Straight or Bent

John Titchen's Blog - 4 hours 28 min ago

A Pinan / Heian Sandan application from Volume 2 of the Pinan Flow System.

I’m talking legs. In fact I’m looking at what you’re doing with your rear leg in sparring, pad work, or indeed any paired drills.

Every martial arts system, whether it be predominantly grappling or striking based, or whether it hails from China, the Philippines, Okinawa, Japan, India, Malaysia, New Zealand or Europe, has a number of different foot and leg positions. These are often taught to beginners as ‘stances’ and in many systems we are conditioned at an early stage into thinking in particular ways about how to employ them.

I’m going to come out of a little karate closet, I believe that biomechanically (and therefore tactically) in almost every situation bent is better than straight.

Among the most important elements required to dominate a standing situation are the ability to move and effectively employ power or weight against another person. A bent rear leg achieves this quicker and with more power than a straight leg. The obvious ‘counter-argument’ to this is that a bent leg generally achieves the above by straightening, but there is a huge difference between straightening and becoming straight, and between thrusting and straightening.

Once the rear leg has thrust and initiated a process of power transference there is a moment of choice. The leg can continue to straighten: this effectively jams against any active return resistance (such as momentum of the target towards you) and checks forward momentum by placing the heel on the ground, but provides no further ability to drive forwards without give since a fully straightened leg has to bend in order to thrust again. Alternatively the leg can remain bent once sufficient thrust has been generated to drive forward or rotate the hips; if the foot stays where it is that gives less counter stability in the case of active resistance in the opposite direction, but a comparatively greater degree of hip rotation and arm extension which should transfer greater power. Another option is to carry the foot forward (not necessarily stepping through) post thrust with the momentum of the hip, then all the advantages of the bent leg are retained combined with the stability that easy heel placement with minimum give in a short deep stance can bring. The little elephant in the room being that when we push against a resisting object or a heavy object (think about pushing a car), in order to move we naturally take our heels off the ground anyway, so whether bent or straight the heel on the ground isn’t part of optimum forward power transference.

In many Traditional Martial Arts we see straight rear leg postures. Don’t think of these as wrong, instead try to view them in context. A straight leg can be an exaggerated example of thrust, codified into ‘good form’ for aesthetic purposes. It can also, due to the linked foot and heel placement, be a result of postures designed for employment in traditional inflexible flat or platform footwear.

The depth of a stance will affect the ‘need’ to bend or straighten the leg (or lift the heel) to gain power transference in strikes, but at close quarters against an actively resisting person the higher the stance (and therefore the straighter the leg) the more vulnerable you are to being taken off balance. That naturally leads to the question as to whether the spine should be upright or angled, ramrod straight or hunched.

 


Assuming The Contrived (#131)

Kris Wilder's Martial Secrets - Thu, 2014-04-17 18:14

The dangerous fallacy that an assumption can lead to, such as a sexually transmitted disease, knives and getting cut, balancing the humors, a little Roman history, nerve strikes, and what you should not expect when you run from a cop.

THE WIND, AND NOTHING MORE---A VERY TOUCHY SUBJECT

Ron Goin's Blog - Thu, 2014-04-17 03:17
A VERY TOUCHY SUBJECT...the wind and nothing more

“When it is not in our power to determine what is true, 
we ought to follow what is most probable.” 

René Descartes

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning, Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.  'Surely,' said I, 'surely that is something at my window lattice; Let me see then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore - Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more!'
Edgar Allen Poe, The Raven

I remember when I was a kid how easy it was to enter into a make-believe world.  Within seconds I could lift myself out of the boring, day-to-day reality and transport myself to the ancient past or to another planet or into the heat of battle.  Those imaginary worlds felt so real that I could actually smell the gunpowder, hear the battle cries of attacking soldiers, and feel the weight of a musket or a bazooka in my hands.

As I got older it became more and more difficult to use my imagination.  Now I have to close my eyes and concentrate in order to vaguely imagine what used to come so easily, so automatically to me.

But there are people out there, some of whom mean well, and others who are nothing but shysters and con men out for a quick buck, who hope that the rest of us haven't quite lost that special power of make believe.  They want us to have a vivid imagination that allows us, just for a few minutes, to separate our minds from everyday reality and to walk into an imaginary world.

They want us to imagine that we have limitless energy right at our fingertips and to pretend that this energy can be used for the good of mankind.  With this energy we can help people reduce their stress and lower their blood pressure.  As if by magic we can help them to get rid of negative emotions, reduce pain, and prepare themselves to be healed from injury and disease.  We can use it on others, on ourselves, and even perform it in proxy for the benefit of another far far away.  We don't have to have a medical degree to help people with this healing energy.   

These are the proponents of energy psychology.  They use nebulous words like synergy, and psychoneuroimmunology, epi-genetics, neuroplasticity, and interpersonal neurobiology.  

They want us to believe that we can transcend conscious effort and instead grow in touch with a spontaneous flow of chi/ki/qi/prana, a "life energy field."  They sincerely hope that we can shut off our rational thought processes, the part of our brain that tries to think things through and understand them--what they would refer to as limiting beliefs--and free ourselves from obstacles which prevent us from living in harmony with the universe.  

They want us to rid ourselves of emotional blockages, to reclaim confidence and self esteem, and to step away from anxiety and depression and compulsive and additive behaviors.  If we have a chronic illness, or if we have a friend or family member who suffers from disease, they want us to believe that this pure power, this limitless energy, could flow from our fingertips if we would just accept it, and change could take place.

Here's another thing they would have us believe:  The problems we experience, the sad feelings, the disappointments, the frustration, the anxiety, the fear, all of this creates an imbalance in the flow of energy through our bodies.  Energy workers, those with "training" and special, intuitive powers, claim that they can manipulate the energy field. They can remove clogs, they can restore the flow of energy, and they might even be able to transfer some of their own energy to help our bodies heal.  

There is no scientific basis for what they do.  But that won't stop them from claiming that their methods are old, maybe even ancient.   They will suggest that what they do is just common sense.  And they will blatantly misappropriate ideas and terminology from cutting edge nuclear physicists, claiming that we are all nothing but energy and vibrational patterns.

They will use all kinds of labels to describe what they do:  EFT, Reiki, Therapeutic Touch.  They sincerely believe that they are ushering in a method to bridge the ancient and the modern paradigms.  They claim that what they do works and works fast, and that those who accept the efforts of energy workers will achieve both emotional and physical well-being.   One does not need to study human anatomy, toxicology, biochemistry or other rational, scientific fields in order to claim to be a healer.  In fact, they will boldly assert that those areas may steer one away from the truth of the natural, instinctive, intuitive ways of energy work.  They genuinely have faith in what they do, believing that they can augment Western medicine, contribute to the healing process, and that they can be beneficial to healthcare professionals.

And, as far as helping someone to relax, to bring care and consideration to those in pain and fear and depression, I'm all for these actions.  Being present, holding a hand, offering calm and soothing words, mopping a hot brow with a cool cloth, these can go a long way in helping someone who is suffering to feel better.  And if that helps accelerate the healing process, fine.

But don't claim otherwise.  Don't pretend that there is some magical energy, some supernatural force, that there are pathways of 'energy' that can be blocked by negative emotion.  Don't act like you have healed others of cancer, of diabetes, of some rare genetic malady.  

To those who believe?  I say let it go.  To those who are charlatans, shame on you.  

I've grown weary of the drip, drip, drip of their claims.  The new age is nothing new.  Prehistoric shamans and tribal healers did not have knowledge about parasites, or DNA, or hygiene.  They believed that disease and pain were sent by the gods to punish or were a result of curses from one's enemies.  They did the best they could with what they had.  A potion, some herbal tea, a fowl smelling ointment or salve, incense, drumming, chanting and rituals.  We cannot judge what they did.  

But, as they say, that was then, and this is now.  If they claim otherwise, if they claim that they have discovered secret, hidden, veiled, obscure, and ancient wisdom, or conversely if they claim that they have knowledge from beings outside of our own galaxy or from another dimension or even from the future, just remember this:



'Tis the wind and nothing more.

It would actually constitute more than a miracle, he realised. It would take divine intervention plus luck, plus some unknown element of cosmic wizardry.” David Baldacci, The Whole Truth









 


Alone Time

Rory Miller's Blog - Wed, 2014-04-16 00:22

This is alone time. It might not seem like it to you. It’s crowded. It’s loud.The table across from me are a bunch of overweight guys with glasses talking about being great fighters and women. A very few couples, I don’t think this is a date kind of place. I’m sitting in a corner, typing away, sipping something local and watching.It’s alone time. No one knows me, no one has any reason to watch me. Typing on a laptop is unusual but non-threatening. To the few who notice at all, I’m a nondescript guy in a corner, typing. Probably some kind of struggling attorney, maybe a journalist. Those that peg the accent will take me as a tourist at first, but other things won’t add up and, again, the very few that think of me at all will assume I’m here on business.I’m an extreme introvert. Which doesn’t mean I don’t like people. Not saying I do like people, just saying introvert means something else.It means I find them exhausting.But not this. Right here, right now, I am separate and watching, even in a crowd. I’m clocking potential threats and potential prey, noting patterns of movement and interaction. It’s the most restful time I’ve had in two weeks.I love what I do, don’t get me wrong. If I didn’t love teaching, I would do something else. But three weeks, constantly on stage, constantly a center of attention... it drains me.And so I steal an hour, maybe ninety minutes to be gloriously alone in a crowd. It will refresh me, and I will hit the stage again tomorrow with renewed vigor, fresh.
Written a few days ago, in a pub. Very refreshing and the last of the class is winding down. It's been intense, good, powerful. Tomorrow night, a train to Scotland. Friends and fine whisky. Then a long plane ride and a few hours in the arms of my one true love.

Easy Teaching is not Easy Learning

Rory Miller's Blog - Sun, 2014-04-13 09:39
Going to be writing about teaching for a few posts, I suspect.

Traveling seminars are usually weekends, and it makes sense to batch them, like three UK weekends over 16 days (plus travel time, and maybe a day to reset the internal clock). But that leaves the weekdays as big sinks of unused time. Garry and Dan decided to remedy that this trip. Dan scheduled things at St. Andrew's and it seems some college students can handle an all-day seminar during regular class times (imagine my old man voice saying, "Kids these days!") Not a problem.

Garry's were evening classes, so working people could make them. Three hour slots in London, Gate's Head, Wirral, Doncaster and four hours (later today) in Coventry.

Most of my lesson plans center around eight hours. It's the minimum to get a taste of the pieces, in my opinion. Almost everything in those eight hours is centered on understanding the question (What will I face? What are the elements of attack?) and gathering information-- how to see and evaluate not only what the threat is doing but your own trained mechanical inefficiencies. A second eight hours can go into the mechanics of efficient brawling. But at three hours something must be left out, and it must be made clear how incomplete the training is AND that can be hard when the attendees have never had that type of information in that volume before. Things can feel more complete than they can possibly actually be.

Anyway, how to train is often on my mind. But given a new problem, you learn new things.

One thought right away, and this feeds back to my secret intention with the Joint Locks video:
The best way for teaching is almost never the best way for learning.

It's an endemic belief in bureaucracies that training must be consistent and measurable. It is far more important to be able to objectively evaluate a student in a skillset than whether that skillset works. That's how bureaucracies measure 'fair' and bedamned to those who wind up bleeding.

It's not just soulless organizations, either. It's a staple of martial arts instruction as well. Any kind of force skill will be applied in a chaotic situation. It will be messy. Everything affects every other thing. Your ability to play in the margins, to use the chaos and mess is a big part of your survival skill. But it's hard to train, and for the ego-bound instructors, the prospective of losing to a student (and if you teach them to think sideways, you will lose sometimes) is a huge threat. It's hard to teach, so many instructors teach the easy stuff, not the good stuff.

And the way of teaching. The easy way of teaching is to break things down into manageable chunks. If I can pick out the eight steps to that wristlock, I can teach those eight steps. I can tell whether the student is doing each of those eight steps correctly. I can correct the student, which makes me feel like a teacher. And in the end, the student only has to remember those eight steps (and we're all good at remembering sequences, right?) and apply them and everything will be fine...

But it won't, because the student will need to access the memory part of the brain, which is slow and nearly useless in a force incident. The student will hesitate because that's what being constantly corrected makes people do. The ritual of the eight steps, consciously or not, sets an expectation for a very specific set-up that the bad guy may not be willing to provide. And it's not eight steps to success but eight chances for failure, since if any of the steps fail, they all do.

Some of the keys, and I'm a long way from finding them all:

  • Getting the information in the right level of detail to actually use. Nothing to memorize, but not so vague as to be useless
  • Match the skill to the correct part of the brain. Fighting has to be noncognitive, so there's no point in getting intellectual about it. Get intellectual about perfecting your training, though.
  • Teaching in the right modality. And testing, too. Fighting is inherently kinesthetic, not visual. We knock people down, we don't impress people unconscious.
  • Make it fun. Force is an inherently unfun subject, but all animals learn through play, everyone moves more efficiently when relaxed, and people learn better and to a deeper level of the brain when they enjoy the process.
  • Play. Related to above, but there is no way to script a complex answer to an unknown problem. The only way to get good at any complex skill intended for a chaotic environment is to play. And there's a lot in this, because the game has to be very well designed to teach the right things, and the student must be carefully prepped not to read too much into it.
  • Whatever you teach must agree with the student's world. The wording on this is tough. Generally, assume that your students are intelligent adults with their own experience of the world. So if you say or teach something that contradicts their knowledge of the world, they will either doubt the rest of what you say (which is bad) or they will reject their own experience (which is much worse.)
Enough for now. Time to go to Coventry.


Volume One of the Pinan Flow System released!

John Titchen's Blog - Sat, 2014-04-12 13:03

Another book on the Heian / Pinan kata?

I wrote my first book on the Heian / Pinan kata in 2004. Between that and the publication of the book in 2007 lay transplant failure, dialysis, and the gift of a second transplant – all factors that slowed me down but increased my appreciation of how good karate can be for the weaker person.

So why have I written another book, and not just one book, a whole series on the Heian / Pinan kata?

Over the last ten years the research and training methods that I’ve adopted have changed my karate practice considerably.

Through the investment I made in developing scenario training I’ve had the privilege of learning from watching large numbers martial artists face HAOV outside the comfort of the normal training environment. The process has been helped by the diversity of participants: from fit young aspiring martial artists to normal hard training middle aged men and women, and even young teenage boys and girls, all of whom have enabled us to create a variety of realistic and emotionally distracting challenges.

In those simulations I’ve observed how people have accessed or failed to use their training in more realistic conditions. Confined spaces, close ranges, doorways, furniture, verbal and visual and physical distractions from other people, trying to deescalate a situation, trying to shield or rescue a child or perceived weaker individual, having limited peripheral vision or not being aware of a situation until after it has begun: these have all put participants’ ability to access their physical training and knowledge to the test, whether their training base was Shotokan, Goju, Wado, DART, Ju Jitsu, Krav Maga, MT, TKD, Boxing, Kickboxing, BJJ, MMA, or some obscure CMA, and whether they were 6th Dan, 5th Dan, 3rd Dan, Coaches or kyu grade students, or experienced LEOs, security or military personnel. The successful tactics, when the participants were able to access their skill sets, were relatively diverse, but what brought them all together was the similarity of their responses when things didn’t go to plan, and both how and when things didn’t go to plan.

What is consistently visible in the footage of these events is that successful navigation and extraction of participants from the close quarter fighting comes not through accessing their well drilled kumite combinations, but through movements and stances that more closely resemble the strategies that are shown in karate kata, even amongst those participants who have no martial arts experience. In fact if I were to edit out the aggressors from the videos so that it appeared as if the trainees were fighting thin air, then the resulting movements would look more akin to a kata than anything else seen in the martial arts.

I wanted to share what I’ve learned with a broader audience than I can possibly reach through travelling round the world teaching seminars, and the logical next step was to try and condense my findings into more books. In doing so I wanted write something that appealed not only to the experienced black belt looking for greater depth and practicality from their practice, but was also suitable for the complete beginner in karate trying to make sense of the funny movements he was learning in class, and that an instructor could safely teach to beginners.

 For me the Pinan / Heian kata represent a comprehensive catalogue of the interlinking strategies and approaches I’ve seen work under pressure. The majority of these are found in other forms, but the Pinan are the perfect vehicle for spreading the word on how effective basic karate can be because as a set they are simple, taught to beginners in many systems, and practised by karateka at all levels of their training. The practical defences against HAOV and the strategies from common less desirable positions that I’ve set out in these books are not complicated, in fact they are deceptively simple and easy. Almost everything that is combat effective is simple and brought down to the bare essentials of movement.

I hope you have as much fun reading the books and trying the drills as I’ve had writing and training for them. I’m really excited to be able to release the first in the series covering Pinan / Heian Shodan and Nidan in both paperback and ebook. I intend to have all four volumes in the series published this year and I’m up for travelling to teach in person at any club that’s interested.

You can buy the new book here, or on amazon and any of the other major book retailers. If you have a local store that you like to use they’ll be able to get a copy for you too.

John Titchen


Volume One of the Pinan Flow System released!

John Titchen's Blog - Sat, 2014-04-12 13:03

Another book on the Heian / Pinan kata?

I wrote my first book on the Heian / Pinan kata in 2004. Between that and the publication of the book in 2007 lay transplant failure, dialysis, and the gift of a second transplant – all factors that slowed me down but increased my appreciation of how good karate can be for the weaker person.

So why have I written another book, and not just one book, a whole series on the Heian / Pinan kata?

Over the last ten years the research and training methods that I’ve adopted have changed my karate practice considerably.

Through the investment I made in developing scenario training I’ve had the privilege of learning from watching large numbers martial artists face HAOV outside the comfort of the normal training environment. The process has been helped by the diversity of participants: from fit young aspiring martial artists to normal hard training middle aged men and women, and even young teenage boys and girls, all of whom have enabled us to create a variety of realistic and emotionally distracting challenges.

In those simulations I’ve observed how people have accessed or failed to use their training in more realistic conditions. Confined spaces, close ranges, doorways, furniture, verbal and visual and physical distractions from other people, trying to deescalate a situation, trying to shield or rescue a child or perceived weaker individual, having limited peripheral vision or not being aware of a situation until after it has begun: these have all put participants’ ability to access their physical training and knowledge to the test, whether their training base was Shotokan, Goju, Wado, DART, Ju Jitsu, Krav Maga, MT, TKD, Boxing, Kickboxing, BJJ, MMA, or some obscure CMA, and whether they were 6th Dan, 5th Dan, 3rd Dan, Coaches or kyu grade students, or experienced LEOs, security or military personnel. The successful tactics, when the participants were able to access their skill sets, were relatively diverse, but what brought them all together was the similarity of their responses when things didn’t go to plan, and both how and when things didn’t go to plan.

What is consistently visible in the footage of these events is that successful navigation and extraction of participants from the close quarter fighting comes not through accessing their well drilled kumite combinations, but through movements and stances that more closely resemble the strategies that are shown in karate kata, even amongst those participants who have no martial arts experience. In fact if I were to edit out the aggressors from the videos so that it appeared as if the trainees were fighting thin air, then the resulting movements would look more akin to a kata than anything else seen in the martial arts.

I wanted to share what I’ve learned with a broader audience than I can possibly reach through travelling round the world teaching seminars, and the logical next step was to try and condense my findings into more books. In doing so I wanted write something that appealed not only to the experienced black belt looking for greater depth and practicality from their practice, but was also suitable for the complete beginner in karate trying to make sense of the funny movements he was learning in class, and that an instructor could safely teach to beginners.

 For me the Pinan / Heian kata represent a comprehensive catalogue of the interlinking strategies and approaches I’ve seen work under pressure. The majority of these are found in other forms, but the Pinan are the perfect vehicle for spreading the word on how effective basic karate can be because as a set they are simple, taught to beginners in many systems, and practised by karateka at all levels of their training. The practical defences against HAOV and the strategies from common less desirable positions that I’ve set out in these books are not complicated, in fact they are deceptively simple and easy. Almost everything that is combat effective is simple and brought down to the bare essentials of movement.

I hope you have as much fun reading the books and trying the drills as I’ve had writing and training for them. I’m really excited to be able to release the first in the series covering Pinan / Heian Shodan and Nidan in both paperback and ebook. I intend to have all four volumes in the series published this year and I’m up for travelling to teach in person at any club that’s interested.

You can buy the new book here, or on amazon and any of the other major book retailers. If you have a local store that you like to use they’ll be able to get a copy for you too.

John Titchen


WE'RE NOT LAUGHING WITH YOU, WE'RE LAUGHING AT YOU

Ron Goin's Blog - Fri, 2014-04-11 12:16
WE'RE NOT LAUGHING WITH YOU, 
WE'RE LAUGHING AT YOUA SPECIAL ALL 'CHI' EDITION OF THE
 MAD, MAD, MAD, MAD WORLD OF MARTIAL ARTS


One of my friends recently asked me why I seem to be so obsessed with chi.  "You're always writing about it," he said, "putting it down all the time.  Why can't you just agree to disagree and let bygones be bygones?  Why don't you just do YOUR thing, and let them do THEIR thing in peace?"
It's a valid question.  I've probably written a half dozen articles about chi, Reiki, no-touch knockouts, and pressure points over the years.  I've watched hundreds of videos, read an encyclopedia's worth of articles, and I've interviewed or had discussions with numerous proponents about this subject.  And I still don't get it.  How can so many otherwise intelligent people fall for such magical thinking, such blatant B.S., such hyperbolic hogwash?

Let's say you're a zoologist...no one just automatically assumes you believe in Bigfoot or the Loch Ness Monster.  They'd give you more credit than that.  Or if you're a historian, people don't naturally assume you believe that aliens built the pyramids.  Those are considered fringe beliefs, outside the norm.  But in martial arts there are a lot of people who believe that ALL of us believe in chi, use chi to hurt others, work hard to develop our chi, and even use chi to heal those with injury or illness.  When the average, uninformed person sees a chi demonstration they come away believing that there is a magical force that can defeat petty fists and feet.
I have tried reasoning with these practitioners, using a fact-based, (as opposed to a faith-based), approach, calling upon science and critical thinking.  I have pointed out the numerous failures of proponents to prove that chi or chi-related powers existed.  I reminded them that James Randi has a standing offer of BIG bucks to anyone who can demonstrate supernatural abilities in a controlled setting.  All to no avail.  As B.J.Thomas once sang, "I just can't help believing."
So, since I can't join 'em, since I can't help them see the light, I guess the only thing left is to have a little fun with them.
Hey, I'm not laughing WITH you, I'm laughing AT you.


They all made fun of Randy when he couldn't blow out all his birthday cake candles when he turned 6.  
Well, he's been practicing ever since. _________________________________________________________________________________

Matches?  We don't need no stinking matches. _________________________________________________________________________________
This is exactly how I feel when acid indigestion occurs. _________________________________________________________________________________

Watch out!  I have an asterisk, and I know how to use it! 
 That's nothing, I have 4 parenthesis!! _________________________________________________________________________________
Larry, please quite saying "WHEEEEEEE" everytime I use my chi.
 
_________________________________________________________________________________

I'm starting to detect a trend here...
See, there it is again...
 

Why is everybody flying away?
 _________________________________________________________________________________
The infamous sneaky rear chi attack! _________________________________________________________________________________
Knock Knock.  Who's there?
Chi.
 
 _________________________________________________________________________________


Reigning patty-cake champion Natalie faces stiff competition for the first time in 25 years. _________________________________________________________________________________

Unstoppable chi vs ummovable chi...
this is how black holes are created! _________________________________________________________________________________
The tattoo on his back reads "Gullible" _________________________________________________________________________________

Honestly?  I don't know if this is a chi-focusing antenna or an insulting hand gesture. _________________________________________________________________________________
Suddenly Earl can't remember if this is a chi workshop or a square dancing seminar.
_________________________________________________________________________________
This is my chi ball.  
There are many like it, but this one is mine.

________________________________________________________________________________
Intimidates the hell out of the bad guys.

Not on Hold, Just... Busy

Rory Miller's Blog - Mon, 2014-04-07 20:35
It's hard to write when you are either working or trying to sleep.
This is my life now (and this is not a complaint, but an explanation and apology to the regular readers):

Up relatively late. Most times I have to catch a plane, the plane seems to leave at 0600, which means I have to be at the airport between 0400-0430, which means awake at 0300 at the latest. So the late start is a blessing...

But after a delay for mechanical problems which misses a connection  and another delay on the made-up connection I find myself at the destination somewhere around 25 hours awake and eight hours off from my biological clock... screw it, too tired to do the math. Commit to staying awake until at least 2100 local time so that I don't screw up my sleep schedule too bad. In order to stay awake, no writing or reading. I'd fall asleep. Walk. See a few friends. Walk. Have a wee dram. Walk. Keep moving.

Back to the flat around 2100, as planned. To sleep. Snap awake after three hours. (The one actual side-effect of my history is that, until very recently, I couldn't sleep more than four hours at a time.) Up, stretch, read, sudoku. After two hours I can sleep. Sleep until almost noon. Cool.

Wander the town (I love walking In Edinburgh, but also Montreal, Athens, SF, many others) with a friend, see more friends, eat and back to the flat to sleep. Snap awake after four hours. Still exhausted but only doze fitfully after that.

Get up, get coffee, try to find wifi and contact home. No-go. Find food. Catch ride to venue. Teach for 8+ hours. Talk and socialize and answer questions for another two. Dinner with the group. Back to flat. Go for another long walk. Realize that on a Sunday, breakfast, wifi and coffee will be harder to find. Hit a grocery store so at least breakfast won't be a problem in the morning.

Get up. Ride was barely on time yesterday, so go down right on time only to find that he felt guilty about not being early and has been waiting. To venue. Eight hours of teaching, plus talks,  dinner, etc. Things wind up so late that, with a friendly native guide, I have to work out the bus system to get back to the flat.  Next morning is free, but have to teach evening classes, and in that morning break, finally get a chance to blog.

Classes. Up late answering questions. Up early either to teach or to travel. Repeat.

This is not a complaint. Raf gathered a fantastic group at Edinburgh. Dan and Maya let me teach and connect with some of the next generation at St. Andrew's. The last three days in Swindon have been incredibly high energy, with plenty of bruises and learning for all.  I finally got to meet Stuart Williams and the lovely Louise in person. A gorgeous woman in the Edinburgh airport (they do tastings at the Duty Free there) gave me a dram of Glenlivet Distiller's Reserve. Ruins and good food and great conversation... Going forward, Garry has set up a slate of people to meet. Hoping to see Iain and Al again and maybe meet Geoff.

It's an awesome life, but sometimes a bit too busy for writing.

YOU GOTTA BELIEVE IT TO SEE IT

Ron Goin's Blog - Fri, 2014-04-04 17:31
YOU GOTTA BELIEVE IT TO SEE IT
Ore-May IX-Nay on the I-Chay


"It matters less to me what your specific beliefs are than that you have carefully arrived at your beliefs through reason and evidence and thoughtful reflection.” 
Michael Shermer

"If Uri Geller bends spoons with divine powers, 
then he's doing it the hard way."
James "The Amazing" Randi 


"Teaching thermal physics
Is as easy as a song:
You think you make it simpler
When you make it slightly wrong." 
 
Mark Zemansky



I just saw a spoon bender on TV.  But, unlike Uri Geller who claims to have special powers, this guy was just an illusionist.  I don't mean anything negative when I say he was "just an illusionist."  In fact this guy's close-up magic was superb, and to the uninformed it must have looked like a mini-miracle.  But at no time did the guy claim to have supernatural mental abilities.

Uri is different.  Over the years he has claimed to use his mind to read other people's thoughts, identify hidden objects, dowse for oil, and bend spoons...lots of spoons. 

Uri's easy to make fun of.  He was debunked years ago, and he's been proven to be a fraud so many times that it's not even interesting any more.  And yet he still has followers, people who pay good money to obtain just a tiny speck of his power.

Uri even sells a home kit to help people develop their ESP, mental power, and telekinesis.  You know, in case you need a spoon or two bent.   


Some people will watch Uri or some other illusionist perform a parlor trick, and they will immediately wonder how the trick was done.  Let's call them skeptics.  Others will see it and think to themselves, "I wish I had that power."  Let's call them believers. 

The brilliant physicist and lecturer, Richard Feynman, once met Uri Geller and said, "I'm smart enough to know that I'm dumb." "Feynman was intelligent enough to realize that a good magician can make it seem as if the laws of nature have been violated and even a great physicist sometimes can't figure out the trick." (1)

Famous skeptic Michael Shermer once said, “Smart people believe weird things because they are skilled at defending beliefs they arrived at for non-smart reasons.”

This brings me to chi.  One could argue that chi is a mind/body power.  That a skilled, focused, patient and persistent, well-practiced individual could use the power of his mind to affect the physical world via supernatural or unexplained ability.  In fact I recently watched a video that a friend sent me which purported to explain chi...in fact the title of the video was "What is Chi."

Now, if I sent you a book or video with a similar title, for instance if I sent you something called "What is Heat," you would probably expect me to describe heat, maybe show you examples of heat...a steaming cup of coffee, a raging fire, some smoldering charcoal, a river of volcanic lava, a pot of boiling water, the Sun in our own solar system, something like that.  You would probably expect me to perhaps define what heat is, using terminology the layman could understand.  For example: "What-is-Heat:" from the Physics Classroom
  • The degree of hotness or coldness of a body or environment.    
  • A measure of the warmth or coldness of an object or substance with reference to some standard value.   
  • A measure of the average kinetic energy of the particles in a sample of matter, expressed in terms of units or degrees designated on a standard scale.    
  • A measure of the ability of a substance, or more generally of any physical system, to transfer heat energy to another physical system.    
  • Any of various standardized numerical measures of this ability, such as the Kelvin, Fahrenheit, and Celsius scale
Then I'm guessing that you would expect me go on to discuss the physics of heat, what's actually going on at the molecular level as a result of molecular motion.  How heat is really about the "internal energy" of an object.  How heat is interchangeable to the concept of work.

However, if in the presentation I told you, "I don't know what heat is.  I only know that it's sometimes pretty and sometimes destructive.  That my finger burns when I touch something hot.   I only know that when I turn on a gas stove or start a campfire I can cook something with heat.  That's all I know."  If the presentation said those words you would probably conclude that the presentation was a waste of your time.  This person, you would say, knows nothing about heat and should not have weighed in on the subject if he was not prepared to explain it in terms that made sense, that might expand our knowledge of heat, and help us create heat on our own heat.



However, on the video "What is Chi" the presenter did exactly that.  He described chi using vague, vacuous, and poetic words.  He talked about "animation" and breathing and thought control and directed energy.  But he also said that he couldn't really explain it.  The presenter said that all he knows is that it works.  It's like a light switch, he said, in that the light comes on whenever you flip the switch.  He said that when he turns on the dishwasher the dishes get clean.  That was good enough for him.

Well, it's not good enough for me.  Not by a long shot.  I'm like the guy who watches the spoons bend, and I think "I wonder how he does that trick."  I'm the skeptic.  I'm not saying it DOESN'T happen by supernatural means (though I kinda sort am at this point), I'm saying I need an explanation in order for me to ditch the science and the physics.

So far, in all of my reading on the subject, in several interviews and one-on-one chats, in hours of watching one video after another purporting to show chi manipulation to move a person or an object, to extinguish or to start a flame, to hurt someone or heal someone, I've never yet read a rational explanation of what's going on at the molecular level.

The people who believe in chi, who believe they've seen it in action, who believe that they themselves have felt chi being used on them or have used their own chi on others, seem content to accept it by faith alone.  "Don't ask me how it works," they tell me, "it just works."  

Well then, hand me that spoon.

Conflict Communications with Rory Miller (#130)

Kris Wilder's Martial Secrets - Wed, 2014-04-02 14:31

 

Rory Miller calls in to Martial-Secrets from Tierra del Fuego or outside of a Mexican Restaurant – you never know, and introduces us to his new book ConCom: Conflict Communication A New Paradigm in Conscious Communication. If you have ever wondered why your boss ignored a suggestion that could save millions of dollars, or why you have the same argument again and again with your spouse, the answers are here. As well as the tools to do something about it.

E-Burgh AAR

Rory Miller's Blog - Mon, 2014-03-31 11:06
Last classes of the Edinburgh leg of the UK tour will be tonight. Arrest and control and cell extractions for a small group of officers from another country, then an evening of infighting. Then off to St Andrews, which would be a big thing if I golfed, or so I'm told. But that will be a fun group, too. Then Swindon, a bunch of fairly short courses, and the scenario training in Sheffield.

Then not-quite-home. Seattle.

Every trip to Edinburgh has been a blast. Beautiful city, good for wandering. The classes are always a mix-- excellent martial artists and beginners; security and enforcement professionals and civilians; and almost always some academics. Everyone thinks, everyone sweats. Most people get bruises (everybody on the second hands-on day). And it always refines my teaching.

Self-evaluation:

Introductory ConCom is tight. Massive information, but easily internalized. One weakness in myself. Probably a complex of old concussions and sleep deprivation (or maybe just because there are so many nuances) I always remember a few details after the class that could have made it better.
Two weaknesses/opportunities in the class itself:
1) There should be different versions and different teachers for different audiences. The jail and agency stories work, the principles are universal, but having an experienced business person telling business stories that illustrate the same points would work better for a business audience.
2) I should have a printed handbook to go with the class. Ideally just copies of the ConCom manual, which I currently can't do if I accept my publisher's offer for print rights.

Crisis Communication with EDPs. Good information, well received, but like anything complex and real, there is no one-size-fits-all answer. First responders will arrive at the scene with minimal information, so they need on-the-spot intelligence gathering and threat assessment skills, whereas the EDP's family member or custodian will have lots of information and direct experience, but probably not the tools or resources. And whether there is a duty to act affects everything as well as the goal and available time. So, first improvement was to address these issues up front. Next will be to expand the power point either for specialized audiences or to address specifically how these factors affect options and priorities. Also, the PowerPoint slides are too wordy and sometimes repetitive. I teach this less often so I haven't built memory triggers into the slides.

Introduction to Violence. Sounds strange, but one advantage of teaching in a foreign country (or to groups from multiple countries) is that I don't know the laws. Thus I can cut the Force Law portion down to almost nothing-- affirmative defense, elements of articulation. Which gives more time for other stuff. This was a one-day. The two-day gives me a lot more time flexibility. Getting people up to environmental fighting in one day without injuries is always challenging, and I prefer environmentals after some work on the ground and with momentum and walls. But it's fun and it works. The two biggest battles are:
1) Getting people to understand that fighting harder is not always fighting better. The serious injury rate in martial arts classes, even full-contact classes, is quite low. It's the only way to stay in business. So if school 'A' goes slow and light and one person in a hundred gets a broken bone or dislocated joint or serious concussion, and school 'B' goes ten times as hard and only one person in a hundred gets a broken bone or dislocated joint or serious concussion, then school 'A' is ten times as efficient as school 'B'.  It's just math. You do have to go fast and hard. People who only play light get a very specific set of bad habits. But people who only play hard get a different set of bad habits.
2) The stupid performance artifact belief that good motion means lots of motion. If you do some eight move spinning cartwheel of doom and KJ puts you down with a right cross, KJ is the better martial artist. KJ is the better fighter. Sometimes there is a two inch move with your knee or just a hip bump that will do more than your prettiest technique, but people usually don't see the opportunity and when it is pointed out and often say it doesn't feel right because it is 'too easy.'

People who use this stuff try to make it simpler. People who only train in it have a tendency to make it more complicated.

JUST MY STYLE

Ron Goin's Blog - Wed, 2014-03-19 02:01
JUST MY STYLE
If you don't eat your meat, you can't have any pudding! You can't have any pudding if you don't eat your meat! Pink Floyd


Everyone, please take your seat.  Remember posture is important, so let's all sit up nice and straight.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Breathe in slowly, hold it, now let it out.  Good.  Now, place both palms on the table, but away from your silverware and napkin.

Before we begin our training session tonight let us utter our student creed.  Say it with me please:  "I come to the table to dine. I study what others are unwilling to learn.  I practice so that I might achieve perfection.  I sit apart from others who cannot grasp the importance of the dining experience.  I am committed to the style and my teacher."

Excellent.  Now, shall we begin? 


These techniques have been handed down over many generations.  As a master of fine dining I have a passion for sharing these skills with others, but I don't want you to think these skills are easy.  Sure, I make it look easy, effortless, but I've been doing it diligently for many many years.


Style is important.  Never forget it.  Precision, focus, and concentration in every instant, every action, that is key.  Take your napkin in your right hand, and with a graceful flourish open it and place it on your lap as we have been practicing.  Remember, you will never fully master these moves, but perfection, like the pot o' gold at the end of the rainbow, however elusive, is our goal.

Again using the right hand, take the soup spoon and practice eating the hot broth.  DO NOT SLURP!  DO NOT BLOW ON YOUR SOUP!  What are we?  Heathens?  That type of behavior may be well and good for a fast food establishment, but not in here!

On to the salad.  No, not THAT fork...use the other one.  

There may come a time when you are faced with the ugly truth, the harsh reality of eating.  Having this unique set of specialized skills will help you survive those unpleasant episodes, but only if you practice.  Remember too that the movements are 90% mental and only 10% physical.  You must first visualize and then realize.

Some people have questioned the style.  They cannot understand why we practice eating in such a strict sequence, such a rigid structure.  They cannot comprehend why we follow the pattern carefully, adding nothing, improvising nothing.  Why we so zealously adhere to form.  

They do not grasp how important it is to learn these techniques until they become automatic.  

Now, picking up your steak knife and fork let's cut the meat.  No clatter.  Gentle but firm.  It's all about style.  Good.  Try it again.


 

Out of the Box

Rory Miller's Blog - Thu, 2014-03-13 22:29
Because my lovely wife worked on the cover and interior design, I got to read Kris and Lawrence's new book, Sensei, Mentor, Teacher, Coach, before it became available. It's a good book. Really good. And important. And I think it will be an uphill battle to make it successful.

Why? The material is original, important, comprehensive. The writing is good, like I expect from these two. Both of the authors are well known, best-sellers in the martial arts genre. On paper,  S-M-T-C should take off. But it will be a struggle.

Largely because, somewhere in our heads, we put people into boxes. Lawrence Kane and Kris Wilder? Karate guys. Martial arts authors. The people who look for their names are not looking for books on leadership. The people looking for books on leadership are not looking for those names. Even most of their fans don't know that before Kris decided to see how deeply he could simplify his life he was a professional consultant who worked on national political campaigns. Or that Lawrence, in his day job, sometimes herds $100 million+ contracts through a major bureaucracy.

These karate guys know leadership. And management. And the difference. They know that teaching is guiding growth through leadership. "Among the thousands of books on this subject I am amazed that Wilder and Kane have not only found a new approach, but one that makes a real difference."   That's what some guy named Anthony Wood wrote in the introduction. Some marine colonel-- who led the evacuation of Saigon. Just some guy.

It's a marketing puzzle. And I'm in a similar place with ConCom. Groundbreaking stuff, but it's not some former jailguard thug talking about violence and bad people. People who want communications books prefer to see a PhD or MSW after the name.

In the last month, all three of us have shattered our molds, and done some of our best work, in my opinion. But I think it's going to take something creative to get traction, to get attention in the right places. Stuff to think about.




24 Hours

Rory Miller's Blog - Thu, 2014-03-13 00:26
This post isn't about violence or self-defense, just purely about how cool the world is.
On the second of March we had a weather phenomenon called a "silver thaw." It has nothing to do with thawing, so don't ask me about the name. I'm sure it happens in other places, but I've only seen it here, in the gorge.  The rain hits, and it comes down as rain but the ground is cold and every single surface gets covered with ice. The roads are a sheath of ice. Every blade of grass is outlined in ice like a crystal.  It's hell to drive in, but it is gorgeous.
  The rail on the deck (this is what the roads were like):

The plants looked like this:

And the view from the deck was:Twenty-four hours later it was 51 degrees fahrenheit and I was out in my shirt sleeves, digging in the garden.  The view from the deck:
Life is change. It's a big world and full of many things. Not just in space, but also in time.

Sensei, Mentor, Teacher, Coach. Challenge from Listener (#129)

Kris Wilder's Martial Secrets - Wed, 2014-03-12 17:57

More on Sensei, Mentor, Teacher, Coach: Powerful Leadership for Leaderless Times. Spurred on by a listener comment on how Kris and Lawrence have used the information in their new book in the real word.  Kris tells the story of having to kick a kid out of the dojo after much, much effort on many parts. Lawrence goes all corporate and explains how throwing skilled and gifted people out front can make a difference in perception and in reality.

Building a House

Rory Miller's Blog - Wed, 2014-03-05 17:04
Conversation the other day about training paradigms. The person was advocating that things are learned best starting with basic technique, then building on that into a system. As near as I can remember one quote, "The first day, sensei showed us a punch. It wasn't quite right, but he told us to practice and pay attention to form and we would do it right when we needed it. It couldn't be right, of course, because if you punch with full power, you'll stress your elbows."

If you heard something like this (as I did from my first karate sensei) I want you to put on your big boy hat and think about, because almost every single element of that thought is palpably false.

Never practice doing things "not quite right." Not quite right is wrong, and if you do enough reps at doing things wrong, you will do things wrong in a fight. We all know this.  The best training in the world doesn't always come out, especially in your first fights-- but if your training does come out, you don't want it to be wrong.

There is no universe where doing things wrong long enough will magically morph into doing things right.

Correct form and not going full power are all artifacts of punching air. You need to punch a body. A moving body. You don't have to worry about your elbows. Wrists maybe, and shoulders if you have some of the snap power generations down... thing is, the feedback for really hitting a body is kinesthetic, not visual. Who cares if rotten food is pretty on the plate?

He tried to explain again with the house metaphor. You have to build a foundation. Then the walls, then the roof. Add the windows and doors and plumbing and electrical system. Only then will you have a house. The metaphore is that you practice your techniques with special attention to form (which, IMO, is confusing the paint job with the foundation) and then you build up through combinations to tactics to strategy and only then, when it is all complete, can you fight with it.

If this was the pattern of actual teaching, there might be some validity to the metaphor. But what you will see most often is the equivalent of handing someone a hammer and showing them how to swing it. After months or years of that they might be allowed to pound actual nails into random pieces of lumber. And they are told that enough reps of that combined with with making forts under the table with blankets (sparring) makes a complete house.

The principles-based approach is to understand what a house is. List what you need to understand (structural stability, insulation, air flow, heating and safety, light) to build one appropriate for your needs (emergency shelter to high rise). And then you play and experiment with the principles and the material you have on hand or can acquire.

None of us learned to talk the way we learned martial arts. We learned to talk through immersion. We played and sang and told stories and listened. We experimented with language-- The two-year-old's "No" stage is finding out how much he or she can control the world. We learned to speak with just a third of the principles-based model and we're all pretty good at it.

We learned to write from the foundational model, and after a minimum of twelve years of formal instruction under professional teachers, a lot of people still suck at it. And even the ones who don't suck have immense insecurities. In my opinion, most of the bad writing comes from the insecurities, by the way. Trying to be "a Writer" people become stilted and artificial trying to please some long-dead third grade teacher.

One of the commenters long ago (no way I could find the post before coffee, sorry) pointed out that all animals learn through play, and only humans were stupid enough to try to to learning into a job.  I'll go further and say that the primary effect of that form of teaching is to make the students easy to control. It serves no other function efficiently.

For Love

Rory Miller's Blog - Sun, 2014-03-02 22:49
People are afraid of violence. And some of them make the choice to train to protect themselves from violence. But training isn't free. Not financially, not physically, not emotionally.

How much do you have in your wallet or purse right now?  Credit cards and stuff, too. If you are afraid of getting mugged, that is what you stand to lose. If your training cost $100 a month and you train for a year, that's $1200. Five years is $6000. Does spending that much to protect what you have in your wallet make economic sense?

I've been at the martial arts game since 1981. That will be thirty-three years this coming September. And right at twenty years of actual application-- two years bouncing in a casino (probably only a dozen times it went hand to hand, we were pretty professional) 17 years in Corrections (somewhere in the 500-700 range for actual force incidents serious enough to require reports) and a year in Iraq (only one hand to hand encounter). Almost all of the serious injuries, the ones one pays for as they get older, came from training-- the knee, elbow and all but one of the shoulder dislocations, the broken fingers, most of the concussions.

There is a physical cost to serious training, and the training that has the best chance of working when you need it plays on those edges. Without training at that intensity, the real encounters could have been much more debilitating. But I was going into special circumstances, where violence was a near-inevitability. I think the cost was worth it.

But for most people a decade of serious training will do more damage than most single encounters. And many, if not most people will not ever have a serious encounter.

We train to go home to our families, but I've spent at least 11,000 hours away from my family just for training. Not counting shifts or the time overseas or the traveling training now. That's over 458 full days. Over a year and three months. If it was really about my family, wouldn't the time have been better spent with the people I love?

Is training bad math?

No. Training for fear is bad math. For that matter, doing anything out of fear is almost always stupid in the long run.

This why you train, or at least why you should train: Because you love it. I don't care what art you study, as long as you enjoy it. Anything that makes it a joy to move. Any class that you look forward to each day. I have seen people who sucked at supremely efficient arts and people who excelled at arts that didn't fit my needs. But excelling is its own reward.

Spending $1200 a year to save the $100 dollars in your wallet doesn't make any sense. But spending $1200 a year is less than a daily $5 mocha...and if you spend it doing things you enjoy, getting stronger, quicker and more flexible, getting smarter, and smacking around friends-- what's better than that? What better investment in yourself and your time can you make?

Injuries are more problematic, but you can play hard and safely. Most of the time. And there are lessons in pain and adapting to injury that pay off in other areas of your life. You are surrounded by people who have spent their lives avoiding discomfort. To face discomfort, and even embrace it, is a superpower. To learn that you can adapt even when your body is messed up puts many things into a perspective: You will adapt. You will win. That's who you are. That's what you do. And learning that is kind of cool.

11000 hours away from the people I love would be a lot. The thing was, the time was spent with people I love. The camaraderie and sheer fun of throwing friends through the air is pretty deep bonding. There is a reason why people like KJ and Steve say, "My brother in the arts."

Friends, self-improvement, toughening and fun. Those are some damn good reasons.

Train. Everybody should train in something physical. But never out of fear. Train for love.

Nerd Rehabilitation

Rory Miller's Blog - Sat, 2014-03-01 20:36
If you haven't gone through the Conflict Communications program or read the book, some of the language in here may be hard to follow. The concepts in ConCom were heavily influenced by interaction with criminals because both Marc and I have a lot more experience with criminals than we do with, say, office workers. It also means that most of the examples in the book are from jail. People have already suggested that there should be a business version, and Doc Coray is working on a medical version of the presentation. The principles cross over, but everyone learns better if they can identify with the specific examples.

But one of the possibilities that really intrigues me is nerd rehabilitation.
In case it's not clear, I don't think like most people. No way to tell how much is hard wired and how much is (lack of) early socialization. I was the quiet kid who preferred to run off to the desert alone and climb rocks and crawl through caves. Maybe nature. I was also raised seven miles from the nearest town with no electricity or running water and graduated with a senior class of six people. So when I went to college and actually met large groups of people I was an alien... maybe nature, maybe nurture, but I got along with books way better than I did with people.

I found that people seemed to have no idea what they really thought (measuring their words against their actions) that they were completely controlled by imaginary emotional mine fields. That everyone else had a secret understanding of what one could say and what one couldn't. Silly me, I thought everyone always wanted the truth, otherwise they wouldn't have asked.

I learned the hard way to keep my mouth shut in most situations. And with your mouth closed and your eyes and ears open, you learn stuff. And if you are curious and your brain is wired a little differently, you will make connections. You will get to understand things consciously that the others seem to have been born with. Like the smallest guy on the judo team, if you work hard and smart, you can do with skill what the others do with talent.

This process heavily informed ConCom. Since I wasn't a natural at interacting, I had to work to become conscious. Technical superiority to offset natural inferiority.

In ConCom terms, nerds (I mean socially awkward intelligent people) have a weak or deficient Monkey brain. The limbic system that controls/is emotionality and tribal dynamics doesn't work as well. And in a lot of ways, that's a superpower. When there is a concrete problem, the neocortex is good at solving that... but when the Monkey brain starts worrying about who will get the credit for solving the problem, the neo-cortex shuts down. A weak Monkey keeps the neocortex on the job. Superpower.

But a weak Monkey also means that you don't have an instinctive understanding of how to get along. You assume that being right is far more important than presentation-- because it should be. Obviously. But in a world where most people have very strong Monkey brains, being obviously right is not a superpower, because almost always, the limbic system trumps rationality. And, by the way, everyone rationalizes their limbic responses, so pointing it out doesn't help.
So if you are right, but misread someone's status; or you are right but break one of the tribal protocols in how you present the fact; or if you are right but on a subject where your sub-tribe is 'poaching' (like a tactical guy solving a budget problem) it doesn't matter how right you are. Neurotypicals (non-nerds for our purposes) will have a limbic reaction. And the rational part of their brains will not be able to engage until the tribal part has been mollified.

ConCom makes the underlying tribal processes visible so that they can be understood and even manipulated. It's about making the normally unconscious part of communication more conscious. And if it's more conscious, it becomes a trainable skill. And I think nerds, the ones who are already self-aware enough to understand there are things they don't get, will have a huge edge in applying the skills consciously.


Brains

Rory Miller's Blog - Fri, 2014-02-28 16:36
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.

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