Blog Disclaimer :-)

Zen Koans as they originate from Zen masters testing or challenging Zen students with parables, i.e., simple stories used to trigger a sudden realization in the student of a moral nature. Martial (Zen-like) Koan (or parable like quotes) studies are taking the practice of Zen Koan’s to trigger on-going realizations in the study of martial quotes that will lead toward martial enlightenment - toward a spiritual state of mind that allows for change. It is through such changes that both the discipline and the student can achieve higher levels of understanding through acquired knowledge and experience. Welcome to the “Martial (Zen-like) Koan Studies!”

Koans, or parables (a simple story used to illustrate a moral or spiritual lesson).”

Caveat: Please make note that this blog is my personal analysis of the subject and the information used was chosen or picked by me. It is not an analysis piece because it lacks complete and comprehensive research, it was not adequately and completely investigated and it is not balanced, i.e., it is my personal view without the views of others including subject experts, etc. Look at this as “Infotainment rather then expert research.” This is an opinion/editorial article/post blog meant to persuade the reader to think, decide and accept or reject my premise. It is an attempt to cause change or reinforce attitudes, beliefs and values as they apply to martial arts and/or self-defense. It is merely a commentary on the subject in the particular article presented.

This blog is mine and mine alone. I, the author of this blog, assure you, the reader, that any of the opinions expressed here are my own and are a result of the way in which my meandering mind interprets a particular situation and/or concept. The views expressed here are solely those of the author in his private capacity and do not in any way represent the views of other martial arts and/or conflict/violence professionals or authors of source materials. It should be quite obvious that the sources I used herein have not approved, endorsed, embraced, friended, liked, tweeted or authorized this article. (Everything I think and write is true, within the limits of my knowledge and understanding. Oh, and just because I wrote it and just because it sounds reasonable and just because it makes sense, does not mean it is true.)

Search This Blog

Thursday, July 23, 2015

side of the eye

“Peripheral vision is vision from the side of the eye. It is not as focused as a direct gaze - you can’t read with it and colors are less certain. It does, detect motion quicker and allow for faster response time then focused vision. A good fighter does not watch your hands, he put his gaze where any movement form you hands or feet will register in his peripheral vision. The ‘thousand yard stare’ puts almost everything in peripheral vision and is a critical skill in combat to detect ambushes.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comments: The true question is, “Do self-defense programs address this aspect of the various tools you need for defense?” What about the others?

a scared kid

“Your predator may be a scared kid feeling like he is losing control on his first crime and does not know how to regain control without resorting to extreme violence. It may be a hardened felon who will use extreme force without any thought of you, just a quick assessment of the odds of getting caught. It may be someone who enjoys the feeling of domination as he makes someone bleed and beg. It is very, very unlikely you have hit any of these personalities in normal training. Most instructors would not let an uncontrolled predator anywhere near their dojo.” - Rory Miller, Scaling Force

Comments: The trouble with tribbles effect; the trouble with reality as it relates to training and the complete and utter disconnect many martial arts self-defense aficionados have when it comes to conflict and violence. Too many who think they know, don’t. Too many who think they know and that is from media interpretations, don’t. Makes for a very difficult situation when the rubber hits the road for those who don’t. 

practiced against feeds

“Most techniques in martial arts are not practiced against attacks. They are practiced against feeds. A feed may have a similar motion to a punch or stab, but it is designed and delivered specifically to be defeated. A little slow, on a known line, maybe slightly over-extended or held out for just a second. No matter how much it looks like a punch, almost every element is different in a fight … and so people who have practiced against feeds are terrifyingly often completely blown away by the intensity, speed, ferocity and pain of a ‘simple attack.’” - Rory Miller, Drills: Training for Sudden Violence.

Comments: Training Flaws. You can train in flaws or you can have flaws that come from sources of your flaws leaving only assumptions and assumptions don’t just make an ass out of you and some guy named assumption, it can leave you crippled or in jail. Since martial arts are looked at and perceived as the epitome of self-defense disciplines due to media, television and movies it becomes important to work the flaws out of the martial arts before it goes to the fight. 

from any source

“ If you can't extract information from any source, and see how it effects you, you need to learn how to. Drop your own biases, and just take the info for what it is.” - Terry Trahan, WeaselCraft Blog

Comments: Humans tend to make assumptions based on their perceptions, distinctions and past experiences where they might discard something important that could make for a bad day. You have to train out your biases, etc. along with ego pride driven monkey brain crap or you lose out and sometimes the loss is damaging, do you want that?

gravity slightly

“Most people shift their center of gravity slightly to chamber or set up or prep a strike or kick.  …   Between the reaction speed of touch and that you act on precursor movements, you will find yourself defending actions before they happen, sometimes before the threat has consciously decided to move.”  - Rory Miller, Drills

Comments: How many times have you encountered someone in training who seems to detect what you are going to do before you even know that it is what you are going to do? Reactions are important in an attack since a predator often has chosen you as a victim because they assessed and decided you were an easy target. It doesn’t mean your training was bad but everyone at one time or another tends to lose that state of awareness leaving an opening so reactions matter, breaking the freeze or the OO bounce if you will gets you there and if touch is trained then that reaction is at the fastest speed you can achieve - mostly.

faster than peripheral

“Reaction time to touch is faster than peripheral vision reaction time and much faster than focused vision.” - Rory Miller, Drills

Comments: When training for self-defense one trains their senses. Self-defense will mean close in, touching, physical violence so training to use your largest organ, the skin and touch sense, means learning to act and react without the human brain thinking machine slowing the process down. Consider this, if you feel a certain sensation that says, “Oh shit, I am under an attack,” then the touch response goes directly to the lizard for action and it does not pass either the human brain or the monkey. This is where and why training and practice, especially involving adrenal stress conditioning, becomes critical to self-defense. 

disrespectful is a motivation

“Being disrespectful is a motivation for a lot of violence … Disrespecting someone in a tweet, on Facebook, or in texts should be titled as #askingforabeating.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting

Comments: As we distance ourselves through media and technology it also becomes easier to be rude and disrespectful because most often the recipient has not way to use violence to set the record straight. One very good reason why being humble and polite and other such things when you are not in the same room as someone who may have triggered your monkey brain and it also trains you to handle such things when the monkey decides to act. Same as dealing with police, i.e., be polite and comply with their requests. In other words try to be polite and use appropriate verbal technique when in conflict to evade and avoid violence. 

wisdom, if you prefer

“Enlightenment ( or wisdom, if you prefer) requires us all to take the fog (moralism, idealism, righteousness, etc.) out of our eyes and then escape from our ceaseless, petty, and divisive moralism. The perfect Way is only difficult for those who pick and choose; do not like, do not dislike; all will then be clear. Make a hairbreadth difference, and Heaven and Earth are set apart; If you want the truth to stand clear before you, never be for or against. The struggle between ‘for’ and ‘against’ is the mind’s worst disease.” - Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind

Comment: The gokui of Isshinryu speaks of “Seeing all sides,” meaning one should be able to see not just with the eyes but the mind. The eyes and mind together form a union that allows us to see and perceive and distinguish those things that make us unique. Seeing how the path runs toward violence is just as important as seeing the tells that say physical violence is immanent. Seeing how our ego’s, our pride and our actions produce reactions and then seeing how we can avoid letting them create a violent environment is seeing, truly seeing. Only when we open the minds-eye to see all sides can we achieve such a level of enlightenment. Clearing our minds-eye to allow everything and every moment to appear with its reality exposed is the way of this path. 

natural selection

“Human nature was produced by natural selection working at two levels simultaneously. Individuals compete with individuals within every group, and we are the descendants of primates who excelled at that competition.” - Jonathan Haidt, The Righteous Mind

Comment: It is no surprise that the term “Primates” is used, i.e., the old “Monkey Brain” explanation of human participation in conflict and violence. Competition is conflict with everyone reaching for the goal of things like, i.e., “ego, pride, status, honor and face.” All of those things that trigger the monkey antics that most often get us humans into more trouble than we might want or expect. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

to communicate during

“Keep trying to communicate during the fight. The least it will do is clue in the witnesses. This is most important legally when you are winning.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: Communications means “Articulation” and that does a few things. First, it means you are breathing; second, it means you are communicating to the threat as well as witnesses with the hope the message is about you defending as a victim; third, it can be used to support your self-defense stance as a lot of that articulation/communications is to your mind or mind-set allowing your breathing and comments to spur you on toward accomplishing the goal of stopping the threat while remaining within the self-defense square. 

The four elements

“Fights are multi-layered. The four elements: you, the threat(s), the environment and luck; physical and mental forces; legal and social customs; what the fight is about and what both parties think it is about.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: Reminds me of the flaw in martial arts self-defense, the idea that defense is static and easily taught through technique teaching. I also perceive that layering within the fight to include those aspects that result from that same fight, the repercussions from fighting such as the psychological (i.e., how that level of psych damage comes also from our societies distancing humans from the reality of conflict and violence as an intricate part of human existence, etc.), the physical (the damage to our bodies that can be crippling, etc.) and the moral-legal ones (i.e., the social stigma’s assigned through ignorance to those who participate in or are forced to use violence, etc.). As one luminary to this world said, “It’s complicated.” Ain’t that the truth. 

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

both your instincts

“When both your instincts and your martial training are keyed for dominance, it can be very easy to forget that your primary goal is to escape or to stop the threat. There is a difference between training to win a dominance contest and training to survive. All sparring matches - weapons, duals, MMA, or point fighting, are dominance contests, not survival contests.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: Add in that most MA are actually training in person-to-person violence so when do you actually translate your actions into self-defense leaving behind that type of socially driven violence thereby entering into and remaining steadfast within the self-defense square? Does your training and practice address this transitional mind-set? If not, the monkey will remain where it finds the most comfort and that means dealing with all that resides outside that square …. ops!

Person-to-Person Violence

Attention Martial Artists, “Martial Artists are practicing and training in ‘Person-to-Person Violence.’ As a hobby, they practice and play at things that are heinous crimes except in very narrow circumstances.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: Wow, I wonder how many martial artists actually know about this one? We all make assumptions based on assumptions that what we do is both a way and a means of self-defense. It seems we all just hear a new thing then assign that to what we are doing without so much as a, “Does this actually apply to our martial arts?” “Is this actually self-defense in accordance with the laws and rules of modern society?” It is no wonder when we apply them we tend to end up in criminal fixes. When I see person-to-person-violence along side heinous crimes I think about just how easy it is to have other perceive martial arts as a deadly weapon(less)  system making its use about being held to much higher standards by those in the legal arena. I also understand just how the use of martial arts, as effective and ineffective as they may be dependent on certain criteria as taught, takes a self-defense claim to a higher level where understanding the realm of self-defense becomes even more critical. 

designed to hurt and damage and overwhelm

“Attacks are designed to hurt and damage and overwhelm. Offensive moves in sparring, as often as not, are designed to deceive, disconcert or score … which are very different things. .. When it is an assault, you add the element of surprise and it becomes a flurry of damage with no thought of defense.” - Rory Miller, Facing Violence

Comment: I often think, “Can, MA SD programs see the hints?” Do we still make the assumptions that any attack is how all attacks occur whether in competition or a fight or an attack on the street, etc.? Why has it become so, is it because of the long period of relative peace and the progress of mankind that has distanced us from our base instincts and human conditions? Sparring at its very best may be a more communicative part of social group dynamics in the survival aspect of life. Socially we enforce hierarchy that encompasses such things as status within the group for survival that uses forms of social like violence to enforce and control, is that the true nature of martial arts as practiced in modern times? Is it the real form practiced even in ancient times as well? 

no animal naturally

“ … no animal naturally weakens itself. Tigers never starve themselves to look better to other tigers and snakes don't slither over coals to show their bravery.”  - Rory Miller, Chiron Blog, “On Power.” and I would add this quote from the Alien movie, from Ripley, the main character who said, “Ripley: You know, Burke, I don't know which species is worse. You don't see them fucking each other over for a goddamn percentage.” Alien Movie Quote

Comment: You don’t see them screwing each other over for a percentage? A quote that spoke to how the animal kingdom works except for that most unusual animal of all, humans. There is no ego, no pride and no monkey dance emotional actions and reactions from the other animals, they hunt to eat, the fight to protect the group, the procreate so the species lives, the sleep to recup for the next day and that is about it but we humans tend to go way beyond our needs in surviving. You gotta wonder about humans. 

an end-state

“Power isn't an end-state. There are no weak or strong people, just people at different places on a given continuum. And power is not linear. I am stronger than K, but she is smarter and more artistic than I am. R has more money, but J has more skills. Q can access a deep level of viciousness, but W can access an equally deep level of empathy. Power is not a scale but a net of ever-interconnecting methods of affecting the world. And in each strand of the net, you have attributes and skills that both affect the strength. AND … Power is about growth or stagnation. Comfort with power is required to use it.” - Rory Miller, Chiron Blog, “On Power.”

Comment: When power is mentioned to certain groups the very first thought that comes to their minds, assumption and conjecture involved here, is how much force they can apply with a punch or a kick. Seldom do you hear about the variety of power and force one can access and apply in life’s many disciplines. Real power can be many things, it can be an ability to avoid conflict and violence and it can be what is applied to stop a threat quickly with limited damage to both parties. A weak person can have more power applied than a very strong person, i.e., one of small and slight stature and the other large and muscular with a larger structure and stature. There is a limited amount of force and power each person has where the level applied matters more in its efficiency rather than muscularly. It comes down to the physics of it, the physiokinetic applications optimally and efficiently applied. Sometimes power is more about our minds then our bodies. The ability to think and reason trumps the ability to hit hard, fast and with maximum power and force. Hitting with the mind in avoidance and deescalation is far more powerful than applying a particular martial techniques with power and force.

is entertainment

“Sport fighting in all its forms is entertainment. The absence of blended attack methodologies shows how ineffective hitting alone is and fools us into thinking it is effective. Sport fighting ‘Mimics’ fighting and that also makes us believe it is effective when in fact, we are being fed a double dose of ineffective.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting (combined and edited quote)

Comments: Reality, we hide from reality because its realism and truth makes us feel “Uncomfortable and Fearful.” This produces anxiety and we modern humans have lost the connection between our current fictional self-soothing self to the real life self that understands and deals with the reality of conflict, violence and the very real potential of violent conflict. Our fear has taken us further toward that which we fear that we fear it more resulting in our efforts taking us further down the rabbit hole causing even more fear now based on ignorance and dangers that are just no longer present. We perceive and assume that the normal social communications of conflict and violence are at such dangerous levels when nature itself designed us and these social communication tools to not cause grave bodily harm or even death. It can be that lack of understanding, knowledge and acceptance actually makes the socially driven communications skills derived from striking and punching so that they open the door to more accidents that cause grave bodily harm and even death - a veritable looping like the OO bound in the OODA, we are frozen in a state of denial, fear and anxiety that actually feeds the loop. Can we break the loop? 

impacts, drives (pushes),

“Methods to Build On: impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws, and compressions. To stop a threat empty hand striking alone is not enough. Striking, unless the attacker falls down, itself is very unlikely to stop a threat. Moves to stop a threat are combinations of the types of attacks/methodologies, i.e., impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws, and compressions. The danger in the assumptions that disciplines such as boxing, karate tournaments, mixed martial arts, and others tend to disallow the use of these methodologies in stopping a threat. It comes down to either ‘Blending or combining” where sport blends different punches and kicks while to actually end a threat requires ‘Combining’ the attack methodologies, i.e., impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws, and compressions.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting (combined and edited quote)

Comments: This speaks for itself, mostly. It is that one statement that if used properly in seeking out the rest of the story will make the entire system of self-defense more real toward the reality of self-defense in lieu of remaining in a self-soothing delusional system ineffective toward self-defense. "It is not how hard you hit, it is how you blend methodologies to stop the threat." - cejames

add to punching

“Strike enhancers add to punching/striking, if we want to get more out of punching/striking use the enhancers. Enhancers increase the speed of the punch/strikes effectiveness.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting (slight change my doing)

Comments: Striking and punching are INEFFECTIVE except in those cases where one uses enhancers and principles to achieve an effective strike or punch yet still - to stop a threat with a much wider margin of success you need those methodologies necessary to actually stop a threat in the shortest time possible, i.e., impacts, drives (pushes), pulls, twists, takedowns/throws, and compressions. We can never forget the gravity of any self-defense situation and the fact that if we cannot contain ourselves and remain within the self-defense square the repercussions are huge, like the tsunami waves that pound the coastal shores of the birthplace of karate, Okinawa. 


“Punching is one of the most INEFFECTIVE ways to stop a threat. The hitting part of the brain is different from the killing part the “Lizard” uses for hunting and survival. It is the social order part of our brain that punching seems to reside.” - Marc MacYoung, Getting Hit and Hitting

Comments: A reason to justify why it is imperative to study, study and study some more. Those types of self-soothing myths of martial arts self-defense, fighting and combatives would be extremely dangerous if not for the fact that most violence encountered is social in nature where the goal is not grave bodily harm or death but communications. The one spot where there is crossover is the required “Rules” that exist in social violence or conflict and the “Rules” that exist in all martial arts practices and training (except in those rare cases where reality based adrenal stress condition training exists, etc.). Asocial violence also has rules but those rules are, “Different.” Knowing and accepting the truth of reality in conflict and violence is the very first step anyone takes for self-defense, there is no other path. Our need and instincts take us to the part of the brain that deals with the relative safety of a rule based social conflict and violences where, except in cases of accidents, grave bodily harm and death are off the table. It is often the “Accidents” that end up taking it to the world of self-defense and whether you are still in the square or not. It is about how the legal system will still take you to the wall because of that accident. As Marc MacYoung, and others, say - its complicated. Yes, it is and the processes we take define how well we reach toward reality over the self-soothing delusions we build instead.