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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Rory Miller Seminar

Spent this past Sunday at my second Rory Miller seminar; this one required a drive down to Rhode Island (not really a big stretch, but further that the trip to Everett last time). It was totally worth the trip.


This was technically day two of the seminar; I missed day one, but I think that day one was pretty much what I got last time I saw Rory. In any case, Rory promised that he was going to save the cool stuff for when I got there (how many instructors do you know who will do that?). And save it he did.

Rory started off with a review of his “one step” drill, a slow-motion fighting exercise that vaguely reminds me of Tony Blauer’s Range Rover drill, though that’s a totally unfair comparison to both drills (and both teachers). It’s mostly because both of them share a “slow motion, back and forth” view of a fight, but that’s about where the similarities stop. In any case, I like Rory’s one-step. Even better, I like that Rory uses it as a platform for almost all of the work that he does.

Once everyone had gotten some warm up reps in, Rory started in on some of his “plastic mind” drills. I know he’s planning to put them in “the Drill Book” (I’m unclear if this is it, or if he’s got a third one coming along), so I won’t describe them here. The super-brief summary is that they about playing with changing the way you think, and experimenting with how that changes the way you move and fight. It is a fantastically cool concept, and I had a blast playing with it; I will probably keep playing with it into the future, provided I can get some training partners (I really need my own version of Rory’s Violence Prone Play Group…).

We followed up with some stuff about Ground Fighting; Rory has a nice way of presenting some conceptual stuff about balance and movement that is very clear and easy to follow, even when it’s diagramed in weird stick figures. Once we had hit the conceptual material, we got to roll around on the floor of the Spot, an experience which left me with several interesting bruises, but was otherwise very illuminating.

Rory added in some material about pressure points/pain compliance, some of which was not new for me, and some of which was. I’m always a bit iffy on pressure points, mostly because in my experience, they are phenomenally unreliable. There was one point on the jaw that really was doing squat to me (though that damn throat notch thing has always been super sensitive for me). Other people reacted differently. Rory, to his credit, presented all of this stuff as an adjunct, not a panacea. When you put it back into the ground fighting drills, it definitely had some utility.

We took a short lunch break, during which time I got to sit around with a bunch of instructors and talk to Rory about how he sets up and runs scenarios. One of the things I liked about Rory was that he took the time to plan out and discuss each student at the seminar, and what scenarios would be appropriate to them. That kind of planning takes a fair bit of confidence as an instructor and role-player, and depending on the group, I’m not sure how comfortable I would feel trying it. Rory pulled it off phenomenally well, however, putting the students through a wide variety of scenarios that challenged people’s physical, emotional, psychological, and tactical skills. Many of the students did very well. A couple died (in a non-violent scenario, no less). One definitely got some jail time, because stabbing a dude who’s stealing your car stereo car is actually NOT okay.

I really didn’t get a scenario, except for the active shooter one, which involved everyone. That one still bugs me, less because I got shot, and more because I broke Rory’s (and Tony’s, and ostensibly my) rule about not accepting that a gunshot was lethal. I know where the mental break was, and I know how to work on it, but damned if it doesn’t still bug me.

But hey, we train so we can make the mistakes in training, right?

Oh. Totally forgot. We also had done some mass fighting drills at some point earlier in the day, in conjunction with some environmental fighting drills. That was fun.

Oh. And a side conversation about some issues with some of the entries that Rory has been playing with, and his concerns about his concerns.

Which, for the record, is one of things I really like about Rory; Rory is not afraid to admit that he does not have all the answers, or that there is stuff he’s experimenting with/unsure of. In a world full of guru’s who think they know everything about everything, Rory acts like a normal human being. Well, as normal as anyone who does this stuff for fun. Normal people tend to skip these seminars.

This seminar got me thinking, a lot. It will probably take a few weeks to unpack everything going on in my mind, especially with my relatively packed schedule. That’s one of things that I enjoy so much about Rory; he makes you think, and makes you think hard.

If I have a gripe, it’s that this is the second time Rory’s been on my coast, and I haven’t had a chance to get the man a cup of coffee and pick his brain. That’s no one’s fault.

If you are ever anywhere near one of Rory’s seminars, go check it out. It is absolutely, totally worth the time.

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