Thursday, February 28, 2013


I'll get back to the class soon.  Need to do a quick de-brief and say some nice things about people.

First the plugs:

MacDonald Armouries
Knife maker, sword maker, one of the necromancers reviving the historical European martial arts (HEMA) and amateur military historian Paul MacDonald is living the dream.  His Fairbairn/Sykes daggers are in pretty high demand with troops on deployment, and you've gotta love a guy who asks if you want a wall hanger or a cutter because he tempers them differently...

And coolest of the cool: His training group is for HEMA and WWII combatives.  A combination that makes a ridiculous amount of sense.  Is anyone else doing both?

Mike Smith
Is also living the dream.  Manages the Bow Bar, which has a selection of over 200 single malts.  Tasted some fantastic stuff there this year.  Also does some beautiful drawings (see below) if you need an illustrator in Scotland, e-mail Mike.

Over the course of the UK trip, I covered most of what would go into a five day core dump.

Sheffield covered the Introduction to Violence, Ambushes and Thugs. And Garry gave me a great idea that will require a team-- basically, an on-line learning center.  I know who I want on the team and what the focus would be but have no idea of the technical obstacles. More info as the plan develops.

Edinburgh started with Logic of Violence.  Some overlap with A&T, so a few hours could be shaved doing them together.  We also did Conflict Communications Basic, parts of the DT curriculum because we had some LEOs and security professionals and two evenings of infighting.  Mick asked good questions and got me thinking.  You know how the stuff that is most basic to you is the hardest to teach and conceptualize?  Mick wanted me to go deeper into infighting and it's the core of (words fail, I really want to write that it is the core of who I am.  As a fighter, maybe.  Anyway, it's important to me,)  So can I put it into words?  Another book just on the elements of infighting?

Swindon repeated A&T, with one evening of infighting before and a special secret day for instructors on running scenarios afterwards.

Then a long flight.  Home for one day and flying off to Orlando for another series of classes this weekend.  Info for that is here:,WA,NH,OR.html

Savvy author class team teaching with Steve Perry kicks off the fourth:
Martial Arts for Writers

Friday, February 22, 2013

CofV 5: Security Level Violence

I want you to do a thought experiment.  Relax, take a deep breath, and answer a few questions.  First, imagine that no one is going to help you and your children are in danger of starving.  What would you be willing to do?

Would you steal food?

Would you rob (use violence or the threat of violence to steal) for food or money for food?

Would you kill?

These are the first questions, the easy ones.  To save your children, what would you be willing to do?  What lines would you cross?  I use ‘to save your children’ in the question because most people imagine their own starvation as something noble or heroic.  They imagine they could ‘take it’ and make sacrifices and stick to a moral code but can’t really imagine what the changing blood sugar, fear and desperation would do to their minds.  So we stick with children for this little thought experiment.
Ready for the next series of questions?

Would you prostitute yourself?  Would you prostitute you children to feed them?  Prostitute just one of the children to feed the others?  Or maybe sell one and pretend you did not know why the child was wanted?

I don’t know why people hesitate more on these questions than on the question of killing, but they do.  Murder is officially more evil than prostitution, right?  Maybe, in this thought experiment, murder for food is a little more abstract and easier to imagine in soft focus.  Maybe.

More questions.  Whatever strategy you chose to feed your children, you are an adaptable human being.  Would you eventually become okay with your decision?  Even self-righteous about it?  You are the one killing, stealing or pimping… would you really blame yourself for that?  Or find someone else to blame for driving you to it?

Would you eventually tell yourself that what you are doing is noble and right?  That your victims are the bad guys?   If it turned out to be successful and you moved from the edge of starvation to affluence, would you quit doing the crimes?  Or would it have become a way of life?  And would you teach your children to follow in your footsteps?

Play with those thoughts for a moment.
We live in an unbelievably affluent society.  Our modern response to the possibility of hunger, much less starvation, doesn’t involve getting a spear or laying traps, but going to a government office and filing paperwork.  No one seems to see anything odd about that.
It is so easy to forget, when you have never personally been hungrier than you wanted to be (fasting is a completely different experience than starving) that the possibility of children starving has been the norm for much of human history.  It is still the norm in many places in the world.
Yet we are surprised when people act from this world-view.  We get self-righteous and indignant.  That may be a justified attitude, but it is not useful.

In modern times, this threat isn’t about food.  That little thought experiment we just did?  That desperation that drives you to do things you know are wrong?  Things that become less wrong the longer you do them until you feel fully justified and righteous?  That is where addicts live and it drives a huge amount of the crime in this country.
This has profound implications for avoiding and de-escalating violence stemming from this level.  It is much different from the social conflict we are used to.  Everything you know about protecting people’s feelings or deferring to status or showing respect is irrelevant here.  The threat wants stuff.  Stuff that he can sell to feed his addiction.  It is not about his feelings or his past or his inner child.  It is about his need.
The only things that will work on the threat are the things that would work on you if your children were starving.  The thought experiment will help you empathize with the threat’s state of mind and help you avoid the traps.
What would you do if your children were starving?  How far would you go? How far will the threat go?  
How would you set up your crimes?
Would you prefer to burglarize an empty house?  Threaten in privacy?  Use overwhelming force from ambush or invade a home and catch the victim(s) off guard?
The threat will do the same thing and for the same reasons.  Almost every incident of conflict in your life has been social, and almost all of the social incidents had one thing in common: an audience.
When someone switches to predatory violence, an audience magically transforms into witnesses.  This is the primary clue: IF THERE ARE NO WITNESSES PREPARE FOR PREDATORY VIOLENCE.

It’s not a switch that most make quickly or easily.  No matter how ineptly, incipient criminals have been socialized to some extent.  They had a parent or parents.  The attended at least some school.  Their first time using or threatening to use violence, they are amateurs.  They are nervous and it shows.  Instead of using the weapon for either immediate violence or to take control, they treat it like an amulet, like a cross to keep away vampires.  The best I can describe it is that like most inexperienced citizens they don’t look like they are using a gun so much as hiding behind one.
In the first crimes, the threat is often hesitant to use force.  Sometimes the victim reads that and attempts to use social skills to end the situation.  When you see someone who is hesitant and fearful trying to exert power, what are the social strategies?  Often to intimidate or punk him out.  You see the weakness, the line where he should break and you push it: “You don’t have the guts to pull the trigger!”
But this isn’t social.  Social is two monkeys vying for status.  An inexperienced predator is trying to teach himself to stop acting like a monkey and start acting like a leopard.  What would a leopard do?  Oh, yeah.  Kill the stupid monkey.
There is a common pattern of a new criminal hesitating until he starts to lose control and then using massive force to regain control.  His first extreme violent crime.
As the threat becomes more experienced, there are some changes.  One is what I call ‘othering’.  We can use more force on things different than ourselves.  We can squash bugs, shoot deer, butcher livestock…but we fight people.  The more we can convince ourselves that someone is not like us, the more force we can use, the faster we can use it and the less psychological damage is associated with it.
Othering is a skill, and as a criminal becomes more experienced he becomes better at it.  He can use force, even extreme force, without hesitation.  The humanity of his victims gradually ceases to be an element restricting his actions.
What does restrict his actions becomes a very cold risk-reward analysis.  What will he get and what risks will he run?
Violence, especially extreme violence, draws a lot of attention and carries potentially long sentences.  The more blood, the greater chance of being caught.  Experienced criminals think in these terms. Pressing close, making a citizen nervous so that the citizen offers some cash is zero risk, at most a city ordinance violation for the hard-to-prove “aggressive panhandling.”
This implies three strategies for making you an unlikely victim:
1.     Lower the potential rewards of the risk/rewards equation.  This is not as effective as you might think.  There is no element of social justice to the equation, no morality of ‘robbing the rich.’  Many criminals steal from people poorer than themselves, because no matter who they steal from, the robber will have more, and that is the goal.  A local contact (this is two years out of date) said that a heavy heroin habit in my city runs $400 dollars a day.  Stealing items other than cash, he can rarely get more than 10% of the value… so an addict may have to steal $4000 worth of goods every day.  That’s volume and under the press of withdrawals, most threats can’t afford to be picky.  This is a one-way street, by the way.  You can’t lower the potential rewards enough to make you completely safe, but you can raise the rewards enough to influence the criminal to take greater risks.  See below.
2.     Raise the risk.  Every self-defense instructor’s advice to walk with confidence and express self-value fits right here.  The threat may feel confidant he could take anyone, but why artificially raise the risk?  Attack the easy.  Same as wolves and injured caribou.  Staying in crowds.  Attracting witnesses.  Dialing 911 on your cell.  Letting it be known that you are armed…and this is a tricky one, because a gun is a very valuable thing.  Admitting you are carrying one MAY make someone choose another victim… or it may make him take extra precautions and use more violence faster to get your weapon.
3.     Shake his confidence in the equation.  When a threat approaches, he expects certain behavior-- maybe a scared glancing around or nervous fumbling.  Maybe pleading.  A lot of victims just become passive.  Someone who seems too calm makes the threat wonder if he has missed something.  The possibility of a weapon is often more effective than the presence of a weapon.  A nod or wave in a random direction may make the think threat he has missed allies.

If you understand the type of threat, you can adapt your tactics and better avoid the situation.  If you cannot avoid the situation, you can choose tactics at the appropriate level of force and, possibly more important, articulate you decisions.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

CofV 4: Survival Violence

Adapted from a series of articles I wrote for Concealed Carry Magazine.

 I’m going to explore some of the different mindsets of violence.  In addition to the social classifications, there are three asocial types that I want to hit: the severely disturbed; those in great need; and those who enjoy acts of violence.
These mindsets are important to understand.  They are not like the way that most of us think.  These mindsets are rare enough and often alien enough that most people can comfortably pretend that no such thought process exists.  That’s a grave mistake.  It’s a grave mistake in understanding because you cannot understand much less empathize with a threat when you deny reality.
It is a grave tactical mistakes, because the techniques to avoid and de-escalate violence differs profoundly by the mindset of the threat.
And it is a grave social mistake, because when we deny these mindsets, our entire society is vulnerable to manipulation.

None of these mindsets are inhuman.  All can be understood.

Most humans have never been in a survival situation, never been on the edge of starvation, drowning, being burned to death or eaten by a predator.  Most of us have never been seriously worried that our children might starve.
Fears like these direct a very logical or very visceral kind of violence.
What most of us have experienced are ‘personality conflicts’ jerks and bullies and passive aggressive people.  Showboats, cowboys and corporate backstabbers at work.  Troubled and angry and often drunk relatives at family gatherings. 
These are the conflicts we are experienced in, and these are the conflicts we are prepared for.  We have strategies for all of these, and the strategies work.  This is our baseline.
The problem is that these are all examples of social violence—conflict designed to establish or clarify a dominance hierarchy, or to enforce a group’s rules or to determine who is an insider and who is an outsider.  These are qualitatively different than violence for survival.
Humans fight each other.  We butcher or hunt animals.  One is emotional, the other efficient.  One is for ego, the other for meat.
When a threat is human, our default is to defend ourselves in ways that have worked in this social context.  To treat an assailant in a similar way to how we deal with Uncle Bob when he gets a mean drunk on.
And so we see the film of a young girl targeted by a predator who looks away and tries to look small.  “If I don’t make eye contact and don’t give him a reason to be angry, he will leave me alone.”  After all, that is what worked to keep her father calm.  In this case, it just let the predator know that she was easy prey.

Most people will never experience a threat in this mindset.  These are not the muggers or serial predators.  True survival mode is triggered very rarely in our society.  Only shut-ins are in danger of starving.  People rarely get attacked by packs of dogs.
It does happen though, from one of four reasons:
Mental Illness:  Someone with severe mental illness, notably schizophrenia, may be reacting to a world that we cannot see or hear.  In that world, he or she may be in a survival situation, tormented or attacked.
Drugs and Alcohol:  Drugs can produce effects that mimic almost any form of mental illness or emotional state.  Hallucinogens can have the threat dealing with a world that others cannot see.  Stimulants (such as meth and PCP) suppress the higher brain functions.
Psychotic Break: Rarely goes into true survival panic mode, but a psychotic break can create some very dangerous situations.  This is not a psychologist’s term, but a cop’s term.  A psychotic break occurs when a person’s stress level gets to the point that things seem like a good idea that make no sense—like killing an ex-spouse to prove that you are the better parent.
Fear or Rage:  Lifeguards are taught to keep distance from drowning victims.  The most mild-mannered, inoffensive person will climb up on your shoulders and drown you without hesitation if it means a few more seconds of air.

As a class, we call these “EDPs” for “Emotionally Disturbed Persons”.  In the field it is almost impossible to tell the source of the emotional disturbance.  When someone wanders into traffic, it is hard to tell if it is a suicidal depression, or a profound autism where the subject doesn’t recognize the danger, or a schizophrenic episode where the traffic looks like something else.  It could be a reaction to hallucinogenic drugs or the person may have taken enough meth or PCP that they are feeling a little invincible.
You won’t diagnose the problem in the field.  You will recognize that the threat is not acting normally.
Like a drowning victim, most EDPs are dangerous when you try to help.  If you tackle someone running into traffic or pull someone away from a chainsaw, the threat will see being tackled, the threat will see being grabbed.
Cognition and logic are higher brain functions.  If the threat could be talked out of running into traffic, the threat would have been together enough not to run into traffic in the first place.  Most attempts to reason with severe EDPs fail because the higher brain functions are off-line…and this is where experts who talk about how to talk down extreme cases ring false--  most clinical psychologists have primarily dealt with people who were together enough to make it to the clinic.
If you intervene physically, the EDP may lash out in a panic and fight.  It will not be like any sparring match.  It will be more like trying to hold onto a wet cat that happens to weigh 180 pounds.  The EDP will fight with everything he or she has, and in some cases will fight to heart failure.

Does anything less than deadly force work with an EDP?  Most times, yes.  But not the social strategies mentioned above.  Generally, the things that work with EDPs are the same things that work with angry or nervous dogs.
First and foremost, both from a common sense and legal perspective, DO NOT get involved in calming an EDP if you have any choice.  It is not safe.  It is something for professionals and even they like having tasers to back things up.  If you have the option to safely and responsibly leave, take it.  Call for help.
If you do not, see to your own safety first.  If your life is in immediate jeopardy, do what you have to do.  Do NOT count on pain compliance or any technique that requires the threat to surrender.  The threat may not remember how to surrender.
Use barriers and position to ensure your safety and buy time.  Keep track of exits.
NEVER count on what you ‘know’ about the individual.  You know the conscious, thinking person.  That personality is submerged.  This one may be very different.  Uncle Bob might never hurt a fly.  Uncle Bob on meth might want to run over people in his pick-up.
Lower the stimulation level.  Limit noise, number of people talking and bright or flashing lights.  Move slowly.  Talk slowly.  Talk with a low, soothing voice.  Listen.  Be patient.
Patience is one of the keys- whether it is drugs or adrenaline, time will help burn it out of the threat’s system.  Don’t try to deal with this quickly.
Don't move fast.  Never startle an EDP.  Keep your voice low, slow and quiet.  High-pitched voices are signs of fear and fear is contagious.  Loud reads as angry and anger causes fear.  Your goal is to lower the adrenaline.
Listen.  If the EDP is talking, I find that most of the mentally ill have a strict internal logic.  If you can figure out what they are thinking, you might be able to identify and remove the source of fear.
Never pretend to share the threat's delusions.  With the exception of adult onset schizophrenia or inexperienced hallucinogen users, EDPs know to an extent, what is going on.  He may see the Blue Men but he knows that you don't if you pretend too, he knows you are a liar and cannot be trusted.

More on talking EDPs down can be found here:

A reputation for being crazy is very valuable in many of the street sub-cultures.  Acting crazy is a well-known way to get people to leave you alone.  It is also a way to intimidate, possibly for money, or to establish deniability for a planned bad act.
Being crazy isn’t fun and the real mentally ill work hard to be normal, so when someone draws attention to their own crazy acts, it’s a big red flag.
One of the first things to go when mentally ill people start to ‘decompensate’ is hygiene.  A too clean, well-groomed threat or one who looks like he dressed to impress is unlikely to be in a crisis.
EDPs can’t control themselves.  When you see someone threatening self-harm or doing something dangerous but pulling back just before it actually gets dangerous, suspect that it is a show.  Less a psychological emergency than a manipulation.

If you have to fight an EDP it will be a new experience.  They will not fight with any skill, no matter how many years of training.  But they will fight with frenzied injury and no regard for all of our subconscious little rules.  They are immensely dangerous.  Moreso because so few people train against frenzied flurry attacks.  But they will, generally, be fighting to escape.  let them, if you can.
Pain tends not to work.  Some don't feel it, some panic harder.  the essence of pain and almost any non-injurious technique is an implicit bargaining: "If you quit fighting, I will quit hurting you."  The EDP will not recognize that bargain and will mot remember how to surrender.  This is asocial.  The EDP is fighting like panicked prey and sees you as an attacking animal, not someone trying to help.
Strikes can also be unreliable.  Lots of strikes don't have a physiological reason to shut someone down.  Exhausting the EDP may work-- using mass or numbers to hold limbs-- but some have continued to fight to heart failure in those conditions.
The two (non-lethal) things that work most reliably are the physics of leverage and leverage points and the techniques of cutting off blood to the brain (vascular strangulations, not air chokes.)

If you have to use force against an EDP, it will not be a good scene.  Likely it will be an extreme level of force.  Between the panic reaction and the common immunity to pain, most lower levels of force are ineffective.  Of the less-lethal force options, the sleeper hold is the most reliable followed, in my experience, by the Taser.
There will be significant fallout, both internally and in the world.
We all face the possibility of using force and most of us have thought about the ramifications of using force and come to terms with our own ethics.  But on some level, if we ever use force, especially deadly force, we want it to be against a bad person.  A murderer or rapist.
A true EDP is not a bad person.  With brain chemistry out of balance, his actions are not under his or her own control.  Killing an EDP may be necessary for our own survival, it may be justified, but there is no element of justice in it…and we want, maybe need, that element of justice.  We want the threat to, in some way, deserve the force.
This is not a platitude or a political screed.  I am telling you this in the hopes of in some small way preparing you.  If you use force on an EDP, expect it to have deeper and longer-term psychological issues than using the same force on a predator.
Subconsciously, this is what drives the media frenzy after force is used on an EDP.
Remember here most of all, that self-defense is not about justice.  It is about stopping bad things from happening.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

CofV Lesson 3: The Second Model

Again, this is adapted from the upcoming Conflict Communications book.

There will be some scientific details in what follows.  Feel free to ignore it.  Unless you are doing research, the background science is not important.  The concepts are.  And you know what?  I’m not a scientist, so don’t take my word on anything.
Again, like Maslow, this is a model, not a theory.  Many models are useful, none are TRUE.  
For our purposes you have three brains, which we will call the Lizard, the Monkey and the Human.

The Lizard is the oldest part of your thinking brain, the hindbrain.  Your survival instincts (particularly fight/flight/freeze responses) are triggered here.  This is the part of your thinking brain most closely tied to your physical coordination, to your physical body and your senses.  This is you, the animal.
The Lizard also has an affinity for ritual and rhythm.  Habits are laid down in this part of the brain, as are the little rituals that become mannerisms.  I always add a little dash of coffee grounds to the pot, no matter how carefully I measured it.  A mutual friend starts every conversation with, “How’s it going?”  Our black cat meows when he can see the bottom of the bowl.  Habit and ritual.
Rhythm is often used to get in touch with this old part of the mind, as in tribal drumming and ecstatic dance.  I noticed it another way, though.  When a criminal was getting adrenalized, losing his ability to reason as he got angrier and angrier, closer to exploding in violence, he would often develop odd little tics that were often rhythmic—shrugging his shoulders or bouncing on his toes.

The Monkey brain corresponds to the limbic system, the emotional brain.  The Monkey is completely concerned with social behavior, with status and what other people might think.  The Monkey cannot distinguish between humiliation and death.
For much of our evolution, being cast out of the tribe was to be sentenced to a slow and lonely death.  The Monkey knows this and fears being ostracized above all things.  Soldiers could not be relied on in wartime if the fear of being laughed at as a coward didn’t override the fear of death.
You will see the power of the Monkey in dangerous situations.  In natural disasters or major events such as the Twin Towers destruction, people were milling around, talking to each other, seeing what the other monkeys were going to do.  In Baghdad, when an explosion went off near by, some people would hit the floor.  Some (who had been there a while and could judge distance and safety) pretty much ignored it.  Most looked around to see what they were supposed to do.
Because most of the conflict we experience comes from this level, the Monkey scripts drive a lot of current human conflict behavior.

The neo-cortex, what we call the Human brain, is the new kid on the block.  It is thoughtful, usually rational (but only as good as its information).  It is also slow.  Gathering evidence, weighing options and possibilities takes time.  It tends to find a good solution, but usually one of the older sections of the brain has a decision all set to go before the neo-cortex has fully explored the problem.

You have three different brains with three different priorities.  They evolved to deal with different kinds of conflict.  They work using different scripts.  They also have a very clear seniority system.
The Lizard’s only concern is your individual survival.  It is utterly ruthless.  It is also conservative and extremely resistant to anything new.  This is why it is so hard, especially for people who have lived dangerous lives (such as victims of chronic child abuse) to change.  The Lizard only cares about survival.  No matter how hard life has been, how dangerous it is, or how clearly it seems that a bad ending is inevitable, all the Lizard knows is that you what you are doing hasn’t gotten you killed yet.  Any change might.
This can be especially obvious in moments of extreme fear.  When a rookie officer tries the same wristlock again and again even though it is not working; when an officer repeats over and over, “Drop the weapon, drop the weapon,” when it is clear he has no choice but to shoot, the Lizard is freezing them into a loop.  The Lizard assumes it is a survival loop because it hasn’t gotten you killed yet…
Most people only experience the Lizard in moments of extreme terror, if at all.  This means that they associate it with the Survival Stress Response, the cascade of stress hormones that flood your body under extreme threat.  The stress hormones affect your vision and hearing, your memory, your coordination and your judgment.  The stress hormones may make you clumsy, tunnel-visioned, functionally deaf, stupid, stubborn and incapable of remembering anything.
People who have only experienced the Lizard under these conditions assume that the Lizard is clumsy and stupid.  Not so.  An elite athlete “in the zone” is functioning almost wholly in the Lizard brain.  Watch a kid playing a video game he or she has mastered and you see the lizard brain, totally absorbed in a task.
As the oldest and concerned with the very highest priority, survival, the Lizard brain has the chemical power to completely take over your brain.  It can hijack you whenever it feels the need.  This hijacking is usually (only?) triggered by fear of imminent death.

The Monkey is concerned with social survival and status.  It literally cannot distinguish between humiliation and death. 
This is a key point in many very serious issues.  At a low level, you can see it in action by taking a group of friends out bungee jumping.  Fear of falling is one of the two fears that appeared to be hard-wired into human infants (the other is loud noises).  In bungee jumping there is a small but real risk of injury.  It usually takes a few minutes of cajoling to get a timid person to jump. A risk taker or adrenaline junkie will not need much encouragement but will usually hesitate just before making the leap.  It takes an act of will, of some degree, to overcome one of the deepest genetic fears that humans have.
Afterwards, take the same group of friends out to a karaoke bar and try to get them to sing.  Some absolutely won’t.  A few will, if they have performed before.  For most it will take alcohol, insults, teasing all to overcome a fear of… what?
What a bunch of drunk strangers will think?  Not even that, because two beers later the drunk strangers won’t even remember your singing.  Why is this fear, this imaginary fear of what other people might think so powerful?
Make no mistake, it is powerful.
In “Machete Season” Jean Hatzfeld documents a man in the Rwandan genocide who went out every morning to hunt Tutsi and hack them up—men, women and children—with machetes.  The man said that the taunts and jeering and laughter if he didn’t join in were much worse, ‘like a poison.’
The monkey is powerful, and it explains some very deep, very dangerous puzzles in human behavior, conflict and trauma.
The physical injuries from rape often heal quickly.  The psychic scars take much longer if they heal at all.  Because the monkey brain’s view of how the world should work, the things that can and can’t happen, how people treat each other are shattered.
That people stay in a clearly abusive relationship is a puzzle, but not for the monkey.  The monkey knows that it is still a relationship.  That you have a tribe and a place, no matter how painful, is less terrifying than to be alone or to be uncertain of your place.
Listen to those words: painful, terrifying.  The Monkey is the seat of emotions. 
There are deeper emotions.  The Lizard understands a pure joy in the physical world that rarely makes it to the conscious mind.  The lizard also understands a primal fear of extinction.
The Monkey, however, lives on the social nuances of emotion.
It is less afraid of dying than of being seen as a coward, of shame.  The Monkey turns honest grief into self-pity.  Sometimes it turns Lizard fear into rage, and that can be a profound survival strategy, but the Monkey can also produce rage in response to an imagined insult.
It is not always negative.  The connections with family, friends and our sense of belonging to any group triggers at the Monkey level.  It allows compassion, patriotism, self-sacrifice and a desire to make a better future for others.  The monkey is the one who can feel the concept of a community.
Sometimes, guided and influenced by the Human brain, it is rational and altruistic.  Even when it is not, the Monkey mind feels rational.  This is a huge danger.
Studies have shown that when people who label themselves ‘conservative’ or ‘liberal’ are asked to explain their political views they feel logical.  They sound logical.  But their neo-cortex (where logic resides) isn’t even active.  The activity is in their limbic system, their emotional centers.  Their Monkey brains.
When you label yourself, whether by nationality or creed or political party or business affiliation or social club, you are in your Monkey brain.  No matter how rational you feel, the label has the specific purpose of identifying you within a tribe and preventing you from thinking rationally.
Because, if you notice a pattern here, all of these obviously silly or inefficient Monkey Strategies (staying in bad relationships, hacking up others, fear of humiliation, labeling) do work.  They just don’t work for you.  They work to keep the groups together.
The Lizard, the Monkey and Death
The Lizard is only concerned with survival and outranks the Monkey, so how, as mentioned earlier, can there be soldiers?  Why doesn’t the Lizard keep people from getting into the position of choosing between status and survival?
Because the Lizard cannot deal with abstract concepts.  The idea that a mortar might hit you has no meaning, no immediacy to the Lizard.  Once the Lizard has heard the whistle and seen an explosion, the example becomes real.
Then, though it might run, it also learned that the training worked.  Once the lizard trusts the training, you can get a hyper-efficient soldier.

We like to think that our Human mind is who we really are.  We like to think that we spend a lot of time there.  Get over that.
The Lizard and the Monkey both work at a level below words.  You can think of it as subconscious.  Words are symbols, imprecise and slow.  The Human mind is the master of words and symbols.  Words have great power in explaining our actions to others.  And to ourselves.
Research has shown, very consistently, that in many cases decisions are made subconsciously before the conscious (Human) brain has even finished evaluating the question.
If someone asks, “Which of these shirts do you like best?”  Your subconscious mind will have chosen one before your conscious mind really starts to compare them.  When you are asked why you chose one, your conscious mind will have an answer—an answer completely invented well after the decision was made.
Much of the time spent in our Human mind is spent making up reasons for what we already believe or have already decided.  Sometimes we are explaining it to others.  Often we are explaining it to ourselves.  As long as there is no friction, as long as our explanations work well enough that our map of reality isn’t obviously whacked, our brains don’t care if our explanations are accurate.
That’s right.  We only care if we are lying to ourselves if it gets us in trouble later.  Frankly, the Monkey and the Lizard don’t give a damn about explanations.
You know this.  Think of a time when someone made an incredibly stupid decision.  Didn’t that person have a very reasonable sounding explanation?  That’s the Human covering for the Monkey.  Now think of a time when you made an incredibly bad decision…
Despite its slowness, its capacity for self-delusion and the ease with which it can be hijacked, the Human brain is extremely powerful.  The Human brain solves problems.  That’s what it does.
Using abstract reasoning (something the Lizard can’t comprehend) and juggling symbols (something the Monkey often can’t distinguish symbols from what the symbols represent—the probable basis for hypnosis and much of primitive magic) the human brain brings relatively new and unheard-of powers to solving problems:
How do we get these supplies over the border?  Why isn’t the car starting?  What do these symptoms mean?  How do I reach my goal?
Only the Human mind can understand an abstract goal and work towards it.  The Monkey and the Lizard, despite their strengths, are purely reactive.

What this means for martial artists and self-defense and people interested in responding to violence (and this isn't in the current edition of the manual.  We'll see if it gets added:

Skilled fighting, self defense training, is a very human brained activity.  Good training is logical.  It works.
Unfortunately, the lizard doesn't believe in training.  Which means that on the edge of survival, you won't use your skills.  the lizard will push the human away, "Back off, kid, adults be talkin' now.  I been handlin' this since T rex roamed the earth..."  Usually, the natural reactions have to fail before the hindbrain will relent and let you use the trained skills.  If and when that happens, however, and when the hindbrain begins to trust the training... the hindbrain will back you a hundred percent and you will come to fight with both the skill you have trained and your efficient essence as an animal.  that is levels beyond what most people have ever experienced, but it is incredible.
Except, if your monkey brain is triggered.  Which it often will if you are facing another human.  The monkey will not necessarily recognize a potentially lethal assault situation.  It will see another human being.  It will likely (unless you have ben raised or trained to not see people you don't know as humans) want to respond as if this was an in-house problem.  Which means the monkey will instinctively not injure (because that will weaken the tribe).  The monkey will posture-- trying to look big, squaring up, flexing muscles, possibly the worse possible way to stand in a fight.  And when the monkey does hit, it will hit to communicate.  Most women slap, most men do a looping punch at the head.  Neither of those will do serious injury, and sending a message without serious injury is the monkey's intention.  Does this make sense?  Not for self-defense. But if you look at it clearly everything you do instinctively in a fight are the exact things that would impress a female chimp.  they want to see strength and endurance and aggression, not sneaky ruthless efficiency.
So two levels of deep wiring can completely subvert years of training.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Attributes, Grace and Self-Defense

Been out of touch for a couple of days.  And I'll get back to the class.  But there are other things to write about.

Finished the second day of Logic of Violence in Edinburgh.  The students derived about 30% of what I know (as opposed to 80% in Granada Hills).  That is still a six year reduction in what it took me.  Loving this as a teaching method.

One of the first things that everyone derives, so far, is exploiting momentum.  It's not new.  Every realistic combative method teaches it.  But until people get exposed to the dynamics of assault, it's an intellectual knowledge.  Not a feeling.  Not an understanding.  Exposed in the right way it is seen for what it is-- a crucial aspect of self-defense.

Old school stuff required it.  The civilian self-defense that arose over time knew that the essence of self-defense was to be outmatched in size and strength and weapons and whatever else the bad guy had arranged.  The old military systems (when sword and spear were king) realized that the unarmed arts were poor, last-ditch efforts against a superior and armed opponent.  Early sport, like my beloved old-school (pre-weight class) judo relied on the concept as well.

Sport has changed that.  Being stronger, faster and more endurant are keys to winning.  Are they?  Or are these attributes simply the easiest to develop when you are a young male?  Compared to mat sense and timing and awareness-- which all add up to 'grace under fire'-- are they the best skills?  Or merely the easiest to develop in that demographic?

BJJ reversed the trend for a time.  In the early UFCs we saw grace under pressure defeating size and strength.  But the competition mindset and the drive to create something exciting to watch drove a very particular kind of change.  Add to that the fact that competition appeals to a very specific group of people-- young men with something to prove.

I'm not disparaging that.  Young men are driven to know who they truly are.  They want to be tested under pressure.  MMA is the latest stage of a long evolution of finding a relatively safe way to test the limits of identity.  I applaud the people who play and I am a little appalled and very unimpressed by those who watch and talk and don't test.  Because an even bigger demographic than young men who test themselves is the demographic of young men who want to, but are afraid.

Side note-- I asked a young man if he had ever served in the military.  Very primly he said, "I have never had that honor."  Bullshit.  There is absolutely an honor to it but you don't get it handed to you.  You want that honor you get off you lazy, cowardly ass and volunteer.

Anyway, the ones who are driven to certain kinds of training are both the ones least likely to need it (who are you going to pick as a victim, a 200 pound martial athlete or a 120 pound elderly woman?) and the ones who get the most from attribute training.  If I catch you young enough, especially before puberty, I can make you incredibly strong, endurant, flexible, able to withstand pain... all that good stuff.  And, unfortunately, that is more true for males than females.  Biology speaks.

When you don't have those?

Logic of Violence makes it incredibly clear that physical self-defense is all about recovering from a position of disadvantage.  And that, simply, requires better physics (and some things conditioned to reflex).  Mat sense.  Timing.  The stuff that old guys use in class every day to show the young pups that it is not all about size or strength or aggression.

Within that context, young men start to see the value of the old school basics.  So that's my goal, and my advice to you.  Train your body, your physicality, like you are a fit young man.  But train your skills like you are a sneaky old women.  That's the best of both worlds.  And it is the best option when a predator chooses you.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

CofV Lesson 2: The First Model

What follows is from a draft of the upcoming Conflict Communications Manual:

The idea is simple.  If you are in danger of dying—starving, thirsty, sick or about to be killed and eaten-- that is your highest priority.  Until you have taken care of your immediate survival needs you don’t give a damn, and you don’t waste resources, on anything else.
Once your immediate physical needs are taken care of, you can start thinking about your physical security.  How do you arrange to have food and water tomorrow and next week?  How do you get shelter to protect you from the elements and from predators? 
The next stage is the awkwardly titled “Belongingness” need.  Humans in the wild are poorly adapted to live alone.  Providing all of the physical security needs are easier with a group, with tasks divided among several people.  This is compounded by the fact that human children cannot survive alone.  We are born into a family group of some sort and spend the rest of our lives in groups.  Not only are few humans fit to survive alone, most can’t even truly imagine being alone for any length of time.
Almost as important as being in a group is knowing your place within that group.  Maslow linked this to status in the group, being loved and respected.  That’s nice, but the need is deeper and less logical than that.  Even being low status, a pariah, is less stressful than being unsure of your status.  Most people have felt this uncertainty joining a new job or new team or a new school.  You’re on board, maybe even have a title and official status… but you need to see where you fit with the social groups, the unofficial status hierarchy.  Again, fitting in somewhere is far more important than where you fit in.
Lastly, according to Maslow, if all of these needs are fulfilled an individual can self-actualize.  You can live your dreams.  Follow your heart.  Write poetry or sculpt or do philanthropic charity work.  Or you can live out your serial killer fantasies.
That’s important.  Not everyone shares your dreams.  Not all humans draw joy from the same things.  The pattern (whether of Maslow’s hierarchy or the scripts we address later) are nearly universal.  Their expression, however, can run the entire spectrum of human thought and feeling.  If you give a man everything he needs, he will start looking for what he wants.  What he (or she, men have no monopoly on this) wants may be to dominate or to destroy.  You cannot simultaneously ignore this fact and deal with it.

You cannot simultaneously ignore problems and solve them.

Maslow’s Hierarchy creates a pyramid.  The more vital something is to survival, the closer it is to the base.
As a theory, it has some obvious holes.  It implies that there could be no art without a steady food supply.  There is no mechanism in the theory for either heroism or death poems.  It also implies that these levels are something we work through from the base upwards when, in reality, our ancestors took care of the two lowest levels long ago and we are almost all born into a group.
So, in my opinion, as a theory it’s crap.  As a model, however, Maslow’s pyramid is extremely useful for anyone who deals with conflict.  If someone has multiple problems, they will deal with the lowest level first.  When a tiger is chewing on your leg, you really don’t give a damn about your relationship issues or unresolved maternal relationship problems.
Conflicts stemming from different levels have different patterns.
Survival Level. If you are drowning or under attack with a knife, the skills you need are unrelated to the skills you need for a promotional exam.  The resources that your body and mind can bring to bear are also very different.  They are completely different problems.
Nothing you have learned about sales or mediation will help you hunt, grow or steal food.  Conversely, if you go into mediation as a hunter or thief, it will probably not work out so well.
For most people in the industrialized world, the bottom two levels of the pyramid have never been a concern.  It has been almost a century since Americans had to worry about winter starvations or an epidemic killing thousands of people.  It has been sixty years since Western Europeans have experienced invading armies.
Security Level.  Shelter, food, water.  Also savings accounts, insurance and retirement plans.  There is not a lot of fear at the security level in our society, but there is a lot of anxiety, and that drives some conflict.  You can see Union/Management issues this way, as well as some arguments between spouses.
When big problems, like starving or being eaten alive by bears fade, energy goes into other concerns. 

The Social Levels (Belongingness and Esteem)
For most people, the conflicts they have been exposed to originate exclusively from the social levels of the pyramid.  People trying to work their way into a group (and others trying to prevent this), people bucking for position within the group and people breaking or disrespecting the rules of the group.
Social conflict rarely leads to serious violence.  It would be counterproductive, after all, to destroy a group you wanted to be part of or to create so much hate and fear that you couldn’t enjoy status.  When it does lead to extreme violence, such as a workplace shooting, the shooter is aware that he will not be getting a membership invitation from the group afterwards.
This is the one area where people have extensive experience with conflict, and it is easy to base beliefs on this experience. 
Status struggles at work to “that’s my seat” at the bar, the patterns are predictable.  This is the level where ego gets in the way.  Where it is not enough to solve the problem, but you need to get credit for solving the problem.  Where you need to ‘teach a lesson’ or show who is boss.
Generally, the Self Actualized conflicts should be the easiest to resolve because there are no survival or esteem issues at risk. As long as both people are working from that level.  If you are writing in your free time after you have put in time at work (paycheck covers the survival needs) and are writing for joy, unconcerned about what others think (no esteem issues) there is no rational problem.  And no one working from a similar, self-actualized level will have a problem.
Unfortunately, someone who feels a need to dominate (social levels) will be driven to tell you to quit wasting your time and do something useful.
There is an exception to this.  Some of the most violent people in the world are fully self-actualized.  They are not killing and raping out of need or desperation, nor are they committing violence out of some deep psychological pain.  They kill or rape because they enjoy it.
Kill or rape is an extreme example.  Less extreme, there are people who destroy other people’s careers when they have no need and people who seduce and abandon who do it simply for pleasure.

Conflict or violence can be triggered from any level.  

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Classifications of Violence 1: Violence and Conflict

I'll try, but the language won't always be clear.  As a default, I will probably use the word fight when I mean assault or counter-assault, and things like that.  But the blending of violence and conflict is huge.  It is not a division, nor is it a precise scalar.

One example that may be useful is bullying.  If my friend wants to go to fast food and I drive to a nice restaurant instead, is it bullying?  I'm taking charge, disregarding wishes, showing that my desires are more important than his or hers, dominating.  THAT IS ALL IN THERE.  Is it bullying?  Does your assessment change if I pay? If I insist on splitting the check even though I chose? If I say I want things my way?  If I don't say it? Do I need to say a mean thing?  What if I know the only reason my friend wanted fast food was for economy and I'm trying to be nice?  Is paternalistic dominance any different than the other kind?

And, quick experiment but I doubt if one person in ten is honest enough to truly answer the question-- if we reversed the initial premise and I force us to go to fast food, do your political sensibilities around fast food make that choice worse and therefor more bullying than the other way?  Is it not bullying if it is "for their own good?" And isn't that self-righteous bullying the most dangerous of all?

Point is, no two people will have the exact same line on what constitutes what behavior.  And no person will be completely consistent  either.

Conflict is natural and endemic.  It will never, ever go away.  Tropical plants poison and strangle each other for sunlight.  No two people will ever agree on 'best.'  If we want the same concrete things, we will compete for them.  If we want different abstract ideas, we will compete there as well.  It would take an infinite amount of resources to make concrete competition go away and an insect-like hive mind to make the abstract competition go away.

And that creates conflict.  And almost every aspect of human behavior and language, on some level, is about managing conflict.

So where does conflict become violence?  My answer would not be yours.  Marc likes using a dictionary definition just to show that the definition of 'violence' is so broad as to be meaningless.  A violent emotion, a violent storm, a violent outburst, a violent assault.  In practice, I find that people define violence as conflict that scares them or really offends them.

My example-- there are acts of physical force that I don't find violent.  Spin the guy, shove him against the wall and cuff him.  I see no violence in that. I know that other people do. Spin the guy, sweep his legs out from under him and cuff him, I see a glimmer of tiny violence in the takedown, but it's borderline.  Yet I see a huge amount of violence in grooming a child to be a victim personality.  In that entire process there might not be even a harsh word... but I see it as profoundly violent.

Everyone will see and feel that line in a different place.  Don't sweat it.

For our purposes, this is why we need to think about this:  In what follows we will be talking about the motivations and patterns of beatings, assaults, muggings, rape and murder.  But the exact same patterns will show up in other kinds of conflict that never rise to the physical level.  A violent group will punish a member who betrays with an orgy of violence, with all of the loyal members participating.  It is the exact same pattern as a group of high school girls starting a gossip/character assassination campaign because one of them started dating the clique leader's ex.

Don't think of violence as exotic.  It is just more magnified.  The patterns of conflict change very little even with extremes of expression, you just have to look at the pattern.

So, you DO have experience.  Just at a different magnification.  Take any examples or categories I give and look for the corollaries in your life.

And, second, as a favor-- just because something follows the pattern, please don't try to pretend that they are equivalent.  Being bullied is not the same as being murdered, words do not cut like knives.  This is something that people cling to in order to make their personal lives and experience seem more special.  That's a trap.  Whenever possible, personally, I take a step back and realize how very simple and comparatively easy my life has been.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Classifications of Violence and Conflict Part 0

Soon we begin the on-line free class (although there is a donation button).  No idea how often I will post these or how long each will take to write.  It will probably be collected into a stand alone e-book when it is done, along with expansions inspired by any questions.

So, this is lesson zero. Which means an introduction.

The class is going to cover different types of violence.  The underlying drives of the different types, the patterns and some hints on avoidance, prevention and de-escalation.  At the end of the class you should be able to tell them apart.  It should also point out some common blindspots.

Most of the material isn't new, but it is spread out.  I'll be drawing from sections of "Facing Violence" "Violence:  AWriter's Guide" a series of articles I did for Concealed Carry magazine, and the Conflict Communications material.  And if it comes together...

It won't be comprehensive.  For two reasons.  First, the subject is vast and my brain and experience are both limited.  Second, this is the blog, not how I make a living, so it will not be my first writing priority*. Going into advice, specific strategies... that would make my poor little typing fingers (I only have two, my left index and right middle finger) very tired.  I'll try to answer relevant questions unless it starts to take up too much time.

And there might be homework.  Haven't decided yet.

*Current writing project (won't be long enough for a real book, so expect an e-book) is about how to teach cops.
Added material.  Occurred to me that I might lose the bar napkin the lesson plan is written on, so just so I don't forget (and, of course, subject to change) the basic lesson plan:

Lesson 1: Conflict vs. Violence
2: The first underlying model
2.1: The second underlying model
3: Survival Violence
4: Social Violence Overview
5: MD
6: GMD
7: EBD
8: SSS
9: Asocial Overview
10: Resource Predators
11: Process Predators
12: ID of Danger
12.1 Adrenaline signs, skilled and unskilled
12.2 Distinguishing social and asocial
12.3 Special cases- Cyclic violence and both date rape dynamics
13 Comfort Levels (may go earlier in the lesson plan)

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sheffield Snow

Sheffield seminar done.  Two good days with a roomful of good men.  We covered the A&T (Ambushes and Thugs, the Introduction to Violence) material.

It was frustrating for me.  Knee brace, cane and strict orders not to play.  I love rolling with good people.  Getting into the toilet stalls and practicing environmental fighting.  Doing the mass brawl in the concrete fire escape stairwell.  So I played a little. Don't tell my doctor.  And had a great time.  But there are a few things, like fighting, martial sports, football and naked dancing that were never meant to be spectator sports.  The fun is in playing, not watching.

Still, for career reasons it's good to know that I can teach even when I'm crippled up.  That the message still get through.  Some good feedback.

Some repeats from last year including one who'd been at Edinburgh.

And, as always, the talk and camaraderie at the pub.  And anyone who says English food is terrible really needs to try gammon.  And bacon tomato sandwiches. And hunter's pie.  And their pub snack pork rinds are way more like New Orleans cracklin's than grocery store chicharrones.  I'll have to try to bring some back if DHS will let a packaged meat product through.

Rambling.  Karen and Garry are wonderful hosts and good people.  Watching them banter really makes me miss K.  Got to see John again and Mick and Mike and Mike, all of whom left an impression last year.

The eight hour time difference is exactly wrong for calling home.  K is leaving for work as the seminar winds up; I'll be asleep when she gets home.  Slight possibility she will still be awake if I get up early enough in the morning.  The twelve hour difference in Iraq actually made calling much easier.

A&T-- covered One-step, seeing and efficient movement; Context of self-defense (the '7' talk); blindfolded infighting; SD Law (shortened version, I'm not in the US); power generation, power stealing and power conservation; Violence Dynamics; Counter-assault; Ground movement; ethics and application of pain; striking from the ground; dynamic fighting; using walls and geometry; environmental fighting; groups; fighting to the goal.  Plus a debrief each day.  And the end of class ritual.

Lots of thinking.  Looked like some lightbulbs went off.

Next up: Edinburgh.  Unless someone wants to do something during the weekdays.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

Freudian Slip

Driving my kids around last week I saw a sign for "Little Nippers Daycare."
I absolutely read it as "Little Snipers."

Wouldn't that be fun?
"Tommy, I saw you move.  It's only been an hour."
"Sarah, I can hear you breathing.  You aren't quiet enough."
"No, Billy, you can't go to the restroom.  That's what your empty canteen is for."

Easiest, quietest job with kids ever.  The gift shop would have little ghillie suits for toddlers.  Of course, you could never take them on a walk in the park.

When my kids were little we would sometimes play a game I learned from my parents-- Hide and Don't Seek.  I'd send them to hide and remind them to be extra still and extra quiet and that I would not only find them but stalk them silently.  Then I would get done whatever job I needed the peace and quiet for. After that I would go look.  "You guys did so good!  It took me almost an hour to find you!"

I was not a good father.

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Three Things

Some of you are working on your list of Principles.  Cool.  Refer back to that link to see where I'm going next.

I'm sure there are more, but for my purposes, there are three distinct modes of teaching and learning:

  • Conditioning
  • Training
  • Play

To make this useful, we have to define them.
For our purposes, 'Training' is verbal teaching, explanation, patterns and repetitions.  Almost anything that you learn as a step-by-step process.  Practicing basics is training.  Going over the mechanics of a particular submission is training.  Kata is training.  Shadowboxing a specific pattern is training.  Whiteboard lecture on SD law or violence dynamics is training.

Conditioning is pairing a stimulus with a response.  Through immediate reward (punishment also works but can have some side effects) it can bring action up to nearly reflex speed.  It has limitations-- it's very difficult if not impossible to condition a complex response. The stimulus must be realistic, etc.  But conditioning is what you need in very fast situations.  And (proper) conditioning does come out under stress.  Responses that have only been trained seem to require experience before they can be accessed under stress (the 3-5 encounters that Ken Murray mentioned in "Training at the Speed of Life").

Play is getting into a chaotic environment with the fewest possible restrictions and getting a feel for what works.  Randori, sparring, live training and competition.  But there are also a lot of games in different things.  And nothing beats reality.  No one has become a good driver just through classroom lessons or simulators.  You can memorize all the vocabulary and grammar rules but until you can bargain and argue and flirt, you don't really know a language.

Conditioning is limited, but it has a critical aspect that is invaluable.  It is not only effective under stress but it is fast when done properly.  How many reps does it take to learn to throw the perfect reverse punch?  That's training.  How many reps did it take for you to learn not to touch a hot stove? That's conditioning.  It is powerful.  And conditioning is always on.  Your hindbrain is constantly learning lessons, getting a feel for what works and what hurts.  It is incredibly common for an instructor to teach something different than he is conditioning.  You teach pulling punches, you will yell at the student who makes contact.  Punching is taught but missing is conditioned.  The student will miss under stress.

Playing is critical because not just improvising but improvising subconsciously (the conscious mind is too slow) is possibly the most critical skill when things go bad.  Playing is how your skills become 'nothing special.'  Just a normal way to move.  Playing moves what you have trained from your too-slow neocortex to a deeper part of your brain.

Training is the aspect I find myself questioning.  Some stuff is complex and almost everything interconnects.  Your higher brain is the only part that can grasp that, so training is critical.  But almost by definition, training wires skills to the part of the brain that is least effective in a crisis.  Critical.  Especially critical for talking about, challenging and improving your stuff.  You can't share information easily or clearly by the other two methods-- so without training everyone is in the trap of their personal experience and personal lives.  I believe it was Kano who said, "We must learn from the mistakes of others because we will never live long enough to make all the mistakes ourselves."

So is training necessary?  How necessary?  How much?  When and how is it counterproductive?  Does rote repetition actually make you worse under stress?  I know it does if the environment is too different. I know it can get you killed if you don't recognize when you are staying on a script and the world is changing.  So is training good?  Sub-optimal? Bad? A necessary evil?  How necessary?  And do most people spend most of their time with that aspect because they believe it works?  Or because the other two are too simple to satisfy our monkey minds?  Or because we all know, on some level, that training is easier, more controllable and often safer than conditioning or play?  And humans love control, safety and ease.

Real quick, the next step in our program, as the students identified the principle became:
Is there an aspect of the principle that can or must be conditioned?  How?
What needs to be trained to understand and apply this principle?
Can we come up with a game that relies on the principle so that it becomes natural, easy and fun?

Note- Play includes conditioning.  Instant feedback to what works and what doesn't; immediate reward and punishment.  And play also provides 'teachable moments' where you can, with a few words, evoke a principle and increase efficiency.