Rory Miller’s blog has to be one of best out there. I love the way he can clearly and succinctly communicate the realties of self-protection. He recently wrote a post called “Martial Mistakes” which beautifully sums up many of the issues we find ourselves repeatedly returning to here.
The link to the post is here and you should read the entire thing:
There were a couple of things that stood out as they have relevance to a number of our recent discussions.
The first one I want to highlight is Rory’s description of how martial artists frequently fail to get the difference between “duelling” and actual violence:
The duelling paradigm. Other than for fun or sport or balancing things within a social group, people don't square off. Because it's dumb. If you had to take out the biggest, scariest martial athlete you can imagine, how would you do it? Exactly. From behind with a weapon. And maybe friends.
This has a lot of implications for MA/SD. The paradigm sets you up to expect distance, time and warning, none of which will exist unless you are monkey dancing. People who are successful at duelling or sparring believe (sometimes, I hope rarely) that the skills will transfer to ambush survival...and they don't.
That should sound very familiar to regular readers and contributors. There are those who only have experience of “dojo duelling” / competitive combat so they wrongly extrapolate that the physical side of self-protection must be the same or similar. Because they have no other frame of reference, trying to convince them that there are different types of violence – such that the solution for one type can be found desperately wanting when applied to another type – is often frustratingly difficult.
Here is another of Rory’s observations that we karate types will be particularly interested in:
When people don't have a reality check they have this really stupid tendency to make up a reality check. 'Make up' and 'reality' rarely belong in the same thought. I almost always pick on karate for this. When I look at their kata and kihon, they have possibly the best body mechanics for infighting that I've seen... then they choose to test it at sparring range, where it sucks. Or, worse, point contact range where it sucks AND it screws up everybody's sense of distance and time.
This paragraph is part of a wider observation with regards to “Bad Metrics”, but this extract really struck a cord with me as it gets to the heart of kata and the problems we have if people fail to grasp that kata were created to deal with close-in civilian conflict. It is why I coined the term “Kata-Based-Sparring” to differentiate between close-range live drills with relevance to the kata and physical self-defence, and long range “competition style sparring” where the methodology of kata does not apply.
These are very important issues and they are certainly worth repeating, but sometimes I feel like our efforts to get these things across to some is like banging our heads against a brick wall … so it’s nice when someone else says it for us :-) Especially when that person is someone as experienced as Rory. It’s also worth remembering that Rory is not a karateka of any type. He is however honest and forthright and there are few who can understand and articulate the realities of self-protection as well as he does (read his books and blog!).
Anyhow, I hope this has wetted your appetite and be sure to read the full post. These are important things for us to reflect upon and I look forward to reading what other members of this forum think.
All the best,
PS The photo above is of Rory pointing a training gun at me as he explaied his thoughts on the use of hand guns and defences against them. This was in Seattle, USA a few years ago at an event where we were both teaching. One of the most enjoyable martial weekends I’ve had! As a side note, about a week later Marc MacYoung, who was also teaching that weekend, sent me a link to a news story of someone being shot in the same area.