Thursday, January 02, 2014

Find and Make

Welcome to 2014 everybody.
One of those thoughts that's so core it is rarely conscious, and one of the ones that crosses over all aspects of life and survival.  Beginners make things.  Skilled beginners are skilled at making things.  Lazy pros find things.

The most important principle of joint locks is the concept of 'gifts.' If you are strong enough and willing to get punched a lot, you can close on a threat, grab his hand, and try to force the one wristlock you've learned.  If you're strong enough and don't get too concussed, it might even work.

To try to set up the lock-- "If I flick at his eye his hand will come up and I'll just turn my hand, catch his..." is more advanced, but on the same scale. It's dependent on both being more clever than the opponent (which is rarely true under assault-- surprise and adrenaline tend to do wonky things to the tactical side of your brain) and the opponent following the script perfectly. That's why I use opponent instead of threat, because it only tends to work if both people are playing nice and following the same protocols.  In other words, combinations tend to work much better in martial arts studios than in the wild.

And someone who is really good just sees the lock (or strike or takedown) that is already set up in the threat's body and just finishes it.

Grappling is the easiest to see.  Beginners try to get through on muscle and, sometimes, speed or flexibility-- but they gas out. And lose.

Good grapplers are playing chess, knowing that the natural resistance to move X will be defense Y which sets up finish Z.

But the best aren't doing this anymore. They know that there is no way the opponent can move that doesn't have a gift.  Everything their opponent does is an opportunity.  The mind and body are both more relaxed (one of the keys, by the way if you want to run a line).

In striking arts, amateurs try to set up their favorite combinations and moves.  The best have a strike for whatever opening appears.

Everything.  Obviously I'm thinking of the jointlock video, but in the post on independence, Michael said that firecraft was a more important consideration in certain climates than shelter.  I've spent some time there, and occasionally needed a fire badly.  From relatively bitter experience I know you have to get out of the rain and the wind to have any hope of getting a fire started.  Do you make a shelter first? Nope, but you find shelter first.  And it's reflexive enough to anyone who has actually done it, that we don't think about it.

Even driving.  I know some crappy, dangerous, aggressive drivers.  They go for any gap they can, push to get a few car lengths ahead. It does take some skill to shoot for the gaps that they do.  Some skill, not much.  These guys are literally relying on the reflexes and good graces of others to stay alive.  But the best driver I know (a former rally driver) moves through traffic seamlessly.  He makes better gains faster than the aggressive drivers...and no one notices.  He doesn't tailgate to create gaps, he moves into available bubbles that are moving slightly faster that the aggressive drivers don't even see.

The more I get into this the more it seems that everything is about learning to see.


nry said...

Learning to see...or perhaps learning beyond that, the whole zanshin/empty mind concept again. The skilled driver is fully aware of traffic and gaps before they even need them, pretty much using the gaps etc. when they do need them without much thought. Same goes for martial arts - the skilled martial artist sees and uses the gaps and timing of the attacker/opponent instinctually without any major thought...perhaps without any thought at all.

Maija said...

The other half to this is being able to take advantage of whatever gifts are given, whether incrementally, buying time/space, or finishing.

Your rally driver friend is always ... driving ... is PART of the action, not separate. Options are continuously available.

if you are 'calibrated'. there seems to be a bigger sense of the 'before' and 'after' as one river rather than just seeing 'now', 'now', 'now'.

(Sorry, reached the limits of my ability to describe in words ... as suggested by all the inverted commas)

Josh Kruschke said...

To see/find do you not have to first be actively looking.

To be total focused in the now.

To see the now. To deal in the now. To take note of and plan for possible outcomes, but take no action but in the now.
Too many people focus on a past they can not change or a future that may not come to pass.

If he had done... If he does... vs. What is he doing now that I can exploit.

The zone.

Not just seeing but being. It's not enough to see but to be able to act on what you see.

Look —> See —> Act

(Kind of looks like the OODA. Hmmm... The first step is observe.)

Unknown said...

In some martial arts, violating the form of the technique, while still applying the underlying principle is considered the highest level of mastery. Never understood why they don't turn it around and start teaching that way. If you can teach the principles, AND make them understand very well, they can progress a LOT faster than teaching motions.

nry and Josh K:
You just put the bug in my ear, that maybe the concept of FLOW in western psychology is connected to, or may even be the same as zanshin. Flow is possible when the challenge matches the skill and both are at high levels. Not so much without thought, but processing and analyzing subconsciously.

Maija said...

Found some better words -
I think people can confuse 'seeing' with watching and noticing, whereas it seems that it's the continually changing RELATIONSHIP that creates gifts.

Rory said...

Verner- I think maybe mushin rather than zanshin...but I'm not an expert on Japanese language.
Maija- I'm struggling with words too. How about "looking at, increases possibility, looking for limits possibility"
Ooooooh. Possibility. we all know that observation happens more in the brain than in the senses. What if the order is the deciding factor? If we see and then let our brains lose, excellent-- but if the brainn initiates the process "We shall look for Very Important Things" and then the senses kick in and then the brain works on pre-filtered observations... Possible?

nry said...

Mushin is the word I should have used...

Josh Kruschke said...

Rory, Maija,

Pre-filtered observation <—> (nown) Relationships ?

Looking at leaves you open to seeing all of something. Looking for leaves you only looking for the thing you all ready expect and know of.


When ever I've been in The Zone, there seemed to be no separation; between Thought & Action, between the whole and the parts. Like listening to really good music. Experiencing the whole while being able to pick out individual musical instruments. There's Maija's relationships (how things influence other things) that give rise to a sense of seeing the future, but testing against and acting in the present. Of flowing. Of being. A total focus/unfocus. Where you are not focused on one individual thing, but of the whole (experience) itself.

"We shall look for Very Important Things" why not, We shall look is at the relationships (really liking this word) of things around us" both are conscious expression of a goal that notifies the subconscious what expected of it? Both are a more focused/orderly process. One is a little more limiting, but is that a bad thing in this case?

"We see and then let our brains lose" is better than nothing, but has the element of chance.


Maija said...

OK .... Semantics first -
When you say "observation happens more in the brain than in the senses', do you mean that visual input interacts with the brain at a different level than the other senses? Or are you saying that 'observation' is about naming things? And hence different than 'seeing'?

Also, when you say 'have the the brain lose', do you mean shut it out of the process? Which brain? Identity? Ego? Survival? Conscious?

Or perhaps 'having the brain lose' could equate to inviting your opponent in, (which would be counter intuitive to the part of the brain concerned with preserving identity (monkey?)), and then you would be focusing on relationship again and not self VS other?

Oh, and why is the 'filter of very important things' there? Why are they very important ... at least we think they are?

I think knowing this might be key.

Rory said...

Sorry, Maija, that should have been 'loose,' not 'lose.' I think this would be a talk over coffee. When are you up next?

Maija said...

Hahaha! I love how it's possible to rationalize 'lose' just as easily as 'loose' .....
Definitely headed north in the not too distant :-)

Josh Kruschke said...

Interesting I read lose as loose?

Context to me sugested loose, that is what I read into it, but the reality was it was spelled l-o-s-e.

Would this be a failure or not of perception?

Anonymous said...

Can you recommend a dictionary of karate terms? Some of the words you use I can't find in standard dictionaries. And these two: mushin (無心 - innocent) and zanshin (斬新
- novel, original) I'm having a hard time relating to "flow".

Travis said...

Josh -"To see/find do you not have to first be actively looking.

To be total focused in the now."

- my experience has bee that actively looking detracts both for the 'now' focus ad the ability to see broad overarching patterns.

- from your subsequent post though I'm not sure we are thinking of 'actively looking' in the same way though

- I've found best results from what I would describe as more of a kicking back and relaxing and waiting to see rather what there is to see then an 'active' process

- particularly in connection with driving I've found that once you build the habit of looking out quite a bit in front (like we were taught!) rather the a few short car lengths it's pretty easy to see flow and patterns in the traffic - so I'd say there is a learning stage which requires conscious effort ("look farther ahead", "is this gap really big enough?" , etc) then after that its better to not think about any of that stuff. Pretty sure it works the same way for everything else too...

Rory said...

Anon- I really can't. When I read your post I went over my library and there are a couple of dictionaries, but they suck. And the glossaries in other books are very weak on detail and nuance.

Anonymous said...

Agreed. FYI, I've found that dictionaries for native speakers of Japanese suck less than those intended for English speakers, although they're still almost totally lacking in specialized MA (and food) words.

Erik Kondo said...

Here is my take on what Rory is saying:

The Novice uses primarily much emotion, much physical power with minimal technical training, and minimal conscious strategy to FORCE the outcome.

The Intermediate uses less emotion, less physical power & more technical training, and more conscious strategy to CREATE the outcome.

The Expert EXPLOITS (finds) opportunity with minimal emotion, appropriate physical power & maximum technical training, with a receptive/open conscious mind unencumbered by a conscious/thinking strategy.

The "No Mind" state is actually one of harmony between emotions, trained physical movements, and conscious mind. These elements are all working together.

The Expert 'finds" opportunity because he or she is not actively looking for any one opportunity. All situations are opportunities of some sort.

Josh Kruschke said...


"...once you build the habit of looking out quite a bit in front (like we were taught!) rather the a few short car lengths it's pretty easy to see flow and patterns in..."  

Note: I added the emphasis.

Build is an active not passive process. Habit just means you no longer have to think about something for it to happen. ("Habit Factor" is a good book on actively learning to build good habits.)

Just because we get to the point we no longer have to think about it, doesn't mean that it's not an active process. You're still actively looking. There is a process it's not random. This is what I meant by focused/unfocused.

What I mean by active(ly) that there is a process. Not concentration.  

There are two memtal states that I can find myself in. They are what i call , "The Zone" and "Auto Pilot."

The Zone is how I've described it, but Auto Pilot is it's evil twin. The only defference is wether or not you are in the moment.

Have you ever been driving and have something else on your mind; like a past argument that didn't go so well, or a future meeting that had to go perfect, that you have no memory of actually driving? You no longer have to 'consciously think' about it, but at some level you still are.

Habit! Can you make a habit of finding opportunities?

Do you even need to go through the first and second stages. I don't think so, as this is a product of what is already expected.

We expect students to go through the stages, but is this actualy a process caused by our expectations of what or how training should go? A self-fulfilling prophecy?

Why not just teach "every thing that happens to you is an opportunity" and what are some habits we can build to a chieve this goal.


So! Is what actually needed a process and understanding of how we learn and build habits.

Once we have that we will know how to teach finding.

How did you learn to see/find oportunities?

From the begining of our journey, what is needed is that it will be an active process with thought applied.

Should we not teach that which is expected of our students at the end.


A novices, intermediate and expert are labels.

If you label someone a beginner and only teach them what a beginner should know, that is all they will know. Same goes for intermediate and Expert.  

If the end goal is to not try to force or creat out comes but to find opportunities, why not start from that realization?

Josh Kruschke said...


"If you label someone a beginner and only teach them what a beginner should know, that is all they will know. Same goes for intermediate and Expert."

This is not quite right.

The first two are expected to not have the answers and to have to look to someone with more experiance for the answer.

An expert (pro) is expected to have the answer or be able to come up with one on his own.

This goes back to the 'independency' and 'perception controls posibilities' discussion threads. It even goes back to much older threads on permition.

How much do we hurt ourseves and those we teach by labeling ourselves and them.

Rory I find it sad that you even had to right or 'give' your litany of permissions.

Is this something we are born with or conditioned to? Is it do to a lack of confidence in ourselves?

Something you wrote in 2010:

Anonymous said...

Found this one:
It seems to be reasonably comprehensive. At least it has the MA definitions of mushin (an egoless state of mind, acting without conscious thought...) and zanshin (残心 - combative awareness, focused extended awareness before, during and after execution of a technique...)