Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Big 3 Teachers

I've said before that teaching people to survive and teaching them to fight is really about teaching them to see. Maybe not. Maybe that is my focus. The Big Three: Awareness, Initiative and Permission, are integral to survival fighting on every level.

A British friend sent me some articles he had written about a first class "Reality Based Self Defense" (RBSD) instructor, Mick Coup. I enjoyed the article- Mick is widely experienced, knew what he was talking about and really understood the dynamics of violence. He had little patience for bullshit and he was definitely one of the people I would like to sit with over a beer and pick his brains. But he taught completely differently than I do.

Mick teaches the high percentage techniques and drills them. His students will do the right thing and they will do it automatically. Of the Big Three, his focus is on the "Initiative" aspect of the tripod.

When most people think of RBSD, they think of the "Model Mugging" or WomanSafe programs- simple techniques geared to get the average woman past her inhibitions and let her hurt an assailant. Though all good self-defense programs stress awareness and prevention, these programs shine in empowering women to hit. They are focused on the Permission aspect of the Big Three.

When I teach it is much about how your own body moves, what hurts to hit, how to generate speed and power, how to move from weird positions; how to understand and adapt to what another is doing, how to feel motion as well as see it, how to move two or more bodies as a single mass... my goal is that when my students are faced with chaos, it will be like home to them, that they will be as calm and adaptable as I usually am. Awareness.

None of these are bad. I would love to train with Mick (I don't seem to lack much in the Permission department). If a person doesn't have at least some level in all three, they will fail- all the initiative and awareness in the world will not help if you can't hurt another human being. Beyond the basics, though, we focus.

I don't know why. Maybe we focus on what has worked for us. Maybe, somewhere in an early fight we should have lost, Mick exploded and I sensed an odd angle and we won. Or maybe it's just the opposite, maybe I exploded and wished I'd seen the other option and Mick is the one who found the elegant option and later realized that explosive action would have been faster and safer (and faster is usually safer).

Or maybe it's about time and inclination. Maybe Mick's gut tells him to get it over with quickly and he marvels at the efficient beauty of what he does; I saw some weird stuff and wanted to slow down time and try to understand it. That sounds like me: teaching style driven by curiosity.

Maybe. Maybe no one would notice a huge difference in what we teach, or some spectator some day will see us both take down a criminal and it will look really, really similar. The differences I'm writing about here, like much in this field can be either very large or very small, depending on how much you look at them.

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