Thursday, March 12, 2015


In MA, there are different kinds of success. Also in real life, of course, so I'm going to go there for a moment.

When Rory talked about the issues in agencies, he used to talk about the conflict between process and goal-people. And how there was a point of healthy feedback between both and a point of de-estabilization. If you check certain critiques of peacetime and wartime armies, you'll find the same in other words.

Thing is, we're all kind of both. The point of enjoying tea is often not the (probably degraded, anyhow) caffeine, but the making of it, sitting and drinking it relaxed. Smoking pipe tobacco is about the same. Hiking. Having a chat with your loved ones. The process IS the goal.

In the same way, in martial arts, you have process, goals, success... What very few arts and artists allow for is uncertainty. You don't really know what the attack is going to be, the angle it's coming from, the time, the height or weight of the attacker. You do at the gym, of course. And if the gym is all you need (and I have some issues with that when it relates to martial arts [*]), then that's it. Now, however, anything else...

Martial arts are the way of breaking people. There's no way around that. And people object to being broken. They're greedy that way. However, people at the gym don't object to being thrown around, played with. And people want to play, like cubs do.

But animals, while they know they're playing, have a single instinct: survival. Our survival has two elements: physical survival (strength, food...) and social survival (safety, food...). And here is where we fuck up. Since our physical survival is mostly not an issue (illness and traffic accidents are not the kind of things that trigger our physical-danger awareness... until the very last moment), we focus in the social. And it leaks into MA.

How many times have you seen people uncomfortable (and that's mild) when analysing their techniques under a SD view? Why is it so? Some things should not even be taught twice in a group. The very first time someone should raise her hand and say "er... this wouldn't work". But no one does.

So... now let me link "process people", and something Kris Rusch, writer, calls "get by people". Those are the people that, in MA, will "tick the boxes", if that. The people who're surprised when they realize, for example, how it takes about a year, in our gym, to go through 7 measly techniques, and how little time we give to those techniques. Why? They're the syllabus! Yes. But. You're not really evaluating "the technique", but the components of it. Sadly, in many associations, the people who value "the technique" end up being instructors. And then, they grade their own belts. If they only require "the technique", they're going to get black belts faster. And attract people who prefer the simpler "learn this move" syllabus to the "learn those ideas" mindset.

Which is how you get whole MA associations filled with fit, technically adept people who wouldn't fight their way out of a wet paper bag. They have every single "tick" in their boxes, they don't have the intangibles, they don't teach them, they pay no attention.

And, specially, they don't train for failure.

There's that idea, even in SD circles, that you don't teach failure. That's nice and well... until it becomes and absolute. If your technique is set, it's going to fail sooner or later. In fact, if you think on self protection terms, the moment you're attacked, your technique's already failed. Your perimeter's broken, your awareness's failed... whatever. And adrenaline's going to mess it further. So, any time your technique is this-then-than-then-success, you're training for falure through success.

It's kinda circular, is it not?

Take care.

[*] It's both difficult to really grok you're simply doing a sport, when you take that way. Grok and keep that understanding. And, also, you're training reflexes. It's not a good idea to perform a badly trained reflex, or one for the wrong context, in real life. You might end up pissing off the burglar. In that sense, I used to say pickpocket, but we had a real life event recently, here, were a security guard tackled and controlled a burglar... without checking he had 2 friends by the door. Threats of rape didn't materialize, but...

1 comment:

shugyosha said...

This should have been published last Saturday. Sorry about that.