Last post I mentioned some exercises you can do to help develop operator mindset. Today’s blog is an experiment I did 13 years ago that helped me start to understand some concepts about how violence happens in the world and how to adjust training methods to compensate for the difference
The Kato - Cato experiment. I call it that because it happened in ManKATO and it reminded me of Cato from the Pink Panther movies
Around 1997 – 1998 I was going to Mankato State University, I was a black belt in Aikido cross training in Goju Ryu Karate and Judo. I had just read “Autumn Lightning: The Education of an American Samurai” by Dave Lowry. In the book there is a story of a young Samurai who seeks out training from a sword master. After the master finally accepts him as a student he begins a series of grueling and unusual training methods. One of these methods was that the master would wait until the samurai was engrossed in one of the many menial tedious tasks (cooking, cleaning, gathering firewood, daily life, etc…) required of an apprentice, then jump out and whack him with a bokken. At first the samurai would get knocked out. Then he would barely get out of the way but spill all the food or firewood. Eventually the samurai would evade or block the bokken with the lid from the tea pot or the kindling he was carrying continuing on about his business. Only then would the master start allow him to pick up a sword.
I decided that I needed to recreate that training experience for myself. At that time I was living at the fraternity house with 20-30 some odd guys.
I chose 5 guys that lived at the house, had classes with me, and knew my schedule. Basically they had access to me 24 hours a day. I gave these guys a big piece of neon colored chalk (the kind kids use to write on drive ways) roughly the size of a tanto. I made a bet with them that if they could leave a chalk mark on me in a vital area (not just counting coop or point sparring) I would buy them dinner and they could sign the clothing they marked and I would have to wear it for 24 hours letting everyone know who “killed” the great and power full Kasey. They got one chance for a lethal attack. I had one chance to block / evade. I promised I wouldn’t lock,throw, or strike them – just block / evade
Some lessons that stuck with me:
- Reading Terrain
- Improvised weapons
- Threat Assessment
- Counter Ambush
- Mid- Brain or Monkey brain - My Kryptonite
- Violence Dynamics
I didn’t have terms to express the lessons I learned until I started reading and training with Marc and Rory. Many professionals have experienced these concepts and reality for themselves. However, it is difficult to express in words and even more difficult to convey to others. Luckily Marc and Rory have been developing a common lexicon of terms to express the realities of violence. Like Syd Hoar’s book the A-Z of Judo where he lists all the different names the same technique go by. When I read that book I was like I know that technique only I call it x. With the realities of violence its like, I’ve experienced x only I call it y. I played this game in 97 but I will use terms I’ve recently adopted into my teaching method to convey the lessons I learned
In the following Budo blogs we will tackle each topic individually but for now as Paul Harvey used to say here is the rest of the story.
Just playing the game improved my awareness. Again, Becoming actively aware that you are looking for anomalies in pattern makes a tremendous difference in the identification and assessment. First I was looking for those five guys which was fairly easy. Then those guys would give the chalk to other guys I didn’t know were playing the game. However, unless you’re a sociopath hunting and killing people even just playing at hunting and killing people is hard. There are telltale signs. Subconscious weapons checks, hiding hands, target glances. They came at me when I was sleeping, they came at me when I was eating, they came at me at school and I was very successful at detecting and deflecting their attacks. How was I killed you ask? A lot of these attack prevention skills are used by your forebrain. I was killed when I was forced into my Mid Brain or “Monkey Brain”. Monkey brain is where the term monkey dance comes from. Basically your monkey brain is concerned with the f’s. Fight, Flight, Freeze, Feed, and Fornicate. I used fornicate because my Dad say I use fuck too much in my writing. I hear you thinking Kasey you didn’t answer the question how did you get killed? Ok, so my buddy who is beautifully devious was dating a very attractive girl. She reminded me of Nev Camble and she had a belly ring (this is back when belly rings were new and exotic and only for women who had nice tummies). So he gives her the chalk. She blatantly flirts and uses her feminine whiles. All my Samurai skills awareness, threat assessment etc...(fore brain) turn off. Monkey brain takes over. All the monkey can handle is Fight, Flight, Freeze, Feed, and Fornicate. So where my Fore Brain should have thought:
- I have a girl friend
- She has a boy friend (my good buddy)
- Why is she acting like this?
- Basically looking for anomalies in pattern
My Monkey brain thought:
- She totally digs me
- Ouch how did I get stabbed with chalk?
Good thing I had an understanding girlfriend (she eventually married me)
The “temptress” used social skills to commit asocial violence. That’s how I got killed
And now you know the rest of the story.
So how can I prevent getting killed in this manner? Learn how to prevent or delay the monkey brain from taking over. Next blog will focus on tactical breathing / practical meditation