Friday, August 14, 2009

Adult Content

One of the best things about the recent contract was the opportunity to meet people who had been exposed to many things that I have not.  When an experienced operator talks about firefights or senior members about getting blown up (colloquial for getting hit by an IED) or getting caught in a middle-eastern riot, I listen. 

There are things I have trained for and read about that aren’t quite right.  They seem fine until someone who has tried it under fire points out the fatal flaw.  There are issues of context- (e.g. the rule for standard convoy ops/witness protection/high-risk transports is to abandon a disabled vehicle because they are bullet magnets.  That’s different when your vehicle is armored.  That changes a lot of protocols).  There are also issues of level and intensity.

Sometimes very high-end skills are qualitatively different than regular high-end skills.  It takes a paradigm shift to make that leap to the next level.   A sniper doesn’t touch the rifle the way a hunter does.

And intensity.  You can go ostrich and hide your head in the sand, but until and unless you can walk a 4x4 suspended between 17-story buildings as easily as you can do it at ground level, everything you have trained will be hardier, scarier, slipperier and less effective when it is real.

That’s easy to deny, too, because there is a lot of bullshit out there.  Things that are told and passed on from student to instructor that don’t make a lick of sense if you think about it for even a second- like a 90% one-shot stop ratio for a handgun.  For the statistic to even be possible 90% of shootings would have to be one-hit affairs, which we know isn’t true.  But someone you trust told you and you had your ‘sensei is always right’ hat on and went into child mode.

That’s where I’m going with this.  If your training is a religion or a talisman for you, you’re wasting your time here. If your panties get in a twist because I’m attacking a portion of your identity, you probably won’t be happy reading this stuff.  Because I don’t care about your twisty panties.  These are just observations from the field and connections that I’ve made.  Take them, use them, skip them… whatever. Because you aren’t wasting my time. I’m writing this for me, this (whatever 'this' is on a given post) is what I am working on or working through right now.  Chiron is where I do my thinking out loud.

There are lies to children.  It came up in comments a while ago.  If you need a bedtime story to make yourself sleep better, that’s not what I’m providing here.  If you want clean, easy answers, I’m sure there is a ‘master’ somewhere willing to sell you some.  I respect you as adults- to be able to deal with messy stuff with no right answers and high stakes; unsatisfying endings that would never play on a made-for-TV movie; ambivalence; the uncertainty of complexity.

There are other voices writing and talking about this stuff- almost for sure someone is closer to what you want to hear. 


Kai Jones said...

Living with uncertainty/ambiguity is a mature skill. Refusing to act because you're waiting for certainty is anti-survival.

Scott said...

Well, hallelujah!
I did buy a dozen extra copies of your Talisman "Meditations on Violence" to give out to my students.
The word for Talisman in Chinese is "Fu" which literally means a contract, usually with the unseen world. In other words, through your writing you are making commitments to the future, and to us (your unseen constituents). You are in fact making a talisman out of your blog too.
I admit that being a contrarian is a religious experience for me.
Your example of walking across the 4x4 17 stories up hit a nerve. When I used to lead (build & train) Adventure Ropes Courses, we had a saying: Maximum Perceived Risk, Minimum Actual Risk.
Most of my violence experience is in the context of mentoring teenagers who (particularly in wilderness situation) sometimes become enraged, and often have emotional and impulse control problems. Maybe I don't need martial arts training for that kind of work at all, but it sure has been useful.