Monday, December 12, 2011


There are three ways to look at fighting (millions, of course, but three in this set) that are different, and those differences drive almost every aspect of the encounter. It's very clear, but sometimes people get confused and try to solve problems of one situation from another point of view. That fails.

I hate the word 'fight' because it implies a contest. 'Assault' doesn't work all the time as a word, nor does 'combat' so I'm going to default and use fight, but don't lock up on it.

Take the other guy out of the equation. There are three ways that you can go into a fight: You can go in on the offense, go in as a mutual fight, or be on the receiving end-- defensive.

Going offensive is not the same as being an aggressive boxer. It is a quantum difference. When you are intending to use force offensively, you have a goal. There is something or someone you want, some event that must happen. You do everything in your power to minimize risk. It is a job. Same as mining. You have a goal, you want to be safe.

So, offensively: you gather your intelligence, you choose time and place, you stack every factor you can control in your favor (weapons, armor, numbers, surprise) and you act, ideally never giving the victim a chance to respond in any way.

Good guys and bad guys do this. It is the essence of a military raid or a simple robbery. It is just the smartest, safest way to accomplish your mission.

So what skills do you need? Stealth. Clean hits. Almost any precision skill works here, very well. Emotionally there are differences, but whatever you train, if you have the complete drop, you can shoot like the range or strike like you were only hitting a bag.

Mutual fights have no surprise. Take that back- one of the essences of strategy is creating little pockets of surprise and some people go into a Monkey Dance believing the other guy won't really hit-- but generally, not only do you see these coming but both parties, on some level, have agreed.

They are very social. Consciously (sport) or subconsciously (Monkey Dance) they have rules. They almost always have an audience. Mutual fights are not about resources or survival, they are about communication: "I am a bigger monkey than you" "I deserve respect" "That's my woman" Stuff like that.

An aside- I like sport. Sports MA tend to be (IME) the least delusional of all martial artists (including RBSD) because they know exactly what they are doing and why. Most of us went into sports and competition to find out who we were and what we had.

In a lot of ways, mutual fighting is a testing ground and much of what it tests is attributional. Strength, speed, endurance, will. Many of which an offensive attack is designed to neutralize.

So what are the skills? You need the skills that you are testing. Boxers need boxing skills and judokas need judo. Then you need the attributes and then you need the ability to read an opponent and lead him and do all those things that add up to mat sense or tactical thinking.

A defensive fight is what happens when you are on the receiving end of an offensive fight. The bad guy has set everything up to his advantage. Whatever attributes you have trained (strength, speed, endurance) he has either found a way to neutralize or will simply (if he has the option) choose someone else. An unexpected blitz where your movement is restricted, probably coming from a zone where you have little practice or experience delivering power; with structure compromised...

What skills do you need here? The precision skills that work for an attacker won't be an option for you. If you can turn it into something that resembles a mutual fight, that's cool... but how? You can't handwave past that.

Most of the big chances to make things better come well before the attack. Use of terrain, reflections and shadows. Trying not to be surprised enough to ever be completely defensive. But that has limited utility, since these skills come into play when prevention skills have failed.

The skills I think are important? Having been inured to pain and the particular kind of chaos that comes with a blitz attack. Good training in a mutual combat-based system can help with that. Practice working against bigger, stronger people. Awareness and use of the environment and skill at exploiting momentum are probably two of the biggest. An indomitable will that goes to active rage instead of passive fear is critical, and I'm not sure if that one can truly be trained at all.

I see the lessons of these three as largely separate. Even though in any given assault one is offensive and the other defensive, the skills and strategies of the offensive actor wouldn't help the defensive. Nor will the defensive skill at recovery help the attacker. The type of tactical thinking needed in a mutual fight is counterproductive in both the offense and the defense. In the offense, it is unnecessary and the restraint required to balance offense and defense and feint actually impairs hard, efficient forward action. From a defensive position, trying to get 'set' trying to get into the position and distance where mutual fights start takes time and time is damage.

Some times I think I write the same things over and over in different ways.


Lisa said...

re: the last line... Hopefully that means that you'll reach more people with the same message, because the ones that didn't necessarily get it before will have a "lightbulb moment" when you put your point another way?

Josh Kruschke said...

Physical Altercation maybe?

Josh Kruschke said...

"Some times I think I write the same things over and over in different ways."

You do. You even wrote a post on it calling it reframing.

This post brings up why I'm focusing on mental fluidity.

Flinthart said...

You ever find a way to train that 'red mist' mindset into existence, I really want to know about it. I do my best by my students, but that mental shift of gears... it's like an utterly foreign place to them.

Delta Juliet Papa said...

I've always liked the term "interpersonal physical conflict".

Charles James said...

"Some times I think I write the same things over and over in different ways."

It is called "teaching" and that means presenting the information in many ways all conducive to learning.

The only thing missing is the hands on part which any reader can do by attending your seminars or finding someone who can do this kind of stuff.

Thanks for the many ways you put things! Different perceptions, perspectives and methods of the same thing do wonders in learning/teaching.

Scott said...

not to be depressing or anything but the constant attempt to explain the same stuff in a different way points to two human tragedies.
1. We are all blind monkeys doing mental loop-d-loops.
2. Most people spend their whole lives not really figuring out what they want to do--barely getting beyond vanity as a source of motivation.
Happy Holidays

Anonymous said...

I read the same things, in a different way. Over and over.

Even though the message may be the same I see if from a different perspective, or glimpse a little more than the previous time. Don't stop repeating yourself. It may take me a few more times to get it.

Anonymous said...

Absent the pure ambush where you wake up in the hospital (or dead), the opening salvo in any 'fight' is perception. Yes, blah blah, see it coming and all that; but I mean perception as an action, as a result. Perception (awareness) is a two-way process, not passive, but active because awareness creates change, give you time and distance, even measured in tenths of a second and inches of a foot. Awareness gives you a chance. The problem is, a good attacker will create a 'startle' state in you, activiting the emotional or survival brain that makes you freeze just long enough to get whuped.

A good way to reduce the freeze time is with full contact weapons sparring (can be done very injuriously-less with padded weapons and foam protective gear, or you can go all Dog Brothers) - when you lose your weapon, an inevitability in weapons sparring, you IMMEDIATELY attack with strikes (simple touches to the opponent's chest will do) to your sparring partner.

Wim said...

IMO, in Sport MAs, parts of what you describe as offensive and defensive also happen. Obviously not in the exact same way and context. But a lot of it is pretty similar.
IMO and IME, there are different phases a sport MA fight goes through. Some always happen, some not. The mindset, techniques and tactics needed for each phase is very different.

Just spit balling some thoughts after reading your post.

Anonymous said...

"Some times I think I write the same things over and over in different ways." Which is a perfect way for both me and you to learn. :)

shugyosha said...

WRT training rage to substitute fear... while it is of limited translation, we've managed to turn a "don't-hit-me-pretty-please" into a "don't-do-it-again".

While an assault is way different, to what point "growing up" from "abused" to "paybacker" wouldn't be better than being a "paybacker" from the start? Meaning, the one who grows up knows defencelessness has a good lump of mental in it.


"Some times I think I write the same things over and over in different ways."

Not quite. You write _about_ the same thing. Those changes in angle, POV and such help give a more complete picture. Plus, sometimes a turn of phrase makes things much more clearer, and that's probably dependant on the reader's background.

Take care/Ferran.

Anonymous said...

Another good way to think about it, and the more the better …Blind man and the elephant again, right. We must step back even further when describing something abstract such as a concept. We can only share the same ideas once we finally hold most of the same overlapping descriptions in mind, and have also figured out to some satisfaction how they meet. You are facilitating that even in repetition.

At some point we're all using the same language about the same concepts and it starts to sound like old news during our lifetime. Concepts just more easily created with so many intersecting reference points already mapped. I think then it comes down to creativity packaging the message, (another of your strong points Rory, with technology making that even faster).

I think a huge part of “training” means actively paying attention to what you are doing. Maximizing use of those things you already have to work with. Logging lots of references, and remembering to dictate whenever you can the best outcome you can see. It is sometimes easy to split focus and miss things. I find for myself anyway that if its not actually game time that my mind can wander. Practice mode for me can turn into delving into some observation of the moment, when there is an allowable margin for error. That’s good clean fun and learning, but it can lead to losing focus on a specific purpose. It is an unaffordable luxury when playing for keeps.

People I guess feel that in all decision making too. They revert to what they already know they are good at. That’s only drawn from relevant experiences and you can literally watch people make mistakes following the beaten path. Hindsite is 20/20.

I chalk up a lot to Decision. We don’t always have the choice. But, when it is not training, remembering to look for decisions to make is step one. Then, especially if it is something that matters as much as being safe …you make damb sure you make that play. You run with it until it is over. If you saw something in that moment that needed to be done, then the second it registered in your mind it was too late to worry about what’s next. That's one definition of offense. Do it as soon as you see it develop. Minimize the time you could be on defense. link someone coincidentally sent me this AM about "offense as a SD tactic"...

-Billy G.