Monday, July 04, 2011

"Getting the Stupid Out"

Andrew Middleton teaches Systema in Montral.  He has a cool way of describing certain drills that I will shamelessly steal.  He called it "Getting the stupid out."

The VPPG does a similar thing, we call it 'banging' as in, "Let's go bang it" which translates to "Let's see if that works."  Similar, but not the same.  In the VPPG, it is an experiment.  We present a problem (e.g. what do you do for face-down weapon retention?) then we come up with some ideas and then we test them to failure.

Getting the stupid out is an experience.  He presents a standard self-defense platitude, like "In a knife fight, control the weapon arm*" and lets the students try it.  But not against a compliant partner, against someone using a knife the way the knife was meant to be used.  The fail is spectacular and memorable. It gets the stupid out.

One of the things to watch for, in our training and when we teach, is where the stupid has crept in.  When we train against unrealistic attacks, or count on artifacts of the dueling or sport paradigms (equivalent weapons and size and numbers; advance notice; uncluttered environment...) we have let some stupid in.

So bang it out.  It will never be perfect, and keep an ear out for anyone who has been in the field who  finds a flaw... but if it fails in live training it has little hope to work when you are scared and surprised.

And especially if you have students who cling to myths, bang it.  Let them get the stupid out.



*This is one of the classics and one of the big issues in training.  "Control the weapon arm just makes so much sense...  The issues is that I have never seen anyone actually make it work, not in real life or even in free training, not for more than a second or two.  The fact that it makes sense doesn't, somehow, prevent it from being a messy and suicidal tactic.  I may get flack on this, which is fine... but before you tell me how wrong I am, go out and bang it, with someone given absolute freedom to play 'live' and tell me how it works.

39 comments:

Alvin said...

If controlling the weapon arm doesn't work, then what does?

Joshkie said...

Alvin -

Possible answers:

Distance/staying outside of effective range.

Putting an obstacle between you and your attacker. Chair or table maybe.

Maneuvering to the attackers offhand side or getting behind them. Somewhere they can't effective use their weapon.

I've never 'banged' these out, so I'm not sure how effective they are. Maybe you could try them and tell me.

Josh

shugyosha said...

Rory,

sorry to be a busybody, but define "control". If by control you mean "grab", hell no! If "control" means "imposing your choices upon it", then, of course, yes.

Meaning, putting something behind his elbow[*] to limit "sewing machine" cuts is a control, in my book. Trying to grab the arm would be... obsessive control?

Take care. See you in 7.

[*] An idea I _think_ I've read you suggest, but I'm not sure.

Anonymous said...

Chasing the knifearm desperatly to get control seems like a bad idea unless you respond with a good punch to the nose or just about anything to buy some time.

However, If one gains control over the weapon arm I do belive it will work, for a second or so, but just keeping the control won't solve anything.

I belive same goes for any other tactic, it will probably only work momentarily.

Try to avoid the cut/stab, work from there and use whatever option you're offered.

Running always seems like a good option to me.

/JK

Jake said...

I too, am curious. Controlling the armed limb is something that I've seen taught in a number of systems (including the SPEAR/PDR program), and it seems like a common enough portion of most training programs (even ones that are run by people who fundamentally disagree with each other) that, well, I'm surprised to hear you don't like it as much as you apparently don't.

I've used it in scenarios and drills, but technically, it was all with people who I trained, or were trained in systems that use controlling the armed limb as part of their counter weapons tactics (though not the whole tactic), so there might be a confirmation bias there. Ideally,I'd find an untrained person who is willing to play hard with me.

None of this is to say you're wrong. I'm just surprised and curious what your preferred option is.

And yeah, the more I write this, I wonder how you're meaning "control", because as I've been taught/teach, it's "control, the counter". The control is just a stage along the way to hitting the other guy. A lot.

@ Josh -- In my (far less extensive) experience, staying out of range doesn't work for very long (unless by "out of range" you mean "run the fuck away"). The person moving forward covers ground way too fast.

Joshkie said...

@Jake

Yah, to quote Monty Python "Run Away, Run Away!!!"

That what I was getting at with the first suggestion. You can make it more effect with using some of option two; like try to put a wall and a door between you and them. Slow them down if they decide to follow.

If those two options are not avalible then move to better my position while doing damage. I know I dont have the skill to trap or control a flailing (?spelling) arm with a possible sharp pointy thing attached to it.

Just my thoughts in response to a question.

Josh

tv said...

The elbow is much slower than the knife.

Elbow position telegraphs the direction of knife.

Focus on elbow position to lower risk and increase reaction time.

I train AMOK!

Jake said...

@ Josh

The Monty Python strategy has a lot going for it, I think. I'm mostly thinking of situations where that is off the table for some reason (environment, protecting my wife, whatever).

Joshkie said...

@ Jake

I guess that's when you become the obstacle; while they, your familly, hopefully are able to use option one successfully. (that sounds a little flippant to me?, but it is what it is I guess. )

:-)
Josh

Jake said...

Doesn't sound flippant. Sounds accurate.

Jim said...

Thanks -- I think you just gave me the solution to driving a point home to a student. Or reinforced his own statement that he just needs to be forced to accept that his idea won't work.

Neil B. said...

Rory,
The other night I was reading an old "combatives" book I picked up in some tiny bookstore somewhere and reading about the author's explanatin of military knife defense tactics and it was interesting. He was basically saying that unarmed defense against a trained or skilled knife attack is etremely difficult and the odds are not on your side (duh), but also he said that a) because of that fact, the focus on defensive tactics for knife should focus primarily on relatively untrained knife attackers (like fellow soldiers) because b) the likelihood would be (in combat) that you'd be facing a fellow soldier, similarly untrained in knife fighting (i.e. not a Phillipine knife fighting expert). For what it's worth.

-Neil

Rory said...

Alvin-My instinct is to say, "Go bang it and tell me what works." And I know Jake well enough that he will, now that the question has been raised.

If you can't leave... I have a few things I prefer, but none of them are answers. If unarmed could regularly beat armed, people would quit carrying weapons. Fight the mind. Failing that, shutting down the brainstem is the first priority. Get to the dead zone and, absolutely TV, control behind the elbow is the best control option I've found.

No answers here (and, Neil, you have a point and it is a huge part of the logic of knife) but Mauricio, also in Montreal, said something really important. To paraphrase: "If they think for a second that their shit will work against a knife, they'll get comfortable. People who get comfortable die. I want my students to be afraid of the knife."

Not respectful, not aware, but good, honest fear.

Joshkie said...

Here is a thought experiment:

Your in a crowded bar. You and another guy bump into each of drinks are spilled.
The other guy gets really agitated. His faces gets flushed he starts trembling and calling your mother dirty names.
The more you try to deescalate, by offering to by him a drink and offering apologies, doesn't work.
You turn to just walk away; when, you notices his hand flash into his pocket and come out with something shiny. You realize it's a knife.
You realize you can't offer up your back as a target for as long as it would take to get into the crowded.

What do you do?

A. Do you amediatly close the distance trying to control the knife arm while trying to subdue him? The martial plan. Isn't this what your instructors say is what your suposed to do in a knife-fight, and your in a knife fight right? (The martail plan I made a funny.)

B. Do you pick up a beer bottle and toss it at his head to incapacitate him at a distance?

C. Do pick up you own weapon? Like a pool cue and meet him on more even terms? More martial think. What are the legal consequences? Is it now mutual combat?

D. Do pick up a barstool to form a barrier between you and the guy coming at you with the knife; while calling for someone to call the cops?

Now back to what I think is Rory's point is. How do you fined out the correct answer or is there an even better answer than those given? You "bang it" out and see what happens.

:-)
Josh

Joshkie said...

Hey Rory you sneeked in on your own blog on me.

:-)
Josh

shugyosha said...

Josh,

hum.. I didn't "see" any benches, I saw people. _Provided_ it's an option, retreat through people and ghost away and out of the place.

Also, do I still have the glass? That's a weapon right there.

And, anyhow, how come I'm there?

Take care.

Joshkie said...

Shugyosha,

"hum.. I didn't "see" any benches, I saw people. _Provided_ it's an option, retreat through people and ghost away and out of the place." - I don't know are there benches where you you normally hang out? If you feel leaving can be done safely, it's always a good option.

"Also, do I still have the glass? That's a weapon right there." - But what are the legal consequences of using it?

"And, anyhow, how come I'm there?" - To have a good time with some friends, play some pool or maybe you heard about a bachelorette party and your hoping to get lucky. I don't know what's your poison?
;-)

"Take care." - I try, and you too take care,
Josh

Alvin said...

Hi,

Thanks for the suggestions people. I train in the SPEAR/PDR program where the idea is CCC; Clear, Control then Counter.

I've banged it out in High Gear with my instructor at fast safe speeds, and it seems that the one factor that determines whether you get stabbed or not before you can counter seems to be...luck. Doesn't sound good, I know. Luck as to whether your body is at the right space at the right time or not.

Problem is I face the same 'system bias' as Jack mentioned - I don't know what I don't know and all my partners know is what we've been taught. I'm constantly looking for my blind spot while being aware that I'm learning how to swim while on dry land; hence the question on what would work vs. what wouldn't.

Good discussion to have with my coach later this week.

Jake said...

Alvin,

I'm a SPEAR/PDR Coach as well; teaching the same methodology, probably had many of the same experiences you have (or similar ones, anyway).

Who are you training with?

Mac said...

Control the person, control the weapon. I figure an unconscious bad guy can have all the weapons he wants.

shugyosha said...

Josh,

depends on the kind of place; there will be benches or not. I simply didn't picture myself near them.

WRT legal consequences, Spanish SD case law is not as evolved as you might wish for. As written, it's pretty good, but... You can get in serious trouble for accidentally breaking the jaw of some jerk when you separate him from an abused wife or you can get scot-free after sneaking on and killing an accomplice who's waiting in the car outside a burglarized building. First case is likely to end sort of in your favor after an appeal, but, again...

In any case, using a glass against an idiot with a knife and walking away ASAP would be a safe choice. Probably not even any report. Also, provided you don't somehow "change" the glass (for instace, change break the top and use it as a shank).

Take care.

Ferran, BCN, Spain

Take care.

Alvin said...

Hi Jake,

I train with Leon in Singapore.

Joshkie said...

Shugyosha,

Good information. I'll keep in mind if I'm ever in Spain.
:-)

Different places have there own unique laws and customs.

Over here every State and even local community has their own laws in-regards as to what is exceptable use of forces when one defends oneself.

:-)
Josh

shugyosha said...

In Spain, it's not as much a matter of law than it is of lack of clear guidelines. Law says, basically, that you can use force to protect yourself or third parties, and property, from unlawful attack. Any illegitimate entry into your home makes any attack unlawful (similar to castle doctrines), provided there's not "enough" previous provocation from your part and that there's a resonable need for your method of force [Art 20.4, LO 10/95, criminal code]. However, there's a problem of lack of case law and changing standards in the last couple of generations. If you go through court, you're going to have an unpleasant time.

However, if you get into certain kinds of trouble and he ends with a busted nose, there's likely to be a "boys be boys" response. If he's associated to a knife, you might snap his arm without much trouble ("serves him right"). Kind of saw it happen, once, on the underground. When security came, the idiot with the knife was escorted outside for some first aid and off; nobody asked about his "aggressors".

While I'm at it, and being nasty, until they change this --there's been some talk for a while, now--, security guards have *no* arrest authority, here. If things go moderately bad, you could probably bluff your way out, specially if you play your foreigner card _carefully_.

Take care.

ush said...

I can remember back when I first trained in aikido watching a very talented, athletic, male blackbelt being filleted by a small female beginner armed with a rubber tanto. A comment someone made afterwards stuck with me: “remember she doesn’t have to hold back in attacking him with that rubber knife but he does, he was just defending against her attacks, he couldn’t do anything like head butt or kick her” So question for Rory: if you’re gonna go bang it out and see what works how do you train shutting down the brain while keeping your partners sound of wind and limb?

I like the idea about being afraid of the knife, familiarity breeds contempt, or comfort at least. That had never occurred to me

Jake said...

@Alvin: Leon's a great coach tell. Tell him Jake says hi, and that I miss the face-stomping.

@USH: My plan, once I get some volunteers, is to put myself and the bad guy in High Gear, so we can bang it out safely.

Andy said...

Jake,

If you're short on volunteers, I live in MA. I'm curious how this works out, since "Control the weapon arm" or "Deal with the weapon first" is something I've heard from a few different people. Also I have the same question as Ush. How do you bang this out safely if shutting down the brainstem is the a solution?

Jake said...

Andy,

While I'm disturbingly NOT short on volunteers (what does it say about me that my friends pop out of the woodwork at the opportunity to stab me?), I'd actually love to work with you. I don't think we've trained together much, if at all, and that might be a really nice alternative energy to deal with.

Something may be shaping up this Friday in Somerville, if you can make it. If not, I may do this in a couple of batches.

Jake said...

Oh, re the "banging it out safely".

Best solution I can come up with is to use High Gear (http://www.tonyblauer.com/4105/03_01_highgear.asp).

It will let us bang relatively hard. Still can't actively try to KO each other (well, we could, but...), but it at least lets you give enough impact to make people think twice.

Best solution I know of for doing force-on-force stuff at high speeds.

Andy said...

Jake,

I'm pretty sure I can come, if you're doing it this friday. What's the time/place? We haven't trained before, although I think we may have done one-step at one of Rory's seminars.

Alvin said...

Hi Jake,

Will do.

I've been stomped on the face by Leon before so I think I know the drill you mean :)

Joshkie said...

Shugyosha,

Cool, good to know. They never put stuff like that in the tourist guides.

Hey, there's an idea, "The Thugs Guide to Traveling the World." Maybe there's a need?

:-)
Josh

shugyosha said...

Josh,

I've been thinking for a while on doing a very short PDF on a Survival Guide to the City, with common tourist pitfalls. There's some very specific traits that mark non-Mediterranean European tourists as berks[*]. Let's see if I finally manage this summer.

Take care. Ferran

[*] Tip: use sunscreen. You'll have more fun and you won't be advertising your cluelessness to anyone within sight.

Joshkie said...

Shugyosha,

I'm intrigued, sound like it would be a fun read.

:-)
Josh

Joshkie said...

When I was in the U.S. Navy we would get a port brief for where ever we would be pulling into. It would have local customs and bad areas they wanted us to avoid (You can guess how well that went.).
I remember walking down the pier, looking over and seeing two of my shipmates dressed in their cowboy hats and dusters (the long rain coats you see in westerns). I remember thing they might as well of had a sign floating over their head saying, American Tourist.

Sigh...,
Josh

Jake said...

Andy,

In the interest of not clogging up Rory's blog, why don't you email me? ADPTraining at Gmail

Wayne said...

One issue I see come up in training, which includes controlling the limb during a knife attack, is when practicing we often think of martial artists and not a violent criminal.

So we go to practice a knife defense, bad guy comes in with some type if stabbing/slashing attack. Good guy clear, controls, etc. Bad guy is still thinking of attacking with a knife. How come bad guy doesn't keep charging forward? Head butt? Strike with his free arm? Bite the good guy's ear off? Probably a couple of other things we could add to the list that the bad guy would be trying to do while good guy is controlling the knife.

Just my general thoughts.

Jake said...

@ Andy - Tomorrow night, Sityodtong Muay Thai Academy. Probably will get rolling around 8ish.

SM said...

In the five encounters you describe in M on V, didn't two or so involve controlling the arm (the girl with the scissors, and the man in booking who seemed to be reaching for a knife?) I don't have my copy to check, but I could be misunderstanding what you mean by "controlling the arm." (Ares knows, its hard to describe these things in words).