Wednesday, January 31, 2007


Kevin Jackson is a very nice guy. He's personable, charismatic, dynamic and with an ability to sustain a high energy level that is nearly unmatched. He's also a good teacher, a hell of a martial artist and one of the few I know who are both wise and humble enough (sometimes too humble, KJ!) to keep their eyes, ears and minds open.

I will give him the highest compliment I know in self-defense training: I once saw him teach a knife defense class that wasn't stupid.

A couple of weekends ago, Al Dacascos was in town and hosted a mini seminar. Al was teaching and Mac and Sherrill and Kevin so, yeah, I had to go.

Kevin taught a class on biting. I allow biting in my classes and sometimes encourage it and in a rudimentary way can teach it a little: Some places hurt more than others. Nipping for pain and tearing for avulsion are different. Use it to create space. Beware the risk of disease.

Biting has always been a minor tool of mine.

It's still a minor tool. What I learned from Kevin that day was less about technique than about myself and learning and teaching. Okay- I did learn one aspect of technique. I usually use biting to create space. Kevin encouraged me to hold my partner tight so he couldn't escape from the bite, the pain. This was counter-intuitive but it had a wonderful affect. Unable to squirm directly away, the threat almost always broke contact with the ground, giving me a throw.

There are ways to break down fighting. Weapons aside, technique wise there are: strikes; locks; takedowns; gouges/pressure point/pinches; movement; and strangling.

Effects break down to movement, pain, damage and shock.

Skills are unbalancing, immobilizing, clearing and damage.

There are pieces to all of this. Anatomy and physiology; principles of physics and biomechanics; Goal-strategy-tactics-technique; power generation, timing and targeting; Awareness Initiative and Permission... that all effect everything else.

But you can look at a fight at the technique level, the effects level or the general skills level (or two or three of these) very usefully.

I am an extremely integrated fighter. At the technique level that means that usually I can do two or more classes of techniques in a single action eg, the twisting action of a lock providing the power for an elbow strike while simultaneously dragging the threat through a leg sweep. At the effects level, it means I'm not married to a single preference. I'll do damage if it's prudent, force the threat to move if it betters my position, cause pain if it helps the movement or will shut down his thought process and I will shut down his entire system (shock) if it is necessary and legally justified- and when practical I can blend these. Same with the skill level. It's all the same. In my own mind I'm not better or worse at these things or have strengths or weaknesses in them, they are just part of everything else and, in the moment, completely subconscious.

(Does any native speaker of any language ever say, "I'm just way better at verbs than I am nouns?" No, they don't. It's like that. People learning a language, however, say things just like that...)

Working with biting, especially while groundfighting, I found I wasn't thinking that way. I was either brawling or fighting. I would transition my partner into position without even thinking about it and then drop out of the mindset, think about biting (all the while not truly in the zone of brawling anymore), bite, and then watch the effects and transition back to fighting again.

Somewhere over the years I had forgotten that every single thing I know, every class of technique, every strategy and tactic, every effect, every skill started this way. It started as a big lump of stuff that needed to be worked in. That's the way it is for all students.

That's not a good thing to forget. Thanks, Kevin.


Kai Jones said...

This is the NLP concept of the growth from unconscious ignorance to unconscious mastery again.

It's been so long since I've been a beginner at most things in my life that I forget how uncomfortable being consciously ignorant is, and moving toward conscious mastery looks almost impossible. Much less past that to unconscious mastery in a new subject.

Anonymous said...

Fighting is a language - a way of expression, a way of interpersonal interaction that has become all too common with, especially, our youth. Fighting is music, built on simple single notes into a composition of our own devising, and the best fighters compose and play multiple genres (as the Blues Brothers once said, "we play country and western"). But we (humans) use it as our main form of expression. It's past time when we go deeper and become composers, not just players.