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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 1999 3:44 am 
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Will vs. skill

Here is something which we already know to be crucial , simmering at the base of our consciousness !

Think of how many times you may have been in situations where , in spite of an appropriate measured response being called for , you did not , would not , could not trigger your karate /self defense skills ! You could not bring yourself to ‘do it’ ; you did not want to cross that threshold into the unknown ! You denied, rationalized, bargained ,thought of the consequences , doubted your prowess to really deal with the threat , hesitated and froze , ceding the advantage ! Be honest ; think about it !!

Then you got slammed by a sucker attack , and your defense was less than successful because your ass was in back pedaling motion and you took a pretty good beating , content to watch your sneering assailant walk away thankful he did not finish you off !

Then you did five things :

1] Said to yourself < I could have really hurt that guy with my karate but I was afraid to use it because I could have killed him >

2] You took time from work /dojo to hide and nurse your swollen face !

3] When you went back to the dojo , you took it out on your sparring partner to try and prove to yourself you could have dealt your street adversary that “mortal blow” , your teacher had to intervene and stop you from making a real ass of yourself !

4] Then you blamed the system and your teacher for your failure !

5] Then you either dropped out of the martial arts all together or changed style/teacher !

6] Then you had a real talk with yourself and came to the conclusion that , in spite of your dan ranking and dojo reputation , you were really scared ****less out in the street and your arms and legs would not work !

7] Then you went out and bought yourself a gun ___God help us all !


No way __you say !!! You really want to bet ??

The lethal force experts / trainers , say that the will to enter the fray is the most difficult component to program into a subject ! Absent that grim determination to lay it on the line , all your dan ranks , karate skills , the gun in your pocket , are nothing but worthless physical and emotional appendages ! Unless you are properly trained mentally , and sometime even then [ natural selection] , you will fold up and let someone else decide your fate !

Here is something to ponder : “ Yes , < will > can definitely beat < skill > ! Without the willingness to use the skill , then the skill really does not exist “




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Van Canna


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Sat Apr 24, 1999 3:51 am 
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Location: Tewksbury, MA USA
Sensei:

You wrote:

"Without the willingness to use the skill, then the skill really does not exist"

That's friggin' poetry! Next time we are lucky enough to have you visit our dojo, you will read those words carved into the wall of our "sacred space"!

Thank you for inspiring us all!!

My deepest admiration and respect!!

Gary

------------------
Gary J. Khoury
http://www.uechi-ryu.com/khoury


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 1999 12:58 am 
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Location: Richmond, VA
Van sensei: That is the spirit of Peyton Quinn's book - 'Real Fighting'. Mind set is everything in a battle. Jim Cirillo, Jeff Cooper and Mas Ayoob likewise hold these sentiments, and all are veterans of mortal combat.

Do I have the proper mindset? I'm not battle tested but I am certainly working on it! Thank you for the enlightenment.

Regards, Rich


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 1999 1:59 am 
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Sensei Van,
The more you write, the more you zero in on the absolute crux of the matter! And it is on this point you have just made that I would like to 'enter the fray' so to speak. The inward decision to fight or not to fight (or to "halfway fight"; more about this below) is at least as important as the physical skills themselves.I know the experience first hand. I have been in situations of having "frozen", and suffered a sense of verbal humiliation (I have not been beaten up, so I don't know first hand what that would do to me, though I think I can imagine... maybe I need a good beating from time to time!. I know the brooding, the infinite mental replays of the scenario ("I should have done this or that" accompanied by the most vivid, Hollywood-quality fantasies!, the driving need to get back to the dojo to reassure myself of my strength. I have also had the opposite experience, reacting directly and forcefully to put down a threat (unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurence in my work, and I have had to "deal with" the aftereffects of those situations as well.After the adrenaline rush, the flash and whirl of the encounter, one notes the sweaty palms, the heavy breathing the fear-smell and the sense of shock to everyone in the vicinity... it can take hours to completely wear off.Fortunately, I have never been in a life-or-death threat situation, and I hope I never am. I do not know for sure how I would react. My lesser experiences, as I said, have gone either way.
I think there is room in this discussion to introduce a very critical issue, and one which we have not yet really taken up. That is what I refer to as the "half-fight" situation. There may be a better term for it, let's see what others think. The point being that not every confrontation is a life threatening one, not every fight to-the-death, not every verbal agument destined to escalate, not every opponent "worthy" (to borrow Sensei Bethoney's term), and I think it is extremely important, from aselfdefence, a legal and a moral perspective, that we pay some attention to differentiating one from the other. I don't claim to have the answers, at least not all of them, but I do have the questions that I'd like us to consider together... what is the fighting continuum? How does one tell how serious or deadly a threat is likely to be? How does on gauge his response? It should go without saying that we cannot adopt the "kill them all and let God sort them out" attitude toward self-defense. What do you think, Sensei Van?


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 1999 6:08 am 
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Hi Paul ,

Good observations :

< the "half-fight" situation….not every confrontation is a life threatening one, not every fight to-the-death, not every verbal argument destined to escalate, not every opponent "worthy" …..what is the fighting continuum? How does one tell how serious or deadly a threat is likely to be? How does on gauge his response? It should go without saying that we cannot adopt the "kill them all and let God sort them out" attitude toward self-defense. What do you think, Sensei Van >


1] My view is that it is just about impossible to peg a situation as to it’s lethality potential ! However if you become a good student of incipient violence indicators , your intuition will usually ‘tap you on the shoulder ….OK pal this is the real thing ‘ !

2] The lethal force instructors , not only teach you how to shoot , but when to shoot !
Similarly , we , as martial artists , should not only know how to fight , but when to fight !

3] When to fight is a personal call ! You probably will ‘engage’ when the situation is totally incompatible with your personal make up [principles]…. and the circumstances of the moment ! You must decide now where to draw your line in the sand and program for either total avoidance in spite of verbal put downs or merciless all out counterattack / preemptive action ! Granted ---Not easy to back down from “ What the **** you’re looking at, you dick- head “

4] If you decide that fighting is the way to go and there is time , then >>>> The fight continuum might start with the image you project and is perceived by the assailant in the first few moments of the interview ! Mr. Quinn writes that most adversaries will search for signs of weakness or uncertain self image on your face before deciding to take you on ! So your first step of the continuum is to shift to “psychological warfare “ and instill if only a doubt in the adversary’s mind that you won’t be easy ! You will need a certain mannerism and a certain ‘dead eyes’ look !
You know : The “ you start something and I’ll ****ing bury you “ message ! And be ready to back it up !

But not many want to go to that extreme commitment of their physical and emotional resources !

Tough questions , Paul , no easy answers because it is very much personal ! some people snap in spite of their ‘ enlightened ‘ martial arts training ; others couldn’t be bothered no matter what the provocation ; best way to rationalize a back down is to visualize the legal /financial hassles and your ruined day / evening out with your better half !

You might say with fire in your eyes : “ Hey , out of my way , today I am not in the mood for a ****ing fight "

Hope this helps , Paul !


------------------
Van Canna


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 1999 6:19 am 
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Posts: 157
Location: Evansville, IN, USA
Paul:

My opinion is, forget about trying to gauge your enemies response. The only element you really have control over in battle is you. Although true you can manipulate the emotional (i.e. the Steely Eye Stare O' Death) and physical state (i.e. application of tactics and skill) of your opponent, you do this by controlling yourself first (i.e. Mindset). Maybe I am not understanding your question though.

Gauging seriousness: That is a good question. Read and *learning* "Gift of Fear" helps. You know it sounds corny but it really does come down to instincts (again you have no real logical or rational means of being sure ... so you are left with a very powerful tool ... your guts!). In de Becker's book he talks about a guy who walked into a store, looked around and walked back out. Ends up the store was being robbed. What told him that? Instincts ... the pit of his stomach and the hairs on his neck. As de Becker says too in our modern culture we have trained ourselves not to believe in the unknowable and the unseeable. We believe in logic and reason. If there is no logical reason to be scared then I shouldn't be. HA! When I met my wife, I knew after 1 week that I loved her truly, and I told her. She asked me how I could know so certainly (she could hear the sincerity in my voice). I told her that I try to listen to my instincts, and thats what they tell me. They were right. They usually (maybe always!) are. Then of course there are certain axioms that are helpful:

- If a thug tells you to come with him, he plans to kill you. Fight now!
- If a thug says he won't hurt you, he probably doesn't mean it. He is trying to lull you. If a thug really has no intention on hurting you, he'll just rob you and run and to heck with convincing you otherwise.
- If a thug says something like "Hey, you have seen my face"... fight now!
- The longer a thug has contact with you the more likely is ultimately he wants to hurt you. Somebody who justs wants you money, or whatever is going to take it and go. Remember the longer a crime takes to commit the more risky it is, and hence the more important it is to eliminate witnesses ... namely you.

Are these absolute truths.... nope, if only they were. But they are little things I have picked up from various places.

So, did I contradict myself by saying ... hey here are some logical ways of determining intent. Well ... maybe a little. But it never hurts to balance things. If you can confirm you instincts with reason then it only helps to spur you to take your predetermined action (and you do have a predetermined action to defend yourself, right?!?).

=============================================

Will vs. Skill: It never hurts to hear the message ... and you know what the real funny thing is. This is hardly anything new! Ready Musashi, read Sun Tzu, read Quinn, read Oyama, etc. Does Musashi say lead in with a high slash, and then a thrust? Nope, his book is about conditioning the mind ... understanding that the battle is over before it starts. Same with Sun Tzu. Etc. Isn't it odd, that so many people read these books and think that by reading them they have got the teachings of histories greatest warriors, and yet this message "WILL" (the power of the burning spirit!) just seems to get missed ... and missed ... and missed, and forces poor Sensei Van to post it. Don't believe me? Go talk to somebody who has read these books ... ask them what the message is ... I would give good odds they don't have a clue. The same applies to "Gift of Fear". People read it and say "Wow, that was a great book. Thanks for recommending it. You know the best thing was that all the stuff in there is all common sense. I knew a lot of that." (Ed - Why isn't common sense more common?). ARGH!!! Of course, everybody knows everything that de Becker says ... thats not the point ... the point is that we ignoring everything that de Becker is trying to tell us we shouldn't be ignoring.

Jason's Summary (tm):

If you are reading this and think that Sensei Van Canna is out on a limb. Think again. This message is not unique. It is not new. All those precious ancient masters that you love to say you emulate ... guess what their advice for you has been all along (hint - it has nothing to do with jumping spinning double reverse triple back side kicks).

I feel a bit like Steve Morris here ... you want the truth behind the power of the martial arts. If in your training you are developing a indominitable spirit (Osu!) then you are developing yourself towards self defense. But indominatable spirit is not the only piece, just a part of the puzzle.

OSU!
Jason

P.s. - "You" in the second half of this message is not aimed at anybody in particular. Don't want any confusion on that.


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 1999 3:50 am 
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Paul ,

You said < The inward decision to fight or not to fight (or to "halfway fight"; more about this below) is at least as important as the physical skills themselves. I know the experience first hand. I have been in situations of having "frozen", and suffered a sense of verbal humiliation (I have not been beaten up, so I don't know first hand what that would do to me, though I think I can imagine... maybe I need a good beating from time to time!. I know the brooding, the infinite mental replays of the scenario ("I should have done this or that" accompanied by the most vivid, Hollywood-quality fantasies!, the driving need to get back to the dojo to reassure myself of my strength. >


Comments: It is important to remember that probably most of us went through similar experiences in life and that is what brought us to the martial arts to start with ; at least some of us were smart enough to realize that **** happens and , contrary to the ‘sand dwellers’ we decided to do something about it ! However not many of us will admit to that !

In his book “ watch my back “ Geoff Thompson talks about his rude awakening when as an accomplished martial arts tourney fighter , he came up against a real tough guy in real life and as a result he had to make “adjustments” some physical but mostly PSYCHOLOGICAL ! He talks about reaching shodan level , fairly proficient physically , but still wanting in “ mental Physique “ because of natural fears of “real fighting” which we all have !

His big psychological change came when some punks beat his father and he went after them fully knowing they carried knives ; he refused to be intimidated ; he was now out for blood and he destroyed them ! Then his goal became to control and master the fear he had felt inside instead of trying to erase it !

The real tough guys of our world usually have very limited martial arts experience , they may know a few devastating moves , they can be exceedingly strong , but they have one thing, the ruthless “ attitude” ….which in certain circumstances may be all that will see them through ! [ Thompson]

He and other ‘battle proven’ people like him relate the very same thing that us poor enlightened martial artists hate to hear : that what we follow as an art , it is seldom practical when needed and that the real training should revolve around the cultivation of the inner psychological beast !

He talks about tournament fighters knowing the feeling of butterflies , the dry mouth , fast heart rate , hyperventilation ; and how , in real life you multiply those feelings by ten ; and the fight is nothing like a tournament and it usually lasts only seconds !

In my day I have witnessed tournament matches go from sparring mode to real life mode in a split second and observe in amazement how those beautiful techniques of a moment before changed into snarling flailing dog fights ! I have been through some of those back then , and if you had found yourself in the middle of the karate riots at the All American championships in Madison Square Garden in the late 60’s as some of us did , you would understand the meaning of regressing to ‘primal mode’ and technique be damned !

The question is always how do we train for this ! My view was changed a long time ago into the deliberate cultivation of righteous fury in incremental stages coupled to very basic steam rolling , simple gross motor response which is all your body will be capable of putting out at that fateful moment !

And again , you must include some weapon in your force continuum mindset !

If we are not willing to go this far in our training , then let’s be honest with ourselves and face up to our karate practice as a social outlet , good exercise , beer drinking parties and cigars but no self defense talk !

PS again the word 'you' is general in direction and not aimed at anyone !


------------------
Van Canna


[This message has been edited by Van Canna (edited 04-25-99).]


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 1999 2:26 pm 
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Van,

The “Will versus Skill” post carries your message further. It simplifies everything you’ve been teaching. Plus it has a nice ring to it. Gary’s idea of posting it in his dojo is a great way to humble those who may think that a black belt amulet will afford protection from a case of whup ass.

The unfortunate part of your message is that most of the readers are only in a position of incorporating the doctrines you write about into our own psyche and training. Some have already adopted the principles, so you are preaching to the choir here. There are many teachers out there who don’t teach life’s realities and are doing their students a disservice by simply putting them through the motions night after night. When this is the case, the dojo is just exercise class.

The phrase "Without the willingness to use the skill , then the skill really does not exist " Reminds me of the saying" A hidden talent is useless"

Kevin


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Mon Apr 26, 1999 11:41 pm 
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Again,
the issue I have in mind is how one decides that the "when" has actually arrived. Short of reacting solely on one's own rage (and I have had this reaction; spit in the face and a loss of control before I knew what was happening, regretting it later)how do you know it's time to deliver the 'deadly shoken to the throat' as opposed to the 'less deadly, but still painful kick to the thigh or punch to the stomach. I suppose the answer has something to do with the effect of your first response... Richard Strozzi, the aikido teacher from San Francisco, tells a very interesting story of how he was provoked into a fight by a group of punks. He had "right" completely on his side, and he immediately disarmed one of the attackers and had him helpless... just as he was about to deliver the "coup de grace" he sensed the complete terror and weakness in his opponent and stopped himself. Just in time, I might add, since that encounter was more a show of macho force and an attempt to humiliate him than any true intent to cause him grievous bodily injury. The skill and the will have to be there for those rare moments when the "mother of all battles" must be faced, but we must also cultivate the "wisdom to know the difference".


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 1999 12:11 pm 
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Location: Boston, MA
Paul,

"Wisdom to know the difference." How? I don't know and I am sure any mortal will ever know whether an action taken was truly justified. Stozzi-Heckler's example is interesting. I am sure once he disarmed the kid, he felt the kid's fear. He stopped and was, perhaps, fortunate the other "punks" stopped as well. But the punks initiated the attack. Were it someone else, would they have stopped at a beating or at the taking of a life. Will they move on to a less fortunate person the next time? I appreciate Heckler's mercy but who but God will know the long term outcome?

I shared a story once, I think here, about a incident I had in Charlestown. Darin Yee was teaching a children's class in a project there. Well, the townies didn't take to that. They started to intimidate the kids after class, shoving them around and other stuff. Darin asked me to attend the class and to walk the kids to the train station afterwards. (He also told me that some of my "senior" brothers would be there. Turned out none of them showed. Another story.) Well, after the class, on the way out of the projects, the townies showed. 8 or 9 of them, big teens, carrying sticks and pipes and blocking our way out of the projects. I could feel the fear rippling through the group of kids I was with. There were probably a dozen of us but they were only 13-15 years old (I was the oldest at 17.) Well, I was scared too. But where to go? I decided to act crazy and went right at the biggest guy in the middle and shoved him. I could sense the hesitation on their part. The kids never fought back before. The big kid looked at me and looked at his friends. My ploy almost worked but then the punk then decided to swing the pipe at me. I blocked it. He dropped it and ran. I went after him because now I was really pissed. Big mistake. I chased after him, leaving some my kids behind and others following me. The punk I was chasing ran into a house and I heard someone screamed, "Get the shotgun!" I immediately turned and ran back the other way and my kids followed. On the way back, I saw one the bad guys. He had a stick and he tried to hide it behind his leg. I ran up to him and said, "drop it." He did. The kids I was with starting kicking and punching at him with little or no effect. This punck was way bigger (kinda of funny in retrospect.) I finally shouted to the kids, "Cut the sh^t!" I couldn't see trying to beat on this guy when he had already complied and had no fight left in him. So we went back on our way. When we got back to the original point of encounter. I saw several of my kids standing around and a couple of townies. One of the townies was holding his shoulder, bleeding profusely. I went up to him and again the palatable fear. He started to say almost pleadingly, "I was trying to help. I was trying to help." I took his hand away from the shoulder. He had three or four puncture wounds in the shoulder chest area, just over the heart. I asked who did it. One of my kids, Frankie B, said he did it. I started screaming at him because earlier I had asked if any the kids were carrying weapons. At the stage of my life, weapons were in my mind taboo. The kids all said they had nothing. Anyway, I knew one or more of townies were on the way back with a shotgun. I did a quick headcount and we ran to chain linked fence next to a highway and scaled it, ran across the highway towards the next T station. We got out of there safely. When I talked to Frank B about why he stabbed the kid, he said several of them knocked him down and were beating him with sticks and pipes. He pulled a switch blade, got himself up and did a stabitystabstab on the closest guy. Well, I wasn't going to get on his case for that. Darin later found out the kid that was stabbed was the leader of that group of punks. Darin was also smart enough to move out of those projects soon after.

What's the moral of the story. Just that one can't know ultimately. You do the best you can within the parameters of one believes is right or wrong. I made mistakes there. But I was trying to follow my own moral compass. To this day, I try to maintain two rules: One, don't fight unless I really, really believe my safety or someone elses is in jeapardy. Two, stop and desist when the attacker is down. I want to stop him not necessarily kill him (though that may happen in the process). I have had incidents since then and, for the most part, I followed these two rules. Yes. I've violated number One a couple of times and I feel bad about it. And, I sort of violated number Two once. After each incident, no matter how justified, I face some internal repercussion, some internal disturbance and soul searching. But, I am human. I leave it to greater power to judge. I try to follow that prayer: "Let me change the things that I can. Let me accept the things I cant'. Let me have wisdom to tell the difference."

Read Strozzi Heckler's, In Search of The Warrior Spirit. He too struggles with violence and where it fits. He too is trying to find "wisdom". I'm sure he has flashes of it and sometimes the wisdom is just not there. We are human, afterall.

david


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 1999 12:48 pm 
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Location: Marblehead, MA USA
David, That reminds me of the story about how the Chinatown punks ran Fred Villari out of the area in the 70's. I wondered how much was true.
Mike


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Tue Apr 27, 1999 1:16 pm 
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Location: Boston, MA
Mike,

You can talk to Darin and Cookie about it. Don't know if they appreciate being called "punks." They just didn't like Villari, questioned his authenticity and felt compelled to go the Villari studios to challenge Vallari and his instructors. Have to admit the two are a little "hot headed" sometimes.

david


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 Post subject: WILL vs. SKILL
PostPosted: Sat May 01, 1999 12:57 pm 
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David,
Correcting a slight bit for adolescent bravado, I would say you really do show the 'wisdom to know the difference'. As a mature man, what would you wish to do differently now?


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