Friday, March 06, 2009

The Sixth Circle

Here it is. The fight.

I kind of want to end this post right here. It would be poetic, but incomplete. It's good to read into stuff, to stretch your brain. If this wasn't a subject that stirred so much fantasy I'd feel more comfortable with that.

The fight.  If you have trained well in martial arts now, in this circle, it can come into play. With a couple of caveats. Okay, a lot of caveats.  

First of all, you have to survive the Fourth and Fifth Circles.  If you got gutted and never even saw it coming, all the fighting skill in the world comes into the equation too late. If you stand there frozen telling yourself in your head what you should be doing as the fists and feet come in your skill won't play.  To increase your chances at the Fourth Circle you have to have the second down cold. It all connects.

More addendums and caveats- you won't be at your peak, probably. Assuming you have the lithe carriage of a martial athlete on a good day, almost no one will be stupid enough to hit you on a good day.  That means you will likely be exhausted or injured or sick (or drunk) when you most need your skills.  At minimum, if you do the sensible thing and warm up and stretch before practice... well, you probably won't be warmed up and stretched.  And, of course, when and if you recover from the freeze you will have all those annoying physical, mental and sensory deficits that come with a huge surge of adrenaline and other stress hormones.  So you won't be fighting with the same body that you have trained.

Especially if you missed on Stage Two, the attack may not be like the fights you have trained for. That's just on the physical skill versus skill level. If you've trained exclusively against long range linear punches and kicks the pitcher of beer upside your head or the liverpool kiss may come from nowhere.

The Sixth Circle is also where a lack at Stage One will destroy you.  If you've been trained (and are lucky enough) to disarm the threat and use his own knife on him, you may pass self-defense and step into manslaughter.  If you have been coached again and again to deliver a "finishing blow" after you put your opponent on the ground, you have been training to commit assault (possibly felony assault depending on how you "finish").  Or the inverse- if you have practiced throwing a single perfect technique and waiting for the ref to call it- you will have a tendency to do it here.

There are rules in a fight.  Not only have you internalized some form of moral code since you were a baby, you have seen an etiquette and flow to conflict your entire life and you have internalized a script of how violence works with your martial arts.  So has the bad guy. Even sociopaths have subconscious rules, scripts. Habits.  It won't be a matter of "there are no rules in a street fight" or even that you are hampered by the rules of civilization and the threat isn't. It is an interplay of your (usually subconscious) rules and the threat's.  Your expectations and the attacker's script.  Sometimes of your trained blind spots and the threat's actions.

The environment can be a huge difference. It's unlikely to happen on a mat or in a ring with a good floor and no obstructions and limited yet clear space. That's not a bad thing, if you've trained for it.  The world is made up of weapons and opportunities. The difference between a hazard and a tool often lies in who uses it first.

Other than these little items, and probably a dozen more I am too tired pull up to my conscious brain right now, the fight is pretty much what you have trained for. Hopefully.


tyr said...

You have to keep ethical and legal separate. People will have their own personal "Use of Force" policy which will be different from the law and probably different from most other people. I have seen huge divides between what is required and legally allowed and what people are willing to do. It often gets them hurt or killed. I know the last thing you would want to do is add another "circle."
People either look for excuses to not use force against people who deserve it, or people look for reasons to use force against those who "deserve" it. There is obviously some gray areas in between, but it is an easy dividing line for the masses. The law is simply a tool/framework for your own personal policy. How you use it is entirely up to you. Also, just finished your book. It was refreshing and nearly perfect.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that in really bad situations the people who have something that they can relyably do seem to fare both during and after the incident. That may be the reason that the old pocket full of pepper trick has worked in some situations, or the asian martial artists with their shurikens. Not that a small piece of pointy metal or a face full of
pepper is going to slow down even a
weak opponent but it gets your hands moving. If action is faster than reaction then reaction is probably faster than switching from victimhood to participant. If you are not completeyl surprised then perhaps a precanned shtick would help with fear responses.

On a side note salesmen have precanned spiels to overcome their fears but only as an "opener'.

Anonymous said...

On an unrelated note do you train for lethal responses and hope to tone them down when some drunk swings at you. Or do you train for "reasonable" responses and hope to ramp up in a life and death?

Stephen Grey said...

Something that you could think about as you continue to refine these ideas is how your OWN preconceptions and experiences as a prison guard, cell extraction specialist or whatever, as well as the ROE you've been required to work under, have colored your perceptions of what a fight is or should be.

I get the impression you've worked that type of occupation for many years, maybe even as many as 20. That's long enough to really ingrain some ideas and attitudes.

A good kind of fighting happens when the adversary doesn't know that it's a fight until it's too late. Possibly better is when you "win" but the adversary doesn't know even later that a fight has taken place.

I don't know much about ninpo/bujinkan. I kind of pigeonhole it as being overly traditionalized and ritualized. But one thing I really do like about it is the obsessional preoccupation they have with escape and avoidance, and the effort they go to to find principles of avoidance at all levels of conflict. I think they are conscious of metaconflict more than most other arts are...

For instance, I suspect that MMA and suchlike tend to inculcate a mental attitude of what a fight is and should be, and within that context they're great, but there's a whole lot outside of that particular mental box.

A lot of martial artists and fighters tend to become preoccupied with hitting hard or fast, but I think they tend to forget that you can't hit what you can't reach, you can't hit what isn't there, and you can't hit anything when you don't know that there's a fight happening at all.

For what it's worth, the US military's method of fighting has moved farther and farther into metaconflict far beyond simple armored warfare: information warfare, sensors, standoff munitions. One result of this is the new consciousness of asymmetric vulnerabilities.

If what you're doing is writing a modern version of "Five Rings" or similar, you might consider talking about these sorts of things.

Anonymous said...

"If what you're doing is writing a modern version of "Five Rings" or similar, you might consider talking about these sorts of things."

It's a blog, and he's not writing about warfare, he's talking about what he knows about.

You might consider writing about what you think he might consider writing about.

Stephen Grey said...

"You might consider writing about what you think he might consider writing about."

There's also the fact that, IIRC, he's writing a book on the subject.

I do applaud your efforts to protect Chiron from cruel arrows of criticism. God knows, they must pierce him like poor Saint Sebastian.

Rory said...

Tyr- You read levels 1&2, right? Where I did approach the legal and internal/ethical separately? You have to know and train with respect for both, however. One can limit what you do, the other can set society's price for what you do. Being ignorant of either has a very steep price.

Ratman- (re your second note) I've done both in my own training, sometimes without being aware of it. I don't really think about it that way now and it would take a while to put into words.

Worg- Hmmm. This sounds like a long talk over a beer. Of the phases so far, I don't think anyone can pretend that they don't apply to all uses of force. The biggest difference between my ROE's and a civilians is that I know what they are. That probably even outweighs the Duty to Act. But a civilian still falls under the law. A civilian still has to be able to see it coming. In uniform, I have different options than a civilian to defuse and de-escalate. But a civilian may have more options, not less. If they don't see it coming, they still have a chance at the OC response and will need to break the freeze- and break the freeze with less practice...

Some of the rest was covered explicitly in the book. Especially the interpersonal assymetric stuff.

Anonymous- No need to defend me. Thanks for the gesture.

Stephen Grey said...

I think you could probably mine the new 4GW literature to no end.

A good example of how that's already happened is how useful the decision loop concept has been to people who are aware of it. Much of the "freeze" issue is loosely related to decision loop processing.

I think that toe-to-toe fighting is pretty much "solved," or at least solved to an optimum higher than most people can ever get to with study. There aren't likely to be any new secrets to standing grappling that jujitsu isn't already aware of. It's the sort of spaces that you're writing about that are still unsolved, and there seem to be quite a bit of interesting things going on there.

Haven't read your book. I will probably order it from Amazon in my next giant book-purchasing binge when the new Van Creveld book comes out.