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?


Deborah Clem said...

Rules for fighting in LE:

Do not fight fair.

Lise Steenerson said...

Outside of a sport arena, fair fights are for chumps and people who likes to have expensive dental work and nose job.
I think it is our ethics and morality that makes us fight face to face. Good training will help overcome this. You get punched in the face often enough, you'll remember to not stand in your opponent's zero

WING CHUN INCas said...

As a Child my Grand Father taught me that it was bad manners to hit someone that is looking at you.

jks9199 said...

Moving forward (which you have to do, generally, to get the flank!) is very much off the norm. Even though it's really safer than moving back, it doesn't feel as though it would be. I've found it takes a lot of training and practice to create instinctive reactions to move forward towards a threat.

And -- a criminal isn't going to fight if they can help it. They're going to ambush and attack... It's no more a fight than a leopard pouncing on a gazelle is a fight.

Kai Jones said...

How much can you see to predict movement from the back?

Maybe people have seen too many face-to-face fights in the movies/tv. That has shaped their ideas of how things are supposed to be.

No presence attack in real life, not for most people anyway. Put your points in something that really counts. :)

Jake said...

In Boxing and Muay Thai, at least as I was taught, getting into the dead zone is taught as a potential strategy. The fact that both arts focus on a duel changes the "dead zone" slightly (we go for a spot just outside of the opponents lead elbow), but the idea is there.

Of course, the reality is that when you start out knowing you're in a fight (i.e., a sport), getting to that position against another trained fighter is really hard. The closer the skill levels, the harder it gets.

In the PDR, we teach "going up the middle" off of the flinch, because anything else is way too complicated.

I wonder if there is a gender disparity here? Are men more predisposed to stand and fight face-to-face? Or are people just not used to being that nasty?

Alternative thought: do a lot of systems ignore this on the assumption that if you've gotten the enemies back, you're golden, and don't need to address this?

Don Weiss said...

In TFT (and the SCARS I learned a long time ago) - flanking, stepping and taking someone's back was preferred. And applying the principles of TFT to my traditonal CMA forms opened a lot of doors for me.

Anonymous said...

Why do bighorn sheep and moose 'fight' head to head? If one wanted to actually remove the other from competition, he'd sneak up when his rival is grazing and butt him off the edge of a cliff. The 'monkey dance' as you've said more than once, is a purely social phenomenon, and something about it makes it necessary to do face to face. You can't impress your rival with your dominance if he can't see you.

So... I think it's not just ethics and morality, we are a social species and we are intrinsically wired for social, face to face, violence. And fortunately few of us having experience with predatory violence (and even fewer, hopefully, actually being those predators), we have almost no frame of reference for the predator/prey, criminal/victim dynamic. Most people don't know how to fight like criminals, because they cannot conceive of being perceived as 'lesser', of being perceived as prey. Predators don't think 'all men are created equal', they don't feel a need to dominate their prey, they don't really conceive of it as a 'fight' at all. The wolf does not go face to face with the rabbit...

This is exacerbated in most martial arts, I think, because there is an enormous emphasis on 'respecting' one's opponents. 'Decent', 'civilized' people treat other 'decent', 'civilized' people as peers, as equals, and the dojo training is only ever for the monkey dance. Peers fight. Predators beat people up.

David Kafri said...

An O-L-D article you (Rory) wrote for Cyberkwoon once, called The Rules, answered that question, I believe.

{[(It was my first introduction to what you termed the Monkey Dance, and I was so impressed with it at the time I posted a link to it on a Hebrew MA Forum, and someone translated it into Hebrew with full credits to you. Cyberkwoon is down as far as I know, but the Hbrew translation is still in circulation and is occasionaly referenced on several MA Forums I know of.)]}

The Monkey Dance, as was pointed here before, is even hard to realise you are IN, much less easy to get out of.

As you pointed in an earlier post, much of what happens in the 3 seconds of pre-fight-first-contact-first-reaction is emotional, hardly something most people could put into words.

It is because it is so hard to SEE, that it is so hard to DO.

David Kafri, Israel

Toby said...

David - can you post a link to the hebrew translation? Rory - Do you still have thie 'rules' article on file? Care to share :)

David Kafri said...

I tried to contact both Rory and fFab at the time this translation appeared, to see if you had any objections to it, but got no reply.

As I recal, it is a good translation.

Anonymous said...

As I stated last night on the phone, Rory, you only have to look at how people instinctively respond to violence to see the difference. In the Monkey Dance people charge up the middle. It's hard wired - that type of violence is what humans are biologically designed to physically handle. Once it becomes life threatening (introduction of weaponry) people tend to get small, back away or freeze, and try to figure out what's happening.

And professionals do the exact opposite of these instinctive responses - they back off Monkey Dance violence to let it run its course, and close with lethal violence, in order to destroy it.

Tiff said...

"Start friendly." Even as you write, Rory, you sneak up on people.

zzrzinn said...

I remember what you and Marc said at Crossing The Pond about social vs. asocial violence, that really pretty much summed it up for me.

I mean, if you want your stuff to be "for real" it has to be asocial..doesn't it? As you pointed out..a lot of what gets taught in MA classes is so "civilized" that it is the exact opposite of what you want to do for real.

I am just a Karate hobbyist, and in my little dojo I had for a bit, I had more than one person leave because they felt I was "teaching violence" instead of Karate.

Naturally I wasn't, I was teaching Karate application as I have learned and experienced it, in a casual and fairly laid back atmosphere.

Nonetheless when it came to actual tactics, the more effective something was, the more it made some people uncomfortable...people have an idea that 'traditional martial arts' (maybe even just martial arts) means the tactics themselves will adhere to some kind of moral code..

they don't!

Anonymous said...

Denise here--

Sounds like it NEEDED to be said!

Ronald said...

Fighting in not really always about winning.. It is more on doing your best and applying everything that you have learned. Through experience my number one lesson is to never ever under estimate your opponent. Just be ready for a fight and do your best to put up a good fight.

Rory said...

Whoah, Robert. If fighting is about just "doing your best"... trying to wrap my head around that one.

In some situations, in some environments, Robert, there is no coach to pat you on the shoulder after a losing game and say, "It's okay, Bobby, you did your best. That's all the matters." If best wasn't good enough, someone goes in a bodybag. They are blue vinly. You can attach a 'skid' to them to make them easier to drag.

If you are in the kind of fight where doing your best is more important than winning or losing, then the fight probably isn't about anything and you can walk away