Monday, July 23, 2012


"I can't do that."

Most of the time, people are thinking cause and not effect, or motion rather than results.  "I can't do that (hit hard, or knock someone down or pull a trigger) because I'm (too weak, too small, too...)"  It's mostly horseshit.  You can do it (get the effect) but you probably can't do it in that way.

Can't do some kind of force block against a stronger man's kick?  Congratulations, you're normal.  But doing that particular defense against that particular attack isn't the point.  The point is to not get hit. Not getting hit is much easier.  And much more personal.  Small people and large people do it differently, as do timid and aggressive people.  It's not a one-size fits all.

Anyone, barring vegetative states or nearly complete paralysis, can take out anybody else.  They just can't all do it the same way.  You can't score on your sifu? He can't block a bullet.  Competitor so tough he can take anything you dish out?  Quit using your fists and use a car.  This mindset ties back to cheating and a number of other things.  The big idea to take away, though, is to understand when you are limiting your own options because you have either chosen or been brainwashed to look at a situation from only one point of view.

But that's not the point of this post.

"I can't do that," she said.  It was a basic self-defense problem, a question that has been asked and answered a hundred times.  And that's what I do professionally, so three different proven, workable options off the top of my head in ten seconds.

"Those don't work."
"You've tried them?"
"No, but you don't understand.  I can't do that."
Oh.  This was never about trying to find an answer.  This was about preserving identity.  Nick asked me once about students who just don't get it.  There aren't a lot of people who can't get it.  There are a fair number who refuse to get it. I walk away from those.

You can teach people who want to learn.  Despite almost any psychological trauma or physical or mental disability, it is a matter of finding the words and the modality, a way to communicate and a way to practice.  It's not that hard.

But you cannot teach people who refuse to learn.  No matter how enthusiastic they seem or the certificates they have collected, if they are coming to you to get their world view confirmed instead of refined (or, preferably, rocked), you are wasting your time.

Understand this-- they are not wasting their own time.  They carefully sift what you say, latch on to anything they like, completely forget anything they don't and walk away more ignorant and more confident than when they arrived.  It is good value for them.  That is what they want.

And when an inability "I can't" has become part of their identity, they will fight the truth with everything they have.


Anonymous said...

It seem like the margins or something are off with this particular blog, Rory. Some words are being left out at the end of each line.

Lise Steenerson said...

LOVE this Rory!!!
It's a lesson I strive to learn everyday. And it applies in every area of one's life, not just fighting/ SD.

Jake said...

Tony calls this "arguing to be right about your failure." It's pretty odd.

Mr. Nelson said...

This rings true for me as well. In my training, I have to fight to go from being the boy who can't to the man who can. When I was young, my identity was the fat kid who couldn't catch or throw or run or hit. It's hard to let go of that, because it's easy. It's easy to excuse yourself. It's easy to say "I can't." However, the boy who can't is a lie, an excuse, and I know it. That's why I keep going back.

nry said...

You know, it made me wonder...have I latched on to all those little things I 'want' to latch onto, and dismissed or dropped those I don't?

I reckon I have, I reckon most people do that, though if you consider those who are looking for realistic self defence skills/RBSD etc., I wonder if we all end up latching and dropping similar things?

It might not be related to this post, but I am increasingly curious on your thoughts on how you feel your koryu JJ training has directed your approach to self defence and your current teachings? You touch on this in your books, but I don't think you go much beyond mentioning that it has impacted your 'fighting style'.

Josh K. said...

I think I have brought this up before, maybe not.

I try to think in questions, instead of declarative statments; which I can't and even I can are.

By adding a Why, How, What, Where, When & Who you identify and recognize a problem and engage the brain in an effort to solve it.

This turns a dead end statement into a problem solving activity.

Just some thoughts,

Josh K. said...

The implication of my last coment is that sometimes & not often you can reach people, if you can get them asking questions.

This isn't alway worth the time or effort though.


Anonymous said...

I was soldering copper pipe one weekend at the house, while a kid who was a realy good carpenter (much better skills than I) was helping me with a project. He was only 23 I think at the time, but had been using those tools of the trade under his dad for years already. Basic finsih work was easy for him. He came up to me curious, and asked where I learned to do that kind of work. That he would burn the house down if he started playing with a tortch.

Now, if you've done this before you understand sodlering is easy as pie. Not dangerous really, and the kind of thing anybody who can follow a simple order of directions can do. People who do anything all the time for a living just usually do it better ...sometimes.

My anwser to this kid was that I went to the store, bought all the stuff that morning and started playing around based on something I watched on YouTube. It probably cost a few extra bucks and some time in screwing up before I could do it as well or better than any other knuckelhead. In fact, lack of experience is far often outweighed by the simple effort of time and care in understanding a process. It also requires humilty and forgiving yourself ahead of time for not being awsome at something the first time.

Risks are greater in SD than mechanics, obviously. however if there is something you can't do that other people can then youa re probably BS'ing yourself. For most things and most people, accomplishment is the largest % desire, with some smaller % the "how" and advantage. And, if your playing at lesser odds than that, you are already playing over your head anyway. So the last thing you should let anybody think is they are right for saying otherwise about you. it is not recipe for perfect success, but an attitude that will take you miles when so many take comfort in the mindset of limitation or awe.

-Billy G.

Singletoned said...

So you are saying that you are unable to teach people who refuse to learn?

Maybe you are just refusing to learn how to teach them? Maybe your inability to teach them has become part of your identity?