With a few exceptions, I stayed away from the dark stuff. Yesterday was about fun and movement and efficiency. We played at mass brawls and (almost) everyone learned and extrapolated the lesson of the baby drill. Score! And I saw something I have been trying to put into words for a long time.
It is some pretty cold math.
People, generally, are very inefficient fighters. Contestants regularly go two-minute rounds in any full-contact combat sport you care to name yet, hospitalizations are rare. Deaths are very rare, and these are skilled fighters in excellent condition.
On the other hand, people can be extremely efficient killers. The longest stage in butchering an 800 pound steer or 200 pound hog is watching it bleed out. There is no ritual when you butcher meat. You don't take time to bow in, you don't get angry. There is no fight.
People can apply this skill and mindset to other people. Some can, anyway. It becomes very efficient. It doesn't have to be just killing, either. It's a tiny switch in mindset to simply knock down a threat and cuff him while he is still waiting for the fight. We can do it. We don't. We are so conditioned-- biologically, socially and through training-- to fight, to struggle, to turn any face to face struggle with each other into a dominance game with rules we are not even aware of...
(The tempting tangent, here is to go into how completely unprepared skilled fighters are when they meet a casual killer, but that's not the point.)
The one-step drill has to be done slowly to be safe. I want good power generation, good targeting. Each moment or action should be a cold assessment of the most efficient option. I want people to practice or at least think of skills closer to butchering than to fighting. Each action should be intended to incapacitate the threat or put the threat in a position to incapacitate. I want them going slowly enough that they can stay (safely) in the cold, killing mindset when all of their instincts are pushing them to fight, to contest.
It's hard to go slow, and always a few people ramp it up. Usually no one gets hurt and I usually just tell them to slow down, remind them that the drill isn't a fight simulation, it's about learning to see and encourage them to slow down and see...
"...always a few people ramp it up. Usually no one gets hurt..." That clicked, yesterday. Finally, and I feel like an idiot for not figuring the words out sooner.
Here's the deal, and herein is the cold math: If you are ramping it up, if you are putting energy into a system designed to hurt people and no one is getting hurt, the energy is being dissipated, wasted in some way. In other words, if you are training to injure people (which is the essence of martial arts) and you practice with speed and power in sparring and no one gets hurt you are being inefficient. There is no way to put ten times the energy (effort, power, speed) into the system (sparring) and get the same results (no injuries) unless you also drop the efficiency by a full factor.
It is completely subconscious, for most people. I caught myself tensing up punching someone I didn't want to hurt a while ago. A subconscious inefficiency I hadn't felt in years... and also the first time I'd fought within my own tribe in years.
This post will bring up all kinds of resistance. We all do things that feel stronger that makes us less efficient, but we all deny it. You only really have to look at the threat displays versus the pre-assault indicators to see it in others, though. All the 'big, red, loud' pattern of a threat display makes for a vulnerable, exposed, weak and telegraphing fighter... but we are programmed to feel and sometimes see stupid rage as strength.
Thanks to the crew who showed up yesterday, I think I finally found the words.