Sunday, June 14, 2009

Hurt Me!

Bullshitting after class one day with some of the students, one of them (hey, Bryan!) said, "I knew I found the right place on the first day when I walked in and you were yelling at one of the women, 'Don't just stand there! Hurt me!'"

It seems that I say that a lot more than I should have to. 

We pretty it up and get into some deep denial, but martial arts is about hurting people. Breaking them.  We can tack on a philosophy or pretend that we are kicking people in the head to access some inner peaceful monk, but that's a shitload of rationalization and mental gymnastics.

Then for safety reasons and social reasons and most insidious of all to protect the illusions of rank and mastery and proficiency, everyone practices NOT hurting each other.  Some practice so well that after years of training in a martial art, they are better at not hurting people than they are hurting them.

That often winds up as the first big hurdle with new students. Hurt me.

I'm not stupid about it and we don't go out to tear each other's heads off continuously, but they have to know. Not just how it feels to let go, but what they must feel first in order to let go.  So I put on armor (and/or position pads or telephone books) and let them unload.  Hurt me!

This kind of training has its own objective feedback.  You know you have a deeply damaged student when he or she hits the padded bad guy and looks back to the instructor to see if it was 'right'. Possibly the classic example of 'making sensei happy'. Right is knocking the wind out of me or knocking me back or, even better, knocking me flat on my back.  It's right there, objective, undeniable.

It's not hard. Power generation, power stealing and structure combine even at low levels of proficiency and a small woman can break bones. If she lets herself.  You get her to unload just once so perfect that she sees the look and hears the rapid suck of wind and right then, you ask "That was fun, wasn't it?"  Because it is. Especially for people who have too much social pressure to be victims or who have come to believe that they lack power, to see it, to feel their own power opens up possibilities.

Another thing, and I say it a lot, "You know how to hit. You've been practicing. Now forget all that and just hurt me.  Don't think about your form, just think about knocking me on my ass." One little mental tweak and almost all hit much, much harder.  With the bonus that this brand-new mental tweak is miles closer to where their mindset needs to be if they ever have to hurt someone.

Good day today.


Wim Demeere said...

A while ago I gave a SD course to a group of women. Same problem happened: they wouldn't unload.
so we worked through it in a variety of ways and then went on to scenario training with me padded up.
One of the women who had been the most reticent did a nice technique to put me down. I played the hurt but recovering attacker and started to get up towards her. Before I was even half way up she soccer-kicked me in the throat, full power. The throat-guard took most of it but she still made me take a second or two to recover.

Similar things happened with the other women. When they finally give themselves permission to unload, they UNLOAD. :-)


Steve Perry said...

I once stood in as the one of two dummies for a women's SD class at a local college when the teacher caught pneumonia. We wore the soft armor --body, gauntlets, groin, arms, legs, and head gear, and my job was to tackle the young women.

One of them managed to rip my helmet loose and was using it like a flail to hammer me before they pulled her off.

Hecate said...

Alas, I am one of those women who just can't unload on a training partner or instructor who's not wearing the Redman suit.

Now if they're properly protected, well, that's different . . .

Nihil said...

It is hard to find the line between safe practice and real practice sometimes.

Anonymous said...

Sounds kind of like my instructor the first times in class.. and when I actually did unload the first time I got so shocked afterwards that I apologized, and he just went: 'No apologies. That was supposed to happen.' Fun times.


DRP said...