Sunday, December 27, 2009


Had a long talk with Kris Wilder the other day. It made me introspective, as talks with Kris are wont to do. He comes off as the classic bluff and hearty good ol’ boy… sometimes it takes a few minutes to realize that he was talking about some very deep stuff.

He’s also incredibly analytical, which you will see in a lot of his writing, and he lives truer to his beliefs than most are willing. All good stuff.

But enough about him. This post is all about me and, in a way, all about the blog and my writing and how I see teaching-

He gave a good analysis of what happens on most martial arts blogs- uplifting stories, analysis, descriptions of classes or techniques. Which grows readership? What speaks to who?

Chiron isn’t about growing readership and I’m not writing for you. We all know that. What readership there is appears to be from word of mouth and google searches- but there is readership and it is growing. Despite the fact that there are very few technique posts, not much uplifting, and even if I do skewer sacred cows I don’t do it with the entertaining glee of the dedicated iconoclasts.

(I also use big words, sometimes, which is a no-no on many martial arts sites.)

It’s a matter of how versus what, I think. Because the writing is for me, it isn’t about what I think. I already know that. It’s about how I think. The deeper it gets, the more it is exploring a process. There are a lot of epiphanies here, and questions and doubt and mysteries. Those are what I think about, those are the things that writing helps to explore, the way others talk to themselves.

I think, maybe, the difference with Chiron is that you can go to thousands of martial arts sites and read what ‘masters’ and experts think… here you can read how a working professional thinks.

The blog, writing, and teaching as well. It’s not about what you know but how you learn, less about what you do than how you decide what to do. Not about what the student thinks, but how the student thinks. My interest isn’t in the end product (except as a measure of effect) so much as in streamlining the process.

The language gets weird, here. A fighter is not something you are, but something you be. Grr- there’s no really active verb for existence. You can be a painter or be a painter. You can be a painter with efficiency and intensity, or you can be a painter lackadaisically, wastefully. The painting part doesn’t interest me as much as the being part.

Thanks, Kris.


Kris also asked me to do a guest blog on his "Striking Post" should be coming up soon. It's an idea I've been working on for a while...


Ann T. said...

Dear Rory,
The truth is, all of us are blogging because We need to. We need the wider world and hope to capture a like-minded audience, people who will help us refine our thoughts.

But mostly the act of writing is itself a refinement of our thoughts. Writing gets the already-formulated out of the queue so we can go on to the next step.

By posting, we make our process real. The posts are footprints on a track pointing where we are going.

When I read a partisan blog, the blog of a dedicated iconoclast, I see no evidence of movement. That is not inspiring to me.

So, happy to cross your trail from time to time. Don't study martial arts. Find it damned interesting.

Ann T.

jks9199 said...

I come at the working professional in violence from a different angle (street cop/gang detective for a suburban jurisdiction that's at least upper middle class financially). In your book, you managed to put words to some things I'd seen, some things I'd seen the shadows of (if you'll excuse an allusion to Plato), but not been able to identify.

And you make me think about some of these things. I'm still trying to get some ideas that you prompted a few months ago to come together... When I think I've got it -- I'll share.

(And I'm extremely complimented if anything I've said has helped you. 'Cause you've certainly helped me!)

Daniel said...

About the "How to think" part, I found particularly enlightening the book "The Art of Learning" from Josh Waitzkin. He concentrates on the sports side of things, but provides insight on how elite athletes/martial artists thought process works and relates that to his own experience as a an elite chess player. I know it may not make much sense, but having played competitive chess and practiced martial arts, a lot of that resonated and the learning process is (surprisingly) similar.

Fred Ross said...

This is the kind of thing I worried about a lot when I made the transition from theoretical physics to biology. I've never written any of it down in public, and most of it I've never written down. I think it would be useful, but a lot of it would make a lot of enemies that I can't afford right now.

And yet, the idea of writing in public as a way of forcing clarity by commitment is enticing. Is there a middle ground?

Unknown said...

Like training rookies. It's a hell of a lot easier to do it than to explain HOW you do it.

Ann T. said...

Dear Fred Ross,
You can have an invitation-only blog, or a private blog with either Blogger or Wordpress. You send out invitations. Both places are free and neither is difficult to use.

Blogger is easier to use but has less features. Wordpress for instance has a symbols keyboard which is good for math, etc. (on the other hand, you pay for video upload feature--not very much). It will let you make private posts even on a public blog. You can look at your posts a long time (with all of the format showing) before you make them public. Or, never.

Anyway, I encourage you to try it. You put what I meant very well--forcing clarity. I like that a lot.

Ann T.

Unknown said...

The book "Why Don's Students Like School?" by Daniel Willingham has a chapter (6) titled 'What's the Secret to Getting Students to Think like Real Scientists, Mathematicians, and Historians?' I think that this chapter might be applicable here. The point of the chapter is that "Cognition early in training is fundamentally different from cognitions late in training."