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 Post subject: SMOKE AND MIRRORS
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 1998 4:59 am 
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The practice of our beloved martial arts brings certain visions of prowess to the fore , the foundation thereof on solid bedrock of 'dan' ranks and sensei's traditional mysticism ! Yes , some will become sparring champions , will gain a reputation of 'tough fighters' ..will give some very impressive demonstrations ; some are so taken with themselves that just the casual referencing to some other impressive fellow karate-ka , is taken with an' upturned nose ' unwilling to concede emotionally that there is someone better out there overshadowing them !! But deep inside there is always that nagging doubt ..how good am I really ..how would I really measure up in a real fight ..what if I loose and really get my a** kicked ! What will I tell my students ! Will I have the motivation to get back into class ..teach more 'self defense ' will I believe in what I am teaching after a good beating ??

A top competitor in 'pistol craft' and martial artist as well writes of the pitfalls of the "range effect " in both disciplines ..something which martial artists are more deeply in denial of than the " deadly force" students/practitioners!!

I.e., " the pistol range is flat ,open , unobstructed, well lit , safe , stress free, unidirectional , clear of distractions" [ dojo/tournament hall]

The street , or wherever your battleground happens to be in your fight , will not be !

Range targets are flat , static , facing head on , quiet , non personal and non threatening .

The person trying to harm you or kill you isn't ! In fact , if you don't train to cope with verbal assault as well as physical , you will freeze just by being "talked at" ! [ watch how many of you don't believe this] !

You can 'shoot' complex drills on the range ..you can spar and win some pretty tough tournaments ..and never really touch the reality of a genuine encounter ! Worse yet ..you will deny it is even happening sometime ! One of our top seniors ..great tournament fighter , once was very busy kicking a wise guy's butt out of the ring in a TKD tournament a few years back ..when he turned his back to the " beaten fighter" after the match ..and promptly was choked from behind and taken to the ground by the s.o.b. ! I watched bystanders frozen in disbelief while our senior was being choked to death ..no-one moved to intervene until I yelled out a warning and tried to pull off the assailant ! It took some vicious hits to his rib cage to make him go of the neck he was about to crush ! Like a mad dog latched onto his prey !

Deadly force instructors try to replicate the closest of the stress level of a real fight [ nothing is really 'real' as you know you will not get killed in any training ..no matter how demanding] ..by 'simunitions ' or paint ball scenarios in order to develop useful skills and effective instinctive motor movements under the strength sapping stress !! This is called the 'force on force ' scenario which seeks to test the fitness, real time strength , speed and cognitive decisional skills !

The writer has had 25 years of martial arts training and comments upon the sad state of affairs today …the old con by today's senseis , keeping their students with easy "dan ranks" and endless practice of street useless ineffective "advanced techniques" ….ridiculous prearranged kumite` ..! They grant their badge of mastership " dan ranks" to people who have not punched much more than a bag or empty air ..very few do full contact /full speed all out sparring ! this is of course good business ..realistic training usually scares the students away ..think about it ..what do you see in some dojo today? What do you observe in "promotionals" ?

Students must be prepared to the realities and harshness of real life ..that no matter how good they are , sometime they will just loose ..life is an endless game of probabilities !

Yes the 'range effect' the prevalent "game mentality" ---and the denial along with it !

Van Canna


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 Post subject: SMOKE AND MIRRORS
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 1998 12:00 pm 
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Posts: 75
Kyoshi,

While I agree adamantly on your position that most Dojo do not and cannot prepare a student for some real life situations, (some situations simply will never be prepared for adequately). There are as you have mentioned some very derranged and dangerous individuals and groups out there. However I do say that Martial Art training will at the minimum bring a student to a higher level of competency compared to what they themselves were capable of prior to training. Just the simple idea of getting some people at ease with hitting someone is a major breakthrough for them.

The crime of it though is having an instructor, (someone you put your faith in), that tells you that you will become "invincible" through training, one that fosters a false mental state in a student. Just the fact of being honest with a student, in the sense that the instructor lets them understand that there is always that chance they will be beat will better enable the student to handle problems that arise during conflict, instead of the numbing realization that that perfect technique has failed.

Any progress we can make toward a quicker and more effective response in an individual is still a victory, as long as it is backed by honesty.

Evan Pantazi


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 Post subject: SMOKE AND MIRRORS
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 1998 6:17 pm 
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Posts: 670
What then is the best way to demonstrate one's resolve to defend life to the death? From the tournament incident, it is apparent that anyone anywhere can be taken out if the opponent has greater motivation than yourself.

The sparring ring is not the place to prove it. This is a "safe" environment; referee, spectators, two opponents who follow "rules". Outside, .. bye-bye rules.

Is it not a matter of playing the odds out in the street? Cannot one convince him/herself that there is an inherent advantage through years of training? i.e. "I'm strong, I'm aware of my surroundings, I can smack a heavy bag like there's no tomorrow etc.." Or does this idea that artificially inflates the ego go to hell in a hand basket because those that wish to harm us are statistical out-liers who do not count in the averages? Can anyone stop a person truly determined to harm us?

Violence comes out the blue, without warning. The attacker in the tourney gave no advanced warning before turning on his opponent "Like a mad dog latched onto his prey". The victim was not given the signals a mad dog would give before striking such as baring his teeth or laying the ears back flat.

There's only one way to tell if the hard work results in more than the little dings and dents we get in the dojo. That is to be involved in a vicious fight. By the law of averages, most of us won't be. But those that will, well ...what are your odds?

VTY
Kevin


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 Post subject: SMOKE AND MIRRORS
PostPosted: Wed Nov 18, 1998 6:58 pm 
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Joined: Thu Sep 24, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 311
Location: Washington DC area, USA
Last time I got in a real scrap, my training help me out. Sorry, it did. I've never thought I was invincible anyway!

Oh well.

Cecil


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 Post subject: SMOKE AND MIRRORS
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 1998 11:58 am 
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Joined: Thu Sep 17, 1998 6:01 am
Posts: 2075
Location: Boston, MA
Van sensei,

Just some thoughts to your post.

>>The practice of our beloved martial arts brings certain visions of prowess to the fore , the foundation thereof on solid bedrock of 'dan' ranks and sensei's traditional mysticism ! Yes , some will become sparring champions , will gain a reputation of 'tough fighters' ..will give some very impressive demonstrations ; some are so taken with
themselves that just the casual referencing to some other impressive fellow karate-ka , is taken with an' upturned nose ' unwilling to concede emotionally that there is someone better out there overshadowing them !! But deep inside there is always that nagging doubt ..how good am I really ..how would I really measure up in a real fight .<<

Yes. This certainly applies to some of us in the dojos. Yet, even for those who been through a real situation or two and emerged relatively healthy, the questioning and self-doubt can still exist. In fact, they can be attentuated because now the "reality" of it is clear and there is an awareness of the complexity of it all. The seperation between defeat and victory is indeed thin. And, one can sink into an "endless" and futile quest to be be "prepared" for everything. At some point, as much as one prepares, one has to accept that it may well be not enough should one "get into it" the next time. Thus, it is advisable to avoid confrontation or situations with potential for confrontation as much as humanly possible.

>>Deadly force instructors try to replicate the closest of the stress level of a real fight [ nothing is really 'real' as you know you will not get killed in any training ..no matter how demanding] ..by 'simunitions ' or paint ball scenarios in order to develop useful skills and effective instinctive motor movements under the strength sapping stress !! This is called the 'force on force ' scenario which seeks to test the fitness, real time strength , speed and cognitive decisional skills !<<

Okay. No smoke but this is the mirror. The mirror is going to let you know whether you're really sharp or just a slop thinking he is ready for a hot date. Seriously, if one is concerned about training for self-defense, then one has to engaged at some point in training that is close to or at the "edge". This provides a reflection as good as it is going to get to let one know if one is anywhere near where they want to be in preparation.

The caveate about this kind of training is that it requires a high level of honesty and maturity or it is not as useful as it can be. The other day I was double stick sparring (foam covered sticks) with this guy in class. In the middle of it, I dropped one of my sticks. As I tried to pick it up, the other guy tried to whack me (I don't even know if he hit me or not). I immediately rushed him, grabbed one of his arms and started whacking away with the other stick. We were both taking some good hits and giving some (nice bruises all over both of us). I enjoyed the intensity of the match. Problem was afterwards, the other guy made an indirect complain -- "oh, I expected more technique from you rather than than this wild swinging away." Interesting. He takes swings at me while I am picking up my stick -- nice realism -- but didn't like it when I responded by rushing him to neutralize his advantage of two sticks never mind his size and reach. It was a good bout, a good mirror. I wish he would take a good look at it and appreciate what was revealed.

>>Students must be prepared to the realities and harshness of real life ..that no matter how good they are , sometime they will just loose ..life is an endless game of probabilities !<<

Well said. Again, using your words, we need to develop our "emotional maturity." Nothing is given or promised. We can only commit ourselves to practice, to preparation. But even this is no quarantee. We need to develop, I think, a level of acceptance (that defeat is always a possibility) and thus restraint. Yet these have to be balanced with the willingness to act unhesitantly when circumstances demand it.

david


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 Post subject: SMOKE AND MIRRORS
PostPosted: Thu Nov 19, 1998 6:07 pm 
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Posts: 204
Kevin,

I agree with most of what you said in your post. However, the idea that violence comes "out of the blue," is one I am skeptical about. As DeBecker points out in "Gift of Fear" (recommended numerous times, but always deserves one more plug!) there are often very clear signals as preludes to violence. Canna sensei pointed out that the senior "turned his back," which should have been safe in a tournament environment... clearly, he could not see the signs with his back turned...

I certainly would not say that there are *never* situations in which there are no warnings to a violent act, but I do think that most situations in which people say there was "no warning" are due to someone not noticing the signs, either because they did not have the opportunity (suddenly coming on the scene) or didn't have the presence of mind (awareness) or training specific to recognizing these signs in order to notice them.

greg


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 Post subject: SMOKE AND MIRRORS
PostPosted: Sat Nov 21, 1998 3:29 am 
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Excellent response by all , and , of course , martial arts training is extremely effective in 'certain' self defense situations , but only as an extension of the "winning mind" ! True you cannot prepare for all eventualities , and you will be caught by surprise every so often in spite of your 'vigilance' … but you can increase your chances of survival if you have in some fashion pushed your training a bit to the 'edge' as David writes!

This 'edge' is much mental/emotional /fatalist in nature as it is physical …in fact more mental than physical ! In other words you must understand that you need to train more conceptually than "technique specific" ! You must know by now , and you have always known in your heart , that 90% of all your kata and dan kumite and bunkais and free sparring 'moves' are not what you will do in a real fight . You will have trouble letting go of your clenched fist as a primal weapon of choice …the fight will be over in seconds and you will wonder where the hell all your 'curriculum' Uechi techniques absconded to ! If you don't believe this you are in perpetual denial !

Once you get to the mental /physical 'edge' you will become more comfortable with the concepts of courage you will need to even trigger a response ; with the confidence in your skills to deal with the situation and with the reinforcing of those skills with mental conditioning techniques visualizing yourself extricating from the mess you got yourself in to start with ! This is the real hard part of defensive combat training ; martial arts , as good as they are , in today's >> they are taught and practiced in robot like fashion in the surreal /ego stroking dojo environment .'

The deadly force concept practitioners also know that it is essential to develop good 'cognitive skills' [ survival institute] ; the ability to program to think logically in a split second, to think technically in the same split second, to quickly size up people and situations and to make the appropriate decision under stress! To move / retreat instinctively out of situations when the odds are against you , but to powerfully attack your enemy, throwing your heart , mind and spirit totally into the attack when you sense impending danger about to befall you ! Think about it , attacking is safer than defending because it is more difficult to injure or kill someone who is coming at you relentlessly !

By establishing an ' attack focus' mindset as opposed to defensive posture , you will react much better and be more in control of the fight !! The survival institute talks about the powerful element of total commitment ; the motivation to keep on going once you start the engagement as this is one of the problems of the 'nice' people ..always willing to believe you can reason things out even in the midst of a knife attack ! Freak out ; give up and thus make yourself even more vulnerable !

When training and watching others train , think "just how dangerous , desperate and unforgiving violent combat/engagements actually are " ; how maniacal adversaries seem to keep coming at you in spite of 'your best' karate shots which may have floored some 'opponent' in sparring or tournament ! Think of how ineffective some of your bunkais really are if they were to be totally relied on in their pure, traditional form ! One primal example is the defense against club attack as we practice it today in some dojos ..you will see the emphasis on the wrong move every time instead of first concentrating in violently rushing the attacker , getting inside the weapon arm and controlling it first before launching an elbow strike ! And look at the strikes and where they are aimed ; with those 'strikes' you really think you would stop a 240 pound animal aimed at knocking your head off with a bat??

As Kevin asks : " what are the odds in a vicious fight" ? >>> OK given your level of training and " dan level" proficiency both here and on Okinawa ..what is your own answer ! And what is the definition of a "vicious fight" ?

How about this : " The shortfall of martial arts is that each system is designed to fight the same system .What do you do against no system ? Against a wild attack ? " Why is it that after witnessing a perfect , powerful , accurate , dan kumite` , the same people doing free style can't block each other's punches worth a damn ?

Van Canna


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