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.


Unknown said...

"You want that honor you get off you lazy, cowardly ass and volunteer."

I think you are a little harsh on him. He is just young. Youngsters are always like that - they don't think too deep about things they say, but love stilted style. I know, I was like that.

"Train your body, your physicality, like you are a fit young man. But train your skills like you are a sneaky old women."
Learned something new from you. 'Like old woman'. Hmm...

Wanted some time to say: great blog. Very interesting.

Old Bull Lee said...

Maybe I'm reading the phrasing all wrong, but it sounds a respectful answer. More like "I never earned that honor" than "I was never given the honor."

Anonymous said...

I often wonder about that when I'm the only 120 lb elderly woman in a class with lots of young lads. Perhaps I should concentrate on the 'sneaky'!?