Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Perception and Decision

Last few days included guest teaching at a karate school; conflict communications; two-day Intro to Violence; a day of VPPG that ranged from getting the impact into some of the slow motion drills, fighting (and running) on stairwells, strangles and c-spine breaks and confidence in the face of knowledge; then how to run scenarios.  Heading to a BJJ class in a few minutes....

Nice, busy.

Been circling a thought.  It's nothing new in a lot of ways, but I don't think I've hit it up the middle yet.

90% (statistic totally made up) of what I teach is about learning to see.  That includes everything from seeing the physical possibilities (open targets, lines of balance, momentum vectors, environmental opportunities) to the social dynamics (what type of violence?) to exploiting the nuances of the social dynamic (gather resources, influence witnesses, reframe the problem...) to reading and exploiting terrain, both in the moment and strategically.

That's cool.  We can all stand to spend hours on that.  One of the most useless things a self-defense instructor can do is to harp on awareness without ever explicitly stating what to be aware of.

Not a problem I regularly have.

That said, whenever you increase the perceived complexity of a problem, you run the risk of slowing down the decision process. Analysis paralysis.  The brownbelt syndrome.  Doesn't matter what you call it.

There's a bind there.  It may slow down the decision.  But it increases the opportunities for resolution.  And often, for particular people, the best solution is going to be off the main path.  If you teach SD as primarily a physical skill, you limit the chances for success for the less-physical students, who are far more likely to be victimized anyway.  The more you see, the more options... but add that the options interact and it becomes a multi-dimensional problem with multi-dimensional possibilities.

And that's good.  As long as you don't freeze.

Some of the stuff is basic, and leaving it out of training is unforgivable.  That's the chapter list of "Facing Violence".  But you can add an almost infinite amount more and, if you really understand it, the nuances can really increase your effectiveness.

So the first stage is getting the student to see as much as they can handle.  It should be targeted, focused on the types of violence an individual student profiles... but more is good.

And then practice at manipulating what they can see.  A lot of this won't happen in the training hall, and that's okay.  Most of life happens in a perfect environment for reading and manipulating possibilities on almost every level.  But the student has to practice.  Get comfortable.  Slowly shift knowledge to understanding.  That will speed up the reaction time.

And then the different knowledges have to become less different.  Violence dynamics and social dynamics and terrain and physical skills might be played with separately at first, but they all interconnect and if you play long enough in the world, they become sections of a single thing in your head.  You know arms and legs and torsos and you can look at the world like that, but they eventually have to blend and be seen as people, not parts.  The same thing happens with the dynamics of violence.

Just aspects, not different studies at all.

And somewhere in there, making a decision shifts from a cognitive process to something that just happens.  A flow.  Fluid or staccato, part of a complex plan or an immediate ending, your actions, your solutions just 'are.'


Josh Kruschke said...

"And somewhere in there, making a decision shifts from a cognitive process to something that just happens.  A flow.  Fluid or staccato, part of a complex plan or an immediate ending, your actions, your solutions just 'are.'"

The Goal of all this?

Rob Lyman said...

There's something else here, too. A student must practice awareness and manipulation of possibilities--but the student must have permission to do that, too.

Here's a great XKCD that reminds me of my youth:


As a young teen, I had enough real-life experiences like those of the guy's fantasy that I felt I lacked permission to speak to females without a good reason. This severely impaired my ability to woo and rendered most advice from the romantically more-successful pretty useless. Now, as life went on, I discovered that wasn't true, and now I'm married with kids.

But consider that manipulating social situations is likely to be regarded as rude by many people, and they are likely to fear social repercussions like those in the comic if they attempt it. Even acknowledging the possibility of a threat purely internally is likely to have "nice" people feeling squeamish about stereotyping or racism; people are likely to classify their uncontrollable internal feelings as unforgivably rude.

So the challenge is not merely to identify what students need to be aware of (assuming the SD instructor even knows), but to give them permission to be aware of it at all.

Ymar Sakar said...

The goal of all this is Mushin, in Musashi's Void chapter. It is also Sun Tzu's acme of battle skill, through knowing oneself and one's enemy.

Others have called it a machine, where they feel like they are remotely controlling their body and feeling emotions indirectly and very weakly. Still others do not recall what they did or even why, while others believe they did things they didn't do, and did so for reasons that didn't exist.

The only thing that matters is victory in strategy supported by tactics, under the correct logistical preparation. Most force threats to humans these days are easily solved with a little preparation. But the idea of ultimate battle skill is to not just handle the small problems, but the big problems as well. When everything is against you, numbers and military force outnumbers your side more than 10 to 1, yet you still pull a victory out of the chaos, without killing 3/4ths of your allies, is something to be aspired to.

A person that takes .7 seconds to make a decision every OODA cycle and has 50% more OODA cycles, is going to be hopelessly outclassed by the person that takes .5 seconds to make a decision every OODA cycle and has 10% less OODA cycles than their enemies. Put in another context, the person with the .7 reaction time is going to be behind the .5 reaction time guy by 20 critically crippling attacks when their total movements reach 100. Which is another way of saying that for every 5 things .7 guy does, .5 guy has done 6 things. Always one step ahead. Until checkmate. Time is a hard thing to buy in war.

In reality, a person that freezes and tries to think about a situation due to lack of confidence on how to solve it, usually has 2-5+ seconds of delay time. How many attacks and destructive techniques can the .5 guy use in 2-5 seconds?