Friday, December 03, 2010

One of the Mental Drills

It has been a busy week. Dlshad, my translator from Kurdistan is settling in nicely and making plans for his future. Lots of work on the house. Usual holiday hellishness (I'm not much of a people person at the best of times. Add obligations, consumerism and christmas music and I'm about ready to go into the woods.)

Finished Nano by adding a bunch of unnecessary fluff to the book, then cut the crap out. Need to do a rewrite, have a few friends look at it and tell me which parts suck and then it will be ready for whatever the future holds.

Here's a short excerpt:

WW5 Counting Coup

Counting coup was a Plains Indian tradition. Either through stalking or in battle, young men would show their courage by touching an enemy. It had all the skill of combat with none of the bodycount. This version is a form of urban stalking and you will find that threats, especially young men (aka delinquents) play it all the time. It shows all the skill of mugging but without the legal consequences.

The idea is to get to ideal range on a target, either without the target being aware or with the target fully aware but doing nothing about it.

Public places, especially crowded ones are easy. You pick a target and drift or stalk over to within range. Without a crowd it is far more difficult, and thus more challenging. If you are ready, see how long you can stay undetected in the striking range.

Counting coup on a fully aware target is more a psychological game than a physical one. It has dangerous psychic elements in it that need to be addressed as a safety issue.

To deliberately close into someone’s personal space with their knowledge but without permission is an insult. It is a punking. In some places and subcultures if you misjudge you will have to be ready to defend yourself and it will not be self-defense because you started it.

More importantly, if someone has a weak ego and is looking for validation, punking people can be addictive. I’ve said don’t practice losing and don’t practice missing, because you will do it under stress. Now I’m saying “Don’t practice being an asshole, because you will become one.” And not just under stress, either.

You should do it once or twice, partially to notice your own internal resistance to breaking such a cultural taboo and also so that you notice how few people set boundaries in any way. They expect you to respond to the taboo.

See how that works in an assault? Breaking a social taboo indicates that most social controls are off the table…and yet we expect the social controls to kick in any second. Don’t count on it.

Another layer, common among criminals who don’t have an immediate need for anything but want to stay in practice is forcing. Forcing is used here the way a magician uses it. There is no coercion or violence or threats. You pick a card and the card you pick was chosen for you long ago, you were, without being aware of it, forced to choose a preordained card.

In counting coup, forcing is when you do not approach the target but set things up so that the target approaches you. Look at young men standing too close to a concession stand or slightly crowding an aisle, forcing people, particularly young women, to brush as they pass. Contact. Counting coup.

There are multiple values in this drill. The stalking practice not only lets you move and think as a predator, but the blending will help keep you off the predator’s radar. You find something of your social conditioning. Most importantly, you will see how important social conditioning is to how predator’s work.

Victims are good people. They don’t want to draw attention or make scenes. So they don’t set boundaries and they do put themselves in vulnerable positions.


Charles James said...

Looking forward to the entire book, this excerpt was very, very interesting and informative...Thanks!

Lise Steenerson said...

LOVE this!!!! The book will be great I am certain

Scott said...

Great stuff.
Could you say more about how some predator behavior is part of normal social development in young men?
Between age 13 and 16 sneaking up, lurking, climbing in and out of windows, bumping into people, surprising, grabbing, even cornering...seems like everyone was doing it, along with showing-off of course.
Was I part of some degenerate urban sub-culture that is the endless fascination of horror movie directors, or is all this stuff pretty normal and the people who become "predators" are just kids who got hooked on the not-so-fun "fun?"

Mark H said...

Very interesting. I was following a discussion about this very topic a couple of weeks ago. As a kid we used to see how close you could sneak up on someone stay there without them noticing.

Kind of like trying to be a "pickpocket" without getting caught.

Josh Kruschke said...

This is exactly what that woman was doing in that grocery store in your post "State of Awareness." She was doing a reverse "Forcing" instead of forcing people into her space. She, by acting oblivious, was forcing people to react to her buy getting out of her way. For those who might want to read it:

Is the "Monkey Dance" just "Counting Coup" out of control?


The European Historical Combat Guild said...

I would suggest that Forcing is part of the dominance ritual, which could lead on to the Monkey Dance proper, though generally it is more about general dominance. Teenagers do it IMO because they are forming identity establishing their own boundaries etc. Predators as Rory mentions in MoV are those that find that certain kinds of behaviour work for them and then continue to use it.
Obviously not everyone does it, but people who turn out ok may well behave in this way for a while, its often part of growing up. A number of societies have incorporated a phase when young men formed groups that lived outside of the community and could behave in unacceptable ways, while being temporary "outcasts" once they "grew out of it" they would be accepted back in to society. Things like national service would be a modern version.

Tiff said...

Rory -- if you don't already do so in this book, could you elaborate on when/if/how Counting Coup-like practice becomes mugging? At what point does the "game" turn violent? (Or, knowing the criminal mindset, does it ever stop being a game?)

shugyosha said...

Best wishes and luck to your guest. Take care, the... five? of you.


Rory said...

LOt's of 'predator' behavior harkens back to our hunting history. One of the variations on the GMD has the bonding element that used to come from hunting in bands.