Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Few Tired Notes

I'm tired. My voice is shot. It's been a long not-quite-three weeks.
Basil Kemble came through with the venue like a champ and turned out to be a very cool young man. A lot of history and insight in a relatively low number of years. He'll be one to watch in the future.

This trip has been a journey on a lot of levels. New friends. New places. Finding commonalities with instructors who I really admire. Finding some new ways to put things into words, thought and action. This-- learning and exploring-- is what life should be, at least for me.

Some of it is a blur. In a sleep deprived haze on a train I wrote almost three pages of notes on the first two weeks. I could write as much on the last two days as well. Almost as much, anyway. Far too much for a single post..and as usual, I forgot to even take my camera out of the bag for the seminar today.

As always, so much we didn't get to...but so much that we did. I think a lot of people got a taste of the things I rate as important: how violence breaks down; that efficiency is the point of training; that they can measure their own efficiency; a little bit of what is in this world...

But no one got more than a taste. The big question, the one I will never have an answer to, is what will they do with the taste? I saw a few learn something, be impressed by the increase (in power or efficiency or tactical use) of a thing, and then go right back to moving just as they had done before. Most adapted, but some didn't and that always comes down to the teacher. How do I reach him? How do I explain to her?

I can argue that the student has responsibility for what they learn, I tell them to take that responsibility and own it... but when I am the teacher the responsibility is on me. Not because this is true, but because it is the only part of the equation I can control...

But what will they do with their taste? Hopefully research and learn more. Question. Healthy doubt. Move for effect instead of approval. Never separate judgment from application: "Just because this will work, does that mean it is the smart thing to do?" Will they keep the precious distinction between knowing how to fight and knowing when to fight?

Jack Hoban was a treat. It was a privilege to join his class in New Jersey. I loved what he said about filling space and seeing space; that technique was the absolute least important aspect of fighting-- many things.

But he taught something that blew me away. Ethics is integral to combat. It's a big section of the next book since if you train without regard for your personal internal beliefs, you will freeze. Force law and policy is the study of the ethics of violence.
A few times in my life in a major fight, I've focused energy as a care taker, tried not to hurt the threat, tried to talk him down in the midst of a struggle. Give him a face saving way to end things without injury. In the middle of a fight it has always felt extremely high-risk. I don't like the bad guy to have time to think. But it has worked very well. For me.

It never occurred to me to try to teach it. Too high-risk, and when it worked I was never really sure why. Jack Hoban teaches it. That in the midst of a fight, you can do what is best for both of you. I thought, for a jail-guard thug, I was relatively compassionate. I'm not even in the ballpark of what Jack is doing.

Cool. New levels. New paths. New mountains.


angelhead said...

Read your book from end to end and recommend it to most people who are interested in self protection.. its been invaluable thank you for sharing.. I had no idea u checked out Jack Hoban or the Bujinkan until now...Glad to see we are all more or less on the same page... Thank you.

Anonymous said...

As a student of things similar to what Hoban does, I'm also glad to see you like his stuff. When reading MOA I felt the Takamatsuden arts stood up well to the questions the book made me ask. Not perfectly, but better than I expected.

Kristin said...

Thank you for Sunday, Rory. I really took a lot from just one day. So much insight in regards to recognizing potentially dangerous situations and great insight on avoidance as well as de-escalation. It really helped me to re-evaluate other situations I've been in where things could have gone differently had I been able to recognize the signs. Your seminar REALLY opened my eyes. This knowledge is priceless and I look forward to reading and learning even more. Thank you again. It was an honour.

Jonny said...

It is refreshing that you rate the Bujinkan arts as it seems to get a lot of flack from people. But with your jujutsu background that seems to make sense.

Rory said...

Jonny and Anonymous-
I didn't say anything about the Bujnkan one way or the other. I gave my impressions of Jack. In the art I most admire I know instructor-level people who can neither fight nor teach. And the art that I consider tactically unsound I found two of my best teachers. I rarely write about styles because they are and should be different in the hands of different instructors.

This goes for everybody: when you hear something that was never said, it's time to take a step back and check for koolaid poisoning. It's a really sure sign that your limbic system has kicked in and you are thinking tribally/emotionally and not with your neocortex. Keep an open heart and a critical brain.

Thank you. I hope you never need to use any of that information.

Jonny said...

Apologies, I obviously misunderstood. But your answer was great so all good so I've only gained from it. Thanks and apologies.

Anonymous said...

8:26 anonymous to Rory - I can't speak for Jonny, but I wasn't taking your comments on Jack as a Bujinkan endorsement at all, more of a "Jack's not bad from what little I saw." I acknowledge [what I see as] its imperfections in my post.

I do appreciate the logic check, though. No offense meant, but even if you DID specifically endorse my art it's NOT going to turn my critical brain off. That thing won't quite even when I want it to sometimes.

Rory said...

No problem. I think I might do a post on how certain things trigger the tribal reflex and turn off the critical portion of the brain... it's something I've been playing with a lot for the last several months. And no apologies are necessary. Save those for when you hurt somebody. You don't hurt me by reading into stuff.

Anonymous said...

Rory - I neglected to mention that while I had a critical brain before reading your MOA book, the book helped me apply to my training better. Or perhaps I should say it helped me turn my raw doubt/fear into something more scientific and useful.

IIRC, you even tell your readers in the book not to hang on your own words. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Rory, after reading your post I went and checked out Jack Hoban online. Found an article called "Ten Values" by Robert L. Humphrey on his website, am making my way through it (it's long). I am beyond impressed. There's a moral compass here that I'm convinced isn't a fairy tale and it's not even that complicated (on paper, anyway).

Drew said...

Hi Rory, just finished Meditations On Violence and wanted to say thank you. My whole notion of training has been turned on its head a lot recently thanks to guys like you and Jack (I also attended one of his seminars not long ago), and I'm really grateful for that. Cheers mate, all the best.