Wednesday, July 07, 2010

One Step

The One-Step is the primary drill in most of my training. there are more, of course, and like any drills it has its flaws. No one goes to the hospital, so something about it is not right.

A few posts back, things are getting a little heated up. That's fine. everyone is making points and I'm learning a lot. But the one step is coming into it and the two people are talking past each other and that is largely my fault.

Jonas has been exposed to the drill several times where we've talked about what it is and isn't, what it's for, the advantages and disadvantages. Steve has been exposed to it once with almost no explanation. It is a safe way to play with strangers. It is a lot more.

It feels unnatural to go slow and limit yourself to one action. It really does. But if you are doing two or three actions to my one, what do you think I am doing? If you parry and side step and counter to my simple punch, in what mythical world do you have time for that before I pile on a second or third or even fourth punch?

Steve was right. The seminars are not about martial arts. They are about violence.

In most of them, so far, someone has stated that his block and counter should be counted as one motion, since he has trained it to reflex and that is what he will do under stress. So I take someone to the middle of the room (usually not the person-- if they are too arrogant to listen, their ego is usually to fragile to handle the demonstration. I do want them to see it.)

I take the subject to the center of the room (and I am careful-- it is always one of the most skilled there. To do this safely I need someone with excellent breakfalls who will not panic.) I then take him out. A fast flurry of face strikes, a takedown and the flurry continues on the ground.

All freeze. No one, so far, has even moved or offered any resistance. A few tried after they were down and I had relented. A few said afterwards what they thought about doing. No one moved.

It has little to do with the teacher student dynamic. That's there, undeniably. But the freeze comes from the OODA loop disruption. The strikes coming at the face are not damage-- I never actually contact-- they are information. Too much information too fast. It is paralyzing and it is doubly paralyzing if damage accompanies the strikes.

For that moment, in a class, with someone not hurting him or her at all, the expert martial artist is completely helpless.

Then I give the speech. That this is not about fighting. This is not about martial arts. This is about violence. If you dream, for even a second, that you can block and strike or do more than one thing to answer a flurry, you are dreaming. You do not know the difference between an attack and a feed. The feeds you have trained on over the years are like fairy tales. there are some good lessons in them, and they are entertaining... but they are fairy tales.

If you have made your block and counter or your trapping work against a flurry, it wasn't a flurry. Flat out, it was a feed.

If you want to stop someone who is intent on injuring you and he started first, you have to move with maximum efficiency. You have to make each action serve all of your goals: protect yourself,damage the threat, better your position, worsen his. Each move. Every time.

If you separate the pieces, you will be even slower. From the moment of assault, you need to be integrated. No hands and feet moving together. No blocking separate from striking...and not because the actions don't work (all though they will be suicidally slow if separated) but because the thought process is too slow.

One of the very basic uses of the one-step is to instill this value: what is the absolute most efficient thing that I can do in this second under this circumstance? That drives everything else.


ush said...

Question on the going slow drill: Is there a danger that when you go slow that you're engaging different types of muscles, nerves or whatever than you would when going at full speed?

Observation: I once saw a teacher who demonstrated the same flaws you mentioned in defending flurries/feed's with regards to knife drill's but I've found that these drill's improve my reaction speed and hand/eye coordination. Very handy when you're prone to knocking cups off tables etc dunno about life or death scenario's

Irene said...

From my experience, having gone through the one-step drill several times, (and having been the dummy for Rory's demo), the main lessons I learn from it are: (a) separating 'offense' and 'defense' into two separate moves is a losing game because if I spend a move defending then he gets an extra attack, which I have to defend, etc. So my one move has to be as effective as possible. Not defensive.
(b) I can't count on moving twice to his once: if I spend two moves defending and attacking then he gets two attacks. Seems only fair, after all.
(c) I have to trust my position - whatever position I happen to be in- and use whatever I've got from there. I can't fix my stance, change my position, adjust my angles, etc. I have to look at where I'm at right now and use what I've got.

One other point that came up previously: "Why would I hit you with my hand if I have a rock or sharp stone -- or the modern equivalent, the gun or knife?" The answer is "Because that's what I trained." At one of the seminars, doing the one step, it was demonstrated that although there were plenty of 'rocks' handy (bricks, beer bottles, etc.) not one martial artist used them. They did NOT use the available weapons, they used their fragile empty hands... because that's what they had trained.

And we fight the way we train.

Steve Perry said...

Good points, as always.

You start a flurry and I freeze, you win. You start a flurry and I respond with the same, I'm still a beat behind.

You start a flurry and I respond and I'm faster and catch up, maybe we draw. (Except I'm not faster.)

You twitch funny and I start a flurry and we get there at the same time, then whoever has more skill and determination has the edge ...

Possibilites everywhere.

And I can certainly see how the slow-motion drill offers a better way to practice -- two guys doing berserker flurry-to-flurry are apt to cause injury if it ramps up. And going Crazy Eddie all over each other is going to offer a teachable moment to watchers, maybe, but will be tough on us ...

jks9199 said...

Much of my personal training of late has focused on that line between defense, offense, and what my teacher called defense-offense... and shifting from any of that to simply acting in response to a threat. (I use acting not reacting intentionally.) Still something I'm working on... Not sure where it's going to end up.

Slow training: I have only once encountered a situation where people going slow had trouble speeding up under pressure (other than freezing -- which is a different thing entirely). Going slow allows you to concentrate on what you're doing and maintain control; it's not perfect but done right, it's one of many good exercises.

Tools & Transitions: This is something else I've been working on, after seeing way to many cases where cops get stuck with what's in hand, or not in hand, rather than transition to something else. You've got to practice with it, work the transitions, and stay calm enough to do it. Not nearly as easy to do as to say...

Anonymous said...

Coming to the world of martial arts from years and years of high level fencing, my notions of timing, sequence, and reactions are very precisely metered. It's been my observation that most martial arts drills are functional, but only as long as certain very specific conditions are present. The practitioner usually doesn't consciously understand most of them, and will live or die according how well they unconsciously handle those conditions.

More specifically. Any attack done correctly, at an attacker chosen time, from within arms reach, should succeed. An arm action is a beat, the reflex part is half a beat, the response is a beat. So from your example, to your simple punch, the best case would be to start to twitch.

but that changes when any footwork is involved. If you have to step into distance, that bumps the action up to at least a beat and a half, depending on the specifics of movement and telegraphing. So, the defender is able to formulate a response in that half-beat, and make a parry. That extra half-beat that even a little bit of footwork creates is what makes makes combat sports like boxing and fencing such terrifically complicated endeavors. It's the whole foundation for complicated games and psychology and is a total mess and is most of the cause of people's feelings about the usefulness of sparring and dueling, whichever way they feel about it.

So in the mythical world, your simple punch requires a step, which gives me time to formulate a reaction and execute it. Which is what gives time for the parry and also the side-step, which is crucial because a correct movement throws another half-beat on your next move. It requires you to either think or reposition in order to do something effective, and that is how, in theory, you you to do a parry and side-step and counter.

First half-beat:
You: Preparation/moving into distance
Me: Completing OODA loop

Second half-beat:
You: Starting to deliver punch
Me: Starting to parry/side-step

Third half-beat:
You: Finishing punch
Me: Finishing parry

Fourth half-beat:
You: Thinking about moving, or starting a punch that will not land effectively
Me: Finishing side-step, beginning counter

Fifth half-beat:
You: Moving, or finishing ineffective punch
Me: Finishing counter

it's theoretically feasible. But it requires you to be ready to act and out of reach, and it's just half a beat that makes it possible. You only get it once, on entry, and if you miss it, well... in sparring you get to try again.

Which all goes to support what you're saying, but also suggests a question: Are you aware of doing something specific to get the initial entry freeze BEFORE the first strike hits?

jks9199 said...

Anonymous makes some great points about fencing, and they're very applicable to sparring and similar endeavors. But they all start with an assumption that you have time to prepare and know something is coming. Rory's Four Truths summarize the difference between violence and sparring: Assaults happen closer, faster, more suddenly, and with more power than most people believe. Real violence often comes without a preamble, or with a preamble that's only recognizable in hindsight.

I've deterred attacks or resistance before they happen while working. Why? Because I was alert and paying attention and moved while the guy was deciding whether he could get away with it. Sometimes, all that it takes is looking at them; other times, I've reached out and grabbed them as they began -- because I was acting rather than reacting. And -- I've missed the cues in other cases, and been surprised.

Steve Perry said...

I believe in Stonewall Jackson's Dictum for winning battles: Get there firstest with the mostest.

Or like Richard Dreyfuss said in Jaws when the shark was coming, "Don't wait for me!"

As Rory points out, and as many martial arts opine, a purely defensive mind set, i.e., one that is completely reactive instead of proactive, is going to be much harder to pull off, because of the timing. You start out behind, then catching up is tricky. You can do it if you are going beat for beat by splitting the response -- in musical terms, you play a triplet to the attacker's whole note; however, there's no rule that says the attacker has to play a whole note. If he's throwing triplets, he stays ahead.

This goes to Rory's feed versus flurry.

You see this a lot in knife defenses. The attacker steps in and offers a single thrust and allows his arm to hang out there while you do the counter. While it is possible somebody might actually do this, what is more likely is a combination thrust-cut-thrust-cut and slicing anything you can reach. Traps and passes against somebody moving a sharp at speed? Good luck with those.

Yeah, you can start with the single thrust or slash to learn, but you have to move along to what is more likely. Guy grabs you with his free hand and runs his blade like a sewing machine into your kidney? If you are good enough block every one, then you hope the knife isn't kryptonite ...

You can't stand there and bat away and not get diced, you have to get out the way or go in or somehow control the timing in your favor, and this isn't going to be a walk in the park. I maintain that against a guy what knows how to wave steel, you will get cut somewhere trying.

So better for me if a) I see you coming b) you twitch and I flurry first. The Musashi advice is always to think "cut." Not touch nor block, but cut ...

Irene said...

Although if you have enough time to see him coming and get your flurry going first, you may well have enough time to simply avoid the issue by being elsewhere.

Steve Perry said...

May well do, Irene. And the wiser choice.

It's if things are tight enough so I maybe don't have time to safely boogie, but maybe enough to do something -- that defines an area of study that seems useful to me.

The what-ifs are legion. You can't cover them all, but you might be able to cover some of them.

Baby bear's porridge.

Anonymous said...

I remember reading about your standard first move to an attack from behind and another to an attack from the front in Meditations on Violence. Do you have any comments on Tony Blauer's SPEAR as a default first move.

Rory said...

Take this with a caveat, cause I've only e-mailed Tony and played with a few of his PDR guys, but in my opinion his concepts and training methods are cutting edge. My entries are different primarily because a) they were the things I was flinching to before I heard about Tony and b) I'm an infighter and what I do puts me in the position that I like...and that's why I encourage my students to create their own. It has to integrate with the rest of who they are.

Ian said...

I was lucky enough to go to one of Rory's seminars and I was the one he demonstrated the takedown on...I had no idea what he was doing and I was on the ground before I knew what happened. I have no clue what he did to take me down or how he did it, all I know is that I hit the deck faster than I could consciously react. I didn't realize what had happened until days after the seminar and I still wonder how it happened so fast. It made me realize that traditional training just won't cut it when you are assaulted. The one step is crucial to cutting out all the wasteful movement.