Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Thanks, Paul

Paul Kirchner is the author of "Bowie Knife Fights, Fighters and Fighting Techniques" and "Jim Cirillo's Tales of the Stakeout Squad" and some other books that will probably creep onto my "to read" stack. He sent an e-mail after reading "Meditations on Violence" and "Facing Violence." He wondered why Col. Jeff Cooper wasn't in the bibliography.

The short answer was that I've never read his stuff.

I read. A lot. But there is a huge amount of information out there. There are experts I haven't read. Many of them. People I've never studied with. Months ago, I did a post on possibly working up a course for extreme CQ gun, specifically deploying under attack... and a lot of people gave me leads on work already going on. That was a relief. The late Jim Cirrillo or Southnarc or Mercop are the people who have had to do it and someone in the middle of the problem will tend to understand it far better than someone who has only brushed at the edges.

The list is long, and I make it longer by reading sometimes skeptically. If an author intrigues me, I tend to dig into his bibliography, and sometimes an author's sources do not say what he claims. I like reading on the edge of the field. I know what it feels like to be in certain kinds of problems, have developed a comfort level. I actually learn less from people with similar experiences than I do from researchers or sometimes reporters. If you know human pack behavior, sometimes books about dogs or apes will give a new piece of the puzzle.

Anyway, Paul very graciously sent a copy of "Principles of Personal Defense." It was a short book, I read it while waiting for the coffee to brew. But it was concise, accurate and wonderful. The reading list grows.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Re-Cap and Thoughts

I feel obligated to recap the last three weeks and I'm not sure I can. Partially because parts are a blur, partially because I don't think I could write about all the great people equally and I don't want to hurt feelings to no purpose.

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.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Last Leg

I'm looking forward to tomorrow.
It will be a different crowd, and that's always a test.
There will be a few people with no training, some martial artists... but the core will be the students of Jim Maloney. Jim is a fighter and he makes fighters and it will be a blast and a challenge to present the material so that his crew get the maximum out of it without leaving anyone else behind.
OTOH, some of the stuff I usually need to emphasize will be familiar to the students of this Old Dragon.

Thursday, June 23, 2011


Logic of Violence does it better, because it is sneaky within the format, but for the quick down and dirty, we can be totally up front. You won't own it the same way, but the information is still valid.

At the Montreal seminar I asked, "Who is your nightmare opponent?" If you are a martial artist, take a few minutes and think about it.

One of the answers: "He'd be about 50% more than I weigh, much stronger with more skill and experience."

Yeah, that would suck, huh? Then add that he gets the first move at the time and place of his choosing. And he may be counting on a previous relationship with you to keep you from acting.

Gentlemen, our worst nightmare is where the average woman starts her day. We've been roughhousing, pushing and hitting each other since childhood and, largely, we've been encouraged. Sometimes overt, often subtle, girls have been punished when they wanted to play like that. So the average man reaches adulthood (even with no formal training) better trained and far more conditioned and experienced than almost any woman.

And men are stronger. We rarely get into contests of direct strength with women without holding back a lot, but when we do the difference is stark. (With the exception of KG and RM, two of my favorite cover officers.)

On top of it all, most women have only learned social strategies to deal with conflict...and social strategies not only fail but backfire when attempted on a predator.

Like I said, in LoV you come to this realization slowly and own it. Here it is quick and dirty. If you are teaching self-defense what you can do within your weight class doesn't mean anything. You need to teach people what works outmatched in strength, skill, experience and ferocity. How to deal when the assault is on before they are aware. And help them work out and overcome much of their social programming.

It can be done. It has been done. But not by staying in your comfort zone perspective.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Responsibility and Blame

I refuse to get into the particulars. Too much Monkey Dancing. Scott's written about it. Some other people I know have written and some are getting sucked into little vicious flame wars where nobody is really listening to anybody else.

I don't like seeing people get hurt. It makes me feel bad. That's probably petty and childish on some level, but for me it trumps politics or dreams or justice or wishful thinking. Maybe I should amend that to good people getting hurt, but you know what? Even when it was absolutely necessary, there's no joy in hurting others. There's a weird and intense kind of joy in taking the risk on being hurt, but that's for another time.

I don't like seeing people get hurt. No mi gusto.

Should, as the platitude goes, a woman be able to walk naked into a biker bar (no idea why everyone picks on bikers for this) and be safe? Sure. That would be cool. And it will happen when a wounded seal pup can swim through a school of sharks and not get eaten. It would require a change in the nature of sharks.

Rape is a pretty nasty crime. Whether it arises from nature or nurture, by the time someone can commit that crime, they've already gotten past the issues of the victim's rights and humanity and justice and the way the world should be.

All protests, all consciousness-raising aimed at violent criminals centers on the message, "This is wrong."

The criminals already know it's wrong. The issue is that they don't care. You can't fix caring through reason. It's a deeper part of the brain.

I don't want people to get hurt. So I place the responsibility to stay safe on the potential victim. NOT because it is just or because I want the world to be this way. I place it there because, faced with a violent bad guy, the victim is likely the only one there who gives a rat's ass about her safety. The rapist doesn't. If the bad guy knows what he is doing, there won't be any indignant bystanders (and god help the victim if it is a Group Monkey Dance situation) to care and get involved. Even if they would get involved, which might be doubtful.

There are some things that society has, can, and will slowly change over time. Our ethics have advanced so far that we quibble now over hurting feelings when 150 years ago it might not even be a crime to kill someone of a different color. That's good. But on this very day, if something bad were to happen, society can't do anything specific and the bad guy has already decided to be bad. That puts the victim in the role of the only one who will act on her own behalf. Absolute responsibility by default.

And this is totally separate from blame. If a criminal attacks, it is his bad act, his choice. Whether the potential victim took precautions which the threat overcame or took no precautions at all, the blame and punishment should fall entirely on the perpetrator. That's justice.

But even in a world of perfect justice I would still prefer that no one got hurt in the first place. It's a pipe dream and childish, just as much a platitude as walking naked into a biker bar...

But it's still where I'm going to focus my time.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Re-Thinking the Seminars

Lots to write about, lots to think about. One thing at a time.

I'm rethinking the whole seminar format. Some time ago, a friend said I was trying to do too much. I understood, but I had two defenses:
1) It all ties together. If I leave one of the big pieces out, the picture becomes incomplete.
2) It's all intuitive. There's a lot of material but there is almost nothing to remember. Just stuff to feel, things put in different places in your brain.

For those who haven't been to one, a typical one-day seminar flows like this:
  • Safety Briefing and teaching philosophy
  • Intro to the One-Step drill
  • There are a bunch of things that come out in even a short application of the One-Step, but the ideal is for the students to notice them and bring them to light. It usually works.
  • Violence Demo, if necessary
  • Specific One-Step Lessons
  • First Long Talk: The Context of Violence
  • Blindfolded Infighting
  • Leverage and Leverage Points
  • (Sometimes an extra building block class, if requested)
  • Second Long Talk: Self-Defense Law
  • Power Generation
  • Counter-Ambush
  • Last Long Talk: Violence Dynamics
  • Debrief
That's a lot, but it all integrates and the physical stuff is experiential, not technique driven. The Counter-Ambush is the only thing that comes close to being a technique and it's really about designing your own technique and the training method, straight Operant Conditioning.

The second day in a two day is the one I'm thinking about redoing. I'm thinking about dropping scenarios. Scenarios are a blast and they are important. Judgement and physical skills have to be trained and tested together. Good decisions have to be backed up by good articulation. Scenarios are the place for that.

But doing scenarios well and safely is time consuming and takes a lot of detail work. I'm reluctant to be both the primary threat and the safety officer. I'm equally reluctant to use untrained, inexperienced people in either of those roles. And, self-serving sniveler that I am, I don't heal like I used to. I can take care of myself and the armor is good, but being a bad guy for twenty scenarios in an afternoon (even if most of them are targeted at judgement and don't go to force) is still a lot of kinetic energy to absorb.

In addition, I'm adding new material. The Plastic Mind exercises are cited a lot in the AADs as very useful and the violence dynamics section keeps expanding.

The old Second Day used to go:
  • Safety Briefing, Safety check
  • One-Step refamiliarization
  • Ground Movement series
  • Ethics and Application of Pain
  • Dynamic Fighting
  • Wall Fighting
  • Environmental Fighting
  • Mass Brawl
  • Detailed, specific scenario safety briefing
  • Scenario Briefing
  • Area Check and Pat Down
  • Scenarios (each debriefed on the spot)
  • Class Debriefing
  • Clean up
Just adding Plastic Mind and removing all of the scenario stuff still nicely fills two eight-hour days. We can even take a short lunch break. (I usually forget to eat and just have any hungry students eat during the lecture parts of Day One and while setting up for scenarios on Day Two.)

So this is what I'm thinking. Four Programs:
  • Basics- The Day One by itself or both days above, but without the scenarios and with Plastic Mind.
  • Conflict Communications
  • Logic of Violence
  • Scenarios, basically just offer them as a special training to specific individuals.
Just thinking out loud, here. Any thoughts?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Deep Definitions

A few weeks ago I did a talk for the Iraqi Society of Oregon. One of the men had almost gotten in trouble over words that flared to a fist fight. They asked me to talk about force and self-defense and the cultural differences on conflict between Iraqis and Americans.

It was a good talk, fun, but the need for it was based on cultural differences. Deep ones. And not overt ones, like THEY are okay with violence and WE aren't. It was deeper than that, more basic. Too deep to question. The initial problem that sparked the whole thing centered on what it is to be a man.

In some cultures, maybe, manhood is a clear thing. I don't believe that it is ever clear for the young. You may have a ritual that declares you are in fact a man and yet still live with your parents and act and be treated as a dependent. If manhood was clear, in any culture, there wouldn't be all these weird ways to prove or maintain it.

And so, we have a man from one culture where he is taught and believes that if someone insults you, if you are a man, you must fight or at least be willing to fight. That is what a man does. That is who a man is.

And he is living in a cultural (the Atticus Finch-influenced part of America) where it is common sense and practically written into law that a real man would never lower himself to fighting over mere words.

Not a value judgment here, just had a few things pop up lately where my definitions of deep behaviors may not match those around me.

The second is polite rudeness. I don't want to hit this with cultural identifiers because I don't want people to try to throw a label on my thinking process ("That bastard is anti-anglo!") and quit listening... but it's going to come up.

I was raised to respect lines. "Cutting lines" or even allowing lines to be cut was a big social no-no in grade school. We stand in lines, we wait. The very thought of cutting lines implied not just that you were special but that you thought you were better and more deserving than people who had made the effort to get there first. It was a personal and calculated insult to everyone else in line.

My friends from the old Soviet bloc don't respect lines. When they were kids, it wasn't a good idea. If you waited your turn, there was a good chance that there would be nothing at the end of your wait. We can wait in line because, though we may not like it, we are generally sure that it will pay off. Remove that assurance and our politeness, which just seems common sense, becomes a failing strategy.

I've seen some "polite rudeness" in the last few days. It comes from a very particular social set. In my social caste asking to cut lines is nearly as unthinkable as just doing it. I've sat on planes with people terrified of missing a connection who refused to ask for a little consideration in getting off the plane early. But in the last few days: "Excuse me, may I go ahead? I have this bag of oranges, you see."

The man he was asking had an entire cart... but he was raised very much as I was and had a hard time saying 'No.' Work a couple of years in a jail and you get over that quick.

Thinking about it, I don't think the person was being rude, just as I don't think the Iraqi was or was not being manly. He was following the rules as he saw them.

In the other gentleman's world, maybe politeness is in the form. Asking nicely enough, even if you were asking something far more terrible than just cutting line, doesn't involve any violation of social rules. Ripe territory for villains, if they can do evil with Captain Hooks 'good form'.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Worth It?

Teo asked to play this morning, to work on anything. Dealer's choice.

So I said, "How would you take me out?" From that position, that range, relative body configurations... Teo is an intelligent young man (not really young, anymore. He is a father now and all grown up but in my mind he will always be the kid from ten years ago that we tried to tease into asking a waitress out). He moved to take a better position, guarded against a counter-attack that wasn't coming and used a technique that might, might have rattled me.

I know one of his instructors and I know damn well that Teo knows how to finish a human. We talked.

"But in sparring, no one ever just lets stuff come in and if I did really get aggressive, he'd just get aggressive back."

He put a finger on one of my deep problems with sparring and I want to think it out here. First and foremost, I've always loved sparring (of almost any type, not so much into pitty-pat) but it has been bothering me for awhile.

What has been bothering me is the sheer artificiality of it. On one level, MMA sparring is "as close as you can get to real" and "the only way to pressure test techniques." I see where those arguments are coming from but still...

If anyone squares off, if any threat gives me any indication that something is coming, I can walk away. Or talk it down. Or, if that's not going to work, access a force option that turns the whole situation into something that doesn't resemble a fight in any way.

The serious bad guys don't fight. They take you out. They stack everything in their favor: surprise, position, number and weapons (depending on the goal) and finish it. The last thing they want is a fight. Serious bad guys don't fight, they take you out.

And so do successful good guys.

In order for sparring as a fight simulation to even happen, you have to behave stupidly. You choose not to leave or talk or gather resources. Then you have to allow it to become a very particular and tactically silly kind of fight, where you stick to the same options and parameters the threat has chosen. It's a stupid way. One of the basic tactical rules that not only every tactical operator but even every serious sport competitor knows is: Don't play the other guy's game. Sparring specializes there.

And there are good reasons for it. If you want to test and measure and improve the same skills as the threat, it's one of the best, fastest ways to get better... but where does getting really, really good at the tactics of a bad strategy fit?

Bad guys take you out. From surprise. First hit. With a size and strength advantage or, if they can't manage that and really, really need what you've got, with weapons and numbers. They deliberately choose people who won't or can't fight. There's no value to complicated strategy or feinting.

This is an internal discussion. Not a conclusion. I love sparring, but I do it for what it is, know what it is and I'm very, very clear on what it is NOT. Those aren't the skills I'll need if an old acquaintance from the jail decides to even a score or enhance a rep. Those skills are different, qualitatively different.

And don't go tribal on me, either. Saying sparring is artificial is NOT saying that kata is better or realer or some variant. All the training methods are what they are and no more.

Live training is vital, but training stupid tactics live is not just ingraining stupid tactics. People mistake intensity for truth. The more contact and speed, the more real it feels, the more it feels like truth. Not only does it ingrain stupid, it ingrains it hard.

We need live, hard, contact training. But smart. Working from real distance, from positions of disadvantage, outmatched in size and strength. We need to find a safe but live way to practice taking a threat out instead of fighting. We do practice those skills and I know a lot of you do as well. But every so often a good martial artist or even a good fighter is given a problem of force, survival and decisiveness and instinctively tries to turn it into a contest.

It makes me wonder if the training method does more harm than good. Still pondering.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Long Four Days

This has been fantastic and like many wonderful things that means I'm slightly battered and exhausted. In twelve hours or so, I'll leave London, Ontario for Montreal. Right now there is a large gray cat on my bed and my host's dog just hanging out by the desk.

The host- Chris and Michelle have been fantastic. Very easy to settle down with, great conversation and food and lots of laughing.

The classes. Three separate classes.

The Logic of Violence went through all the material in nine hours. That was faster and more thorough than the original run in Seattle, but I was more directive. Instead of letting the students work out almost everything themselves, I provided a lot more direction. It got to the same place (further, actually, and in less time) but I always fear that anything handed out doesn't resonate as well as something discovered.

The 2-day Ambushes and Thugs covered more material more thoroughly than ever before, but we made a consensus decision that there wouldn't be time for scenarios. A little sad, but there just wasn't time to run the numbers through, not safely and properly, anyway. Day one was in a dojo setting at the Family Karate Center in London, Ontario. That was a good time covering what I consider the basics with a good group. One of the few times people under eighteen have been allowed and none of them seemed terribly traumatized. Some of the parents looked a little perturbed, though.

The second day was held at Chris' shop. Damn. Rolling on concrete, mass brawls and practice fights with claw hammers and compressed air hoses.

The last day was Conflict Communications...and thus ended my weekend.

Sort of. I crashed trying to write this and when I came up for air, I was in Montreal. I'd fully intended to get to the airport early and do a little work, but coming in two hours early with a Canada Air strike in progress was barely time to make the plane. I'm just warning. Ignore that last paragraph.

There were two personal highlights- one was the long talk with Chris on the drive to the airport. He's a thoroughly good man and gives great advice. And he moves, fights and thinks very, very well.

The second was meeting Steve Pascoe. Years ago, just figuring out this internet thing, I ran across a BBS called Cyberkwoon. It's now defunct, but the archives are still up. Steve was one of the cool people that I hadn't met in person. Now I have, and he can hang with the fun crowd on many levels-- sarcastic, funny, intelligent and brutally skilled.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

"Tried by Twelve..."

There is a saying you will hear in the self-defense community: "I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six." If the reference isn't obvious, it means I would rather stand trial, and risk going to prison, than die.

And that's perfectly cool. Given a choice between those two options, prison beats crematorium any day. In my opinion. You can make your own choices.

But almost every time I hear it, it's a platitude. It is not said to clarify a truth. No one ever slaps their head and says, "Shit, I was wrong all along. I always thought dying was better! Thank you Mr. Wise One."

The first time I watched a self-defense class was in 1981. I saw a big, burly guy teaching women that if someone grabbed them in a front hug they could beat on the chest of the bigger, stronger man until he would magically loosen his grip and then they could hammer fist him in the nose and they would be safe. Then I saw the instructor teach that if someone grabbed a woman's wrist she should just chop his throat.

Even as a seventeen-year-old with just a couple of months in judo and some weird hybrid striking art, I knew something was wrong: Low levels of force (that wouldn't work) when high levels were needed? And potentially deadly force to a stimulus that might just be a child reaching for your hand? Ineffective AND inappropriate offended me on two levels.

When someone says "I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six" and they are sincere, it's simply unnecessary. But in almost every instance that I hear it, it is an excuse. The instructor has some idea of how to hurt a person and absolutely no idea of force law. So they say this to convince the people listening that force law is not nearly as important as what they can teach.

In logic or debate, this would be called a 'false sort.' It only has any validity if those are the only two options and they are mutually exclusive. "I'd rather hit myself in the head with a hammer than stab myself in the leg with a screwdriver." Simple fact is, you can do both of those things or neither. Dying might take going to prison off the table, but going to prison certainly doesn't take dying off the table.

The essence of self-defense law isn't that complicated. If your life is on the line, it doesn't hamper you at all. If you want to Monkey Dance or teach somebody a lesson, that's a different story... but you already know those aren't self-defense. Plus, most of self-defense law makes sense. It's not some esoteric weirdness.

If someone refuses to teach it, it is because they don't know it. If they offer the excuse that they are afraid worrying about the law will freeze you I would question, well everything. Their knowledge, first. Their common sense. Their commitment to your survival over their ego...

There are lots of reasons people freeze. In my experience, scary ignorance is far more freezing than informed fear. "I'm going to get sued but I know the ropes" is far less freezing than, "OMG, am I going to get sued? What will that be like? What should I do?"

One of the keys, though, and even good, knowledgeable instructors might miss this, is that knowing force law isn't enough. The students have to practice articulating decisions. Even most cops could use more practice at that.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Fighters All the Way Down...

It's a reference to 'turtles all the way down'.

The first Logic of Violence seminar went well, I think. The feedback has been positive. Turns out ten hours is too short, but that can be tweaked with, to an extent.

Fighting systems come about because when someone is good at fighting, it behooves the other members of his tribe (whether that is a family or a cohort) to imitate and learn. So, in an ideal world, experienced fighters taught other fighters to fights. Whoever the founder was, whether of a classical sword system or a modern low-light handgunning system, he was good at what he did and started teaching other people. Other fighters. Soldiers, cops and civilians can all learn from each other, but their needs aren't the same. So it's not just that fighters tended to teach other fighters but that they taught the same tribe or kind. Soldiers teach soldiers. Cops teach cops. There's some cross-over, but when a civilian learns from a tactical operator, sometimes they feel like they are finally getting the real stuff.

Kasey did a post a while ago about how nonsensical it was to teach or learn building-clearing as a civilian. It is real stuff, and specialized, and something an entry team needs...but not a skill a civilian will have either the resources to perform properly or any legal reason to do.

So when you look at the history of an art, it's a line of fighter/instructors all the way back to the mists of time. (Okay, in the modern era, fighters or wannabes, but you get the idea.)

Anyone see anything missing here? At least in the self-defense context?

Martial and combative training has changed vastly over the last hundred years. It's been slow because the traditions run so deep, IMO, but there has been change. Modern teaching methodology introduced by Kano rocked the world. Sports physiology. The advent of MMA gave some people a good hard shock that what they thought they were doing was not what they were doing. There is more information available and more cross-over from different areas than ever before (I'm still absorbing the applicable combat lessons from a damn book on acting).

Logic of Violence just takes another, very obvious discipline and uses it to look at most self-defense training.

Here's the basics of the class. It might take ConCom or a quick read of "Facing Violence" to make sure we are using the same language, but if you have a little experience with criminals, you can keep up.
  • We go over the different types of violence. Heavy emphasis on motivation, since trying to prove you're tough (monkey dancing) has nothing in common with feeding a drug habit (resource predator.)
  • A little on the triune brain theory, because it comes up in social violence habits and certain predator's tactics.
  • Quick examination of violence-prone places.
Then, for each type of violence, from the predator's point of view:
  • Goals: specifically what the predator wants
  • Parameters: what the predator doesn't want: To get caught, to get hurt...
  • Victim profile. What will we look for to get what we want?
  • Where to look: what will be the hunting ground?
  • Behaviors: Given the above, what will we look for that says a victim is ripe?
  • Access: How will we get close enough to accomplish our goals with the privacy to act?
  • Control: What will we do, specifically, to get what we want?
  • Attack: If it needs to go physical, keeping in mind the victim profile and that every aspect of the set-up is under your control, how will you attack?
Then we went out and banged the attack patterns the crew came up with. There was some back sliding into martial thinking, some squaring off.
"I was trying to take out a big guy from the front?"
"Why? Get this straight, 120 pound meth-heads need drugs too. This isn't about if you can take him out but about how. You choose when, you choose where. Need a weapon? That's up to you too."

In the process, it becomes clear why assaults are so rare (there have to be hundreds of incidents of car burglary or 'aggressive panhandling' for every committed assault) but also why they are so effective.

Once we've run the list and banged from the threat's point of view, we keep the list on the board and run through it from the potential victim's perspective. What needs to happen to bypass the situation at each level or step?

Prevention is good. Understanding the time line is powerful, but experienced self-defense teachers were at a loss on the attacks. Fighters teaching fighters how to deal with fighters is one thing. Fighters all the way down. But fighters (most self-defense and martial instructors are fighters on some level) teaching victims (the whole victim profile: young, drunk, insecure woman? Or out-of-town businessman, drunk and out of shape trying to unlock his rental car? Or...) how to deal with predators (people who use distraction and ambush and overwhelming force to not just injure but to overwhelm the OOODA loop)... that's a challenge.

Yet, it's obvious. For all of violence being the soul of chaos, there is a logic to it. And applying the tools of disaster planning makes sense. Fighters (soldiers, cops, bouncers) get into fights. The types of violence a fighter will be exposed to are limited and predictable.

Victims get victimized, and that can be a wider range of behavior. High consequences. Fighters teaching self-defence could stand to take a look at it from the yes of both a victim and a predator.

Friday, June 03, 2011

Before I Forget...

Details. This is for posterity.
First some background on the Plastic Mind Drills. If you want a more detailed description, check out the "Drills" manual available on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle (link is over on the right).

Mind controls the body. It actually works both ways, the body influences the mind as well, but changes in thought change a lot of things, some deeply. The Plastic Mind exercises are a progression that show, first, how emotion, even artificial emotion completely changes the way that you fight. Second, that iconic images (think the Animal Styles of Kung-fu) change movement in an integrated way and that almost all of the integrated ways are effective, yet different.

In the third step in the progression, the students create in a matter of minutes four complete, integrated martial arts. The arts are each unique, coherent (you can tell the difference at a glance, usually) and in many cases, the student fights better in this mode after thirty seconds of thought than they do in their primary martial art even with years of training. Get this, it's not some miracle or magic bullet, it is merely a way to show that thought can influence motion and that integrated thought (everything connected and arising from a single concept) makes for efficient motion.

Because it works on some pretty primitive brain levels, I've always known that there was a possibility for a student to get into it pretty deeply, potentially to match the trance-states of some of the animistic practices. Last weekend, it happened.

Subject: male, mid thirties, former kumite competitor for the national karate team.

What I observed: He was doing the drill with a slightly stronger but less-skilled opponent. I noticed the subject was breathing oddly, exhaling with a sharp rhythm. He was not looking at his opponent. Subject was on his knees, knees wide and feet together with his opponent face up. Subject had one hand on the opponent's upper chest, the other on his abdomen at about bladder level. Subjects back was extremely arched, like a seal.

Despite the apparent weakness of that position, his (slightly stronger) opponent was unable to move and starting to panic (white showing around the eyes, struggling ineffectually, unable to remember or follow the steps of the drill.) I ordered them to freeze. No response from subject. Repeated order. No response. No response until I shook him hard. He appeared dazed and uncertain of what happened. He had been fighting as the alchemical element 'fire' and had no memory of the incident other than a need "To spread wide and get higher." He had tears on his cheek during the debriefing.

Things to note:
  • No response to verbals; physical contact required
  • No memory of events
  • Extremely effective results from what appeared to be an extremely weak position
And two other things:
  1. It affected the subject pretty profoundly and he kept trying to tie everything else covered that weekend and other extraneous events to that one aspect of the one drill.
  2. I had to really fight a very strong urge to make a joke or belittle what happened. I wanted to give him a nickname. I wanted to say how ridiculous he looked while he was completely dominating his opponent. It seemed to trigger some kind of deep defense mechanism in me. If I ridicule, it might not happen again, perhaps?
No conclusions here. I'm just not keeping a private log right now and I wanted the observations recorded while they were still fresh.

FWIW, I've considered two more levels to this drill, Masks and Personas, but I'm not sure who is ready. Definitely not for public consumption yet.