Thursday, October 22, 2009

Teaching for Chaos

What I teach is dealing with violence, and that dictates a lot of what and how and who I teach.

I don't teach most people. Children don't need to know about certain parts of the world. They need to believe, at some level, that the world is safe and good. Maybe it's not true and maybe it's not necessary, but I want children to have that. I don't teach stupid people. They make me tired and waste my time. I try to avoid the ones who are just augmenting fantasy or on some kind of imaginary power rush, since I can't hide the contempt for any length of time.

So who I do teach tends to break one of two ways- either professionals who expect to be dealing with very bad things in the near future or hobbyists (experienced martial artists) who are just now realizing that what they thought they were learning might not actually be what they learned. They are waking up in other words, pushing away the dream violence and looking for a touch of the real.

There are a few cross-overs, people who pride themselves on collecting reality credentials. A very few who share more than teach or learn, finding comfort in someone who knows the words and the music.

What I teach is chaos, and so in the end, I teach nothing. I mean that very seriously. When the shit hits the fan you will be all alone, no matter how many people you are with. No matter how good or extensive your scenario training it will never be exactly like real life. You (or the student) need to be able to handle it. Alone. Not like me, you need to handle it like you. So I make no effort to teach my way. You find your way. And then you build on it and refine it and broaden and deepen it. You do that until you have achieved something I could never give you. At best, if I tried to teach you, you would be an imperfect me. But you can be a perfect you.

So I don't teach. We explore and I point out what I see and you tell me what you sense.

That's the essence because in a moment of survival, you will be a perfect expression of yourself. Who you are and what you do, both in that moment and in all the hours of training beforehand are who you are. Who you have become. Nothing less and nothing more.

So I can't teach someone to bow and cower and genuflect and call me 'sir', not when I want them to stand up to someone far scarier than me. I can't lie and tell them that they have what it takes, that they've drunk the magic kool-aid, because some days it's bug on a windshield time. I can't let them get away with the whining and 'oh poor me' and 'I don't wanna' or "I can't' because I don't want them to learn that if they give up it will still be okay. It will probably be very NOT okay.

I can't teach them platitudes, "You will get cut" or "You won't get cut" because both can be lies and they don't need garbage in their brains when they see their own blood. They need to move.

It's all about the student and they need to learn to see and evaluate and move. They need to learn how to grow themselves. In the end, they learn how to teach themselves. Then they do and should move beyond the teacher, not as little flawed clones but as men and women who have grown themselves to be as strong and good and courageous as they can be. Powerful enough to be themselves, even when they are all alone and afraid.


Shang Lee said...

I like what u say about "teaching the student how to teach themselves". good post!

Vaughn said...


selenew said...

Very profound thoughts tonight!

Viro said...

My apologies for posting here, but I couldn't find an email-link to use.
In your "Links" section you have link-outs to "Loren" and "Patrick's website". Clicking on the links did not connect me to their sites.

I found that my browser wouldn't automatically add "www." to the link you've specified when I clicked on the link, but would do so if I cut and pasted the link into a new tab or window.

So, "" and "" will error out, but "" and "" will resolve correctly. You may want to edit those links to open in a new tab/window or just add "www." to them.

Feel free to delete this post. :)

Illogic said...

Wouldn't perfection mean you don't have to change, learn, and all those other things that make life interesting?
Not saying you should settle for half-good or anything, but isn't adaption to change what drives us as a species?
So maybe perfection isn't the answer, as much as finding new things to perfect. And then maybe combine them?

Steve Perry said...

A small point, of which we have spoken a time or twelve:

Here we have Rory, who has, based on a huge number of experiences, every reason to believe that when the shit hits the fan, he'll do something useful, but who isn't sure he will.

And in this corner, Steve, who has only a couple of experiences and no overwhelming evidence to believe that when the shit hits the fan, he will do something useful, and who *is* sure he will.

If you are gonna tell folks to avoid teaching 'em they'll get cut because that might undermind their confidence, what do you suppose telling 'em that a guy who has beat down more people than all the rest of us put together isn't sure he can do it again is apt to do for their confidence?

I suspect it will introduce major doubt. Jeez, if he is worried he can't keep up, what chance do I have?

Ever hear the Brother Dave Garner routine "When John Gets Here ... ?"

ratman said...

Is their any Way to teach yourself
to deal with Chaos? If not where besides Rory university can I learn this?

Vaughn said...

As someone who has never faced violence of this nature, I find some comfort in the terrible chaos and uncertainty in Mr. Miller's position. I may be an anomoly however. The fact that an experienced professional is uncertain that in the moment he will do something useful means that the chaos is not under the control of the assailant. It implies to me that if I can disrupt the assailant's plan (or frame of mind, or OODA cycle), then that individual is now in a similar chaotic mess to mine. No one can be certain of getting their original goal.

But then again, that just might be another way of saying that I am confident that if I take an aggresive action, it will likely improve my chances of leaving the situation in a better position than I would otherwise.

Anonymous said...

It is interesting,this-your experience in jail is vastly different with what a normal citizen will experience, and I think the key difference is tied to "permission."

In jail, there was little question of the context of your use of force. As a normal person on the street, the issue is more-muddled.

I have been lucky-I have never been the target of a predatory attack, at least not one that actually occurred. (There are a couple times where I believe I was able to avoid an attack through basic alertness. But, since no actual attack occurred that is hard to prove.)

Reaction to a predatory attack (if one can react, if the attack is not so sudden and effective that surprise was complete and you are screwed before you can defend yourself) is one thing. Both legally and morally any level of force is allowed.

On the other hand, use of force in what is not a predatory attack-is not lawful, and has legal and moral implications. The trained restraint against violence is, in social situations, a good one yes?

So the issue of permission comes up. A person who is not restrained from violence will soon end up in legal trouble. A person who is too restrained is a ready made victim for violent predation. Clearly there is a tension here, so the question raises-how do you train a student to recognize a situation where violence is appropriate-and when restraint is needed?

It seems to me that this is a key and vital issue in training for self defense. --R.

Mac said...

And there we have it; the perfect definition of Awareneness-based training. I knew if you hit yourself in the head long enough with the hammer of metaphor, it would all become clear: "We explore and I point out what I see and you tell me what you sense."