Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Relevant and Irrelevant Data

If you have a good plan, you don't change the plan without new, relevant data.
There's a pyramid that precedes this: if you've never created and executed a plan before, you wouldn't necessarily recognize either a good plan or a terrible plan.  If you've spent no time analyzing the situation (both specific, e.g. "what is happening right now?" and general e.g. "How do these things usually develop?") your plan is basically random hope.

So to even get to what we are talking about, you must know the problem, you must be able to design a plan, you have to be able to integrate a wide variety of sources and information, you have to understand your own resources and the mechanics of the situation...and on top of that you'd better not be stupid.

With all that, and intelligence, you'll make a good plan.  Execute the plan, without hesitation.  Stick to the plan, even though some things change... until you get new, relevant, information.

Steve writes on the last post that given the dynamic of a close range knife assault, "I'm curious as to why expecting to get cut or stabbed *isn'*t part of the scenario? "

This is an aside, not to the meat of the post:  Some instructors will tell you you will get cut in a knife fight or knife defense.  Some will tell you to trust the technique and you won't.  Both are lying through their teeth.  They may not know it, but here's the deal: sometimes you get cut, sometimes you don't.  I'm standing at five (two close range assaults, one attempted draw, one free weapon brandishing, one unarmed disarming with a team) without a scratch.  Sean at six without a scratch.  Brad had one, with literally minor scratches.  Don't know how many Mauricio has had, but some were messy bloody.
You don't know if you'll be cut.  You don't know if you won't.  You don't know if the angel of unbelievable luck will be on your shoulder or the bad guy's...and neither does your instructor.  I despise when people say either thing (will get cut or won't) for purely practical reasons.  Assuming you say it outside of a group of martial ballerinas, it may be tested someday.  If the student gets the opposite result he or she will have to wonder: "What else did the instructor lie about?"
Making absolute statements in a situation with absolute stakes... you'd better be right.  Because if you are blowing smoke out your ass about this, you are blowing smoke on other things, too.  Maybe on everything.  But it doesn't matter, because the student cannot and should not ever trust you again.

What about, "Expect to get cut?"  here's where we move towards the meat of the post.  In any other endeavor, is focusing on an expectation, especially a negative outcome, considered an intelligent thing to do?  You shouldn't be surprised if you get cut (or don't) or if you get punched or slammed.  But wasting energy or thought expecting anything is stupid.  You can't afford the inefficiency.

This might be a hard sell but (especially for Steve and other authors out there, this is one of the ways operators think that civilians don't get): Getting shot or stabbed isn't automatically a relevant data point.

If you made a good plan, say to run away as fast as you can, and you get shot... does that affect the plan in any way?  If running is the right thing to do, running while bleeding is probably even more important.  Standing still and coming up with another plan is suicidal.  Covering the distance you just made under fire to fight while wounded is stone dumb.  Trying to hide when someone has you in his sights is about as effective as hiding under the covers.

Getting shot is not automatically a relevant datapoint.  Your leg buckling is.  Getting stabbed is not.  Everything getting slippery or your eyes starting to go black on the edges are.  Pain is not important to the execution of your plan.  Loss of limb function is.

And so with close range knife defense: if you have no option but to fight, does getting cut or stabbed change that fact?  Is it now time to stop and think?  Or to expose your back and run, which is not easy nor safe at knife range.  It should, at most, be a signal to increase the ferocity, but if it is, you weren't being ferocious enough to begin with.


LifeHacks said...

Thanks for the info, enjoyed it a lot.

Joshkie said...

Good and thought provoking as always.

I'm going to make some statements to see if I understand the core of what you are conveying.

1. You need to know what your goal is.
2. You need to be able to evaluate data coming in for relevant and irrelevant date.
3. Relevant data is anything that helps or hinders you accomplish your stated goal.
4. Irrelevant data are has no baring on the out come or is based in an assumption/wishful thinking.
5. Deal with what is happening. Not what you expect to happen or what you want to happen.

Did I miss anything?



Rory said...

That's a really good point-by-point, Josh. The only thing I would add (that might change with coffee) doesn't really belong on the list:
What people imagine is relevant sometimes stuns me.

I dithered over the word 'operator' in the post, but I wanted a shorthand for 'experienced people who pay attention on a certain internal level.' Without spending the words to define all those terms. There are good operators who get freaked out. Pain is irrelevant, but almost everyone has some threshold of pain past which they can't shrug it off.

But inexperienced people sometimes talk in ways that amaze me about what they think is relevant.

I'm struggling with putting this into words. Angst, indignation, "words can cut like a knife" are not only irrelevant but only exist and are created in the head. Not just irrelevant, but actually imaginary... and yet they change people's plans. People make decisions based on them. It has a cost.

Steve Perry said...

I think the point of my post, which I believe we have kicked around before, is that if you plan for the worst-case scenario -- as it seems real operators are wont to do -- then anything less is cake.

Is this completely off base here?

Expect the worst and have something for that.

But if you have no expectations?

I've struggled with that for a long time. I haven't figured out a way to get there all the time. I'm not sure that a life-or-death situation is apt to make this one any easier.

If you see a knife coming and the notion of getting stuck or slashed paralyzes you, then you are likely lunch.

If you don't see it coming and only realize it after you've been stuck, then the argument is moot.

If you intend to keep on trucking as hard and fast as you can even if you get cut, then I see this as being ahead of the curve.

is it realistic to plan to do this? Will the shock be enough to toss that out the window? Could be. Not everybody is cut out to be a Berserker, even if they believe they are.

I think that "I might get cut" and "I will get cut." both offer similar stimuli, but if I can deal with the notion that I will get cut and I don't, I haven't lost anything. If I'm sure I won't get cut and do, that might screw up my mindset. Maybe I will and maybe I won't? I don't see any advantages to that one.

The time to think about such things is, of course, not during the event. But "what if" thinking is what drives martial arts, self-defense, and I dare say, operators who put themselves in harm's way on purpose. Is that' what scenario training is, straight across the board?

I'm not an operator. I faced a knife one time, and I didn't get cut, but when I happened, I didn't have any training that started with the idea that my blood would be spewing and then what was I gonna do?

It seems to me that if you are training folks to start out in the hole -- with an arm wrapped around your throat and the guy working your kidney with his blade, then the notion that you ought not to have any expectations is unrealistic. Maybe Dame Fortune will shift your belt into the way or your attacker will hit your wallet instead, but maybe she won't.

I think you want it both ways -- that the attack is commenced and you are down to that "Oh, shit!" small chance you'll have something useful, but that the idea the guy with the knife is good with it is small enough you don't have to worry about it. That doesn't make sense to me. Because while I'm only so-so with a blade, I have played with people who are really good, and chances that they will tag me with the steel favor them.

Irene said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I'm not completely happy with my neat little blender metaphor because it’s got a couple of assumptions in there. It assumes choice. I agree good plans don't rely on assumptions. If you do have that option of leaving then it is probably a better idea, (unless duty bound or morally compelled maybe). This I can accept is not because you will certainly get cut up if you stay and fight, just that the risk of serious consequences is so much greater if you stick around.

However, maybe all we are talking about is when you don't have a choice anyway. It does seem to be unlikely you will but some people feel the need to believe they can do things maybe they can't. The blender description misses that. In which case I still do like the idea that the focus has to go beyond just the blades as the problem. Which was how this description germinated when discussing (not teaching) about what people often say on knives.

The metaphor also overstated the point that flesh and very sharp edged metal moving around in close proximity to one another is obviously inherent to the problem. I can also accept getting not cut is a distinct possibility. My sole encounter to draw data from was someone who stepped into me and pressed a blade to my neck one night as I crossed a footbridge in the park. I decided for better or worse to not acknowledge the knife, and said he needed put the thing back in his pocket before something bad happened. It was nothing. Not an attack, he chuckled and walked away …just testing me I guess. It wasn’t a fight it was a conversation.

So, I guess my question would be, does the idea that you don’t always get cut still hold water when the premise is you didn’t choose to be in a fight and you are already being attacked in close proximity. I imagine it does, but with far less likelihood you can reliably achieve that outcome. And, I don’t think anyone disagrees strongly that your talking about this in the context of survival versus “fighting”. You’ve qualified the definition of that work before and maybe what that means changes the direction of the conversation.

Good hearty posts. More light please...

-Billy G.

Joshkie said...

I think some of the disconnect between Steve P. and Rory is that Steve worries that you need to think about all the possibilities when making a plan so your not surprised, and Rory comes at it from the point of you need to be fluid and and not be surprised when it doesn't go as you expect.

There's a point that when you plan for the worst case scenario that it can leave you worse off than if you had done nothing.

Some people invest so much time and become emotional attached to a plan they want abandon the plan when it doesn't work.

My 2 cents,

Steve Perry said...

Part of the disconnect is the Bruce Lee Effect. Lee studied classical kung fu, then spent years learning stuff on his own, being a diligent autodidact. When he got there, he started to talk about how you had to transcend all the classical bullshit, that a bunch of it was a waste of time and energy and useless.

But he had to go through it in order to get there, he didn't skip that step. He then started teaching what he had learned.

Of course. But how many of his students were better than Lee?

If you are young, strong, fit, and putting in four or five hours a day of training, what you can do is different than what somebody who is old, not-so-strong, not-so-fit, and working out thirty or forty minutes a day can do ...