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PostPosted: Sat May 14, 2011 5:29 pm 
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It's no mystery that I'm a fan of baseball. My first vocational aspiration - at age 6 - was to play baseball for the Boston Red Sox. I never quite understood why my first grade teacher laughed when I announced that on "what do you want to be when you grow up" day. But it was a knowing, loving laugh. So I was good with it.

My first grade teacher knew something that I didn't pay attention to at the time. I was good at the three Rs. My destiny was most definitely in another direction.

Fast forward to this geek reading an article written by Joe Posnanski during lunch. I spend most of my time programming or designing experimental protocols. I need the brain junk food. So when I found this article, I jumped in.

The motivation of the article was a no-hitter pitched by a former neighbor, Goochland County's own Justin Verlander. It wasn't his first, and it was a dominating performance by his Tigers against a hapless Chicago White Sox team. I happened to be listening to the Red Sox game at the time, but occasionally look at the scoreboards online. I saw this no-hitter in the making, and witnessed it online and on XM Radio through the last few innings.

After the accolades are given for this rare sports event, the next preoccupation is how well the pitcher who accomplished the feat performs in the subsequent pitching start. Is the recent past in this case a good predictor of the immediate future? Persistence in performance is logical, right? Or are no-hitters freakish events, as likely to happen to one halfway decent pitcher as the next? If the latter, then we'd expect a relatively normal performance afterwards.

The following questions were asked of sportswriter Joe Posnanski. Did he prognosticate based on his "expert" opinion? That seems to be the gold standard amongst our fellow martial artists. Someone is proclaimed an expert, and they develop a following who dissect their every word. Well... Joe didn't fall into that trap.
Joe Posnanski wrote:

This is not EXACTLY about follow-up games to no-hitters … but there will be a lot in here about those. You will get your fill of follow-up games, if that’s the sort of thing that interests you like it interests me. Who was the last person to follow up a no-hitter with a complete game? A shutout? Do pitchers throw better after perfect games than after no-hitters? How did Nolan Ryan do after each of his seven no-nos? All those answers and more follow.

But the main point here is this: I found all those answers. It didn’t take too long. My editor called on Wednesday evening and wondered if I would have any interest in doing something on no-hitter follow-up games, and upon first blush I managed to count only 59,485 things I would rather do. But, of course, my editor is smarter than I am, and he certainly knew that just throwing out an open-ended question like, “How do pitchers fare after no-hitters?” would gnaw on my mind until, just out of curiosity, I fired up the computer and went to the incomparable Baseball-Reference.com and began to look back at a few pitchers who threw no-hitters and then looked at a few more and then …

… suddenly I had a spreadsheet with every follow-up game to a no-hitter since 1970, and every follow-up to a regular-season perfect game from the last 75 years.

This is a new development, of course, this easy access to sports information. Bill James used to do his seminal baseball work using box scores clipped out of The Sporting News. How long would it have taken me to find every post-no-hitter from the last 40 years using that clip-and-file system? I can’t even imagine. A week? A month? Longer? I’ll tell you exactly how long it would have taken: Forever. Because I never would have even started the project. I’m interested, but I’m not THAT interested.

Now, the information is there, easy to find, easy to sort. It took me three mouse clicks per player to find the game I wanted.

"What?" you say. "He didn't spit out information based on recall and his personal experience "being there" game after game after game... over a fraction of the number of games played in the history of the sport? Nope... He looked it up. Back in the day, you couldn't. But in my world when someone asks a medical question, I can look at the experience of tens of millions over 3 years with a day's worth of programming and a night for the server to crunch on the data. Joe's work is even simpler, but it's the same task. Once someone takes the trouble to document reality, it takes very little time to torture the data and make them confess.

I'll let Joe tell the story to you below - if you are interested. But I will tell you this. Joe's work confirms why I've always felt that Nolan Ryan was perhaps the best pitcher/athlete ever. Having done some reading about him and having looked at a small amount of sports data, I had that feeling. He nailed it.

Here though is the most poignant part of the article. It is one that I know my friend Rory (and perhaps Van as well) will be nodding their heads after reading it. THIS is what martial artists who believe in their own myths should recite to themselves over and over again.
Joe Posnanski wrote:

The easy access to all these answers fits my mindset. I like to know. On the other hand, this easy access to answers does flatten the landscape. In 1988, after Tom Browning followed up his perfect game with eight innings of one-run ball, I guarantee that more than one person wrote about how the perfect game had changed Browning as a pitcher, how that one great game had given him more confidence, how throwing a no-hitter can do that for a pitcher, how pitchers often carry the momentum from their no-hitter into their next start. Well, there was no easy way — or even a difficult way — to look up every no-hitter follow-up game. So you could say things like that and feel confident that you were right, or at least right enough. Truth is, before the latest explosion of information you could say almost anything that SOUNDED true and feel confident that you were right enough.

And there’s just so much like that in sports, stuff that sounds true, stuff that should be true, stuff that would make our games more fascinating if it were true. Can a player throughout a career consistently hit better in the big moments than he does in the not-so-big moments? Is there really such a thing as basketball players getting the hot shooting hand? Are there really quarterbacks who aren’t good statistically but know how to win? There’s no evidence I know of that supports any of that. But for so many years people kept hammering those points home, over and over, based on quotes and feelings and the gut instincts of people who watch sports.

Now, the stats will often pour the cold water of reality over our most beloved myths. And many people don’t like that. They prefer a little bit of myth over a cold shower of reality. I can understand that. I prefer a little bit of myth myself. I have the same instinct to downplay the effects of luck and the weather and the small and boring things that shouldn’t matter and instead believe in a storyline.* It makes sense to me that a pitcher who has just thrown a no-hitter will go out the next time and be overflowing with confidence and will feel locked in and will pitch great. It makes so much sense. It just so happens that ...

- Bill

No-Hitter Follow-Up Acts


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PostPosted: Mon May 16, 2011 11:34 am 
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Always interesting to read about a near-myth....


:lol:


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 3:37 am 
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Panther wrote:

Always interesting to read about a near-myth....


:lol:

You know, Panther... That really sums it up. As they say, every good joke has a bit of truth in it. If you read the article, one sees exactly what you mean. If a pitcher throws a no-no, will he have a great game on his next outing? And the answer is... it depends. If it's Nolan Ryan who threw a record seven of them, the answer is yes. If it's the collection of all other pitchers, then not so much. What this shows is that a no-no was an outlier performance (a freak event) for almost all pitchers. But for Nolan Ryan, it wasn't that far out of his norm.

And guess what? After Verlander threw his second no-hitter, he had an excellent subsequent performance. Do we see a pattern?

The point is that there is no absolute here. But the picture is pretty clear if you actually look at the data and know how to read them.

Self-defense events are like that. Is it a good idea to go to "the second crime scene?" If we look at the data, the answer is generally no. If you have someone point a gun at you and they tell you to go to some other place, it seems like the right thing to do (at the moment) to cooperate. But statistics show that it's time to do or die. Literally. This one is pretty clear, and it makes sense with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight.

Moral of the story... treat "expert opinion" with the same level of confidence as a believable myth. If it's all you've got, well it's all you've got. But you may do just as well consulting Carnac.

Image

- Bill


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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 4:13 pm 
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Quote:
Self-defense events are like that. Is it a good idea to go to "the second crime scene?" If we look at the data, the answer is generally no. If you have someone point a gun at you and they tell you to go to some other place, it seems like the right thing to do (at the moment) to cooperate. But statistics show that it's time to do or die. Literally. This one is pretty clear, and it makes sense with the advantage of 20/20 hindsight.


Good point. We all like to think that because of 'floor' training in class…we will be different and take immediate action.

Here Rory discusses in his books the 5 different types of freeze we are all subject to.

The moment a gun barrel is pointing at you...
…you won't be the same person you fancy you are…

Nothing offensive here…it is what it is…

Some of may recall what happened to one of our most formidable Uechi brother…no need to name here…

…a gun driven into his back upon entering his dwelling…with the command to 'let's go upstairs'…

… When 'upstairs' the gunman, six feet away, gun aimed at his gut…

"Anyone else here?"

…the phone rings…

Gunman "don't answer it"

At that moment [too late?] do or die…

Uechi-ka lunges at the gunman, a tussle on the floor, but unable to disarm and or immobilize him.

Gunman rolls free…and fires his gun several times hitting Uechi-ka who falls to the floor…

Gunman pulls the trigger again…gun jams…so he disappears…never caught.

When should he have taken first action? We all know when…but why did he not?

Are we thinking we would have done different? WHY??

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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 8:38 pm 
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Van Canna wrote:
Are we thinking we would have done different? WHY??


Everybody wants to be Jason Bourne in moments like that.

I remember vividly an experience of my youth. I was 7 years old, swimming in the pool of an apartment complex with my mother and siblings. A neighbor's toddler was splashing on a relatively wide step where it was shallow enough. His father was moving around, keeping an eye on him, but I was within arms reach when the child went down to the next step, head under water. I saw it happen. I remember trying to assimilate what was happening. Before I could reach the conclusion that what I needed to do was simply lift the child up onto the step from which he had come, the father had had time to move perhaps 12-15 feet in the pool and do it first. I can remember my mother saying "Michael! Why didn't you help?" I think in another 2 seconds or so, I would have.

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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 3:55 am 
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Van Canna wrote:

Are we thinking we would have done different? WHY??

The real answer to this question is that 99% of us can't possibly know.

The thing that makes Rory's work so compelling is that he freely shares his own mistakes, such as the time he chose not to "go postal" with a couple of thugs. It was situational. He had a brand new job, he was going home to his pregnant wife, he was just doing the late-night walk from the train stop to his home... He really didn't want to go there, and he really did believe he could convince these two determined thugs that they didn't want to hurt him. A thorough beating later, he realized with the privilege of 20/20 hindsight that he had grossly mismanaged the situation. Fortunately Rory's a very difficult person to harm, and the police arrived before it went much farther.

And then there was the time that this experienced martial artist I know (ahem) had just moved to a new city. He had spent all day Saturday in the office, and walked a pleasant walk down Main Street in the summer evening to the parking garage. Everything was new... There were lovers riding in horse-drawn carriages... There was the sound of restaurants, and parking cars... There was this beautiful Russian wolfhound being walked across the street, and... BANG! What mushin??? Yes he did walk right into that 30-foot light pole. It was only 5 stitches over the boney eyebrow line. Fortunately...

I personally have been blessed. Every time something really bad has come down in my life, either something in me acted before I consciously knew what I had done, or an intense and eerie calm came over me and I began to play a role as if watching myself. Luck? Some of that. Training effect? I'd like to think that, and there was probably some of that. Genetics? They count for something.

But that was yesterday, and tomorrow can be a new challenge under different circumstances. We train and we contemplate and we drill and we practice. We do what we can. And then when the next bad situation comes down, les jeux sont fait. We'll only contemplate our successes and failures in hindsight.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Wed May 18, 2011 6:03 am 
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Good points, Mike, Bill.

The good traditional martial arts practitioners are the ones who understand delusive behavior and how quickly it can kill.

It was mentioned that Rory could be a bit 'irreverent'...well yes...and for damn good reasons...to slap someone awake...before the lid closes.

In Chiron he states
Quote:
The problem with live training is that it is fun and alive.. and any bad habit picked up is hard as hell to get rid of. People who point spar have spent hundreds of hours practicing missing. People who strike hard but rely on gloves will do more damage to their hands than to a skull.

People who practice the sweet ippon throws of judo have trained to reflex a follow-through that helps the opponent avoid damage. People who practice 'position before submission' rely on time they may not have. The harder you train for a specific venue, the deeper the habits are ingrained and the harder you freeze when things change.

In a real fight (or in real life) you are never totally in control anyway, and that makes people freeze.

One more thing- the very essence of dealing with chaos is giving up on the idea that there is a solution or an answer. There's just whatever you can do right now. If you feel you have the answer, whether its a style or a training method or a technique, all that you have done is put chaos in a box in your own mind. Chaos doesn't fit in boxes and you have set yourself up for surprise. Let go.

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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 10:12 am 
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Excellent points... It took a lot before I finally learned the lesson that in a "real world" (tm) altercation things are chaos. Hopefully somewhat controlled chaos, but chaos none-the-less. At that point I was finally able to truthfully answer the question, "What would you do?" It's not a pretty answer and it isn't very informative (to most), but it's the only honest answer for me after my epiphany... Survive...


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 12:13 pm 
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There's a point worth making about the use of the word "chaos." It means different things to different people.

To a mathematician, chaos is the world of the butterfly effect. As the story goes, the flight of a butterfly in South America last year can affect events in North America this year. The nuts and bolts of chaos have to do with a small subset of natural phenomena where the nonlinear mathematics which describe their behavior enter a special domain. In that domain you get predictable unpredictability. In other words you can create an equation to describe everything, but that mathematical system has a hypersensitivity to initial conditions. Re-running what happens in the lab is impossible because you can't quite get things back to identical baseline (with infinite precision).

I understand that the use of the word chaos here may be more metaphor than literal. But there's an element of the mathematical chaos here. To quote Napoleon, "No battle plan survives contact with the enemy." In other words you train the best you can. But once the poo hits the rotating propeller, after the first few seconds you're making it up as you go along. No pre-set response will work past a point. Therefore the only thing we can do in the dojo laboratory is to teach principles (rather than specifics) of self-defense, and teach people to apply them on the fly.

Not classical music, but rather jazz. It's all about the freestyle jam. Teaching that requires first an absolute mastery of the basics, and then a tapping of a rare ability.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Thu May 19, 2011 2:37 pm 
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Quote:
Therefore the only thing we can do in the dojo laboratory is to teach principles (rather than specifics) of self-defense, and teach people to apply them on the fly.


True Bill. However, Rory also brings up the real problem of 'operant conditioning' the 'encoding' of 'applications' that will surface subconsciously.

Chapter four of his new book 'Counter ambush' is a great read.

Here is something on blocks in counter ambush
Quote:
Blocking is essentially reactive and , especially from surprise,it is too slow and takes too much brain to be effective.


Then he goes on to describe the better response actions and the better footwork and positioning.

Is what we do in the dojo, from a traditional point of view,
to get us to encode 'principles'...not etching what we are trying to avoid?

Always been the big question.

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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:33 am 
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Van:

Good thoughts.

Here's the way I look at it. It would be nice if we can preempt every attack that comes our way, wouldn't it? It would be even better if we're smart enough to stay away from trouble. That's my own modus operendum. However... Like it or not, sheet happens. I refuse to believe anyone - including Rory - can avoid all cheap shots coming our way. We can tune our spidey senses to get most of them, but not all.

Our lower brain is programmed to elicit those flinch responses for a damn good reason. Way back when, a group of homo sapiens were walking in the forest and a tree branch fell. One of them flinched with the arm up, and the other three didn't. Guess who passed their genes on? Guess who did not?

Our ukes (I DO NOT use the word "block", Van) are ideally designed to contain flinch postures within them. I break the wauke down into freeze-frame pieces when teaching it, and show where some flinch postures are. Jodan and gedan ukes are also flinch responses, as is to some extent crane-on-the-rock. Our training then is designed to refine what is already within us, and for good reason. And we train to go from there to attack.

Rory gives the solution in his first book, Van. He tells us that when stuck in an OODA loop, to learn how to recognize it and then just go BOOM! Is this possible? I did it once in my life - without anyone telling me how. I was hit three times, and next thing I know the person was sitting on the floor. My fist hit their nose without my permission.

The other thing to consider is that not all self-defense situations are created equal. The force continuum applies. One of the dumbest things to do is train to attack at any and everything, and then date a violent women. It's a little difficult explaining to the police why your girlfriend's nose is broken. Same with people you know, like a friend drunk at a party. Sometimes you just need to ratchet it back, and do the bare minimum.

The passage from Ecclesiastics applies here. There's a time for everything under the sun. And ideally we can get it right.

Ideally... :roll:

It's also worth mentioning that the Uechi ukes are true receiving techniques. There's a damn good reason why we do many of them with open hands. Even when/if the sheet keeps falling, you've potentially grabbed onto the tormentor. That, my friend, is a game changer. When I teach Uechi Kyu Kumite, I "fail" the students if they haven't controlled their partner before the counter-hit. Proper programming achieved!

- Bill


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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 3:55 pm 
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Bill, I have always been with you on this. But there are some very deep observations by Rory in his book 'Medidations on violence' chapter five 'the flaw in the drill'...and no...I am not referring to kumite drills.

When I teach...I try to follow those principles as outlined by Rory, as I personally find them of exceptional value for myself and my students. Rory does write that he respects the Uechi Ruy style as a true fighting style.

The 'scripting'...the unrealistic distance used to simulate sudden assaults...and the 'dueling assumption' that Rory addresses in depth are thought provoking as they relate to 'operant conditioning' _

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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 4:11 pm 
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And to clarify things, as people here usually misread what I write on this subject _
I never advocate hitting first…someone who can be stopped or needs to be stopped without striking him.
There are times to hit first with as much speed and power as we are capable of to stop an opponent…and times not to hit first.

But it is always a good idea to train to 'anticipate' and short stop any sort of perceived attack. We learn this from the old Samurais.

Rabesa and I pulled this concept on those camp punks years back, much to their surprise.

The one who came after me, first went into a stance, arms up/ready kamae...the fool...and he did that because of his 'operant conditioning' ....

They became rag dolls leaving a urine trail when Art and I got done with them.

This always works best by smothering a perceived move by using our wonderful wauke….and redirecting and transitioning as needed…this means being more proactive than reactive in training, if you know what I mean, Bill.
And I believe this is what Rory was getting at.

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Last edited by Van Canna on Fri May 20, 2011 4:16 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 4:15 pm 
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There are records, both archaeological and written, from all over Earth and throughout human history of people practicing self-defense/warrior/etc techniques in preparation for the real thing. We can talk about operant conditioning, bad habits, freezing in unexpected situations, and other problems that training may create, but the fact is that the perceived value of training transcends time and space. I have to wonder if the real danger of the information age is that we now have access to so much information and so many expert opinions that we are now just overthinking things, particularly with few opportunities anymore to truly put our martial training to the test in real situations (which is a good thing from a safety standpoint). All most of us will get out of our training is entering competitions, feeling good about ourselves when we win, and the urge to debate online :D

How many of us are compilers, learning as many specific techniques from as many styles as possible? How many of those techniques have we truly tested? How many of us may freeze when it hits the fan simply because we are consciously trying to decide which cool technique to try? Operant conditioning in a few principles and techniques can be better than doing nothing, but how many of us tune out Bill and Van when they talk about KISS and gross-motor principles, and proceed to only worry about perfecting those dozens of forms with their hundreds of techniques?

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PostPosted: Fri May 20, 2011 4:19 pm 
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Bill Glasheen wrote:
Moral of the story... treat "expert opinion" with the same level of confidence as a believable myth. If it's all you've got, well it's all you've got. But you may do just as well consulting Carnac.

I am so saving this for future debates with you Bill! :D

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