Friday, December 31, 2010
Wednesday, December 29, 2010
Tuesday, December 28, 2010
Saturday, December 25, 2010
Tuesday, December 21, 2010
Thursday, December 16, 2010
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Monday, December 13, 2010
Friday, December 10, 2010
Monday, December 06, 2010
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Sometimes there are profoundly deep misunderstandings when people talk. We assume that when we do similar things, we probably do them for similar reasons, and that’s just not true.
200 years ago, drill and ceremony (marching in formation) was one of the most critical skills on the battlefield. Maybe not for individual survival but for expanding a general’s span of control so that he could give orders and expect them to be carried out. Good drill training won wars, and winning saved lives.
Now that it is suicidal, and has been for over a hundred years, it is still practiced. I would jettison it as no longer applicable and training in things that don’t work is wasted time. But others are not training to defeat an enemy. They are training to be (or create) soldiers. And soldiers know how to march.
Training in a martial art is not the same thing as training for violence. Not at all, and this for years has been one of my blindspots. I had assumed that in the end everyone was training for the dark day when they may have to use the skills. From that point of view much of the training was counter-productive. Some was senseless. Some things were jettisoned that worked in real life but not in play and some things were incorporated that worked in play but not in real life.
And almost all of these deficits could be vastly improved with just a touch of good old-fashioned goals-backward thinking. Study the problem, decide what you are training for and then you can much better evaluate what you are doing in training. Is that attack so patently stupid that you would never do it? Then a crook wouldn’t either. So why practice a defense.
A little forethought and you can really streamline both your training and your personal style.
But… and here is where my blindspot hit. A friend, someone I respect very much as a man and a martial artist pointed out that there are insights you get from dedicated training, things that ‘click’ five or ten years into training.
I agree completely, but (and I was thinking about something/somebody specific) sometimes you get incredible insight into becoming more efficient at things that don’t work. Thinks that have no tactical application.
And that was my blindspot. US Marshal Jones said that in order for a technique to be valid it must have three elements. The list now has four, so I must have added one and I’m not sure which it was:
· Anything you teach must have a tactical use. Reholstering quickly doesn’t have a tactical use. Outside of handcuffing, breaking a turtle (the judo guys know what I mean) not only has no self-defense use but there’s no way to do it without being the bad guy, legally.
· It must work moving or standing still. If you can’t hit hard when both you and the threat are moving, you can’t hit hard. If you can’t put a bullet on target on a moving target while you, yourself are moving, for all tactical purposes you can’t shoot.
· It must work whether you can see or not (and this is likely the one I added, because JJ is primarily a shooter and there are lots of shooting skills that rely on sight… but at the same time he insisted that everything except target acquisition be done by touch.)
· The technique must work when you are scared, under an adrenaline dump. If the technique needs a clear head and pinpoint precision to work, it doesn’t work.
These are classic, and I apply them to my training…but I am training for things. For very specific things. Not just one thing, either. Getting out of a place alive when things go to shit is a different skill than handcuffing. It’s also a different problem armed than it is unarmed. But the skills and training always serve the goals.
This is also probably the crux of the identity problem (not feeling like a martial artist any more) and the ‘martial arts can’t be a way of life’ sentiment.
I’m training for things. I’m no longer training in martial arts. Martial artists do study ‘the problem’ but the problem is not surviving a dark day, the problem is becoming a better martial artist. It can look self-referencing to me, artificial, a little like navel gazing… but it is just as valid as what I do, and probably more satisfying for more people. Without the dark days, all of my time might feel wasted. I wouldn’t necessarily know what was a waste of time. The navel-gazing I see in serious martial artists might well transmute into the fantasy life that is rampant in the RBSD crowd.
There but for luck go I.
Friday, December 03, 2010
WW5 Counting Coup
Counting coup was a Plains Indian tradition. Either through stalking or in battle, young men would show their courage by touching an enemy. It had all the skill of combat with none of the bodycount. This version is a form of urban stalking and you will find that threats, especially young men (aka delinquents) play it all the time. It shows all the skill of mugging but without the legal consequences.
The idea is to get to ideal range on a target, either without the target being aware or with the target fully aware but doing nothing about it.
Public places, especially crowded ones are easy. You pick a target and drift or stalk over to within range. Without a crowd it is far more difficult, and thus more challenging. If you are ready, see how long you can stay undetected in the striking range.
Counting coup on a fully aware target is more a psychological game than a physical one. It has dangerous psychic elements in it that need to be addressed as a safety issue.
To deliberately close into someone’s personal space with their knowledge but without permission is an insult. It is a punking. In some places and subcultures if you misjudge you will have to be ready to defend yourself and it will not be self-defense because you started it.
More importantly, if someone has a weak ego and is looking for validation, punking people can be addictive. I’ve said don’t practice losing and don’t practice missing, because you will do it under stress. Now I’m saying “Don’t practice being an asshole, because you will become one.” And not just under stress, either.
You should do it once or twice, partially to notice your own internal resistance to breaking such a cultural taboo and also so that you notice how few people set boundaries in any way. They expect you to respond to the taboo.
See how that works in an assault? Breaking a social taboo indicates that most social controls are off the table…and yet we expect the social controls to kick in any second. Don’t count on it.
Another layer, common among criminals who don’t have an immediate need for anything but want to stay in practice is forcing. Forcing is used here the way a magician uses it. There is no coercion or violence or threats. You pick a card and the card you pick was chosen for you long ago, you were, without being aware of it, forced to choose a preordained card.
In counting coup, forcing is when you do not approach the target but set things up so that the target approaches you. Look at young men standing too close to a concession stand or slightly crowding an aisle, forcing people, particularly young women, to brush as they pass. Contact. Counting coup.
There are multiple values in this drill. The stalking practice not only lets you move and think as a predator, but the blending will help keep you off the predator’s radar. You find something of your social conditioning. Most importantly, you will see how important social conditioning is to how predator’s work.
Victims are good people. They don’t want to draw attention or make scenes. So they don’t set boundaries and they do put themselves in vulnerable positions.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
OS: The One-Step Series
OS1: The One-Step
OS2: Four Option One-Step
OS3: The Baby Drill
OS4: Slow Man Drills
OS5: Dance Floor Melee
OS6: Frisk Fighting
OS7: Environmental Fighting
OS8 The Brawl
B: Blindfolded Drills
B1: Blindfolded Defense
B2: Blindfolded Targeting
B3: Core Fighting
B4: Blindfolded Infighting
D: Dynamic Fighting
D3: The Hole Against the Wall
D4: Moving in the Clinch
D5: French Randori
F1: Maai With Weapons
F3: The Targeting Drill
F4: The Lock Flow Drill
F6: Advanced Ukemi
GM: Ground Movement
GM1: Roll-over Drill Phase 1
GM2: Roll-over Drill Phase 2
GM3: Roll-over Drill Phase 3
GM4: Roll-over Drill Phase 4
GM5: The Wax On, Wax Off of Groundfighting
GM6: One Up, One Down
GM7: Blindfolded Grappling
PM: The Plastic Mind Exercises
PM1: Animal Styles
PM2: Fighting the Elements
PM3: The Other
IW: Internal Work
IW2: Eating Frogs
IW3: The Game of the Stones
IW5: Slaughtering and Butchering
IW6: Ethics and Glitches
IW7: To Save My Children
IW8: The Predator Mind
IW9: The Articulation Exercise
C: Combat Drills
C3: Break Through
C4: Bull in the Ring
C5: The Reception Line
C6: Scenario Training
WW: World Work
WW1: The Clothespin Game
WW2: Ten New Things
WW4: Escape and Evasion
WW5: Counting Coup
WW6: Dog Handling
WW7: Global Awareness Exercises
WW8: Legal Articulation
WW9: World Building Exercise
Should probably add an afterword and I'm toying with an exercise to evaluate training to finish up, but this is the skeleton of the work.
Monday, November 22, 2010
I’ve written before that martial arts can never be a way of life, not for me. Then I started working on the damn book of drills and maybe I’m seeing it differently.
Of the nine sections, three are almost entirely mental: Internal Work, the Plastic Mind Exercises and Working with the World. What does this mean?
Some catch it intuitively. I think that Maija and Edwin and Kasey know what I am doing even when I am struggling with defining and understanding it.
Here’s what I know:
I live in a world, a big world full of many things. Much of the world is dangerous and almost all of the world is beautiful. You can’t separate the beauty from the danger. You live in the world and, as humans, we can separate from the world… but we can’t separate from and effectively function in the world.
Martial arts or self-defense or what-have-you may or may not be something you do for the dangerous parts of the world. It might just be fun. But at very minimum, in my mind, it must be something that you do with and in the world. Otherwise it is fantasy and separation. At best masturbation. At the worst, unpleasant sweaty addictive masturbation that you believe is exactly the same as real sex.
So it’s critical when learning this (whatever this is that I teach) that you play in and with the world. That you study the world. And because you are part of it, that you study yourself. Not the imaginary self that is constant and true and good. The fluid self that changes when you are hungry. The one that you become when you are afraid or elated. The self bleeding on the edge of consciousness and the self in the cold dark places.
Learn to see. Learn your own mental plasticity and how much you can control that: how much you can choose, moment to moment, who you wish to be.
Touch the world, taste it, smell it. If you ever need to break somebody, it will be one of the most real moments of your life.
Sunday, November 21, 2010
- What I think all students should be taught as young as possible: How money really works; advanced first aid; preventative medicine; the scientific method, experimental design and enough statistics to know when they are being manipulated... much much more.
- Other tricks and tips for learning, such as the most basic rule: If you don't know, ask someone who does.
- Throw away comments or short snatches of information that changed life drastically.
- There are things like breathing and walking and living that almost everyone does and very few people do at a conscious level... very few learn to do them really well. What goes into learning to live well?
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
Monday, November 08, 2010
a way to convey meaning. Why it happens in people is explicable in psychology I suppose. I’m not sharp there. What is happening though, is a flaw in the reasoning process. Beliefs take hold without ever involving other views and active world experience. We know people can literally think ourselves into believing anything is true.
Our job everyday is to make sense of the world. We are immersed in it with others like us, but each trapped in our own little head. It’s scary. It is not comforting to be acutely aware of that all the time. We seek to assign meaning, to understand and organize all the information in order to connect and perceive ourselves, our world. We eventually learn to trust our created meanings because it is too much work to constantly evaluate the accuracy and nuances of our perceptions. We fool ourselves into thinking we've figured it out all the time.
Two posts ago Rory got me thinking deeply about perspective in this way. That was a popular post. I think the only way to acquire new knowledge is to make sure you never really believe you know everything about anything ...I think Socrates. In this, the things you are certain of are convictions. They will always be passing your active tests because you have chosen to observe your active experience in the physical world. Principles, because they can be recognized as commonalities, repeated and tested are key to granting advantage to your knowledge base. It is dangerous to believe in something if you do not fully recognize its working
principles. But, the more you can find them the more intuitive you become. It will be easier to understand new stuff, to recognize what is valuable to your Way. You know if it is something to take or discard. You won’t be as inclined to hang onto things you don’t need because you know you will be able find them again easily. Perceptions get sharper.
Learning humility probably helps. We don't value or employ that gift nearly enough. People with a healthy degree of true humility tend to have accurate personal realities and other ambitions than claiming righteousness. They keep from losing heir way, unlike those a bit lost inside themselves without real perspective. Other folks misunderstand, or maybe choose to accept personal and shared ideals as true and never perceive contradictions as even relevant.
There are theoretical ‘levels of understanding’. I forget them exactly. We switch between these as we process. If you watch, it is noticeable and noteworthy that most people never operate beyond a certain level of understanding about who and what they are within multiple layers of context. We cannot avoid it because we need immediate usefulness of casual thought. It is easier than the effort it takes to get out there and think of everything from every possible perspective all the time. And, if we do know to do it, it is still work to construct a belief system based on both reason AND active experience. Also, as with physical skills, it is essential to maintain your perspective to be sure it is has not become irrelevant.
Sunday, November 07, 2010
Friday, November 05, 2010
Imagine a square. In that square is everything there is to know about you.
Imagine a horizontal bar in that square. Above the bar are the things you know about yourself. below that bar are the things you don't know about yourself. There are a million things you don't know about yourself. Some are obvious: how you will act under pressure you have never experienced; things you have never learned to see. Some bring up some deep denial: all the things you think are cool but annoy others; all the times you are playing to an imaginary audience as you interact in life.
Imagine a vertical line in the square. All the things on the left are the things that others know about you. All the things on the right of the line are the things that they do not know. You deeper dreams and fantasies and history and...
It is important to realize that others know things about you that you do not. Who you think we see and who we actually see are not the same and often the person on the outside sees more accurately. the one on the outside doesn't see the voices in our heads making excuses and creating false explanations and rationalizations. They just see what we do.
On that level, the quest in life is the same: to open the window and see as much about ourselves as possible. We can't see our own blindspots and it is only through friends (or sometimes enemies) that tell us what they see that we get anywhere on our quest.