Monday, September 27, 2010

The Three Golden Rules

Mac came up with the Three Golden Rules long before I was hired. By then, they were teaching them at the state academy. I found out, recently, that these are new thoughts for cops in other regions.

1) You and your partner go home safely at the end of each and every shift.
2) Get the job done.
3) Liability free.

The rules are dreams, of course. The only perfectly safe way to do the job is to avoid doing it...and some officers are skilled at that, whether it is answering the call for back-up a little late or finding a quiet place to 'patrol' or getting a desk job and moving into admin. There is no way to completely avoid liability, but the triple play of making good decisions, executing the decisions properly and writing good reports works wonders...

Still, if your training, your tactics, your policies and your equipment must serve these three rules. If you're training will get you killed or sued it is BAD training. If it won't get the job done, it is BAD training.

Sometimes the order gets perverted, and this is an abomination: when fear of lawsuits stops you from doing the job or you get injured because you were more afraid of the liability bogey-man than the rusty shank... that is so very wrong.

And when the perversion gets written into policy, when an agency or administration becomes more worried about 'managing perception' than getting the basic job done, at that moment they have changed from a useful and necessary thing to a leech. It takes only that one decision to change from part of the solution to part of the problem.

Does it seem wrong and maybe insufficiently heroic to put officer safety in front of effect? It's just math. This is one that people can write into policy until the sky falls down and never effect anything... because it is physically impossible to do the job from the grave. It's not just a cop thing. Same for medics and firemen and the people trucking in food after a major natural disaster. You can't do the job dead. Worse, every cowboy who recklessly gets himself in trouble draws resources away from the original problem.

There's a line there, a balance. And, like most people, I think my line is perfect. Those who value safety more I privately think are a little cowardly. Those who value safety less I think are reckless. I never met a lot of the later.

Enabling, Responsibility, Hunger and Insecurity

A couple of good comments on the last post that got me thinking- about complexity and reward and punishment and insecurity and hunger. This might seem like a tangent rather than a response. Let's see.

I'm reading "Life at the Bottom" and so far, it is brilliant. Brutal, dark...but important. I then went on Amazon and read the reviews of the people who hated it. That's always educational. The voices were pretty much universal: The author is blaming the victims.

Not at all, at least not as I read it.

People are lazy. So are all animals, especially predators. When life is marginal, you expend as little energy as possible. When you have excess, it isn't spent training or saving for a rainy day...predators toy with victims that squeal. It is entertaining. Excess energy is spent on entertainment. Watch animals.

The dream, for years, presented in many of the psychology and sociology classes that I took, was that if no was in want, if everyone had shelter and food and warmth, that they would then start creating art and bettering themselves. That's not the way it works in nature. That dream has crashed every time it has been tried, but some people still believe. It seems many of our institutions are set up with that belief. Look at nature.

There are few things in psychology that are rigorous enough to be called 'laws' but one of them is that behaviors that are rewarded increase; behaviors that are punished decrease.

So if you reward violent behavior and addiction by moving people up on the list for subsidized housing, you get more violence and addiction. If you move people down on the list for holding a job, you get less of that. (The idea behind it is to fill the greater need...which is a human ideal and noble and all that, but people are at least as smart as monkeys and even flatworms can be taught to run a maze with simple conditioning.) Noble ideas sometimes fail because nature trumps.

If you give people money for neither holding a job nor going to school you get more of that behavior...especially if you remove benefits from people who start taking classes.

People are not stupid, and if the rewards and punishments are blatant or extreme enough, even the most socially conditioned, hard-working good guy will come to feel like a schmuck for working hard when the reward is the same if he didn't work at all.

So, socially and talking about "Life at the Bottom," we have to be careful when our programs designed to solve problems become enabling. We also need to be aware that bad people can abuse any system, and will do so more when their bad behavior is excused and has no consequences. Personally, we have to realize that, again, the only person who can be genuinely interested in change for the better is the one who must change. Maybe it sounds like blaming the victim, but it goes back to the responsibility of necessity. No one can change your life for you.

Here's the bridge:
We are biologically designed to be lazy, and most of us are very comfortable. I've noticed that many of the most extraordinary people I know had very marginal childhoods. Whether hunger or violence or ostracism, all had time, moments to years, of tangible fear that they fought by gaining strength or skill or insight. These "children of adversity" or "compulsive competents" eventually attain or exceed the comfort and security of those around them... but they never quite feel secure. Part of them is always afraid of being hungry again...and so they use the intelligence and drive to get better and better and better.

And when we see the people around us put the same drive into the most passive entertainment they can find (drugs or TV or...) we think they are stupid. They aren't. They are just comfortable and lazy.

Which brings us to the Dunning-Kruger effect mentioned by Charles James in the comments on the last post. The basic idea is that smart people tend to underestimate their own intelligence and stupid people tend to over-estimate. In other words, stupid people think they're smart. Smart people think they are stupid.

I think the mechanism is simple. Laziness and comfort. Animals work to get out of bad situations. They don't work, generally, to improve good ones. If you are insecure (and it's not just an attention-seeking ploy of a codependent personality) you will do something about it. If you are afraid of the dark, you might get a flashlight.

When people get over the fear, they get comfortable. Laziness kicks in. People who are worried about being smart enough study. People who have decided they are already smart enough start entertaining themselves and lose touch with the world. People who are insecure in their fighting skills train hard and seek new teachers. People who are comfortable come up with reasons why this is unnecessary.

Even in relationships. Our relationship has been going for 24 years (in 13 days) because I know I am not worthy of K and have spent my life trying to be. If I ever decided I was good enough, it is a small step to taking things for granted...

I think you will find Dunning-Kruger everywhere, and I think the mechanism boils down to "People with a perceived need to increase competence will continuously improve. People with a perceived sufficiency of competence will cease to improve."
That was long and rambling. Anyone want to try to boil it down to one paragraph?

Saturday, September 25, 2010


No one cares about your safety but you. That’s not really true. Your family and friends care. Sometimes I (or people like me) are paid to care… but when it comes down to survival it’s only you.

People confuse concepts like "responsibility" and "blame." Further, they confuse victims and potential victims, and they blur these distinctions inside fuzzy head that sometimes can't tell the difference between the world that is and the world that should be.

In the world that should be, maybe you have the right (another word that many more use than understand) to go where you want and do what you want. Some feel self-righteous and add, "so long as I don't hurt anyone else."

Water is wet. Bears eat meat. To insist on a right to jump into the ocean and stay dry or to invade the space of a hungry bear and not be eaten is infantile. And to insist on some imaginary right to indulge in high risk behaviors and to somehow, magically, be exempt from consequences is equally infantile. Your safety is your responsibility...

And that is where, sometimes, the first cries go up: "That is blaming the victim!"

No, it isn't. And the inability to distinguish between responsibility and blame is crippling here. In the world that is there are things that suck. Economies go bad. People are poor. Sharks eat surfers. Conmen swindle the elderly. Rapists attack the vulnerable.

You could, theoretically, change the world. Make it more fair and equitable and just and vegetarian... but all of that has consequences as well. People taken care of may cease to take care of themselves. Eating lower on the foodchain increases the carrying capacity, and organisms have a tendency to breed to their carrying capacities.

And some parts of the world don't want to change. If you are very lucky (or unlucky) someday, a rapist may try very earnestly to explain that mere sex isn't even in the ballpark of what he experiences in a rape. Tigers don't want to (and couldn't survive) going vegan.

The surfer's safety is his own responsibility-- because the shark doesn't care. To expect the shark to care harkens back to winnie-the-pooh, a safe bear. The college girl getting drunk in a crowd of strange men has to take responsibility. In a pool of possible predators, she is the one who cares...and even hoping or expecting a genuinely good guy to intervene is, at minimum, giving up her autonomy, becoming a helpless passenger in her own life. Those are the people who all too often become victims.

Your safety is your responsibility because no one, especially the predators, can be expected to care..and if you don't care enough why should anyone else?

Friday, September 24, 2010

Kris Got Me Thinkin'

Oakland was encouraging. Things I am trying to do got put into words better than I could. Then Kris called the other day. We spent a lot of time talking about how comfortable laziness can mimic blatant stupidity; that being a good observer was one of the most useful skills in any arena.

Kris, as he is wont to do, told me what I should be doing next.

He suggested a four-day curriculum. Maybe more, give or take. It resonated.

Ballparking here, just speculating:

Introduction day- same as my regular basic seminar.
The basic seminar is an intro. In eight hours we cover safety; the basic drills; fighting to the goal; elements (Legal/ethical, Violence Dynamics, Avoidance and de-escalation, Counter-ambush, Breaking the freeze, and Aftermath) of self defense-- with extra lectures on both self-defense law and violence dynamics; Usually power generation and blindfolded infighting.

Second day
Like we've done at Oakland and Seattle and will do in Boston in a week:
Groups; ground movement and ground brawling; environmental fighting; dynamic fighting; sometimes close range weapons defense; then scenarios with peer juries where the students have to explain choices legally and tactically.

Those are as far as I've gone. The rest?

Conflict Communications could easily be a whole day. The real bones of where conflict comes from and how to manipulate the social piece.

I'd love to include the DreamTeam: three days of lessons on observation and violence taught by people who lived the need.

I'd have to break down how many hours would go into what I call the building blocks: Power generation; targets; strike conformation; inside strikes; grappling movement; grappling from the ground; locks; takedowns; neck attacks (bone, air, blood); entries; leverage points; core fighting; core defense; spine manipulation; pain; MPDS and effects and actions paradigms... how many more, really? Are there any of these I can cut down? Each takes less than an hour.

A class on teaching methodology. How to use the tools, what the tools are for. Finding glitches. Pushing over the edge (ethics and dangers). Proper scenario design and debriefing. Teaching students to teach themselves. Teaching students versus teaching material... others?

The big list of Principles, the things that make all other things work.

Possibly a companion talk on Concepts or even mindgames, ways to think and how to discuss mental processes that are outside of the common frame(s) of reference.

There's enough there to keep me busy for awhile, ya think?

Wednesday, September 22, 2010


Part of this is about engaging the correct part of the brain...and paying respect to the parts that will be engaged despite your desires.

One of the biggest lies in self-defense training is "You will fight the way you train." No, you won't. Not the first time. You will try and there might be some resemblance but likely (assuming you don't just stand there, frozen) you will have a pretty severe dump of hormones. Adrenaline and stuff like that.

That means you will lose most of your peripheral vision, seeing a small patch in front of you with useless clarity and completely unaware of people (or fists or boots or blades) approaching you from the sides or below.

You will likely lose part of your hearing. The idea of not being deafened and shocked by gunfire in an enclosed room sounds pretty cool. Not being able to hear your partner say, "Behind you!" or the first responding officer yelling, "Drop the weapon!" is much less cool.

The blood pools to your internal organs, one reason among many that you will lose sensitivity as well as coordination.

Thoughts may be crystal-clear and completely irrelevant. Illogical, obsessed with irrelevant details and almost always stubbornly stupid.

So you fight the way you trained except with a body that is suddenly partially blind, partially deaf, insensitive, clumsy and stupid. Other than that... yeah. You fight the way you train.

Provided, of course, that you trained for fights as they happen, but that's another post for another day.

The most powerful ego strokes after the Oakland event came from private e-mails, talking about some changes in the writer's regular training. Finding and exploiting weaknesses without thinking about it. Getting to better positions subconsciously because it felt right. Flowing not just between different levels of technique but different levels of intensity and connection.

We know that the hypercritical inner voice is suicide in a fight. How much of your personal training caters to that voice?
We know that our programmed social responses are only appropriate for certain levels of conflict...and in almost every instance those levels can be avoided. How often do we practice jettisoning that conditioning? Do we specifically train in when it is appropriate to do so?
We know that submission, like fighting, is a habit. How can we choose to believe that surrendering our own insights and autonomy to someone whose only real qualification is a darker strip of cloth will not condition us to submit to a threat with a gun?
We know all this...

How does a cat play with a mouse? How does a leopard kill for food? How do we slaughter and hunt and why is that so different from fighting? Why do so many have to work themselves up to lay hands on another person (and when you run in to someone who doesn't need to work himself up, you become a toy, because you get caught in social conditioning that he has jettisoned.)

What are the mindsets that work? How can we access them, get comfortable there?
Just a taste made some profound changes in some people. Qualitatively leaps in people who already had serious skills.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Deep Water

I got the T-shirt from Robb Buckland of FEARS ltd. And I've been listening to The Blessing's "Prince of Deep Water".

There's no bottom to deep water. Nothing you can stand on. Nothing you can touch. It is emptiness, except for things that might eat you, things that live in the deep water. Things you can't see from the surface. You are small, and deep water is the Abyss. The thing that Nietzche was afraid to look into.

The depths are transformative. Whatever you were on land or in the shallow water, you had something solid to touch. That lack of something to touch defines deep. At the very least, you must be in over your head. It is transformative, it must be, both because you need to learn to live, see, think and breath without your reliable constants...and because it is a world in which your reliable constants have never even existed. That which feels eternal, never existed at all. Not here. Not in the deep water.

No matter how closely you watch the shallows, no matter how many years you spend wading at the shore, no amount of concentration will turn shallow water to deep. Depth is a thing that is there. You must go to it. You can not create the abyss in a safe place. If you have touched the abyss and not been changed, it wasn't the abyss.

There's lots of deep water out there. Mine. Yours, maybe.
Joe Lewis'.

The T-shirt from Robb is one of Joe's favorite sayings: "Follow Me To The Deep Water."

It's over here, but you have to let go of the bank.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quote from Mariusz...

Last night Mariusz said:
"...he said it was difficult. It might take twenty-five years and then your martial art would suddenly achieve a new level. I can't help but think that if something takes twenty-five years you are probably getting it despite the training, not because of the training."

Friday, September 10, 2010

Excessive Construction, Maybe

Sometimes (maybe this happens to other people) when I'm trying to simplify teaching methods I hear, "Maybe that applies to someone with your experience, but a beginner would never get it." Or, even, "Some of you guys who have been doing this so long forgot that you had to learn it."

There's good and bad in that, truth and fiction. Some of it is accurate, but much of it is defensive.

So, the truth- I'm shitty at teaching breakfalls. I've been doing them so long that I really don't remember how the early classes were set up. I'm good (clearly a bragging story: once in Dynamited Cave I fell off a simple climb. It was at most twelve feet total and easy so we weren't roped in. When I fell I was only maybe five feet above the floor... but it was the usual lava tube floor of broken up rock and aa lava. Sharp and hard. I landed in a perfect right side break fall, except that my body was bent and wrapped around all the significant sharp boulders. Some scratches, nothing else...but I was able to adapt a ukemi on a hard, irregular, sharp surface with the glance from a flashlight as it fell.)

Bragging, but the point is that I can tell you how to do it, maybe even make up some drills... but the only way to learn to do it that fast is to do it a lot in ugly conditions... but I don't clearly remember how I learned the very basics of ukemi. Sort of, but in my memory it seems like just a few minutes of training.

My son is getting heavily into gaming. He takes his world-building very seriously. He is trying to figure out the imaginary physical laws of an imaginary place. What the politics are, what the gods do... so little of that matters.

Do we live in an aristotelian, newtonian or einsteinian universe? Do you realize how little that knowledge, or the perspective, affects people's lives? Newtonian mechanics got us to the moon, but the average guy watching his TV and driving his car didn't know or care from Newton. If string theory proves to be true or if it doesn't will directly affect the lives of a handful of physicists. The rest of our species has lived for hundreds of thousands of years without even asking the questions.

My son thinks that worldbuilding involves having all the answers. He doesn't understand that it is supposed to be fun, and that means giving the players the right kind of questions. Human-sized questions. Questions they can relate to. Things that they can do in small ways, safely-- like talk to girls or stand up to someone scary... things they can barely do in real life.

Which brings up another puzzler-- people who are afraid to tell their boss 'no' fantasize about fighting dragons. People who don't understand their own wives and children and live in constant conflict feel perfectly qualified to criticize high-level diplomacy. People who do not know their own mind or the mind of their closest friends will tell you what God believes...

It may seem I'm wandering, but these things are related. I'm not talking about action under stress right now. I'm talking about training. When we (I think most will agree, hence the we) denigrate training or training methods, most of the time it has nothing to do with us forgetting our baby steps. None of us popped out of Zeus' head ready to rumble. We remember, sometimes painfully, the slow progression and the learning curve.

What we do see is the hours and the effort spent on things that are completely irrelevant. The training for attacks that don't happen. The inbred layers of defense and counter that only apply--or work-- in house. The minute dissection and bickering over details... like criticizing the penmanship in the Declaration of Independence.

Too many hours spent building things-- whether physics for an imaginary world or series of actions to respond to a wholly imaginary attack that don't exist and wouldn't matter if they did. It's a human sized world with human-sized problems. Learn to deal with those and you'll see some deeper connections.

Thursday, September 09, 2010

Blast from the Past

David mentioned this in a recent comment. This is my first-ever online article, written at the request of Fabien Senna of Cyberkwoon. A lot of the thinking seems primitive and incomplete at this later date. Baby steps.


Are there really “no rules in a street fight”?

I think that this attitude is somewhat naïve. Of course there are rules of physics and biology that affect what is possible and effective. Any training that ignores that fact is clearly dangerous. But there are other rules, too- chemical, social and psychological rules that dictate much of combat. Most people are as unaware of these rules as they are of the grammatical rules of their native language- they are invisible, either innate or such a part of our upbringing that they are unquestioned.

Ffab asked me to lay out these rules as I know them. Here goes.

Let’s start with chemical, because it is easier and less subjective.

When subjected to a threat, such as real conflict, your body will release chemicals and these will affect your body and mind in certain specific ways.

Bruce Siddle has studied this phenomenon, and found that heart rate, measured in beats per minute, is a good barometer of the other effects. Note that this is a hormone induced increase in heart rate. BPM increases caused by other things, such as aerobic workouts will not have the same effect. Also be aware that a hormonal jump in heart rate can be almost instantaneous.

Here are the rules of chemical fear:

If you get scared enough that your heart rate goes over about 115 BPM, you will start to lose your fine motor skills. That means your precision grabs and locks are gone.

About 155 BPM, complex motor skills deteriorate- you lose your patterns, combinations, traps and sweeps.

About 175BPM, planning and thinking are severely compromised. You lose your near vision, peripheral vision and depth perception. Your hearing will deaden or be lost.

Above 175, if there is anything in your bladder, you will lose it. Most will freeze or curl up in a ball and wait for mommy to save them. Only the grossest of physical activity is possible- running and flailing.

In short, the more desperately you need your skills, the less you will be able to rely on them. If you ever hear or say or think, “If it was for real, I’d do better” know that it is a lie. When it is for real, you will do much, much worse than in practice. The belief that people improve under stress is a myth.

These stress levels can be induced in most people with nothing more than aggressive verbal threats.

The rest of the rules are both far more subjective and harder to say for certain whether they arise from biology, psychology or social forces.


Remember the saying: “When two tigers fight, one is killed and one is maimed”? That’s a lie. Like other mammals, when tigers, bears, dogs, etc battle their own species, they have a built-in ritual combat to prevent injury. Deer go antler-to-antler, not antler-to-ribs.

Humans are apes. Like most animals we have a built-in ritual combat to establish social dominance or defend territory. It is nearly always non-lethal.

The Monkey Dance is a ritual, with specific steps. The dance, I believe, is innate. The steps may be cultural. In my culture:

1) Eye contact, hard stare.

2) Verbal challenge: “What you lookin’ at?”

3) Close distance. Sometimes chest bumping.

4) Finger poke or two handed push to the chest.

5) Dominant hand roundhouse punch.

A Canadian friend informs me that step 4 in his neck of the woods is knocking the other person’s hat off. Like I said, steps may be cultural.

A few points-

-The Monkey Dance is almost always a male thing. I honestly don’t know the female equivalent either in humans or other animals.

-Most martial arts (and most adolescent combat fantasies) are based on this model. It is much easier to prevail in a scenario that is already genetically designed to be non-lethal.

-The Monkey Dance can almost always be circumvented by either lowering your eyes and apologizing or ignoring it entirely- keeping extremely relaxed body language and treating the verbal challenge as a serious, thoughtful question.

-If you start the dance, you will probably not be able to stop. You have 50 million years of conditioning to overcome. I usually tell my students that you don’t play the dance, the dance plays you.

-Most incidents are resolved by one of the parties backing down long before violence starts. As Grossman pointed out in “On Killing” even major battles are far more often won by display than by combat.

-A professional can finish an encounter quickly by jumping steps. In other words, if the threat is on any step below four and you take physical, decisive action, he will be unprepared. His mind expects all of the steps to be done before things get physical.


#1: You don’t know if you can do it ‘til you’ve done it. Despite all the posturing and talk, most normal humans could not kill another human. Maybe by pushing a button, certainly not up close and personal. Col. Grossman estimates that less than 2% of the population (whom he terms ‘aggressive sociopaths’) can kill without serious psychological repercussions, if at all,other than under extreme stress.

On a more personal level, one of the defining moments in a new officer’s career is the first big fight. There are three types of people: some run to the fight, some run away and some freeze. Despite any fantasy, bragging or even true confidence no one knows which category they are in until the first time. That’s why all old timers watch the new guy.

There is one more category- the one who can walk to the fight, but that seems to be a matter of experience.


In our culture, adults do not touch other adult’s faces. When it happens, it is a sign of great intimacy. Adults may, however, touch children’s heads and that makes it very powerful. Touching another adult’s face is a show of extreme dominance, showing that the toucher considers the recipient a child. Just tousling hair can cause extreme feelings of humiliation.

This has evolved in the prisons into a systematic attack- the “Bitch slap”. A slap to the face, properly executed, can be physically devastating. Even without proper technique it can be psychologically debilitating, shocking the victim into a child mentality, paralyzed and submissive.

This taboo is so strong that many people freeze when they strike another person in the face even in sparring. You may also.


Talking and attacking appear to be wired separately. What I mean is that I have never seen someone throw a sucker punch, no matter how subtle, while talking normally. Yelling, sucking in breath, suddenly silent, yes. Not talking. Right now, try to hold a normal conversation with your monitor. Talk about the weather. Throw a punch without a give-away in your voice. I can’t do it. Haven’t met anybody who can. New training goal.

Conversely, while the threat is talking is almost always a free shot. It seems to take a small amount of time to switch from conversation mode to defense mode.


Remember the Monkey Dance, dominance, non-lethal jazz? That all goes out the window when attacked by a group. You’re no longer a part of the contest to see who is the bigger monkey. The contest is between the members of the group and they will be competing on your body.


Though most martial arts train pretty well for the Monkey Dance, true predatory violence is another animal altogether. If a predator has targeted you, it is because he sees you as prey and he will stack everything in his favor. You will be smaller and weaker, injured or tired, distracted, unprepared. You will not see the first attack. You will not see the weapon. You will probably be injured before you are aware of being attacked. It will happen at a place and time of the predators choosing. Nothing will be in your favor. The initial assault will knock most people over the 175 BPM mark instantly, leaving only an uncontrolled, flailing berserk or a stumbling sprint as options.

Defending against the predatory attack, in my opinion, should be the aim of serious self-defense training. It is entirely different than training for the Monkey Dance. Not one instructor in fifty realizes that. You need to realize it.

Monday, September 06, 2010

LawDawg Talks

Talked to the LawDawg the other night. It was brief. It sounded like he was between domestic assignments, but the essence...

Pros and amateurs deal with things differently. They think about things differently. Most of what amateurs default to, in interpersonal violence, are mistakes from the pro's point of view. If the threat is expecting you to do something (your natural default) doing that expected something is just ...stoopid.

So LD pointed out that when Monkey Dance violence starts to kick up, the monkeys playing go head to head... but the pros don't. Unless they get hooked emotionally, almost all pros create distance and time. The MD will burn itself out if you don't feed it.

Get it? Amateur response to Monkey Dancing is to stand up, squarely, to the challenge. Pros get out of there. NOT because it is dangerous, but because it is meaningless. IF the pro has to deal with the monkey dancer (not the MD itself, but if, for some reason, we have to take down someone who incidentally is Monkey Dancing) we do it from surprise (usually skipping steps in the dance is all you need) and break a lot of other 'rules' too, like getting to the guy's back. That allows us to use a lower level of force than we would need if we let it escalate to a fist fight.

If something suddenly turns lethal, say a guy who appears to be Monkey Dancing pulls a knife, the amateur gets the hell out of there. I can't speak for all pros, (there's a continuum of skill and commitment) but the good operators I know immediately close on a lethal threat. This goes for the military as well-- the response to an ambush is to immediately counterattack into the ambush.

It may be counter-intuitive, it may clash with our instincts, but it is the option with the best chance of survival. The bad guy expects you to run when he pulls a knife. That is part of his plan. If his plan was to let you go, then running will work. If not, it is much easier to kill someone when you can't see his eyes and he isn't trying to smack your brainstem and break your knee.

In the cases that deal with violence, the amateur and professional responses are nearly opposite. Then, in dueling-based martial arts systems, it seems like the solution is to refine the amateur response. It kind of works-- if you can apply extreme skill to the stupid option you might still win, but it doesn't magically turn it into the smart option. And maybe that's why it takes years to learn to win versus days, because you are starting from a stupid premise and have tons to overcome.

Maybe. Everything is speculation.
But the professional point of view is actually pretty simple. The amateur's is intuitive, the professional's is logical. Since training is largely a cognitive game, I can't help but think that the professional's point of view could be learned side by side with the techniques of a system.

Friday, September 03, 2010

Like a Criminal

Updated the website to include information on Boston and Billings, Montana. With Seattle, that will be three seminars in October.

Still working on getting NYC or NJ going, which would be a fourth October gig. Crazy busy, but cool. San Francisco/Oakland next weekend. Enough with the crass commercial announcements.
I'm toying with an idea that is either too obvious or too dumb, and I'm not sure which. At the Crossing the Pond event in Seattle, I noticed that almost all the instructors were advocating getting off line. I made a big point that got attention: "It is easier to beat people up from behind them." Did anyone not know that? Really?

Kris Wilder, in "The Way of Kata" made the point that almost all of the Goju-ryu kata are designed to get you to the enemy's flank, to the position I call the dead zone. That sweet spot behind the threat's elbow where he can't effectively put any attacks on you without your permission (actually, I'm working on some options in the VPPG) and you have all your fire power plus the ability to screw with his center of gravity and structure.

So we were all teaching it and some of the stuff was so obvious/stupid that it was almost embarrassing to mention. And yet almost every time a drill moved towards contact, almost every time the students and even some of the instructors were working with a partner, feet would reverse or movement would change and the students wound up fighting face-to-face.

The instinct to as Marc puts it, go straight up the middle, seems pretty powerful. And many still do it, even when they know it is stupid. Even when they have just been given and reinforced tools for taking the back.

When I look at systems, how many work at getting the back? Some of the grappling systems, of course... but in others, a face-down pin (which is as good as it gets, in real life) don't even count. How many have been taught, formally to get behind the enemy? And of those, who practices it and when does instinct take over and keep them in the kill zone, practicing for sport or duel and imagining combat?

It's in the kata. That long step followed by a 90 degree pivot takes you off line and puts you on the flank. But the McDojo master says you are turning to face a new opponent. Whatever.

Playing with the words "fight like a criminal"- what does that mean? Take every advantage you can. Don't cripple yourself with allegiance to imaginary rules or expectations. Get the job done, safely. Practically- get behind. Use a weapon. Get surprise. Get numbers on your side. Choose to attack the small, weak and unprepared. Start friendly.

And almost all of them are the exact opposite of what is taught i martial arts and self-defense courses. "That's not martial arts! That's ...that's ...that's just beating people up!"

Who brought that distinction to the table, I wonder?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Busy Boy

Hmmm. Looks like the blog broke 100 followers. That's cool.

Working to get two October seminars set up on the East Coast. It's actually short notice, but I think/hope it can work. I really want to do a bar brawl with some of the Boston crew. That will be a blast for everybody. Also trying to set one up near NYC, probably on the Jersey shore.

San Francisco (Oakland, technically) is coming up in two weeks. The venue looks very cool. It will be a chance to see Maija and Mariusz again as well as maybe meet Scott. Talk more with Dale and E. and Earl and Raj and...

Seattle is a go for October 23-24. Should be fun. And Brent can help me with that retarded looking kick.

Also getting something on the Wyoming/Montana border. Date is set, but I don't know the venue or whether it will be open.

October is shaping up to be a big month. Toby is going to be doing another survival weekend, this time in Massachusetts, and that's always fun. It's also a big incentive to go to the East Coast.

Steve Miller is setting up a "Jam Session" September 18-19. I may be dropping in. KJ will be there, and that's always good.

Hope to see some of you here, there and everywhere.