Sunday, March 20, 2011

Samurai, and Knights, and Cowboys Oh My!

This blog has been a bitch.  Several starts and stops.  Lots of “revelations” cross my mind that disappear or won’t translate into words when I sit down to type.
Some broad strokes of what I wanted to discuss
Casey vs. the Bully (Marc beat me to it and knocked it out of the park)
Firearms are America’s martial art
Purpose of traditional weapons training in 21 century America
Physics, Kinesiology, Kinetics, and the chain of power.  The physics of force
Building bridges to previous knowledge
So I challenged myself to turn 6 half assed blogs into one coherent kick ass super blog.  History will judge if I succeeded J
It is a pleasure to train with professionals.   In April I will be presenting SOCT to the Minnesota Special Operations Trainers Association (SOTA) convention.   I have been putting together an Instructor level course for Special Operations Control Tactics in preparation of that presentation.  Mike is a SWAT team leader, Sniper, and another training coordinator who is helping me with this project.  One of the great things about training with professionals is the perspective they bring to training.  In order to be a better SOCT instructor Mike has also started regular training at the Dojo.  Mike and I had a disccussion about martial arts.  He pointed out that fire arms are America’s martial art.  I had to agree and that got me thinking… 
The world always has been and always will be controlled by the aggressive use of force.  Each area has its own arch typical warrior
Japan has the samurai

European countries have the knight

America has the cowboy. 

The legacy of the Cowboy is a key stone to American culture.  Especially in Law Enforcement. 
Just as I have mentioned in previous blogs the further away you get from the time and place these archetypes existed the more watered down the practical / functional aspects become and the more sport /fantasy (romanticized) aspects creep in.  Bull’s eye targets rarely move and never shoot back.  So actual gun fighting is very different than marksmenship competitions.  Humans have been fighting humans since Kane and Able.  There is nothing new under the sun.  There are core fundamentals that are universal to all warrior archetypes from all times and across the globe.

Weapons Training
If you're not training to win a gun fight you're not a cowboy you are a historical reenactor.   If your Buki Waza (Weapons Training) doesn’t reinforce your Oyo Waza (Practical Application) then you are a live action role player.  
I have has some great self training sessions with weapons lately.  If your weapons training has a direct relation to your practical application then you are training those principles universal to all warrior archetypes from all times.  That is the “good stuff”.  There is a reason those archetypes are still around.  Their shit worked they not only survived but thrived in history’s most violent times.  They made history. 
 This type of weapons training acts as a magnifying glass to your fundamentals.  Especially your ability to deliver force into your opponent, or your chain of power.

When you deliver force into an opponent whether it is a strike, lock, or throw that force has to travel through your body into the opponent’s.  Motion creates power, hips accelerate power.  So you drop step (falling with style as Buzz might say) you start the power generation.  You push off your foot.  Every joint between your foot and your opponent is a link in the power chain, and a possible drain of power.  When you add weapons to that you add more links to the power chain.  If I can effectively extend power through a weapon like a Jo or a Bokken into a resistive object like a tree or a B.O.B. I am strengthening and reinforcing structure that allows force transfer.  The more joints you take out of the power chain the less chance for a drain or leak.  So when I use a motion similar to the Bokken strike but deliver it with my elbow, that elbow strike becomes much more powerful due to the Bokken training. 

It is important that you train a few simple motions over and over.  The physics of what makes an entering block (salt over shoulder) work are the same as what makes a Batto Jutsu draw and cut work, a Kenjustu waki shinogi block work, a Kenjutsu Yoko Giri cut work, an Atemi Waza Tegatana Uchi strike work.  One basic fundamental motion makes you better at 100’s of techniques. 
You want to be a master of a few things that work as opposed to being ok at a 1000 different techniques.  Jack of all trades master of none. 

Bridges to previous learning
OK so Mike is at a Kenjutsu class working these fundamental motions because he wants to better understand SOCT (and because he really wants to carry a “tactical” sword on SWAT operations J ).  We are working on the taijutsu (empty hand) relation of these sword motions.  Mike’s motion is very good but his structure is weak.  He has improved his position but he has not affected his opponent’s position.  He cannot control or damage his opponent.  Mike is not a martial artists per say, but he is an expert gunfighter so I relate the structure he needs to the structure of shooting a riffle (gun fighting not target practice).  I go across the dojo and observe some other students.  When I look back Mike had done the same thing.  I start walking back over to him when I see the expression on his face change.  I literally see a light bulb go off above his head.  Well, not literally but you get what I mean.  Mike shifted, and then he had solid structure which he used to control his opponent.  I asked him, “Mike you screwed up I started walking over and you self corrected.  That’s AWESOME!  What did you do, how did you know how to do it”.  Mike replied that he moved the same way then thought if he had to deliver accurate fire with his riffle to his opponent what would he have to do.  Then he did it.  Martial artists would call it aligning his center.  Mike calls it killing bad guys. The point(s) being  -  humans have been fighting humans since Kane and Able.  There is nothing new under the sun.  There are core fundamentals that are universal to all warrior archetypes from all times and across the globe.  Fire arms are America’s martial art.   It is important that you train a few simple motions over and over, fundamental motions makes you better at 100’s of techniques.  Mike already knew what makes Kenjutsu work he just saw it through Cowboy eyes.  It’s fun to work with professionals because of the perspective they bring.
So what can readers do to create their own training experience?
·         Find the relationships between your weapons and empty hands techniques
·         Discover the fundamental principles that make both work
·         Then train the hell out of those principles
Train hard – Train Smart – Be Safe


  1. I'm looking up 'tactical' swords right now. I can't even find a definition for this...

    I'm going to have to re-read this post later, there's a lot in there.

    Cool post :)

  2. The CRKT Hisshou would be an example of a tactical sword. I will post a link to a fantastic independent knife maker that can custome design to your specific needs

  3. WRT similarities,

    I train a flavor of Kajukenbo with a strong Wing Chun influence --as an influence, not as an add-on, but it's there if you know how to look--. I also happen to train iaido (ZNKR Seitei) and koryu (Tatsumi-ryu). All of them have a strong linear footwork. And all of them do basically the same movements. People look at me weird when I mention it --among other things, the combo is weird--.

    Thanks. Take care.

    Ferran, BCN

  4. Here is the link I was looking for

    This guy is awesome. Tell him Kasey sent ya