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 Post subject: Suit of Denial
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 1998 11:52 pm 

Joined: Tue Oct 27, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 1
Location: Orlando, FL, Orange
Dear Sensei Canna:

I've followed your forum from the start, and although I rarely contribute, I regularly take away with me some very important lessons. Lately, however, I find myself nearing full circle; that is, I find myself toying with the idea of trying on that suit of denial to see if it still fits.

I haven't yet graduated to carrying a weapon - and perhaps never will - but I've been seriously working on my martial mindset and incorporating it into my training and day-to-day routine for some time now. I've read a few of the books mentioned on the forum and have even contacted Peyton Quinn about attending his Basic Combat Applications course in Colorado. While I wouldn't describe myself as a total disciple of your point of views, your messages certainly have gotten through and caused me to alter my behavior on a number of levels. But Sensei Canna, with all due respect, I'm beginning to question the messenger and ultimately myself.

Sometimes - and again, I truly mean no disrespect - you come across so much larger than life and with a message that's so intense and unpleasant it rings almost of paranoia. I don't know you personally, but from reading your forum I understand that you regularly carry with you at least one gun and can use it quite proficiently; are quite adept at hand-to-hand combat; have a good handle on the martial mindset and controlling the chemical cocktail; and because of your professional life and personal interest, have years of study and understanding under your belt about the subjects you espouse.

Because I love to train, am fascinated by what you and the others share with us on the Web, and have followed your forum as it is presented - in small increments over a long period of time - your combat-readiness doesn't seem all that "out there" to me. But you've got to know that to "the regular guy," the stories and philosophies, etc. on this forum seem like something out of "Soldier of Fortune" magazine. And at times I'll get drawn into a conversation with an "untrained" friend or try to put myself in the shoes of a neighbor who sees the heavy bag and makiwara in my garage or notices books like "On Killing and "Real Fighting" in the book case and I begin to feel like some kind of budding militia type.

My father used to tell me that people made their own luck. If you dwelled on the possibility of getting into a car accident while driving, he'd say, eventually an accident will find you. And a Sensei I had once, who I respect very much, told me that a warrior is one who accepts death resolutely. Much like the Samurais, he said, if you conduct your life like you've already died - and therefore live with no fear of dying - you'll perform at your utmost during life-or-death situations.

(There's an old story that illustrates this about a young and inexperienced Samurai who's challenged to a duel by the most infamous Samurai of the land, with more kills to his name than any other. Because the young Samurai knows from the outset that he's going to die, he doesn't fight for his life, but just fights and performs flawlessly. At one point in the battle, the young Samurai even begins to overtake his masterful opponent and realizes he just might kill the infamous Samurai. And at that instant, the infamous Samurai cuts off the head of the young Samurai.)

So, what's the point? Well, if my father is on target, then we're all setting ourselves up for confrontation instead of avoiding it - almost looking for trouble. And if being a warrior means the resolute acceptance of death, maybe we stand to die in that life-or-death confrontation because we're so concerned day to day about defending ourselves - in essence, about staying alive - that when the time comes we won't perform at our peak. I guess what I'm asking is: Are doubts such as mine part of the natural progression of this path that we're all striving to some degree to stay on or is it a sign of slipping back into denial?

Respectfully yours,

 Post subject: Suit of Denial
PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 1998 4:40 am 
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Joined: Thu Mar 11, 1999 6:01 am
Posts: 33192
Dear Jason ,

Thanks for the post as it allows for much needed introspection ..after all the subject matter of this forum is a bit intense for most readers !

A few observations :

1] "But Sensei Canna, with all due respect, I'm
beginning to question the messenger and ultimately myself. "

As well you should ..remember there are no absolutes in life ..and your perception of this forum is as individual as you are >> based on your personality makeup , upbringing , education and life experiences ! But remember , other members of society will be just as passionate in their individual interpretations !

2] "Sometimes - and again, I truly mean no disrespect - you come
across so much larger than life and with a message that's so
intense and unpleasant it rings almost of paranoia."

Any life or death situations are' larger than life' and confronting the same is always intense and unpleasant , as it should be , The difference is that in my work , 80% of all my case load is made up of fatalities , including killings in self defense and mindless violence , such as road rage where one vehicle would intentionally ram another off the road with full knowledge that it contains small children in it ! Lots of the concepts we talk about are exploded in forensic psychiatry for defense trial work !

But be very careful how you use the word "paranoia " because it will boomerang on you ! Most people , including yourself here, use this word lightly without giving your understanding of its definition ! For example most people do not realize that Paranoia is a medically diagnosed condition and not just a catch all phrase ! Paranoid people exhibit certain personality traits which ,I can assure you , I do not possess !

In addition to my intense work , which includes hands on investigations of gruesome events , along with trial prep. And legal management , I have been exposed to the teachings of Mas Ayoob of the lethal force Institute , which is an experience not shared by many and which is a real eye opener to the real world of violence as opposed to some 'black belt ' who has only been brainwashed to think he can deal with it and has only played at fighting ! If you study the martial arts , you have the potential of dealing lethal violence as well as inviting terminal violence for yourself and your loved ones . For these reasons , it is your responsibility to study the entire range of confrontational violence instead of relying on some traditional hokum which may have had application centuries ago , but it is totally outdated today !

A prime example of this is the fantasies we all have of becoming like samurais or 'warriors' in our imagination after working out several times a week in a dojo and otherwise leading a most ordinary life in the 20th century ! I can guarantee you that you will not feel anything like a 'Warrior' or 'samurai' if some punk suddenly pulls a knife on you with your wife and kids standing next to you !

3] Because of the nature of my investigative work , I am licensed to carry a firearm , but I took the time , trouble and expense to learn about the moral , ethical and legal implications of such a great responsibility ! And I do not carry all the time , as I should , according to the expert view on the subject ..has to do with mindset as well ..you either carry all the time or you do not ! And guns are not for everyone , it takes a certain strength of character and conviction to strap one on ! For that matter , martial arts are not for everyone ! As I have said many times before on this forum lots of black belts only think they can handle themselves in a fight ..the truth is , as evidenced by my investigations into karate people in real fights , only a selected handful will really be able to handle themselves ! There are individuals out there who know nothing about martial arts , and yet they'll have the 'toughest ' high dan for breakfast !

4] "your
combat-readiness doesn't seem all that "out there" to me. But
you've got to know that to "the regular guy," the stories and
philosophies, etc. on this forum seem like something out of "Soldier
of Fortune" magazine."

My 'combat readiness' is a continuos development and is by no means perfect ! The regular guy doesn't even know what a soldier of fortune is and he hides behind his inadequacies when he starts to pontificate without foundation . This is why I do not engage in debate with 'regular guys' unless they first study the subject they are going to debate! Don't get sucked in !

5] "I haven't yet graduated to carrying a weapon - and perhaps never
will - "
From your previous posts , I suspect you are antigun , and that's okay , as I said guns are not for everyone , and I respect other people's choices ! However I draw the line when they attempt to force their views on others especially when they really have no idea which end of the gun the bullet comes out from ! And some people are incurable 'hoplophobes' [ irrational fear of weapons…notice I did not mention paranoia ] , I met quite a few of them in the army and they made pathetic soldiers ! The only adequate reason for shooting a man is to prevent him from doing something awful , usually that will be his killing you ! and even so you will find people hesitating in shooting …there are emotional and moral facets very unique to each individual ! Some people are also very uncomfortable with their karate training and fall prey very easily to the 'regular guy' questioning as to the why they are studying such 'violence' ..and find themselves on the defensive without knowing why and then they kick their asses for it when the argument is over ..sounds familiar? It all has to do with emotional intelligence ! If you have been made to feel like a budding militia type by the regular 'untrained' you need to pull yourself up by your emotional bootstraps !

6] "My father used to tell me that people made their own luck. If you
dwelled on the possibility of getting into a car accident while
driving, he'd say, eventually an accident will find you."

Your father is/was correct ! But it depends on the emotional maturity of the person ! You give some people a drivers license or a black belt , and they feel totally overwhelmed by the experience as they end up , at best , as catalysts for their self destructive impulses ! Allen Moulton will tell you the story of the newly made shodans going to the tough combat zone of Boston with a death wish to prove how good their Uechi really was !

Why do you think there are so many dropouts in the martial arts ! It is mainly due to some flaw in character ! In the end it is who you are that makes all the difference !

Thanks for the stimulating thoughts ,

Van Canna

 Post subject: Suit of Denial
PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 1998 11:38 am 

Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 2079
Location: Boston, MA

Nice, honest post. I've found myself wondering if I have gone overboard every so often with this "mindset" thing. But things have a way of happening around me (not to me) to make me think not entirely.

The question of whether thinking about and practicing mindset lead us into a subconscious desire to get into a confrontation has been raised a number of times. In fact, I have raised it myself in the past. I think the answer really is, as Van sensei stated it before, an issue of "emotional maturity" and rests within each of us.

In so far as one goes about looking for a confrontational situation to prove one's martial powress, one is in fact lacking "emotional maturity." In so far as one likes to fantasize (fine line here) as opposed to visualize self-defense situations, one lacks emotional maturity. In so far as one CAN NOT accept that "sh_t happens", sometimes to nice innocent people, and is not willing to prepare or to understand the need of others to prepare for it, one is lacking in emotional maturity. Most folks tend to fall in the latter category. Ironically, it is often these folks who complain most when "Sh_t happens" that there is never a cop around when you need one, as if there could ever be enough cops to afford every one these folks "personal protection."

Paranoia. Where is that line that one crosses? For me, it is when it becomes obsessive and is constantly on one's mind. I think about mindset only when I train and when I discuss it with training partners (and only those who are interested in the subject) and in this forum. Because the purpose of this forum and Van sensei's knowledge in this area are very focused, it can appear to the average person reading the posts that we are all paranoid. Yet, the reality of my day to day life is that I don't often fret about confrontations that can happen. I don't even mind when in practice we do things that I consider useless if not outright dangerous for self-defense. I go along and enjoy it as much the next person. But I do defferentiate in the back of my mind always "reality based" versus fun/movement type techniques and practices. On the streets, my practice of awareness is almost like a second skin. When I am with non practitioners, they don't even notice that I am scanning. I don't even notice until sometime "unusual" pops into my consciousness. It feels natural and not paranoid to me.

For folks who don't think about and prepare at all for contingencies, some of us can seem paranoid. However, they only see us that way only after we have gotten into a conversation about the subject or they have seen our library of books, or workout equipment, etc. Otherwise, they would have never known nor questioned our sanity because we act like normal people in day to day life. (The exceptions, of course, are those who truly are paranoid among us.)

The issue of "carrying" and the perception of it again are shaped by people's "emotional maturity" regarding self-defense. I know I have been evolving on the issue of carrying. Where I am headed with it, I don't know. I am willing to explore it. I am willing because from from past experiences I know I don't start fights with people but that I don't always back from them either. I have greatly tempered the latter, except when other people are involved or being victimized. I also know this may very well put me in a situation where I will have to defend my life and those of others. From my training, I also learned to harbor no illusions about my empty hand techniques against multiple attackers and/or against weapons. I think this is part of emotional maturity. Though I have been training in martial arts before and since I have been with my wife, earlier last week she expressed concern for the first time with my practice -- physical and mental -- with the knife and other weapons. She expressed this concern (about my possible paranoia?) despite knowing about some of the incidents I have encountered through the course of my work. Coincidentally, the multiple stabbings/slashing incident happened right afterwards. It occurred right around the corner from where I work, with some of the kids we worked with. I missed it by ten minutes on the way home. My wife knows had I walked into it, I would have been involved just like my colleague who was slashed got involved. What would have the outcome? I don't know. I am truly glad I did not have to find out. I don't fantasize about it either. It reinforces my feelings about continuing with this practice. This practice includes physical and mindset development.


[This message has been edited by david (edited 10-28-98).]

 Post subject: Suit of Denial
PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 1998 1:50 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 157
Location: Evansville, IN, USA

(Nice name, very noble and heroic).

The intensity (larger than lifeness) of
Sensei Van Canna's message is rather critical
in my view. Real fighting and a real violent
encounter is something that very few of us
have actually been in contact with. I have
been in a few fights, but there is only one
that was very serious and it involved a
knife. I don't hold to be an expert in these
matters, but I can assure you the scuffles
with some dumb*** drunk and that battle for
life with some dumb*** with a knife hold
completely different memories/emotions/etc
to me. The intensity of Sensei Canna's
messages purposefully attempts to drag out
(kicking and screaming) these deeper, primal
emotions. On the "old forums" I posted
a thread called "True Feelings". I made
the remark that when I was reading these
posts my body and mind started to go into the
"combat mode". Only through experience with
primal feeling can we ever hope to live and
deal with it when it strikes us at the most
misopportune moment (or perhaps most opportune moment depending on your point of
view ... it could be argued that the primal
emotions are a boon in a violent conflict...
or not).

Ask a friend of training partner who you
trust and can train with openly to come
after you and start shoving you, swearing
at you, etc. Especially by surprise. Okay
this with your instructor or do it on your
own time. You will start to experience
some of that primal fear even in the normally
familiar and safe environment. You may
suddenly realize that there is nothing else
in the world except you and him. Time may
start to slow down. There are many things
that you may get out of this experience and
so I recommend it. Note, you don't have to
break down and fight, just let him shove
you around for a few seconds.


 Post subject: Suit of Denial
PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 1998 4:05 pm 

Joined: Thu Sep 24, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 311
Location: Washington DC area, USA
I can understand the criticism of the "carry or no carry" and the mindset message. I've been criticized myself for even delving into the martial arts, and I feel like I'm pretty lightweight compared to the rest of you all on this forum. My decision not to carry comes from knowing I don't have the training I would like yet, and also, because there really isn't a need for me to own a gun in my line of work or in my neighborhood (I work for a publishing company. I really don't think that a copy editor or managing editor is going to gut me with a knife because I missed a semicolon. Correct me if I'm in denial.) I am also thankful for that. However, I am big on the awareness/avoidance principle, so I practice that anyway and keep an eye and ear out for people that I sense may have a violence streak in them, wherever I go. (Note: believe it or not, a few rare individuals, despite of the fact there is no need to in Cubicle Land, carry knives. Also, some people that work on Capital Hill. Why I don't know, but thanks to Awareness Scanning I have noticed.)

In defense of VanCanna, I'd say he needs to carry in his line of work. Period. Especially with that stabbing incident. If your work puts you in daily contact with volatile situations, than by all means, get a gat and pack. But the rest of us who may be office smucks like myself???? We, like David said, are just asking for trouble. Period. I know it may sound like I'm striding the fence, but I'm not. I thnk that if you live or work in combat zones, then prepare for combat, but if you are a weekly karate practitioner with a regular day job, you need to be going out of your way NOT to use your skills, if you've really aquired any that can be used for real. If you carry yourself like you think you are a bad mother, someone will test you. I know that sometimes bad things happen to good people (first hand), but these are the exception, rather than the rule. There is only one reason why I expect to someday have a real bad, dangerous situation at least once, if I haven't had it already: THE LAW OF PROBABILITY.

The whole "regular guy" thing: these regular people must come from a pretty cushy environment. The people I consider to be regular, while not gun carriers, are folks who know how to take care of themselves, and are pretty resourceful. They don't need to read books like "Real Fighting". They don't like to fight or look for fights, but if they do, they try to end it QUICKLY. I have a great-uncle (or grand-uncle, if that's the correct term) who, when I told him about taking TKD, warned me not to get too cocky and told me about a guy half his age he had to take our with a tire iron because the guy was woofing at him over a parking space, then proceeded to go down "in some kinda weird stance" before attacking.

I'd like to see more martial arts training on dealing with an armed opponent while you are unarmed. I don't mean one or two one-steps or bunkais, I mean spending as much time on that as they do telling you how to perfect the latest flying kick and what not. I'd also like to see more multiple attack work as well AT ALL LEVELS, even if it's nothing more than how to get the hell outta there!!!!!

I'm still waiting on a firm answer as to whether practicing mindset can have an adverse effect on your personality. If so, to what degree? I would think that spending a huge amount of time obsessing over violence IS bound to draw it to you. But is NOT thinking about it AT ALL the answer?

I think not.


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