Sunday, July 31, 2011


Anonymous asked about "messing with the mind." I hate it when people use movies to illustrate things, but I'm going to.

There's a wonderful movie called "By the Sword". To the best of my memory, the fencing master in an epee bout with his promising competitive protege suddenly springs straight up and thrusts straight down on the kid's wrist. The kid tears off his mask and screams, "You never taught me that!"

The fencing master screams back, "I can't teach you surprise!"

That's the problem with a lot of tricks, with most of the tactics that attack the mind or the context or the relationship directly. The obvious concern is that if you show people the tricks the tricks won't work as well... but obvious doesn't mean important. You show a trick, people memorize the trick. It becomes a technique. The things that made it work (reframing the question, fighting in the emptiness, social/asocial juxtaposition, feeding expectation....) get lost. I can teach tricks that might allow you to gain surprise, but that's not the same as teaching surprise itself.

Same with the Baby Drill. I took it out of the drills e-book not just because it is more a trick than a drill or just because if you read it, you won't make the same mistakes, but because if you read it you will THINK that you know it... but even people who do the baby drill don't always learn the lesson of the drill. We've demonstrated that again and again.

Reading, hearing doesn't lead to understanding. Even a few experiences don't always. And if you learn something real good, it doesn't mean that you will be able to recognize when you can generalize the lesson.

So, attacking the mind, the no touch parry, the baby drill, knife exposure, super woofing... some of the cool stuff will have to be in person. Not because of the exercise, always, but often because of the debriefing. The no-touch parry looks like magic, but I can explain why it works. More importantly I have a good handle on the personality types it will fail. You kind of need to know that.


Anonymous said...

I see your point.

thank you for answering/adding color to my question.

Samurai Girl Sahara said...

Now I want to know what the no touch parry is... Does this mean I have to wait till the next near by seminar? Drat.

Kasey said...

Samurai Girl, you could always come to Minnesota this fall

Wim said...

"By the Sword", one of my favorite movies. Not the best acting perhaps but the story isn't half bad.

Anonymous said...

First, great movie...converted from VHS to DVD to save it.

Next, I sometimes think that that is how a third of the stuff gets into kata in the TMA. Something works once or twice and it gets incorporated as a technique completely diminishing its effectiveness which original came from the element of surprise.

Mark H

Scott said...

I suppose that is what is meant by the expression "Martial Arts Principles"--That depth which lays beyond the trick.
I think all that plastic mind stuff can be put in to principles and trained. What makes fighting with a tiger mind different from fighting with a sea turtle mind? What ever the answer is, it is knowable.
And that leads us to the sticky question, should some things remain secret? For the teacher perhaps the answer is, yes, at least until my mortgage is payed off. Then again isn't it the teacher's job to simply stay ahead through hard work (I like to think so).
But for law enforcement...shouldn't the really great tricks remain a secret?

Joshkie said...

What trick?

It must be magic.
Why, you didn't play by the rules.
Why didn't you teach me that.
That's not fair.
You expect me to think for myself, but...

But, I'm in a box.

Rory said...

Thanks, everyone, but I need to reply to Scott. I may not be clear, this is the edge of one of my mysteries.
There's video available of an SD class subjecting women to "woofing.' In an attempt at stress innoculation, the woman stands there, sometimes crying, while a man gets in her face and makes threats and says terrible things. The instructor believes he is teaching a student 'what to expect' but what the student is practicing is letting someone invade her space, threaten her, articulate a clear disregard for her life and she does nothing. Instructor thinks stress innoculation, behavior ingrained is passivity.

There is a line between what we are teaching and what we think we are teaching. That line is especially challenging when we get deeper into the matrix (not in the scifi sense but in the geological or chemical sense). When we teach something that works on a physical plane but the mechanism is on a social or psychological plane, I've seen too many students who accept it like a discrete skill, like a formula. They memorize the trick, but completely miss the what and the how of it.

So these fall into the categories of 'tricks' and things that take first-person interaction, because I lack the skill in teaching and communication to be sure that what the student learned is the lesson intended. Technique is easy. When it goes beyond technique and into psychology and environment and interaction and dynamics, I can't explain it clearly enough to trust people to just run with it and not get hurt.

This probably should have been a post.

Joshkie said...

Rory -

How much of the burden of proof lies at the teachers feet and how much lies at the students. 50/50, 60/40, 80/20?

This is how I see the problem. The job of a teacher is to pass on something in a clear cut manner, not couched in mysticism and complex jargon.

The students job is to listen and question. Are there people out there looking for someone to give them the 'answer' and do their thinking for them, yes. Are you responsible for them and what they do; no they are responsible for themselves.

Are you actively doing things you know to be, unintentionally, harmful to those around you, and would you stop if you discover that you are?

Are you doing more harm than good?

If you believe your are doing more harm than good, then stop what you are doing.

But having said that what gives you the right to take away my right to try and fail.....

To learn.

This attitude is like trying to teach us to ride a bike with training wheels, then worrying that if you take off the training wheels we might hurt ourselves. They only way to find out for sure is to take the wheels off, and see if we fall down.

But you have to find your own answers just as we do.

My 2 cents,

Ps. For those who might think the bike analogy is a poor one, because SD involves life and death. I'm not sure if my grandmother would of let me continue to ride my bike any where if she new how meant time I almost killed myself on it.

Joshkie said...

Rory -

On second read through, you where talking about communicating in the written word not at your seminars or in person.

Sometimes this just write what pops into your head stuff gets me into trouble.

Disregard my previous comment, or not,

Hugh James-Berry said...

*no touch* parry?

What do you think it could be? I cant help but think its some sort of footwork feinting combination

Rory said...

Hugh- I know this is an old post. Sometimes (and this is a demo trick, not a fighting skill) if someone throws a long range punch at your chin, you can snap your fingers in front of your chest and point and the punch will follow the pointing finger to miss your face. It's not particularly useful, but very funny.