played the bad guy for a handful of them and the team is doing well. My time of available free action could be measured in seconds at the most. They left very few opportunities for me to harm them.

Today- drawing, shooting, moving, entries, searches, low light and environmental hand-to-hand combat, riot control, shield use and flexible stretcher evacuations. I even learned a new medic skills.

It's a pleasure teaching them, an honor to learn from them. My life is good.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Next Projects

Assuming all goes well with the book sale (contract was offered, still negotiating) it's time to put some effort into the next project.

Here are the options:

Principals- Written a few years ago as my first book. Needs a huge re-write and possibly hundreds of pictures, but it would be relatively quick and easy. It's a combatives book and centers around the handful of principals that make or allow techniques to work.

Godbox- My one piece of long fiction. It's your typical science fiction western medical mystery. Seriously it was fun to write. Needs one chapter (easy) and a polish to submit. A local small press editor said he'd like to take a look.

The Citizen's Guide to Police Use of Force- This has been bouncing around in my head for some time. When I read the news articles that piss me off or whine about how civilians don't understand the people who protect them, maybe it's my responsibility to try to teach. So it will be part a legal guide to Use of Force issues, but more the way officers are taught to think about violence, danger and force and even more on how common (and rare) experiences contribute to a world view that most civilians don't get.

Talkin'- There are a fair number of books out there for dealing with the mentally ill or emotionally disturbed and most of them just don't work. They are either too theoretical or too dependent on a clinical setting. A psychologist who talks people down all the time starts with people who were stable enough to find his office. Emergency workers have to have some tools for dealing with people who are in worse shape, in uncontrolled environments and with untrained civilians nearby who made need protection.

The Corrections Emergency Response Team Manual- This would be very niche-market, but there isn't a good book out there for this. The tactical/SWAT situation in a jail or prison is completely different than outside. I have two friends who really want to collaborate on this, but I'm not 100% sure that's a good idea.

So, loyal readers- what are your votes?

Monday, May 14, 2007


Doug, last week: "You know how they make veal? How they keep the calf in a little box and force-feed it so it doesn't get any exercise or sun and it makes the meat real soft and tender? I think someone did that to her mind."

Here Be Dragons

Your mind, your personality and even your character are not what you believe them to be. Popeye can say, "I yam what I yam," and you can intone "I am I" until you are blue in the face but in the end this construct, this story of personality and integrity and grit, is just a finely balanced electrochemical machine.

Personality with sufficient protein is different than the personality starved for it. Dehydration and cold and loss of blood can have definite physical effects but long before those show up, the mental effects (usually stupidity and stubborness) make their appearance. The fastidious personality that checks fine restaurants for spots on the crystal will eat worms if hungry enough- if he or she has been taught that worms are edible.

These are all physical and measurable. Easy to put out there, hard to argue with. More subtle and just as definite (but easier to deny) are the effects of perception and experience. Things that happen change you, and sometimes not the gentle growth of learning but actually throw that finely tuned machine out of balance.

Long-term exposure to violence and fear, whether raised as an abused child or six months of combat duty or a year of gang patrol can change your brain.

It's a fine line, because sometimes it is learning- new information about the risks of the world come in, new ways to interpret perception and you grow into a slightly different person. Sometimes it is just damage- in fear and anger you do things that horrify you. But often damage is justified as learning: "That's the way the world, is, man. Dis a man and you gots to die." And sometimes people find power in wallowing in victimhood and turn something that could and should have been a lesson into damage, or at least an excuse to hide, to avoid change. Change does hurt.

This is where and why civilians shy away from the truth. Why they will rally for police departments to change and officers to change, but will never sit down and just listen to the world the officers live in; rarely to never spend enough time riding along on patrol to grasp the world the officers have adjusted to. Why the media and the public dwell on some things that might have the whiff of wrong-doing but will only examine the organizational environment, not the dirt and concrete and sand and sun and fear and uncertainty, the real environment where the events happened.

This is why we distance ourselves from issues like racism. Reverse the roles in American history- black slave owners and white slaves. Do you really think that 140 years after the war to end it you ancestors would have done any better or worse? Just because of the color of their skin? But we don't look at that because we need to believe that we are constants and that the Rory raised on a ranch is just the same as the Rory raised in poverty or as a refugee or wealthy would have been.

It's also why the fantasy elements of violence are so clean- Arnold is Arnold. When the movie starts and after he's killed his seventeenth man, he's the same. Rambo's tortured and conflicted psyche is positively homey, and stable.

You watch the movies and you don't talk to the veterans. Because Arnold was always Arnold, and once the veteran was a man very much like you and now he is very different. You aren't better or stronger or tougher- deep down you think he might be stronger than you. But you need to believe that if you looked into that abyss, you would remain unchanged, simply 'you'. And you know damn well you wouldn't. So you don't look and you try not to spend time with the people who live there.

Which leaves the people who have changed largely on their own to decide if it is growth or damage. It is hard to believe it is growth when people avoid you.

It can be growth, though, almost always. But it helps to process it as growth, and that is hard when people who avoid it call you damaged.

Thursday, May 10, 2007


Things get to be habits. After a while, you almost forget you are doing them- it's just "the right way". It's obvious. Long before I was assigned to the tactical team and long before I was drafted to lead it, I'd introduced 'debriefings' with the regular deputies that worked with me in booking. If we had a fight or a near fight or a new policy or a change we'd get the job done and then gather for a minute:

"How did that go? What went right? What went wrong? How will we do better next time? How was this one different than other similar situations?" (That last question isn't part of the standard short debrief, but it's critical to recognize differences in the situation. If you don't, you wind up changing things all the time in response to flukes.)

Last night I taught a jujutsu class for a friend who is out of town. It was his advanced class, so in the mini scenarios I had them critique and coach each other, debrief each try and go back to it. At the end of class, as always, I debriefed: "What did you learn?" Each person has to answer that question. "What does that mean?" (The lessons the student picks up are usually very surface- "I have a habit of stopping between techniques" usually means that the student is trying to remember the 'right thing to do', thinking too much). "This is the lesson I wanted you to take away..." "Any questions for me?"

I've been doing this in Uses of Force and Tactical Operations and training for years. It is the critical component to becoming a self-teacher. Five carefully analyzed events are worth twenty that ended in just beer. Somewhere along the line, I'd forgotten that most martial artists aren't trained to do this. Hopefully they realize that this habit was the most valuable lesson of the class.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


These are the people I'm working with now-

An anonymous complaint comes in and I present it at the weekly meeting. We pass the letter around. The senior investigator says, "Hmm- the handwriting looks familiar." In a few minutes he comes back with a report filed fourteen months ago.

The second investigator doesn't look at the report. He taps a name on the anonymous letter: "It's this guy. He named himself as a witness, but all the other names are in alphabetical order."

They are both right. I'm just the rookie here, still struggling to remember how the reports are filed.

Looks like I need to bring my game up to a whole new level.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Dancin' Fool

This is real. I know this.

Boredom and comfort are real- they just don't feel real. Not like the blinding flash of pain of a bone breaking, not like the gush of salty blood in your mouth. Not like the wind in the edge of a cliff or the roar of free-fall.

I'm feeling tied right now, but that is imaginary. Tied to obligations and times and places- but I could leave.

I want to go without food until my sense of smell sharpens like an animals. Dive into cold water and pry my dinner off the rocks. I want to see and hear the boken whizzing at me head and feel the slam of a good throw on concrete.

Everything is real. The air-conditioned air in this office is just as real as wind blowing off a glacier. I know this.

What I am missing is the edge of the envelope- the sense of discovery and trepidation. The unknown. The sense of climbing without a harness and no guarantee that any level of skill would be enough.

When you spend your life pushing the edge of the envelope, going to the places on your reality map that are marked "here be dragons" the map gets very big and the edges get farther away. Your people live in the center and it becomes a longer journey to get to the edge. But if you spend enough time there the edge feels like home, like the real world.

When I was young, a friend did a Tarot reading. She laid the Fool down first. "Do you know what this means?"

I shook my head.

"It means that you, when you come to the edge of the abyss, you start dancing."

Dancing would be fun.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Preview of Martial University 2007

MU is coming up fast, May 19th near Seattle. The link is here:

I'm scheduled for three classes this year. One will be at the technique level, one tactical (tactics applies to teaching and learning just as much as it does to fighting) and one will be more global- not truly strategic, but more an intelligence briefing on identifying the real problem.

The first class, at the tactical level, will be a way to look at both training and survival from the standpoint of different 'toolboxes'. The students will do a free flowing drill and look at it from the "classes of technique" level; then from the "effects on the threat level"; then from the "critical skills" level. These toolboxes all do the same thing but they do it in different ways and will resonate with different people. In the 'technique toolbox' you may come to realize that you aren't trained in an entire class of skills, and therefore can't exploit (or sometimes even see) opportunities. The 'effects toolbox' reverses the lens, looking not at what motion you can make but on what you can do to the threat. 'Critical skills' breaks down my personal fighting into essentials. All the toolboxes do the same thing, but in different ways with different side-effects. This class will be most useful for instructors and senior or plateaued ( if that's a word) (it isn't) (stop that) students.

Class number two will be technique level- close range power generation: drop step and bone conduction; Jack Dempsey's system for generating circular power in a hook punch or elbow; long, short and inner whip power; wave action; dead hand and dead body power; and bone bouncing. I originally wanted to try to fit takedowns in the same time slot, but it won't work.

The third class, training for stages, should be good. It will divide training for assault survival into time frames that require different stages- long before the fight you need to understand the basic legalities of self-defense and what your issues about violence are and decide what you will fight for long before the decision comes up. Just before an attack the important skills are avoiding it; recognizing one coming and defusing the decision; and (key) recognizing when it is too late to deal with it as a preventable social problem.

In the attack itself, the first second will involve a single technique that must be conditioned to reflex speed (the OC stage) if you are lucky. People who have not trained for this will experience the freeze and will be caught like a deer in the headlights. You have to train to recognize the freeze and break it. Then what ever happens- if the freeze is broken successfully, all your martial arts training will come into play. That's the fifth stage and we'll go into some of the environmental, mental and hormonal differences between this and training. The last section will deal with the aftermath- physical, emotional and legal.

Should be fun. Anyone think this is too cerebral?

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Good Day

Has this been a big day? Most of the week has been boring- investigations on hold while I wait for a person or a piece of data. It almost all came in today and I'm sitting on a pile of freshly done stuff with more stuff that I can't talk about in progress.

Somewhere in there I completed a lesson plan for Martial University in Seattle.

And got a contract for the book.

It feels like a big day.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


One of the junior tactical team members is resigning. He's doing everything right, still working hard, giving plenty of notice. Last night was the first chance I'd had to really get at the reasons.

Recognize that being on a team is hard- your pager will spoil family dinners and kid's birthdays. You will show up, put on a bunch of gear and armor only to have someone up the chain of command say- "Go home, it's resolved." You won't be able to leave town on many of your weekends and scheduling a vacation can be a nightmare, especially when your team is short of members. Training budgets get cut, people get hurt and you will spend hours in an icy rain on a training day drawing a weapon from your holster and putting two rounds on a two-inch square and reholstering, repetition after repetition.

There are a lot of good reasons to quit- family needs more time with me; I'd like to have a life again. We've had a few protest resignations over budgets being cut and one over management oversight long ago.

So I asked the kid why he was quitting. He said it wasn't what he expected. He thought it would be fun. It wasn't fun. If something wasn't fun, why should he spend time doing it?

I don't know if I betrayed a reaction. Not completely sure how to react even now. Yell, "It's not ABOUT YOU! It's about getting the best people we can to keep others from being hurt." or "What did you think this was, a game show? A carnival? Fun?" Or tell him some of the good stories from before he came on the team with blood and pepper spray and shanks and psychos. Maybe talk about duty?

At first, I thought I couldn't understand him at all, but I was bullshitting myself. We all volunteered for the team and went through (especially in the early years) some pretty brutal tests to be and stay on it, and we all did it for our own reasons. Maybe to prove we were good enough. Maybe for the challenge. Maybe because we thought we were the best and we wanted someone else to recognize it.

And fun always has been an element. Despite the sometimes incredible boredom of an operation, this team is a pleasure (in the sarcastic, opinionated, irreverant and scathingly obscene and crushingly accurate way that people who have bled and sweated together can share). I respect these guys and I enjoy hanging with them. And I've had fun in training and in operations, both- the kind of fun that hurst a lot and leaves bruises and causes bleeding. And the stories are priceless.

So maybe I do understand the kid a little. Disappointed that his fun (or lack of it) outweighs the very real good that we do (or evil that we prevent, not quite the same thing). But it's not an alien viewpoint. I wish him luck.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Hoping For Rain

There's a demonstration planned for tonight. Intel is concerned that a relatively small group will try to do some damage, block some streets. Just generally annoy a bunch of commuters and maybe try to provoke an over-reaction from the officers.

I categorize it as a nuisance crime. Like an open sewer or littering it just inconveniences a bunch of people. Officers who in day-to-day duties don't have enough time or resources in tight budgets to hunt down and arrest violent offenders with active warrants will be forced, with a huge overtime bill, to do what amounts to baby sitting.

I've talked with some of the protesters at previous demonstrations that turned to riots. They spout a very consistant and persistant rhetoric but if you talk closer and ask questions about fundamentals of economics or political theory or philosophy it becomes quickly clear that they are repeating words they don't understand (REAL DIALOGUE COMING UP. NO KIDDING): Protester: "When Thomas Jefferson used Nietzche's philosophy to create America he would have been apalled at what you are doing here." Me: "Jefferson was dead before Nietzche was born. Locke was the primary philosophical influence on the American Revolution." Him: "Really? You're pretty cool. If you weren't a cop we could hang out."

Ignorance bothers me a little. Hypocricy bother me more. Local groups have been practicing for some time how to lunge at an officer hoping to provoke a baton strike or an OC spray with cameras waiting; how to frighten or cripple the mounted patrol's horses with firecrackers or ball bearings. Maybe it's not hypocricy. Maybe those particular protesters aren't also animal rights activists. Maybe the ones who block streets at rush hour are actually for the pollution and petroleum industries and are just helping out by freezing people in traffic. Maybe the ones who yell for individual rights and freedoms aren't the ones keeping people from going home.

It's about attention, pure and simple. A bunch of kids that for the moment want all eyes turned to them. Want to feel that they stood toe to toe and eye to eye with a monolithic force represented by the police. Want to feel brave and special and important... but do it safely. Protesting in a nation where it is safe to do so and if you play the litigation card right you can make money doing it.

The first time I was out on one of these, my wife watched obsessively on the TV. At one point, as a line of police in riot gear sealed off a street, the protesters started chanting, "This is what a police state looks like!"

According to the kids, my wife was screaming at the TV, "No it isn't you morons! In a police state they machine gun the lot of you and the ones who limp home each find one family member missing! That's what a fucking police state looks like!"

But what would she know about that, a simple Eastern Bloc refugee like her?

So the kids will chant and scream and taunt. The officers behind their riot gear might be bored or might be thinking about the "Emotionally disturbed person with a knife" call from last night. The protesters will read their list of grievances and the officers will compare it to a list of victims they have known and tried to help: cheated old folks, abuse victims, assault victims beaten so badly...

So I'm hoping for a good rainstorm. This level of social justice is pretty much limited to comfortable weather.

The Outcome

In a comment to the last post, Mike said that "I learned what karate was a few years back...when I was in high school I used karate to dislocate someones arm after which I didn't do martial arts for a few years...I was taught how to use my karate but wasn't given the mental tools to handle the outcome."

Martial artists do a very strange thing when they separate the act from the consequences. They train and train and train to concuss brains, drive fists through ribs, slam people into concrete and tear tendons and simultaneously work very, very hard to do it safely.

Law enforcement trainers do it too. We literally train to blow holes in a human being but every year it seems that training programs are jeopardized over a twisted ankle or a sprained thumb.

This removes the act from the reality of the act. You can do your technique a thousand times and it's fun. This is a hobby. Then on that day you hoped would never happen you do that fun technique in a non-fun place and time... and a human arm dislocates. For me it was collapsing a throat. For another it was shattering a rib cage and nearly fatal. Those are realities. That is what you were practicing to do the whole time. Now the training means and is something different.

(I have an advantage here- I got my reality dose with the throat jab before I started training and went in with a touch more awareness, perhaps)

Consequences are rarely made real in a training setting. Some instructors will talk about, "If you do this, X will happen." or (one of my bullshit favorites) "It's an unavoidable physical reaction- if you do this he must..." But at best those are just words.

When you break a person, it is a human being, a creature of will and thought. Precious. And most people, for all of their bad-assed fantasy, have never broken a person other than accidentally, and some have been traumatized even by that. With this type of outcome is it so hard to understand that many martial artists who have really used it find it hard to go back to class and play? They certainly re-think what they know and maybe this seems to the student like an added depth, but it is not deep. It is a simple understanding that what they are training has real human consequences. So obvious a truth and so lost.

Thinking about it, I've often wondered when shooting changed from something I did for fun to something I disliked but worked very hard at- strangely enough it was right around the time I actually shot someone. Hmmmm.

Outcomes. Blood is slippery. Bone is very white. All bleeding looks bright red and arterial in bright sunshine. Fresh brains smell nice, almost appetizing. When you hit someone and they are sure they are dying, they get a look in the eye that you will remember for a very long time. The body makes a lot of noises when it is breaking- tendon and ligament and small bones and big bones all sound different when they give. Fear sweat smells different than anger sweat.

Tools for dealing with this? Just be mindful of what you are training to do, and maybe it will impact you a little less when it does exactly what it is supposed to do.