You know... yesterday we trained some floor... Not our focus, but something we feel we need some experience in. And I recall a couple of nasty tricks I explained my partner (Chinese guy, doing Hawai'ian MA... if still feels weird).
Basically, we trained the 15 secs next to this, which I just got youtube-suggested. And I see the vid and I keep missing those nasty ideas any good soldier would do on instinct. They're not all that difficult, it's more a matter of mindset. If you're fighting someone to death, you don't sportfight him.
I can see how they trained, and why they do some of the things they do. There are several "safety mistakes" in the first lock, I just wish it wasn't so obvious.
Ready for both (choices). Among others, the motto of the Spanish Navy's submarine force.
Ready for peace, ready for war.
Ready for love, ready for a world of hurt.
I just came from a weekend in foreign lands, training with Rory. Magyar martial artists are good (something which, in a completely different setting, I had glimpsed at the European Iaido Championship last year).
They might be too good.
It's becoming my experience that the better someone is as a martial artist, the worse he is as a violence manager. If you use Rory's 7 steps, martial arts only cover ideal situations on the 6th step. It's too tempting too concentrate on that, which you know, instead of the rest.
Enter diminishing returns. Enter overfocus. Maybe it's Marc's anecdote about little guys being better at handling earthquakes. What I find is that when good martial artists find something way outside their MA paradigm, they tend to short-circuit the thing, to re-imagine drills according to their experience.
Rory's 1-step series of drills is not a sensibility drill (not hubud, not kakie, not...). It's not a speed exercise. It's a mental exercise. Treat it like such. Don't rush, don't reinterpret things.
Because you're setting yourself up to ignore the lessons in Rory's choice of videos. The ones that made a whole room of testosteroned self-assured MAists shut the hell up seconds into the first one.
Life's been quirky, around here, for a while, and a review I promised several moons ago got stalled. My apologies to Alain and to any odd reader I might have.
Informed decission and choices.
That's the leitmotiv of the book. Now, there are many authors who give lip service to it, and some more who really dig it. This books insists on it, and gives you enough in the way of information (both general and anechdotal) to have your chance.
I think it's Marc who has the simile between violence and white waters, between MA and combative peddlers and some guys selling junk rafts. In this sense, what Alain's book does is that he sets up a bridge of stones, solid ones, some of them with small stalls with reminders about the need to be well informed. And then, he gives you the information about which stones (what other counsel) you should pursue and what stones [attitudes, companies...] will get you thrown into the rapids.
My personal taste would probably have preferred anechdotes had been more fleshed out, more rounded, but then the book would have been at least thrice the wordcount. As is, it's an interesting book and --as I said-- the book that most transmits the need to do things with as close to full information as possible. For that alone, it's worth the price. Anechdotes make for both light reading and thinking through and although he's sometimes guilty of belaboring the obvious, it's not too jarring and you're too distracted imagining the miriad of ways all that could have gone wrong (and left you without a writer for the very book you're reading).
The book is divided in four sections, each with chapters that introduce you to what relates to them and anechdotes about pitfalls and successes. First one is the more "abstract" of them, and deals with the law, awareness, violence... Not brainiac at all, really, and it could easily have fallen into that particular trap (I would).
Second section deals with movement: stance, balance, techniques... You won't find 4-[or 40-] moves techniques, but you'll find what you need to take into account to have your moves work in a... "situation". Then, third chapter is... "accessories": friends, women, enviroment, speed (although I'd have put that one in the first section, if I could see how), clothes, alcohol... you name it. And the fourth is... you. You know, that part about "You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em. Know when to walk away and know when to run". When you might want to leave, or stay and how it depends on you.
Really, the subject of Alain's book is not him, it's you; he's just filling the void while you think. And it's a good thing.
These days there are many other works that can give you some of the information in this one, but you could do far whose than choosing this book as a primer, or a glue to stick all that information together. Also, I'd love to read how he's changed his voice in these 15 years.
"Fool of a Took! Throw yourself in next time and rid us of your stupidity!" "Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows!"
Dragons exist. And, yes, they're as bad as in the tales say. Or worse. They rip, tear and destroy; they visit desolation upon the land.
If you've got bad luck, you'll meet them and survive. If your bad luck is extreme, you'll be host to one.
Because stories about evil critters are, ultimately, stories about the evil in people. An evil that we've sanitized, put some FX on it, shot with IMAX... and disbelieved. And then, we confuse enmity --or even inconvenience-- with evil. We deny that true evil is there. And, in the shadows, it grows.
The only people who seem ready to accept its existance, the fight, are people who've felt its actions, people who've seen the Abyss and its effects. Some of them are damaged by the experience and join deluded cults that see evil everywhere. No: evil is pretty specific, pretty focused.
Those who've seen the Abyss carry a kernel of it inside, trying to breed a new dragon. A few good men manage to control the hatchling, or hibernate a full grown one, and use it as a compass to check evil back. And people sense their dragon and confuse them with evil while they dismiss the warning signsthat have put the watchdog in alert.
Marc calls "Slaving" that... connection, chaining, of one's movement and your opponent's. We had some of it at the last seminar with Ángel. And I had serious trouble working it out. Still, I had an advantage.
I think a lot of the ones who were making it work were actually muscling it through. As I saw it, there was a joint lock that allowed you to really use your structure, and... BUT the only way to use that is to keep that connection real tight. Tightness is critical in many (most?) manipulations, but it was an abolute must there (unless you have 50+ lbs. of muscle over me, which is pretty common). When you allow connections to slack, you give you opponent a respite (if it's a lock) and you rob yourself of any advantage (while probably still thinking you have it) you had managed to get along the way.
Plus... there's a meme that says that you can use your whole weight against an opponent when you're properly structured. That's incomplete. If your ankles can hold your weight plus, say, a 50 lbs. backpack, then you should be able to use that much weight against him (the trick is finding it and... slaving it to your move). If, for example, you propel you opponent forward and you meet his head with your forearm, you better be using more than your own weight against him (otherwise, he will be using the rest of available weight against you).
Yesterday we had our annual big seminar with Angel. Party time: there was a new belt for an instructor, with 2 unexpected new stripes on it, a memento and surprise supper for our instructor and his 10 years of teaching... a little surprise for Angel (but, of course, it's his fault for trusting Catalans when we host someone from the Capital)... Good day.
The association might be going to interesting places, we'll see. The system... is still confoundingly simple. Have to work at least a couple of things quite intensively. To add up to some other of them.
The "makeup" of our people is strange. Like at every other seminar, some people didn't come I'd have expected. It's annoying. Yes, it's Christmas, and those who work retail can't afford it. And, yes, some have been out of comission for a while, but... If one of us was going to do a 20+ hr. Day, with seminar and door job, why can't people with easier choices manage? Once, sure, but time after time becomes a trend. Don't lie to us and, specially, to yourselves if you're not coming. Time after time, remember?
It's also interesting to realize, at supper, how many of us, whatever our rank in the system, have a history in MA and related hassles. A recent guy, a shrink, came to us after going to several other places and running away from their group dynamics. Quite many of us have, in fact, come to the association running away from unhealthy ones (sometimes psychologically unhealthy, sometimes physically so). These things give the group a certain character, born from awareness of how bad those things can be. A camaraderie that goes a bit beyond what I've seen in other good MA groups --and way beyond the bad ones--.
I mentioned, early last month, one of the pitfalls of ranking instructors. But what about color belts? Don't we have them?
Indeed. A non-exclusive list:
The finger and the moon: Getting fixated on small details while forgetting principles. Yes, details are the first hurdles you find, early on. But progress is not lokking for the smaller ones, but for the bigger picture. You do not go from learning to walk to learning that tiny angle in your forefinger. You learn to walk, then you learn to walk better... then you discover why you walk. Otherwise, if your instructor is good, you won't understand why he tells one detail to your partner while he tells the opposite to you.
The testing syllabus: I think this is one point where my experience with ZNKR Seitei helps. The coreographies in the syllabus are not important. It's not how many techniques you know, not even which techniques they are. It's important what principles you bring to the fore when you execute them. The very same technique must feel different (but still be the same) when done by different levels of practitioner.
Noise: Your partner's counsel, sometimes even tips your instructor has given to someone else. Don't trash it, but check if it applies to you. He migt have told Allan to punch higher because he's half a head taller than you. Be careful of adapting.
Confusion of terms: Long term and short term are not the same. Goals and dreams are also different. Also, set them properly (read K. Rush article, really): if your goal is "black belt" you won't last long beyond that. And it'll be a pity, because that's the starting line for the fun.
Checks and balances: Check often that you're not deviating, see what happens. You've been testing for a new belt, training for it. Has it hurt your standard training? That test is only a single day, your day-to-day training is going to last for a long time. What happens the first day after that? That next week? Do you feel being a step closer to black belt as an incentive or, instead, does it make you feel too comfortable? HAve you checked with someone outside your training group? Your system?
Some years of Judo and WJJF Ju Jutsu. After passing through Kuk Sool (WKSA), I'm now practicing kajukenbo [KSDI, under A. García] and getting back on iaido (ZNKR & Tatsumi). I'd like to get my 'physical' memory back on Judo and what I knew of other soft styles (but, right now, KJKB fills my learning abilities in hand-to-hand).