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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Storytelling

This idea has been kicking in my head for a while. Maija's recent post caused it to resurface. I started kicking this idea around back here. Seems like it's time to revisit it.

In his book Frames of Mind, Howard Gardner advanced the idea of multiple intelligences. The simplistic version of the idea is that people learn and think in different ways, and being "smart" is not merely a function of doing well on the SATs (actually, being smart has very little to do with the SATs, but that's a different rant). Some people learn visually, others auditorially, kinestheically, and so on.

I am a writer. I think in terms of words and stories. I'm starting to even see how I can think of the martial arts that way. Every art is a story. So is every fight. Even individual drills and techniques are stories.

A self-serving posit: I think that many martial arts began life as stories. Warriors around the campfire, talking about past battles. Someone talks about the trick they used to beat that big guy from the next tribe over, and pretty soon, everyone is practicing it. A young warrior shows a new trick that he came up with, and the older one tells about his friend who came up with the same trick, and how it got his friend disemboweled. The stories grow. They become larger, more elaborate tales. Before you know it, you have a whole collection of stories. An anthology. Or a bible. Or a martial art.

The story is in the drill. I preface a lot of my teaching with stories, some general ("I've seen this happen a lot"), some specific ("last Friday night, I saw a guy do this in the ring"). The stories ground the drill, but they are also the reason for the drill. The reason we do the drill is because we're telling you how part of the story goes.

Part of the reason that Tony Blauer's material resonates so well with me, I think, is that Tony spends a lot of time talking about the importance of the scenario. "What happened before what happened before..."

In other words, what's the plot? Who are the characters? What's their motivation? Where does the story go from here?

Of course, the fight itself is a story unfinished, with two authors vying for control. Or maybe just one author with a very adversarial editor? I'm not sure.

I had more on this...it'll come up.


2 comments:

Maija said...

Cool :-)
I don't think I've written a story since I was in school, but I know that sometimes you back yourself into a corner by the decisions you make, with only a few options, or maybe one, to get out of it.
I reckon there is some kind of parallel here with tactics .... in that at any point, you want to leave yourself with as many possible options or next moves, whilst steering your opponent down a narrow alley with no exit ...

Looking forward to hearing more.

Jake said...

That's okay. I haven't drawn since high school :-).

I hadn't thought about the tactical element, but yeah, that makes sense.

Of course, some writers plan things out more, and others make it up as they go along. The planners seem to be more successful, but there's always the outliers.

(I don't know if you read or follow this in any fashion, but GRRM's Song of Fire and Ice is apparently a victim of this. He started writing it, blazed through a few books, and then realized he had completely deviated from his original ideas and was now having to re-adjust. The story moved in a way he didn't plan at all...)