Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Thoughts from Today

The class was working on power generation, using the center of gravity to slam extra power up into a strike or down into a strike. Two types of wave power. One man interrupted. Through the translator, he said, "But I don't want to hit. My reaction will be to defuse and avoid."

Wrong place, wrong time. The class had voted to work on surviving an attack. One of those skills is hitting hard. The defusing and de-escalation part had been the focus of the whole morning. The question was good, in a way, and I had to address the whole class.

There are stages in a fight. If you see something that makes you suspicious, something that's not quite right, you have options. You can gather more information. You can leave. You can prepare a weapon or alert your friends and partners.

If you do nothing, or don't see it until the person becomes overtly threatening, you have fewer options. Leaving, de-escalating, gathering resources and alerting your team are still on the table, but now they come with extra risk. You will likely set him off, if he wasn't going before. You will almost surely increase your chances of being suckerpunched if your attention is on resources or you try to leave when you are too close. You can pre-empt here, and I showed a social pre-emption. No injury, but usually even more effective than trying to suckerpunch first.

But once it's on, once a bad guy has made violent contact with you, de-escalating and gathering resources are off the table. Mostly. By all means yell for help as you defend yourself. But never instead of defending yourself.

By the time you need to hit, it is too late to do anything but hit. And if you are going to hit, you need to hit well. Generally, if you aren't finishing things, you are escalating them.
Context and timing. Real attacks versus sparring artifacts. One of the common patterns of shanking works from a handshake. The bad guy shakes your hand on some pretext and then pulls you in as he stabs you about in the armpit. I don't usually teach knife defense for a number of reasons, if you know me, you know the reasons. But if you have certain jobs I'm willing to show you what I know under the assumption that you will think for yourself, adapt, and take responsibility for your own survival.

The best defense I've found for the handshake shanking is structural. Very quick. One of the students said, "But all I need to do to defeat the defense is let go."

Absolutely right. That's all you need. But that would predicate on a threat, with full lethal intent, grabbing your hand of his own volition and for his own purposes who is savagely using that hand to yank you onto the tip of the knife...and that threat halfway through this fully committed action sensing that you have a defense, sensing that you are applying the defense, completely aborting his own committed action AND doing the one thing that monkeys almost never do under stress-- open their clenched hands.

Yes, there is a simple counter and no, you will never, ever encounter it in the field.

There are a lot of things, especially in traditional martial arts, that work great for real situations but are difficult or suck in sparring. The hip and shoulder throws in judo are hard to get and involve turning your back on the opponent, but in real life people jump on your back. Karate's x-blocks are all but useless in sparring, but they are a godsend when something unexpected and shiny suddenly arcs towards your belly-- a big, gross-motor move that covers a lot of area and gives you a lot of close-range options.

There is stuff that works under close-range assault, and there are options that only work with sparring timing and distance. Do not, ever, confuse the two.
"I don't want to waste time learning power generation because I could never hurt a big man."
Grrr. I've broken ribs on people much bigger than myself. Collapsed a trachea on someone who out-weighed me by over 100%. With an informal survey, we are now at, officially, 119 people who have either used a cup-hand slap to the ear, had it used on them, or seen it used. How many of those 119 incidents have seen the receiver keep fighting? Zero.

Small people can hurt big people. The smart way, of course, is to use a tool. It happens and it has happened. But if you are weak and small, your body mechanics must be superb. And there's no rule that say big, strong guys can't have better body mechanics than yours. There are no guarantees in this world.

But how fucked-up is it to say, "I can't win so I won't try." Talk about a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Right now, in your mind and every day in training or in choosing not to train, you are laying the groundwork for your success or you are laying the groundwork for your failure. Winning and losing doesn't happen on that dark day when you run out of options. Winning or losing is something you are doing right now.



Tom V said...

Thank you for sharing that informal hand cup ear slap data.

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

Good stuff. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting. We win or lose in small ways every day, until the really bad one comes (or not). Choose to win. I like it.

Ymar Sakar said...

Some good points made in the OP.

Generally, being able to generate power, at grapple distance, is useful for other things than hitting.

Many predators can sense when you are afraid to get physically close to them. These people are afraid because they, somewhere in their hearts, lack confidence that they can take on a bigger, stronger, faster person. They don't think they have the power.

But this actually makes predators hone in on you, body language wise, because that's prey signal. That's a weakness signal.

That's how they differentiate people who can smash them if they grab the target, vs people they can grab and kidnap/overpower easily.

When it comes to de-escalation, it helps not to send the wrong signals, and to send the right signals, a person either has to have heavy conditioning in body language to fake it or they need the actual confidence to back up their attitude.

A person that knows absolutely that they can use internal power generation to escape from bear hugs and neck grabs, from grappling pushes and pulls, reacts physically differently and people around them with eyes can tell. Most cannot or cannot explain what they are seeing it, but those you don't worry about.

A variation of Murphey's Law is that the thing you least want the enemy to do to you, they will do to you first.

God's Bastard said...

"I can't win so I won't try."
I find that so hard to fit in my head. It's quite unlikely that I will win, given my size and strength (or lack thereof), but I'll be damned if I don't do my level best to make the whole thing cost them as much as I possibly can.

Maija said...

I think pain is more easy to imagine than something so abstract as death or extreme sadism, hence when people say "I can't win", I think they mean - "If I don't fight, maybe it won't hurt as bad".

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

I agree.. People seem o generally respond to things they have experience of or what thet fear about a situation.
I often did during weapons training that people don't move enough because they are lose to an obstacle. When asked bout it, they respond with I was running out of room, they generally had space but held back because thy didn't want to mike contact with the wall, table etc. When I point out that their options were to get stabbed or struck with th opponent weapon or not bump the obstacle they laugh at their response. I have put it down the the idea that understand the effect of hitting objects, they don't understand getting hit by a weapon.
One so sees.it when someone modifies an action, ask them why, thy respond I was scared of hitting my partner, without realising that in hanging theit own action thy hav reduced their ability to control their own attack an made.it more likely they would hit their partner unintentionally. Fear and danger.

Unknown said...

"The best defense I've found for the handshake shanking is structural. Very quick. One of the students said, 'But all I need to do to defeat the defense is let go.'"

This got me very curious. I spent some time last night with my partner at our school trying to work it out based on the hint above - letting go of the hand defeats the technique (though no one will you mention). We came up with some interesting things, but I don't think they're what you're talking about. Any way I can find out what this technique is?

I attended a seminar you gave in Rochester, NY a few years ago. It was very interesting. And I learned how to run while holding a baby. Great class, but no weapon defenses. I have read of your reluctance and why, but since it came up, I cannot help but be curious. Please advise. Thank you.


Rory said...

Tom-- Up to 174 after the Europe trip. Two people said that they kept fighting, but with follow up questions they were talking about being hit in the ear with boxing gloves, not a cup-hand slap. So call it 172, all successful.
Les-- Not sure I can do this in words. From either handhsake grip (normal or thumb) you rotate the grip, thus their wrist about ninety degrees counterclockwise which put his elbow inside his shoulder line, stiffens his arm and you drive his elbow towards his hip. Makes his own forearm a barrier he must pass. Take an offlining sidestep to your left as you do it.