Saturday, July 17, 2010

Oil and Water

A good day. I'm sweaty and filthy and sitting in a coffee shop south of Denver. Skipping out on a class I would love to see, but I don't have the equipment and I suck at spectating. Lesser temptation just to type.

One of the things about being well-trained in a good system and then filtering it through experience so it is tight and (possibly more important) I trust completely what my body will do is that I can't really learn a new good system and even have trouble with good drills.

I can learn and practice crap all day. I don't as a matter of principle, I hate to waste time... but crappy stuff doesn't compete with good stuff in my brain. It goes in the worthless box or the toy box. But when I see a new system with an extraordinary instructor and great drills, it is hard to practice. If the drills are real enough, I do my stuff. I trust my body to get me out alive. To override it at this stage is to practice staring into the sun. It is a discipline, but it will not serve me when I need my eyes.

First noticed this with Mac. Not just an extraordinary fighter who understands both martial arts and violence, but an extraordinary teacher and a good man. It would be an honor to learn from him. But his stuff is too good and doesn't blend. It is close, but I work about four inches closer. My techniques won't work with his strategies, and visa versa.

If I had started with Mac as an instructor, I would be effective and happy. If I was a hobbyist, collecting two systems (not necessarily in the sense of a martial style, but in the sense of a strategy/tactics/technique/mindset package) wouldn't be a problem. As long as I was in a life where I needed clean reflexive action, trying to integrate (or separately absorb) two systems would be very dangerous. I like crosstraining. I like playing with anybody and everybody, but I am very picky about what I absorb.

Today was another day of meeting good teachers in good systems. Danzan-ryu. Kuntao. Mayhem. Whatever Tristan was doing...

Two insights from today, among many:

From Tristan:
"I would never turn my back on an opponent."
"Then you have never fought multiple opponents."

From Bob:
"What it does is what it is." In one sentence he lays to rest the argument about what a particular move in a kata is.


Frank said...

Excellent blog. I've tried to articulate the same thing in conversations before, but never really could. I've been studying Isshinryu for nearly eight months now, and already, it would be difficult to begin training in another style. I feel like I've found a mental, physical, and tactical "home."

This has as much to do with my own personal, physical and mental makeup, as it does, with the quality of instruction that I'm receiving vis-a-vis the style itself. The Sensei/Sifu makes the style, IMHO.

Steve Perry said...

Trisan does silat -- Tjimande (or Cimande.) Nice guy.

zzrzinn said...

So is the conclusion here due to you, and your own predilections..or is it about the strategies of the fighting styles themselves?

Do you think that someone else would notice the same incompatibility if they were trained like you, and exposed to these other things?

Are some things always Oil and Water?

Anonymous said...

My thoughts exactly Rory. It's not that many aren't effective - they very much are. It's just they don't fit with what I do well and I don't have the time to unlearn 20 years of rocking and rolling to absorb them to any level of proficiency. It's not a judgment of merit, but of fit.

Still love watching them, though.


IRTBrian said...

Not everything will work for everybody! Simply put not all movement is the same and some delivery systems are different and not compatible with other delivery systems. They key is finding what works for you and then polishing the stone!

Brian R. VanCise

So was it my good friend Bob Orlando who said that in your post?

Scott said...

In your book you said something like, 'real experience with violence could not have created a martial art.' Something like that. I found that comment inspiring because I've always felt there was much much more in my training than experience with real violence.
However, for a martial artist to really develop great stuff he or she must take long retreats from violent environments. (Typically in China people would take a two year retreat when a parent died.)
To move passed a really solid effective plateau one must pass through some very crappy ineffective weak martial arts. To do that requires giving up skill.
Only from that place can the art advance and develop.

Rory said...

Thanks, Frank. It's always good when you find your home.

Zach-I don't think this one is a personal predilection. Some stuff just isn't compatible, even two things that are very good can be good in different enough ways that they don't blend. That said, I think it only matters that they don't blend from certain points of view.

Montie- Exactly. I'll pick up stuff that meshes, I'll play with stuff that doesn't mesh and see if I can pry out a principle that increases my understanding or adaptability... but I won't deliberately dilute something efficient.

Brian- Yeah. first chance to actually meet and cross hands. very nice man.

Scott-I doubt that someone could survive enough high-end encounters to develop principles. A lot of the old martial systems were merely collections of things that had worked in the past. Often, seeing connections requires some time away from the problem.