"Pocket structure" has been coming up a lot. A little preamble:
1) You only get to use your killer self-defense skills when you are losing. If you are winning at the outset, you're probably the bad guy.
2) 'Losing' generally means that you are already hurt or injured, your structure is likely compromised, you may not be able to see, and the threat is in a position of his choice.
3) Threats aren't stupid (at least about this.) If he had any inkling that you might turn things around, he would have picked someone else. So expect him to be bigger and stronger. And it probably won't be his first rodeo.
4) None of the above applies to Monkey Dancing.
It's obvious that you need to work this scenario. You need to learn to hit hard from compromised structure and to deliver power to things that would normally be dead zones. Last post mentioned in passing a way to throw a good elbow to your rear flank.
Part of this is pocket structure. I think most martial artists have an idea of what structure is. It is the bone-to-bone connection between target and the ground. It doesn't generate power, but the better the structure, the less power is lost. Almost anyone can hit hard enough to do damage, but when you see the 240 pound power lifter who can't hit as hard as the 160 pound woman who has a little boxing training, structure is at least part of the reason.
Pocket structure practice is just putting yourself in bad structural position, like bent over with the threat pressing your head down and one side against a wall, and finding where you can align joints to still deliver power. This is one of the esoteric parts, hard to put into words: you find the arches instead of the lines that most people rely on with good range and you also tendon-hook to the back of the joints (that's what it feels like to me) instead of lining up the bones. That's pocket structure.
There are also pockets for power generation. You can use the Dempsey hip-twitch while lying flat on your back, mounted, and get almost your full power into a hook punch. It's just a matter of lifting your off hip an inch or two and then snapping it into the ground with your punch. It's creating a pocket of space so that you can generate power.
Pockets for mobility as well. I'm not nearly as flexible as I used to be, so it sucks when I try to demonstrate this, but Dave Sumner, my jujutsu sensei, had a full power high kick that he could use from the clinch without losing eye contact. It was a lead leg rear kick, so it hit like a mule. The key was clearing the off hip back and away to leave room for the chamber. A mobility pocket.
This, of course, got me thinking about pockets of time. One of the huge keys to defeating bigger and stronger people is to use time and information better than they do. Information first, since it doesn't directly (as far as I see right now) relate to pockets:
If you are outmatched physically, you must be significantly better at reading the situation than the other guy. If you are being blitzed, one of your few chances is to be able to read exactly what is really happening and how to use it. Someone grabs you from behind to slam your face into the pipe above the urinal you must be able to read where every bone in his body is and his current momentum and any shift in center of gravity that presages momentum change. You must be able to do this instantly. You have to know where every corner and hard object and reflective surface and slippery place you can use is located. All instantly.
You see why I consider blindfolded fighting to be a fundamental skill.
Back to pockets. You also need to be able to find or create pockets of time that you can use. Threat smashes your head into the pipe and pulls back to do it again... that instant, from contact through pull-back to centering to forward slam, is a tiny pocket of time where you are not taking damage and if you have the nerve and the skill, you can use it all.
Maybe. And this hits the essence of the teaching problem. I know this is possible. This is how I've done it and others have done it. When the math looks bad (Ralph jumped by an ambush artist, 20 years younger, stronger, faster) the ability to create and exploit time, to know what is really happening is the difference between walking away and not.
But can it be trained? I can show all the pieces. Let people play with and see how it works. Develop the skills and attributes. But when the shit hits the fan, it seems some people act and some don't. Most act with experience, but is that learning or just natural selection of a sort? Those that don't act either get injured or find another line of work.
If you are smarter, cooler, more aware and more efficient it makes up for a lot of size and strength. Those are the attributes you need to utilize most of the pocket concepts. But how many people can stay cool under assault? Or can you train it such that it is just a natural and obvious way to think and move?
Leaving for Florida tomorrow. Hope to meet some of you in person there.