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Monday, September 19, 2011

Seminar Review: Conflict Communications

If you've read this blog for any length of time, you know that I like Rory Miller's work. Hell, I like Rory. He's a smart dude with some good ideas and enough control over his ego to know that he doesn't know everything, which is a good, if rare, combo. Unfortunately, he lives on the completely wrong side of the country, but when he is here, I try to get to whatever he's doing. In this case, all I could make was the Conflict Communications seminar, but that was pretty well worth it.

ConCom, which I will continue to abbreviate, because its easier (Rory, dude, this is why you need acronyms) is not a martial arts seminar. Frankly, it barely qualifies as a self-defense seminar, if (and this is important) you think self-defense seminars are about learning how to beat people up. ConCom is not about beating people up. There are no physical drills in the whole class. It's basically a long lecture/discussion. (I do kinda wish there were some drills, though I'm still trying to figure out how they would work, exactly.)

This is not, mind you, a bad thing. There is too much time in the self-defense/martial arts/combatives/whatever the fuck "community" spent on the physical encounter, while only paying lip service to the fact that there are a host of non-physical ways to deal with most confrontations, and the fact that the vast majority of confrontations don't require a physical response. The awareness and verbal skills are a lot more critical, but for some reason, people don't like practicing those things.

So yeah...ConCom does not fit into what most people think of as martial arts or self-defense. Which does not alter the fact that this is probably one of the most valuable seminars I've attended, precisely because it is not about martial arts or self-defense. It is about conflict--how and why it happens between humans and what you can do to deal with it.

It's a bit difficult to go over it without getting into the material itself, and I don't necessarily want to do that here. Part of that is sheer selfishness; part of it is respect for Rory. It is his material. He can share the bits he wants. There are a lot of interesting ideas in those four hours, and some of them can really challenge your perceptions of the world, depending on what your baseline perception is.

I think the most important thing about ConCom is that it presents a body of research and concepts that is applicable far beyond the typical "self-defense" scenario. While many self-defense/martial arts/combatives/whatever the fuck instructors will speak eloquently about how their training can carry over into all areas of their students' lives, my experience has been that that's rarely true, or if it is true, it is true by accident, not design. ConCom is genuinely transferable to just about any human interaction. This is not a seminar for people who want to fight. This is a seminar for people who have to deal with other people, some of whom they don't like. If you live entirely in an underground bunker, and never come out to interact with humanity, you won't get anything out of this seminar. If you do occasionally speak to your fellow apes, you should check this out.


jo buckley said...

Sounds really interesting. I must get some of his books :-)

Jake said...

I highly recommend all of them.
(And--shameless plug--they are available through my Amazon store)