Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Survival and Survival

After three+ days of private lessons and brawling with the Rochester Crew (Official Motto: "It's your move.") Spent another four days in Sonyea State Forest on a survival course led by Toby Cowern of Tread Lightly (who I will link if he ever gets his own damn website.)

Struck, maybe slammed by the similarities in what we teach and how we teach it. I shouldn't be, I've known since I butchered my first deer that survival was survival. Toby teaches the mindset and skills for one set of problems, I teach for a slightly different set. But the mindsets are very similar. As they should be. The only big difference is the immediacy of time in my world, but both scenarios hang on a common thread: If you don't do something, you will die. (And if you do the wrong thing, you will die quicker.)

So Toby teaches that the first thing you must do is acknowledge the situation for what it is. You ARE lost. This IS a survival situation... and Peyton Quinn teaches that the first rule of surviving an assault is: Do not deny it is happening.

Because this is where we see people die. Peyton with victims freezing in denial, Toby with people who had the equipment and didn't want to break the seal on their emergency kit.

Toby teaches that if your primary problem is in the future, it may be a motivator but it is not a survival issue. I remind students that survival fighting is on the lowest level of Maslow's hierarchy, and most in our society have no experience with the two lowest levels at all.

Toby teaches Stop and Think as his first two steps to recovery. I borrow from Gordon Graham and apply it to violence and tactical operations: If there is no immediate threat, you have discretionary time. Use it. Think. Plan. (And this is the biggest difference in mindsets- in a wilderness survival situation, discretionary time is common. In an assault it is a precious gift.)

Toby says, "As mammals, we're crap. We shouldn't be at the top of the food chain, except for our brains." He then adds that your brain will be your biggest help or it will hurt you a lot. Sound familiar?

The essence of survival when you are lost is to attract attention. One of the best tactics in survival fighting is to attract witnesses...

So who said these, do you think? The wilderness survival instructor or the guy who deals with thug stuff?

"Deal with the immediate threat first."

"Make your plan and then act on it. Do not change the plan unless you get new and relevant information."

"Will is more important than skill is more important than equipment."

"Do things as efficiently as possible with the minimum movement."

"Be prepared to do whatever it takes."

Survival is survival. To an extent.


Toby said...

Thanks for the mention Rory :)

The parallel principles of our professions indeed are multidudinous, I can't help but think even more examples will come to mind in the future!

Once again MANY THANKS for coming to NY to play, it truly was a privilege to learn. Can't wait to link up again...Hopefully sooner rather than later :)

jks9199 said...

I'd say that both of you said all of the comments at the end!

I'm reasonably capable at survival; I don't have the experience of lots of folks out there, but I'm confident that if I found myself stuck in the woods anywhere on the East Coast, I'd be fine. Move to the deserts or West Coast, and it's a little shakier, 'cause there are specifics to that environment that I don't know. One of these days, time and money will come together for me to do some survival courses.

I'm reasonably knowledgeable about "thug stuff" after 10+ years as a cop, and around 25+ years in martial arts training, in a style that doesn't happen to have an overwhelming fondness for pretty, manicured dojo environments.

I'm also a decent jack-of-all trades handyman.

And lots of the same principles apply across all of them. You're only as good as your tools -- but if your tools are all you've got, and you NEED to fix something, make 'em work. If it's broke, don't try to ignore it -- fix it. Or move onto a way to do the job with something that isn't broke. Figure out what step one is... and take care of it before trying to do step 23. Look for the simple solutions and problems before doing the complicated ones. (Once spent 3 days trying to fix a perfectly functional device... that was plugged into a bad outlet.) Be realistic about your capabilities. And lots more...

Glad you all had a great time. I'm envious...

David Kafri said...

"... this is where we see people die. Peyton with victims freezing in denial, Toby with people who had the equipment and didn't want to break the seal on their emergency kit."

Reminds me of Musashi advising against getting killed with the short sword still sheethed, and traffic accident investigators showing how people use their breaks too late to prevent the crash.

Thanks for pointing out the most important moment of change.


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