Thursday, May 24, 2007


Just been asked to consider teaching a regular class for a large company locally. It's a big re-think.

Normally I have two types of students- cops, of course. These are men and women who either know how to fight or are painfully aware that they don't and they want me to help them be more efficient. These are great students. We share a common language, a common understanding of why we are training and what we are training for and generally we either know each other or know about each other.

My other group, the private students and the seminar attendees, are usually extremely skilled martial artists who come to me to learn about violence. Probably half this blog is about differences between Martial Arts and violence, so it is something I have a good bit of experience in communicating.

This will be different, though. They want a self-defense class, true, and I feel very comfortable teaching that. But they also want something in the nature of a martial arts class, something that people could attend for years and continuously improve. I'm fairly comfortable teaching that.

But both?

It's rarely done well. The primary conflict is that the physical actions of self defense must be dead simple, but humans refuse to do anything simple for very long. They start embellishing. They make it 'cooler'. They make their own fun.

I am so looking forward to the challenge.

The group will be a mix. Irena has already pointed out some of the people who are interested. Most are in good shape, some have martial arts experience, most don't. They all have the happy well-fed look that comes with civilization.

This will be so fun- an experiment and an exploration. I want to take them as quickly as possible into a visceral understanding of violence and instill an awe for and admiration of ruthless simplicity... then slowly work on pieces. How to move, how to hurt, how to think, how to observe... but never leaving the two touchstones of a realistic gut level understanding of violence and the benchmark of the quest for the most efficient line.

So they will get more data all the time- types of confrontations and ambushes; legal and moral issues; adrenaline effects; dealing with 1234s; weapons; first aid; old bushi culture; crime; avoidance; de-escalation; animal behavior... but all the time touching back to violence and efficiency.

I think, I hope, that I can literally alter their minds- make pain merely a data point; teach them to thrive in physical chaos; learn that their bodies are nothing but toys- and so is the threat's. Bring them to the point where they enjoy receiving a good hit. Where they realize that violence is the way of the world and can then choose to rise above it out of choice rather than hide from it in fear.

Lots to think about- the Big Three, right away. Stages of preparation, maybe one per class as they work the other physical skills every day. Principles. Alternative mindsets. Specific techniques- ukemi and irimi certainly. Movement, pain, damage and shock. Power, timing and targeting. Goals-strategy-tactics-technique. Force justification...

This might be very, very cool.


Kai Jones said...

For a large company...not for the general public?

Mark Jones said...

What she said--it sounds fascinating, and very cool.

Anonymous said...

If you think you can turn a cross section of society into the martial expert that is Rory, you might be in for a big letdown. But I think you will have fun trying, and everyone in your classes will learn something they wouldn't learn anywhere else.

Anonymous said...

What kind of company and why do they want a self defense class?

Anonymous said...

OK, I'll provide the background, 'fess up. The large company is a local insurance company, employing about 2,000 people in 3 buildings downtown (plus another couple thosand elsewhere). It is traditionally a very conservative, frustrating place. It has been undergoing rapid change in the 1.5 years that I've been working there.

They don't really know what they want. They are ready to try anything -- on just about any front. I was very surprised that I was able to convice them that in order to do my job better (computer geek) I absolute require a heavy bag in the gym that they provide. I have been also lobbying for bringing in "self defense", with Rory teaching, of course.

For Rory, I think it is a good opportunity to see and teach "regular" people -- not cops, not martial artists (although there is a bunch of those, too). To remember that there is a whole set of other people. Perhaps to look at a different career at some point. Perhaps to grow his writing and teaching skills, addressing a new audience.

I do have to agree with the "anonymous" though -- Rory, please be cautious in your enthusiasm. Both cops and "martial artists" went through a heavy filtering process. If you start teaching "general public", you'll get much more fluf, and flakes.


The Moody Minstrel said...

But even fluff and flakes can be made into something if shaped properly. It just takes a bit more effort and patience.