Just got back from VioDy Prime in MN. Technically, I did four weeks in Europe, came home for long enough to wash clothes and repack (about 10 hours) and then flew to MSP. And did VioDy. And got home last night.
It was the best VioDy so far, and I rank that on a combination of smooth and deep (try to ignore the '70s porn music now playing in your head.) Smooth-- things happened on time; each lesson played off of and set up other lessons. Deep-- people changed and you could see them change.
If I was going to write an AAR, that's where I'd start. If I was going to write for advertising, that's where I'd start and end. But I'm more selfish than that.
This year brought together a stable of five extraordinary instructors-- Kasey Keckeisen, Randy King, Tammy Yard-McCracken, and Terry Trahan. And me. I love this gathering for many reasons but one of the biggest, and selfishest (if that's a word) is because this group makes me better. Better at thinking, better at teaching...
So, not talking about the seminar at all, I want to walk out an expansion on a thought.
There are a handful of principles. I define principles as those rules of physics or physiology that make other things work. If it is a principle, it applies to striking, grappling and weapons. If it is a principle, there are no exceptions.
I don't know if what follows will be useful to many people. It is a way to organize information you may already have, and I can find a lot of use in this organizational scheme, but your mileage may vary. It might be too esoteric for most people.
Almost all of the principles can be organized around multiple dimensions.
One dimension is yours, mine, and ours. You have a structure. I have a structure. When we clinch up or one of us grabs the other, we have a structure. I can use my structure to damage you better. I can exploit your structure to force you into a worse position. And I can use your grip to slave your skeleton to mine so that what I do with my structure affects your structure, because we have become a unit.
Same with balance. I'm a bipedal creature with a center of gravity and I can stabilize or exploit the destabilization of that. You, likewise, are a bipedal creature with a center of gravity and I can alter and exploit that. When we clinch up, we are both of the above but also a quadruped with a shared center of gravity, and I can exploit that as well.
The second dimension. Offense or defense. Defensively, I can stabilize my base so I'm hard to throw. Offensively, I can sacrifice my balance for a drop-step.
The third dimension-- positive or negative. These words have operational definitions in this context. Operational definition means the word has a very specific meaning that may not match the common usage. In this context, positive means present; stability means absent.
Structure is the positive aspect, void the negative. On balance is the positive aspect, imbalance the negative.
A structured dropstep (positive structure, negative balance) is one of the easiest and most effective offensive uses. Relaxing and drop stepping away from the strike/into the void is a defensive use of negative structure and negative balance. Dracula's Cape is positive structure and negative balance in both an offensive and defensive mode...
And so on.
Any kind of intellectual organization of material is pretty much useless when the rubber meets the road. Including this one. But the intellectual understanding comes into play when you are analyzing something that happened and when you are figuring out how to pass it on. At the instructor level, I'm perfectly happy to do a class on Structure and Void. That's useful for instructors. For students (who should rightly be thought of as end-users) the key is to design a fast-moving game where exploitation of any principle (yours, mine, ours; offensive and defensive; positive and negative) has obvious, tangible effects. It just becomes an obvious way to move.
I'll probably write about the seminar later. Maybe publicly. But this is one of many things I'm processing and here is where I like to process.
Not sure how long these will be available, or how useful they will be to anyone who didn't attend, but createspace has copies of the VioDy Prime Workbook available.