Thursday, May 12, 2011

Bone and Muscle

Deep water and shallow water as well. The Beaverton seminar was small, but went well. A really wide mix of skills and, as always, there are a number of things I consider basic that we didn't touch.

A lot of my purpose in teaching the way I do is to, as Joe Lewis says, "Lead them to the deep water." Until you complicate it, the physical stuff is easy. Striking two people while doing a back flip is probably hard and somewhat complex...but knocking someone on his ass isn't complex. Not unless your internal "what if monkey" gets involved. There are few things more natural and intuitive to an organism than delivering kinetic energy.

I consider that shallow water stuff, and people do need some training in it. But spending years in the wading pool doesn't prepare you for the deep end...and, to stretch the metaphor too far, many people work really hard to convince themselves that their little wading pool is the ocean. Power generation is easy. Power generation with compromised structure and injured (which, unless you are the bad guy, is the normal starting place in an assault) is a different skill.

Fighting well when you have psyched yourself up for a match is different than fighting well surprised and scared...and that is different than fighting after you have been crushed and humiliated and all you have left is a life that may or may not be worth living. I spend a lot of time on context and a little time on emotion. Partially because they are important but even more because so few people really look at them and they affect everything else.

One of the rank beginners asked a question. There is simply no way to move or stand where you are safe. Multiple targets are always exposed and every motion exposes more. If the threat has the power or a weapon, the human body is all target. He wanted to know how to defend his vulnerabilities.

I paused for a second because the question was so backward... and then we played with it. It's not about your vulnerabilities (much) it's about the threat's capabilities. He is composed of bone and meat. Any way that he stands, each motion creates and eliminates specific vectors. His weight is on his right foot? He can't kick right without shifting. Leaning away? His lead hand is weak but his rear, especially if his spine is twisted, is loaded.

Once you read the opponent, you know how he can hurt you. His options are limited. You don't need to defend everything, only what he can hurt. It's one of the reasons I prefer infighting is that people are easier and faster to read by touch than by sight, but the principle really doesn't change.

Things change by history. This isn't deep-water stuff for me. I don't think I learned it my first day of martial arts, but certainly in the first year and probably the first month. It's a basic. Getting the question from a beginner was okay... but I also got a 'thanks' e-mail from someone else at the seminar who considered this the big take-away. Not sure how I feel about that.

5 comments:

Jake said...

One of the challenges of teaching is that you can’t control the “take-away”.

Story time: I knew a guy who, upon his first exposure to Tony Blauer (who, if you’ve ever trained with him, talks a lot in terms of principles, concepts, etc.), came away with “he showed some kind of spear thing (makes gesture like a tactical SPEAR)”. That was it.

Of course, the flip side is that I’ve occasionally had one or two students ask me questions about a drill because they’re trying to get to the underlying principle behind it. Those moments are cool. They make me think really hard.

There’s that old saw about how when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I think it works the other way too: the student will only learn what they are ready to learn. Stuff that may seem obvious and unimportant to you may be a huge light bulb moment for someone else. (Interestingly, the same students that ask me hard questions are sometimes the ones who have light bulbs about the really obvious stuff. No idea why.) That’s part of the challenge and the fun of teaching.

Charles James said...

"... but I also got a 'thanks' e-mail from someone else at the seminar who considered this the big take-away. Not sure how I feel about that."

Maybe, cause you turned on a light and exposed more to them with this one small thing and maybe they will see more and learn more.

Maybe that is whey they say thanks, feel good about opening the door for them.

Jake said...

Wrote this before Blogger went crazy...

One of the challenges of teaching is that you can’t control the “take-away”.

Story time: I knew a guy who, upon his first exposure to Tony Blauer (who, if you’ve ever trained with him, talks a lot in terms of principles, concepts, etc.), came away with “he showed some kind of spear thing (makes gesture like a Tactical SPEAR)”. That was it.

Of course, the flip side is that I’ve occasionally had one or two students ask me questions about a drill because they’re trying to get to the underlying principle behind it. Those moments are cool. They make me think really hard.

There’s that old saw about how when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I think it works the other way too: the student will only learn what they are ready to learn. Stuff that may seem obvious and unimportant to you may be a huge light bulb moment for someone else. (Interestingly, the same students that ask me hard questions are sometimes the ones who have light bulbs about the really obvious stuff. No idea why.) That’s part of the challenge and the fun of teaching.

ctkwingchun said...

Here in Nova Scotia, we can get, every summer, a Dreamers and Doers guide. Sounds like you're a Doer and the 'lightbulb' moment for that guy painted him as a Dreamer.

But sometimes, some folks, get to the doing eventually.

Rory said...

CTK-
I'll be in Halifax end of June. Any chance you're local?