Friday, February 28, 2014


Not a zombie post. Just amazed at the sheer amount of not-thinking that happens. How often people go on scripts. How often they use words that do not mean what they believe. How often people see what they were told to see instead of what is right in front of their eyes. And the power of the defense mechanisms that kick in to protect the not-thinking.

And there's no way to know when I am doing it. Sometimes you can see other people's blindspots, but not your own. I may be even more reflexive and non-thinking than the people around me, and frankly, that thought scares me. Like living in the zombie apocalypse but never figuring out that you are one of the zombies.

Efficiency. Efficiency is getting the ideal result with the least effort in the shortest time. So inefficiency is any wasted motion. Ideal result, not maximum result. If I choose to parry a strike, I could push it well away from my center line, but anything past the edge of my skin is unnecessary (wasted motion) and usually leaves a bigger opening for the bad guy. I want to parry so small that the threat isn't even sure he has missed until it is too late to recover.

So, what got me thinking: Simultaneous block and strike came up again. Senior practitioner, good skills. Body blading, evasion, rolling shoulder were all part of his strike. If his strike landed first, it changed my geometry such that, in most cases, my strike will miss it's target.

The ideal goal of a block or parry is not to be hit (there's more that you can do, I'm keeping it simple). If the 'strike' part of simultaneous block and strike took care of that goal, as it almost always will, the block does nothing that is necessary. It is wasted motion. It is inefficient. Follow the logic: if X accomplishes nothing, X is wasted motion. Wasted motion pretty much defines inefficiency.

He could follow the logic chain all the way up to admitting it was wasted motion, but he still insisted it was efficient.

Human brains do this. You are told by the right person that something is efficient (or beautiful or just or...) the word matches to that object and you either ignore what the word means or do some mental gymnastics to keep that noun/adjective pair alive. Martial arts gives us examples, but politics is rife with it-- if you believe in the cause you refuse to see the damage (the working people at a local employee owned store have a cut in take home pay of almost 40%  to -involuntarily- bring their insurance in line with the ACA.)

We call things efficient (or whatever) which are not. And we see the inefficiency, the waste, sometimes the damage, right in front of our eyes and refuse to acknowledge it. The defense mechanisms kick in and waste or even injury get redefined, or blame gets shifted.

Pick up a copy of Heuer's "Psychology of Intelligence Analysis" for the best short list of the mechanisms of blindspots I've found so far.


  1. Anonymous10:22 AM

    A bit of thinking on paper, so to speak:
    In theory, theory and practice are the same. In practice they aren't.

    If the ideal goal is no wasted motion, the extra block isn't efficient as long as it is an extra block that isn't needed.

    If the ideal goal is having all the bases covered for when something goes wrong?

    Is a safety net inefficient if it's never used, or only if it isn't needed?

    So is this a case of vocabulary, not efficient but to some (perhaps minimal) extent still desirable? Or is it a case of mental training wheels that haven't been taken off the bike?

  2. The counter argument is very simple. If efficiency is something that is going to take place in the quasi-unpredictable future, robustness should get equal time.
    In other words, if the thing I just did is not the most efficient use of energy/time/space it still may be justifiable because it is robust. That is it covers a wider range of contingencies.
    I've spent so much time on efficiency it is starting to look inefficient. Looking for robust solutions, from a training point of view may be....more efficient in the long run.

  3. Yes ... I don't think you can take 'level of risk' or, perhaps even more importantly, 'time' out of the equation when evaluating efficiency.

  4. Nice Post. As a Wing Chun player and Instructor I come across Simultaneous Attack and Defence idea's nearly every Day, and some weird ideas about how to use them, especially with my contemporaries. In my experience it is that you begin both separate actions of a Parry and a Strike simultaneously, the Parry almost Feathers the incoming Strike off line as you are moving in for your own Strike. If your timing and movement are really good the Parry becomes more of a Fall Back Guard position and you just step in and Punch. The way I teach this we do not intercept the Strike with a Parry that turns into a Strike as this tends to steal power and is overcomplicated for the average Martial Artist, they just end up hitting the Strike. As you say.

  5. I think Rory's point here is that if the "Move" is executed as intended then the Block is not needed. If the "Move" is not executed as intended, the Block also fails. Thus, in both instances, the Block portion is extra effort.

    Now, if the Strike fails and the Block succeeds then the Block is insurance or robustness as mentioned in the comments.

    But, the example is only an example of his point. I think the point is that people attach themselves emotionally to a belief. This belief many times cannot be altered by logic or new information. The person doesn't realize he has this emotional attachment and thus it becomes a "blindspot".

    The Zombie is in control.

  6. Lloyd4:49 PM

    If the strikes going to fail then the block (or other evasive action) becomes the most efficient motion in that given snapshot of time. Along with whatever else you do as you block, including but not limited to movement.

    Just from my perspective.

  7. Thanks Rory for the book recommendation. Heuer's "Psychology of Intelligence Analysis" though I'm not to far into it, it's making me nervious because it seems to obvious. It seems to easy.

    I'm starting to think there are no new ideas just new words to convey old ideas in new ways and we think/act like we are coming up with something new. (This isn't even a new idea or original mow that I think about it.)


  8. Christopher3:26 PM

    What if you just strike, but have your other hand /forearm / whatever protectively covering / shielding their intended target area for robustness?

  9. Thanks for sharing, nice post! Post really provice useful information!

    Giaonhan247 chuyên dịch vụ mua hàng mỹ từ dịch vụ order hàng mỹ hay nhận mua nước hoa pháp từ website nổi tiếng hàng đầu nước Mỹ mua hàng ebay ship về VN uy tín, giá rẻ.