And I will do everything in my power to make sure that she never 'gets' some of the things that I do.
Others won't get it because it threatens a piece of their identity. This isn't a bad thing or a good thing. We all get our identity from some pretty weird places. For entirely too long my identity was completely tied to three strips of cloth on my arm, just as an example.
What we train to do is one thing. As long as it stays abstract, as long as you never actually break a human being, there's no real identity in that end state. Whether you break a person with a kick or a body slam or an axe handle, it's imaginary until you do it. But how you train, that's real. Something you tangibly do, every day. That's where the identity lies. And if we pretend or believe that the end state (a broken threat) is the real reason, our training must serve that, right? So our training must be correct, right? To challenge that is to challenge identity.
Specific example (cause we talked it to death over the weekend)-- coming out of western weapons, I was always taught that three of the worst habits in beginners were caused by television. After watching years of Errol Flynn movies people:
- Aimed at the weapon instead of the opponent
- Tried to fight from out of range
- Stayed in a predictable rhythm
These are, as I was trained and still believe, the three worst habits in sword training. There is a very popular drill that is based on these three things.
I don't want to debate the merits of that drill here (not because I have an issue with debating it but because the two people who were defending it most staunchly aren't here to respond and it would feel like a late hit.)
It's not just this one drill. I see it in a lot of training. People are ingraining identity tags, not skills. Or, more realistically, they are ingraining skills but too often skills in imaginary and useless things.
I didn't always think this way. I was in it too deep, really, to question it.
For the last two years I've been teaching civilians. I love it, they need it. But there is very little sense of urgency in them.
For the ten or twelve years before that, though, I wasn't teaching civilians. The people weren't there for a hobby or identity.
EVERY CLASS that I taught I would look at the officers and know, without a doubt, that at least a third of that class would need what I taught before the year was out and at least one would bet their lives on it. If I bullshitted them, if I lied to them, if I made them comfortable instead of effective the price would be paid in blood and I would be one of the ones going to do the hospital visits or, gods forfend, the funerals.
It's a huge responsibility. You will have these men and women for eight hours a year. Not all are in great shape: some are old, some are small, many have old injuries. They had to be able to prevail against younger, stronger people, people who sometimes got the first move at close range and had no compunction about spilling blood.
It makes you rethink everything you do. You don't have time for egos. The drills aren't about identity. Going home to your family is your identity. There is no time to waste. And you can't handwave past the bad stuff. With only those eight hours we had people handle situations that experienced martial artists put in a "That's a no-win situation. We don't train for that" category.
We (there were others involved, but it was largely Mac and me) didn't have that option. If we took that attitude... hospital visits. Funerals. I hate funerals.
I don’t know if it was luck or grace or what we taught, but we had very few injuries during the years we taught the new system and a few spectacular successes.
That's an aside. The pressure to make something effective, the responsibility for other people's lives, the limited time, the high stakes forced us to apply the same idea of ruthless efficiency to teaching that your martial arts should apply to combat. And it worked.
I can share that, share what we learned... but can't (and really not all that interested) in whether others get it. The ones that play for those stakes get it (and thanks, RC for the talks this weekend.) For the rest, it's just some data. Do as you will.