Saturday, July 23, 2005

Learning To See

When I teach jujutsu to civilians or Defensive Tactics (DTs) to officers, it's really about teaching them to see. Face it: you are a human being and have had a human body your whole life. You are intimately familiar with how a body moves and what hurts... yet put someone in a martial arts class and let them move freely and very often they will move a hand or foot through a damage zone, subconsciously careful not to hit the opponent, to use a 'right' move.

Years ago a judoka joined my class. I told him, "You're going to get leg-locked a lot until you learn to see them coming." It was true- the techniques were invisble to the point of being magical until he learned to see. Once he learned to see, they were everywhere. If you ever have the opportunity to take a good tracking class, the same thing will happen with the ground... a world of information will open up that is invisible right now.

Someone once said, "The bitch about ignorance isn't what you don't know. It's what you think you know that isn't so."

Groundfighting with Rob today, I was kneeling on his elbow and controlling his body with my other knee and one hand. It left a hand free to strike. Sean, coaching from the side, told him to pull his hand down. "I can't. It's pinned." It wasn't. He thought it was. From my knee to the toes of the foot was a big triangle with lots of space on the toe end... but Rob had decided it was pinned. So he struggled against the weight instead of struggling against the emptiness.

Later, Sean was advising him to use pain to get a predictable flinch reaction. We played with it for a few minutes and then I pointed out responses to negative space. If I have pinned someone's hand against his chest for a few seconds and suddenly release pressure, he will reach into the suddenly free space. In this case, giving up an arm bar. It's like a good artist drawing a tree. You can draw the leaves or you can draw the spaces between the leaves. You can feel the opponent or feel his absence.

So much of bad training is instilling illusion, and so many people turn their brains off and accept the words. "It only takes twelve pounds of pressure to snap the knee." They hear it, they repeat it... but if one went to the gym and placed a twelve-pound barbell on his locked knee, he would know it wasn't true. But one ounce at 1200 feet per second will blow the leg almost off.

So much of good training is teaching to see accurately, to interpret accurately and to act decisively. Accuracy is operative. The bad part about illusions and denial is that you cannot see your own. If you are not careful, you will pass them on and they will become the 'truth' of the next generation.

I teach this and yet I know there is soooooo much I don't see. I'll keep looking.

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