Monday, December 18, 2006


Kris called over the weekend to confirm me for Martial University 2007 in Seattle. I'll be teaching three classes.

MU is "dealer's choice" in that the instructor can teach anything he feels like and each hour the students will have at least five instructors to choose from. It's a great place to get a taste of many things. There will be a change this year in that what the instructors teach will be on the schedule in general terms at the start of the day.

I'm toying with holding a workshop on complexity. To see if I can take a familiar technique such as an outside leg sweep (o soto gari) and bring it through various levels of magnification. At the human sized level it is unbalancing, execution and follow through with fairly large muscle movement. Enlarge it and you have lines of weak and strong balance, subtleties of leverage, slight movements that pin entire body weight, two-way action; Expand it and you can throw in how the action of the leg can be a crippling strike, how the inside hand can damage or manipulate the spine, how the spine is manipulated most efficiently, all the nerves that can add to the motion, how the outside hand uses leverage points or nerves; Expand it more and it becomes about energy given, found and exploited: how the motion (gross or subtle) of uke or his stance and spine alignment dictate subtle differences in the most efficient line of technique or even the choice of technique. Breathing. Mindset.

Then take the technique and reverse the magnification process- what is the energy dynamic? How did this attack start? What are the dynamics that lead to an attack and how does each different kind affect the mindset and hormonal stress level of each person involved? How does that stress level then affect performance?

If you look at it closely enough, any single technique (much less an entire violent encounter) is unbelievably complex. It involves physics, physiology, group dynamics, evolutionary biology, evolutionary psychology, criminology, criminal law, endocrinology, athletics, strategy, and even moral philosopy. Within each technique there is power generation, timing and targeting; there is a 'why' to the strike (moral justification: "why am I hitting this person?" and strategic "Why strike instead of close? Why this strike?") and on and on, each aspect affecting each movement and instant of time... And survival requires a simple and fast answer to this complex problem.

But even the simple and fast answer is just as complex...

It would probably confuse more people than it would help, realistically. But a few would get it. The more of these complex aspects become natural and subconscious, the more power and speed you can apply to the technique, the more you can do.

It's easy for me to get behind people, usually. Hands to elbows and their bodies turn; the spine works in a spiral; pin on the heel; hands are sticky... all things that I only think about when I am teaching. It's just the way a body movies and completely natural... but it took a lot of practice and introspection to make it natural. It takes a lot of looking at the small stuff to make it disappear.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

And then there's the time factor (not timing): past time (fight is over: trauma recovery, event recollection, emotional reconciliation), present time (past-present, now, future-present - the timeless moment of the event) and future time ("what will happen if" added to the time suspension of adrenalization). Or, as one of my instructor's used to say, "just hit the guy".