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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What We've Got Here Is...Failure to Communicate

I saw this video thanks to a self-defense instructor who posted it as an example of a smaller, weaker opponent standing up to a larger predator, and scaring them off. It bugged me. Thanks to Melissa McCue-McGrath, who knows WAY more about dogs than I do, I was able to figure out why. Hopefully, this articulation will make some sense.

The video in question.

Let me start with a couple of obvious things, before I get into what really bugs me.

1. Yes, the Kitten is "standing up" to the Rottweiler, and yes, it legitimately is in danger. The size disparity between the two is so great that the kitten could easily get hurt or killed completely accidentally. The kitten is not wrong to be afraid.

2. The person who owns these animals is a dick.

That said, the thing that really bugged me is this: the Rott ISN'T a predator. Or at least, it's not being a predator in that moment.

I'm just going to quote Melissa here, because it's easier.

 The Rottie was definitely presenting with play behaviors: Soft body, "play bow", getting low, bouncing, and the monotone bark that said "Play with me! Come on! Play with me!"

To borrow a phrase:

The kitten might really be in danger, and really standing up to a perceived threat, but the threat isn't what it thinks...

What does this have to do with martial arts and self-defense? Everything, I think. The trick now is to articulate it.

Many martial artists remind me of the kitten; they've developed systems to respond to their perception or vision of what at a predatory assault is like. Unfortunately, because they've never taken the time to actually study how assaults occur, they're training for the play bowing, soft-bodied dog that doesn't really want to hurt them*.

One of the things that drew me to Tony Blauer and his PDR system was that he was one of the first instructors I met who actually took the time to analyze how real fights actually happened. There are many other instructors out there doing that as well, but many more who are not. It is the people who are not that concern me.

The tools and tactics are only half of the equation. Many martial arts teach some excellent tools. But being able to apply them in self-defense means you need both sides of the equation. The predator, as well as the prey.

Hopefully, this is all making sense...

* This is not a sport-vs-street thing. I hate that discussion, and find little value in it. Please don't go there.

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