Friday, June 03, 2011

Before I Forget...

Details. This is for posterity.
First some background on the Plastic Mind Drills. If you want a more detailed description, check out the "Drills" manual available on Smashwords and Amazon Kindle (link is over on the right).

Mind controls the body. It actually works both ways, the body influences the mind as well, but changes in thought change a lot of things, some deeply. The Plastic Mind exercises are a progression that show, first, how emotion, even artificial emotion completely changes the way that you fight. Second, that iconic images (think the Animal Styles of Kung-fu) change movement in an integrated way and that almost all of the integrated ways are effective, yet different.

In the third step in the progression, the students create in a matter of minutes four complete, integrated martial arts. The arts are each unique, coherent (you can tell the difference at a glance, usually) and in many cases, the student fights better in this mode after thirty seconds of thought than they do in their primary martial art even with years of training. Get this, it's not some miracle or magic bullet, it is merely a way to show that thought can influence motion and that integrated thought (everything connected and arising from a single concept) makes for efficient motion.

Because it works on some pretty primitive brain levels, I've always known that there was a possibility for a student to get into it pretty deeply, potentially to match the trance-states of some of the animistic practices. Last weekend, it happened.

Subject: male, mid thirties, former kumite competitor for the national karate team.

What I observed: He was doing the drill with a slightly stronger but less-skilled opponent. I noticed the subject was breathing oddly, exhaling with a sharp rhythm. He was not looking at his opponent. Subject was on his knees, knees wide and feet together with his opponent face up. Subject had one hand on the opponent's upper chest, the other on his abdomen at about bladder level. Subjects back was extremely arched, like a seal.

Despite the apparent weakness of that position, his (slightly stronger) opponent was unable to move and starting to panic (white showing around the eyes, struggling ineffectually, unable to remember or follow the steps of the drill.) I ordered them to freeze. No response from subject. Repeated order. No response. No response until I shook him hard. He appeared dazed and uncertain of what happened. He had been fighting as the alchemical element 'fire' and had no memory of the incident other than a need "To spread wide and get higher." He had tears on his cheek during the debriefing.

Things to note:
  • No response to verbals; physical contact required
  • No memory of events
  • Extremely effective results from what appeared to be an extremely weak position
And two other things:
  1. It affected the subject pretty profoundly and he kept trying to tie everything else covered that weekend and other extraneous events to that one aspect of the one drill.
  2. I had to really fight a very strong urge to make a joke or belittle what happened. I wanted to give him a nickname. I wanted to say how ridiculous he looked while he was completely dominating his opponent. It seemed to trigger some kind of deep defense mechanism in me. If I ridicule, it might not happen again, perhaps?
No conclusions here. I'm just not keeping a private log right now and I wanted the observations recorded while they were still fresh.

FWIW, I've considered two more levels to this drill, Masks and Personas, but I'm not sure who is ready. Definitely not for public consumption yet.


zzrzinn said...

I did not expect to have the emotional reaction I did to some of your drills, I had nothing near intense as what's described here of course.

However, I will say that it was enough to really cause me to start rethinking how I view my emotional state and to generally pay more attention to how who I am directly effects what I am doing.

It sounds simple but I think that for many of us, we have unwittingly tried to create a "martial artist" version of ourselves that is kept seperate from everything else...but it's a lie.

Those drills really laid bare some things about myself, I didn't like some of what they showed, but there ya go along with the uncomfortable stuff, they also open possibilities.

Have you noted any consistency it what people do in terms of physical tactics in the plastic mind or element drills?

Wayne said...

First word that came to my mind was "cool!". It would be tempting to make some jokes about it but also "cool!" to see someone reach that state of the mind. I remember having the hardest time with "fire" during those drills. I could come up with a behavior pattern for the others but fire had me stumped. Spread wide and get higher makes sense once I saw it here.

Masks and personas would be interesting to see what happens. Makes me think of the old Bugs Bunny / Elmer Fudd cartoon where the narrator was explaining how people took on the persona of the hat they were wearing. Bugs and Elmer were the test subjects.

Scott said...

Yes, a "god" of fire would be rather taboo in Christian culture. Our pagan ancestors were tortured for that.
Chaos is never far away.
Even just spreading some mud on a persons face will move them toward deep trance. Never tried blood but you can imagine. Speaking in tongues. Even just making sounds, grunts, but no words for a few minutes. Making and holding 'a face.' And as you noticed unusual breathing patterns. Did this guy forget to eat breakfast? Fasting usually goes along with trance training.
China, had a very popular theater tradition that was done 100% in mask and heavy make-up.
That the densest area for theater is also the densest area for martial innovation should be no surprise either: Shanxi, Hebei, Shandong--the places where Tai Chi, Shaolin, Xingyi got their start.

AF1 said...


So maybe all those traditional martial arts that use Fire, Water, Wind, Wood, Metal etc. to categorize their forms actually have more going on under the surface than it initially appears.

tv said...

you push the envelope with mask/persona

Go for it.

I wonder if you know Holotropic Breathwork.

Take the persona/intense feeling into Breathwork.

See how deep that goes....


Jake said...

Interesting stuff. Like Wayne, "fire" was a part of the drill that challenged me. I went with "consume everything", but "get higher and spread" works too.

Always curious to see more variations of this concept.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a trance. Something akin to what Myofascial Release can do with the right practitioner and trust from the client.