We did do both Plastic Mind and Scenarios in Halifax. Much of that was because Jim Maloney's crew had most of the physical skills down cold. Those guys were solid, physically and combatively. It was nice.
There were some oddities in the scenarios, a phenomenon that I'd read about in Amanda Ripley's "The Unthinkable" that I'd never seen in a scenario before. Can't describe it here because I don't want to give scenarios away- but it was interesting and disconcerting both. Saw some good tactics and hesitancy to commit and all the usual things, which is good. Most people who have trained are to some degree in denial. Scenarios help them get a taste of how much they will change when there is stress and things are moving fast. Just a taste.
Over the last three weeks I've played with at least sixty people and the most ferocious were the ones from the most traditional of the systems, and that got me thinking. It's not about system. I'm not even sure it's really about the individual. If the teacher is a real fighter, like Jimmy, someone who has thoroughly gathered perspective both in competition and countless real encounters, he gets the core.
Traditional or non-traditional, whatever we studied came from somewhere and was adapted for something by someone. If they sucked at what they were designed for, they quietly disappeared. (Now, what they were designed for my not be related in any way to their marketing or what their students or even their senior leadership believes they were designed for.) They all fill a need. Maybe the need is only cameraderie or testing yourself safely. And that's cool.
And a lot of the needs have changed over time. 350 years ago almost anyplace was violent beyond what most modern Americans can really grasp. Might did make right and there was no recourse or justice beyond what your tribe or family would and could provide (until a guy named Sam Colt made it possible for the small and weak and poor to make predation dangerous... my opinion, of course).
So 350 or even just 100 years ago when some of the traditions arose, people trying to kill you and take your stuff were baselines of the environment. As that need faded and the traditions continued, other things became important: hierarchies and ritual. precision becomes more important than effectiveness. All that stuff.
When a real fighter comes up in that system (or comes to the system or someone gets exposed to violence later after learning in a system) they see it entirely differently. If they have the courage to start teaching it for effect (as opposed to not rocking the boat and just making the hierarchy happy) it becomes an entirely different thing. The bones come alive and sometimes the bones are very strong.
Just some thoughts, sitting in the Halifax airport.