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Thursday, July 7, 2011

"The Experiment", Part I: Background Explanations

As usual, working on a bunch of posts, including a review of Bloodlust: On the Roots of Violence from Cain and Abel to the Present, some thoughts on shadowboxing and kata, a couple of video analysis, and more "day in the Thai kids life" stuff. However, all that got sidetracked, in part because of a conversation that got started on Rory's blog.

Rory writes about a process he calls "banging it out", alternatively known as "getting the stupid out." The concept isn't particularly novel, in a certain sense. It boils down to, take something you think works, and go pressure test the fuck out of it against someone who is really trying to make it not work.  Tony Blauer had his Panic Attacks, which eventually evolved into Ballistic Micro-Fights (BMF). Jerry Wetzel talks the "Brother Factor." The Dog Brothers had their Gatherings. The Gracies started the UFC. There are a lot of other examples. Detractors of every single one can explain why they aren't perfect, but the truth is, there is no perfect test. These, and other methods, all have their place. And they all work better than just talking about it.

So, on the surface, I didn't have much to say about Rory's point, because I mostly agreed with it. People should bang things out.

What caught my attention was these two lines:

"He presents a standard self-defense platitude, like "In a knife fight, control the weapon arm*" and lets the students try it.  But not against a compliant partner, against someone using a knife the way the knife was meant to be used.  The fail is spectacular and memorable. It gets the stupid out."

"*This is one of the classics and one of the big issues in training.  "Control the weapon arm just makes so much sense...  The issues is that I have never seen anyone actually make it work, not in real life or even in free training, not for more than a second or two.  The fact that it makes sense doesn't, somehow, prevent it from being a messy and suicidal tactic.  I may get flack on this, which is fine... but before you tell me how wrong I am, go out and bang it, with someone given absolute freedom to play 'live' and tell me how it works."

I will confess that this surprised me. Partly because I've done some weapons protection training through Tony Blauer, and the methodology that we teach in the PDR for dealing with a weapon is "Clear, Control, Counter". And using that method has worked for me in live drills and BMFs.


All of those were done with people who were trained in the PDR/SPEAR system. So I'm willing to cop to the idea that there might have been some systemic bias.


We are not the only ones teaching this. I've seen material from the Dog Brothers, Burton Richardson, the STAB Guys, and others that all use a similar strategy of controlling the armed limb as part of their counter-knife tactics. I've even seen a similar tactic advocated by a combatives instructor who seems to hate Tony with a burning passion, which leads me to believe that there has to be something causing a whole lot of seemingly rational people to use this kind of methodology. And many of them using some pretty heavy alive drilling.

A couple of people, including another PDR student, asked Rory what he recommends instead/what he means by control/why does he think this is stupid. Rory's answer was (purposefully, I think, vague)

"If you can't leave... I have a few things I prefer, but none of them are answers. If unarmed could regularly beat armed, people would quit carrying weapons. Fight the mind. Failing that, shutting down the brainstem is the first priority. Get to the dead zone and, absolutely TV, control behind the elbow is the best control option I've found."

However, Rory's basic suggestion was "go bang it out."

And I figured, sure, what the hell. Let's go bang it out.

Thus, "the Experiment" was born.

Coming next: setting up "the Experiment"


Neil Bednar said...

I've been thinking a lot lately about the topic one of the commenters from Rory's latest post made regarding him watching some Aikido black belt get repeatedly stabbed by a white belt in practice and where the comment was that the white belt had very little to fear. I noticed that your response was that you'd like to try it out with a high gear suit. My point is this: while no self-defense drill can be perfect because we don't want to actually put our training partners in the hospital, we typically use protective gear, etc. However, even then there are a bunch of things that you still can't do to a armored partner AND even if you do them (neck crank, knee kick, armbar), are we instilling hopelessness at all in students because of the insability to inflict more realistic damage? Or is it a balance question and the benefits outweigh the downsides? And, more interestingly, are there new and different drills to include, or different reactions which are beneficial? (Rory's "one step" is one example as it is slow practice). I also wonder about workign in 'realistic pain and injury reactions' into somethign like the one step or even into brawls with high gear suits, etc....just thinking out loud. :)


Jake said...

Hey Neil,

Short answer:

Yeah, there are benefits to slow speed drills (we use them a fair amount in the PDR program). And yes, we sometimes have roleplayers in High Gear who respond based on the kind of damage they believe the blow would have inflicted.

Tony always reminds us that everything is fake, some things are more fake than others. I've done a bunch of slow speed stuff, but I really wanted, at least at first, to try stuff out at high speeds. This really an on-going process...if I ever become satisfied that I have a perfect answer to a knife assault, I'm probably going crazy.