Monday, May 03, 2010

24 Hours

Really re-thinking the seminars. Especially thanks to a lot of help and advice when I asked for it earlier. You guys rock.

Thinking out loud:
The physical stuff is the most entertaining but (except for the counter-ambush training) it is the least important. The things that make violence difficult to deal with are emotional and cognitive. Those are the things I try to hit hardest in a seminar. Instead of teaching a bunch of things to deal with violence, I try to give a glimpse of the violence they might have to deal with. In the end, that doesn't change or replace any previous training. All it does is put the training in perspective.

What putting it in perspective can do is ratchet up the efficiency by orders of magnitude. Not by showing new stuff, just by showing where the old stuff fits.

The talk-talk part is important. Visuals and demos are good, but long ago kids learned about hunting by hearing stories and getting advice. That hasn't changed. "The deer go to higher pasture in summer" is easy to get in words, hard to learn by trial and error. More so when part of the world, specifically the law, exists in words.

The physical stuff is important as well, but most of the people who show up already have good physical skills, and I extend the trust that they can improve themselves with just a little guidance. that said, beyond the basic safety drill and counter-assault, every seminar is different because I see different holes.

If I notice that some or most hit too light or won't hit at all, we have to cover power generation. If some or most act in discrete units (strike-pause-other strike-pause-kick) they need something to encourage them to flow into total initiative. Blindfolded infighting works great for that. Plus it is fun and gets people to use their senses in a way that is faster than sight. If people never consider weapons or running, never give a thought to why they are pretending to fight with strangers in a gym... then we have to talk about fighting to the goal and bring in the baby drill or breakout.

There is a subset of students I was told recently, that want completely non-physical self-defense. On one level, that's a pipe dream. If you are targeted at certain levels the only thing that will get your ass out is overwhelming force or, at minimum, the credible threat of overwhelming force.

But... that's at the very rare extreme. There are a handful of decisions that that can drop your danger almost to zero. There are a few habits that will prevent most of what slips through the cracks. There are some interpersonal skills that can clean up many things... but beyond that, there is a Hellstorm. If you train non-physical only you can't be prepared for that... and too many of the people that teach to these odds just quietly pretend that the Hellstorm doesn't really exist.

That said, I've been asked to put together a non-physical program. It would do a lot of good. But it's not complete.

So there is the talk-talk: about context and legalities and types of fights and what will happen to you physically, emotionally, internally. What to do right after an event and what you should do long before.

And there are the physical skills, broad and deep, but very, very simple if taught properly.
Basic skills, like striking, locking, entries and takedowns. Fundamentals like speed and power. Thee real stuff, like seeing opportunities and adapting. Stacking basic skills. Stacking fundamentals.

Experiential stuff, like finding your own glitches and creating your own strategies. Finding where your tactics fit.

Which goes into which seminar? What do I do with a three hour block? With four hours... or four days?

Someone asked yesterday if I taught a regular class. I said I didn't and made noises about that not being where my head is right now. That wasn't true, but what I really believe would seem like an insult to most martial arts instructors:

There's only about 24 hours of stuff-- mental, physical and spiritual-- that actually works. Everything beyond that, you will learn on your own. I might be able to show you, but it can't be taught. I would feel, if I had a regular class, two hours a night, two nights a week, that anything after six weeks would be spinning wheels. Cheating the students, feeding my own ego, trapping them in a worldview that isn't their own.


Kai Jones said...

...Giving them a place to spar and exchange ideas, plus a guy in the corner to correct them, or that they can ask questions...making a safe space for experimentation outside their regular MA practice.... Stop underestimating yourself or I will come over there and -- okay, obviously not hit you but maybe FLIRT AT YOU REAL HARD to make you uncomfortable.

To the degree that you can compartmentalize stuff (think of it as index cards), you could start putting together custom seminars by pulling out the right index cards (subject matter) for the time slot and the desired outcome.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, and your idea of a VPPG isn't a class?

There are classes and classes...

Padua said...

What about us poor suckers on the other side of the world! When are you going to put together a couple of vid's for us to look at?

As for the classes I guess it depends on how time poor you are and where your focus is. Based on what I read, it seems like you have something good to give to people, and if you're getting new students that 6 weeks is going to be a continuous cycle anyway.

You'd know the benefits, and if students decide to come back after being told that's all they need, you can be sure they'll have a reason. I mean even if you learn it all in six weeks, you still need to practise it somewhere!

I bet there are many people who'd love the opportunity.

jks9199 said...

Yes, the core of the most effective stuff is probably very limited.

I know that I continually return to the basics and most simple elements of my martial arts training because I've found that under pressure, when it's real, that's what I rely upon and that's what works. All the fancy "advanced" stuff kind of falls apart and becomes the most basic if it's working. But that brings to mind something that my teacher would say: An advanced technique is really just a basic technique -- done well.

Which is what you could do with more time: Refine the basic ideal you present, and streamline the efficiency of the performance.

Isegoria said...

If you had a regular class, you think you'd be "spinning wheels" after six weeks?

Are you imagining a class full of (Japanese-style) jujutsu black-belts coming to learn a few Rory-specific insights?

Because six weeks isn't even enough time to teach the fundamentals of a narrow, practical art, like boxing, wrestling, judo, or BJJ.

Scott said...

I think there would be some purpose to doing more instruction. I don't know about you, but typically when I encounter something that really works, it takes me 5-10 times through to really start to understand it. 24 hours of teaching might be all there is, but unless you build that time in, there might be value to more teaching. Of course, you may already be building this time in, but it's worth thinking about

Master Plan said...

Keep wondering how this works w. what I've seen called 'tool development'.

Usually classes (not seminars) are about refining and honing particular physical skill sets that require partners to work with\against.

If most (all) drills contain safety flaws to what extent is that skill repetition valuable given what you say about the chaotic nature of real violence?

Most martial arts are about refining those physical skills through repetitive practice.

How do those match up do you think?

Where does honed movement become patterned habit? And beneficial reflexes become problematic ingrained responses?

Just as AN example, if folks don't hit hard, and you show them power generation..when is hard hard enough? Is there benefit to continuing to ingrain those types of motion or will really fine fine points not end up mattering much in the end?

Mac said...

Involve the student's physically and it will be wind ruffling leaves; involve their emotionality and your words will be as a stone dropped in water, the ripples will spread and rebound throughout their psyches. The hardest part of teaching the perception of and preparation for sudden overwhelming violence and death is to involve the survival instincts without serious injury or death to students or self. Practice - connect - startle.

Tiff said...

Good points from everyone here, and for the most part, I'm inclined to agree.

There's nothing more refreshing than a sanctuary, even if what one practices there is violence of some kind. A simple gym becomes a dojo, a bujinkan, when there is a spiritual element to the teachings, when the students are encouraged to be MORE of themselves and subsequently become warriors (not fighters). I empathize with your aversion to all the bullshit that encompasses a typical school or gym. But have faith in yourself and the students your teachings attract.

I agree that most of what you teach is kinda "no shit" stuff that easily fits into a single day (albeit the WHOLE day), and the rest is left to us. Bear in-mind, however, the notion that your path has brought you to people that do not have your vision -- your perspective. Even after reading your pivotal book, I can attest to the power of one of your seminars. I find open all around me doors that were once closed. Amazing, isn't it, that all it took was one person to show me it could be done? That's where the credit is shared -- when a group becomes a team.

Understand this, Rory: No matter where you go or who you teach, you transform -- the place, the students. You are Shidoshi -- YOU are the sanctuary.

Lion prints, my friend. And you leave your mark wherever you go.

Rory said...

Hmmm. Had an insight and then Tiff's comment completely inflated my ego.

I don't think, in martial arts that there is usually a distinction between learning and practicing. That makes for a lot of disconnect on the time. I still, after 29 years, practice rolling my wrists and doing four-way wrist parries... but i've had doors open and learned huge epiphanies with the right word at the right time.

Second thing is that sometimes it seems that MA are taught in a vacuum. You learn a move like you have never walked before. Just as there are only so many things you can do to someone's body, there are also only so many things you can do with your own, If you keep it simple, there shouldn't be any motions in MA that are new to anybody. Muscles only contract and relax after all, and all motion derives from that.

Third, I primarily teach things that you already know. You may not recognize a predator dynamic, but you have seen them all your life. You might not have thought that you can talk down a challenge but can't talk down a predator until you put it in context... you can and have calmed dogs and some people, but not a cougar or a shark... and a dog hunting doesn't act like a dog posturing.

It's all stuff you already know, it just needs context.

Lastly, there is a part of your brain that turns off when you are under the guidance of a teacher. I've seen it too many times and no that I'm not an exception. When the big goal of teaching is to give power and foster independence, the act of teaching itself eventually gets in the way.

Some of this has work-arounds. Still thinking.

jks9199 said...

There does come a time when the student must stop looking outside for answers, whether the lessons are in martial arts, or something else. That doesn't mean that outside input isn't useful, or that teachers can't still add to the learning -- but the search and understanding must come from within, rather than outside.

In the early stages of training, everything comes from outside. The teacher shows the movement, and the application, and the student copies it.

In the middle stages of training, the student begins to find different applications and, when shown one technique, can see many more. But the student still looks to the teacher for validation and direction.

In the later stages of training, the student finds the answers for themselves, and doesn't need that validation or direction. The student has taken the responsibility for their own learning. Advice and input from teachers is accepted and useful... but it's not demanded or relied upon.