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 I would jettison it as no longer applicable and training in things that don’t work is wasted time.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.