Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Being Invisible

Another one for the "Combative Twilight Zone Files" today from training. (hmmmm... that would make a hell of a book, wouldn't it?)
I usually stay away from the twilight zone stuff on the blog because I am worried about the reaction. Incredibly strange, impossible stuff happens at the edge. When you talk about it, impressionable people either:
A) Don't believe you. (Which doesn't bother me. I'm writing for myself primarily and most people live a life of sufficient comfort and safety that they can believe anything they want with no real effect.)
B) Believe you. If they believe you, they might:
b.1) Start believing in magic and quit "wasting time" on basics or;
b.2) Twist their focus and come to believe that the twilight zone fluke is "the way it is" and the other hundred mundane examples are ignored or;
b.3) Become weird little intellectual groupies, which frankly creeps me out. I'm tons more comfortable with Steve P.'s disagreements than I ever will be with, oh... you know what? I'm not even going to finish that thought. Someday just give me a scotch and ask me about the 'one move that embodies a style '. Puke. Gag.

Weird stuff happens and most of it can be explained once you understand the influence of super-high stress. The trouble is that understanding after the fact doesn't really prepare you for responding and understanding doesn't imply that you can predict or exploit the phenomena. That's why they're called "flukes" I guess.

On an entry, the first person in is responsible for immediate threat, near corner, far corner, cross corner. Don't hang up on the terminology. The first guy in has to deal with any immediately apparent bad guy, then check to make sure there isn't an ambush coming from the flank, then scan the room. His partner does the same from the other side.

One of the things we do in training is throw bad guys in at inconvenient times to make sure our entry team can adapt on the fly. Today on one of the reps, I was standing directly in the doorway when the point man came in. He blew right by me and covered a door (a potential danger spot). He actually brushed me. He never saw me. In the debrief he is adamant that I was NOT there.

I started to form the thought that I could fall in behind him like part of the stack, but the number 2 guy smashed me into the wall before the thought was completely formed. Which is excellent, it's what I train him to do.

Weird, though. This invisibility thing has come up a couple of times. In training (see the post on Perfect Predator Moment), just goofing around- one friend I stalked and counted coup on four times in a half hour while he was looking directly at me; but it is hard to tell if it has ever happened in a real fight. No one, at least, has ever told me I was invisible, but they have said, "Where in the fuck did you come from?" Wouldn't it be cool to interview the bad guys after a dust up? Something beyond crimes and discipline but more like, "What was your initial plan and when did you realize it had gone to hell?"

Adrenaline can cause tunnel-vision, and that accounts for a lot of the cases (the difference between invisible and unnoticed is very small in practice) but we'd been drilling this all day and it wasn't a rookie.



Steve Perry said...

Old ninja stuff. I used to practice invisibility when I was doing private eye work. Kind of a state of mind, not exactly zen, but if you aren't moving and your head is right, people do look past you. Hard to explain. I used to visualize a crystal fountain flowing down over me that refracted the light.

Want to see really good camo? Go to YouTube and look up "cuttlefish ..." There's one vid with three or four scuba divers looking right at one when it disappears, and even know its there, its almost impossible to see.

Anonymous said...

Any good performer, ballerina, rock star, actor (on stage) knows how to get everyone to look at them. Without doing anything apparent. Once you look for it, it can be uncanny sometimes, "Why did I just look at him/her?"

Doing the opposite, whatever that is, will render you unnoticed. This is a good example.

Anonymous said...

That kind of reminds me of the psychology experiment where viewers are asked to keep track of how many times a basketball is passed. Apparently, a large number of people are so intent on counting, that they don't notice when a guy in a gorilla suit walks into the middle of the set, beats his chest, and walks off.


Wim Demeere said...

One time during training, I weaved underneath my partner's right hook (he was a southpaw) as I stepped to the 45. He stepped in deep as he punched and I stepped through as well, also pivoted. The end result was that I was in his back and had turned to face it as he recovered from the missed hook.
He froze for a second, turned around, looked at me weird and said: "Where the hell did you go?" Apparently, it looked to him as if I'd dissapeared.

Never managed that trick again. Also never managed anything similar on the street.

Anonymous said...

Must have been a while since you've been dating. Me, on the other hand, I've had that power over women for years.

Anonymous said...

Interesting thought on hiding within the water fountain.

Mightn't a more mundane explanation be tied to visualizations and expectations? Despite the drills and the experience, the brain is still mapping according to patterns.

I'm totally projecting here, but if I'm visualizing my entry, my checklist of tasks and responsibilities, then I can imagine that someone standing quietly by might get missed in the first rush. Isn't that why you don't go in alone?

It's a good mistake to make in training. I'd be willing to bet dinner that that particular person won't make that particular mistake again.


Steve Perry said...

Rory has brought that idea up a few times, and he's right: Expectation is a killer.

If you could wipe the slate clean and go in and just see what was there, probably you'd be a lot better off.
But we all carry our own baggage, and it sometimes can get in the way.

Anonymous said...

It's a great lesson and an interesting story. It reminds me of a festival event, when I was dressed as a mime (don't ask). I was taking a break in a balcony over the street, watching the crowd, and I noticed that only the little kids looked up. Only they were curious enough to see their surroundings. It reminds me to look up and look around more often.

Anonymous said...

On the more "out there" end of possible explanations:

I found this interesting personal essay about the "ripples" things give off (often talked about among wilderness skills people esp those associated with Tom Brown) and this guy's ability to affect them.

It had this interesting passage:

"I was helping my neighbor build some fence. We were in an open field. I was stalking him as he walked away from me across the field. As I got closer, I kept fine-tuning my ripples to blend in. Finally I touched him. He jumped and spun around at the same time. 'No one sneaks up on me, especially on a 4-wheeler.' I was riding his 350cc 4-wheeler at the time. That was a real test to control my ripples and the bike's."

Pretty interesting.

Patrick Parker said...

Like Wim above, I have experienced the "where the hell did he go?" type of disappearance. Its creepy and disorienting - frequently to both parties. coolpost. out there...

Rory said...

Wim- Welcome. That is a specific technique and I've used it a lot to get behind threats. When it is subtle, though, it might seem that something unnatural happened.
Good insights, everybody. Lyn pegged what is probably going on (people often focus on what is supposed to happen and miss what is happening) and Jay (is this a certain Dr. Jay?) gave a great insight for all learning- sometimes if you look at the opposite you see the roots of the same skill. Steve- same thing. It's almost like an attitude. It works on animals too, when you are stalking.