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Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Just got through listening to Fat Loss Happens on Monday, the latest from Josh Hillis and Dan John. I'll do a full review after I actually read the book, but from the listen, I like it.

One of the things I like is that Hillis has set up a system that's explicit designed to try and take the emotional equation out of fat loss. It's not about "good" or "bad" food. It's just about results. Follow the system, track what you're doing, evaluate the results. Is what you're doing working? Keep doing it. Is what you're doing not working? Change it.

Great fighters are capable of doing the same thing. Tony Blauer has an axiom that the superior warrior has no emotional attachment to any range or weapon. Some of this parallels Rory's observations about the difference between fighting and hunting/butchering. One is an emotional contest. The other is clinical. The clinical fighter, the detached fighter, is much more dangerous.

Of course, it's easier to write or talk about than to do. Detaching emotionally from physical conflict is very, very difficult. Evaluating your performance round to round, or moment to moment, with that detached view takes a lot of practice and effort. But if you can achieve it, you become a very dangerous individual.

Food for thought.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Campbell's Defensive Hierarchy

This has come up in discussion with a few of my students lately, and it once again occurs to me that I've never written it down anywhere. I keep falling back on it, so I'd like to have it here to share. Besides, I think it's useful.

As the title suggests, this is not my model. I got it from Tom Campbell, a kickboxing and PDR coach from somewhere out in Western Massachusetts. It's been well over a decade since I saw Tom, and I have no idea what he's doing now, but he had some excellent knowledge. He's actually featured on a DVD that Blauer Tactical put out called "How NOT to Get Knocked Out". A lot of solid info there.

[Note: This also means that any errors in transcribing this model are entirely mine. I don't wish to put words into Tom's mouth.]

There are four ways to stop any attack.

Obstruct: Put something between yourself and the attack. Unarmed, this means you are sacrificing one part of your body to avoid taking damage to another. The boxer's "shell" or "cover" (where you throw your forearms up in front of your face to stop an incoming punch) is an example of this. Yes, getting punched in the forearm is usually better than getting punched in the face, but you're still taking damage. You're also not providing much of an opportunity to counter attack. On the upside, the timing required to do this isn't particularly complicated. As long as your forearm is in place before the punch lands, you're fine.

Deflect: Redirect the attack so that it doesn't hit you. This is a parry (not PERRY, people). Done correctly, there is less impact than with an obstruction, but the timing is a bit more precise.

Evade: Get out of the way of the attack. There is absolutely no impact here, and, if done well, this can line up a devastating counter. The timing ,however, is much tighter, and done incorrectly, you can end up eating the attack full on.

Intercept: Hit the other person as they are trying to hit you. Not only do you not taking damage, but you deal damage the other person as well. Close to Rory Miller's "Golden Move". Of course, if you flub it, you can trade shots (not great), or just get hit (less great)

The hierarchy runs in two directions:

Order of Efficiency: Intercept-->Evade-->Deflect-->Obstruct.

If you can pull it off, interception is the most efficient thing you can do. Obstructing the attack is the least efficient, but better than getting hit.

Order of Simplicity: Obstruct-->Deflect-->Evade-->Intercept.

Obstructing doesn't require a lot of complex timing. Most people can reliable obstruct an attack within a few reps. Reliably intercepting an attack is tough, unless there is a huge disparity of skill.

This is primarily a striking based model, but I think you could apply it to grappling. Certainly seems applicable to weapons, though I suppose the nature of the weapon would influence the appropriateness of certain tactics.

I find it useful as a way of planning a teaching progression, or of just looking at options when trying to figure out how to deal with a particular attack.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Two Things Every Teacher Should Be Willing To Say

"I don't know."

"I was wrong."

No one knows everything, on any subject. If you think you have it all figured out, you're done learning, and your teaching will be limited at best.

Everyone makes mistakes. Everyone changes their views. If you still agree with everything you believed five or ten years ago, you might not be pushing the boundaries of your knowledge very far.