Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Self defense is multi faceted

Last night I read a fantastic blog  - The multidimensional paradigms of self defense by Erik Kodo.  This morning I was listening to “Davis and Emmer” on the radio.  Emmer was running his mouth about a shooting that happened recently in Minneapolis. 
Emmer’s ignorance compelled me to share the good information from Kodo’s blog.

Before we get much further let me state a few things:
  • I’m a huge supporter of concealed carry.  I believe citizens should be armed
  • I’m not second guessing the witness / shooter
  • I will give him the benefit of the doubt
  • This blog isn’t so much about the specifics of the case, but about the discussion on the radio show. 
  • Good information on self defense has to get out to the public.
  • I wasn’t there, and the media isn’t a good source for facts
Here is a link to the news story on the shooting
MINNEAPOLIS - Minneapolis police say a man who shot and killed an armed robber who was attacking a woman has been released.
Officers detained the man for questioning following the fatal shooting of the 23-year-old robber Thursday night. Authorities say the armed robber confronted the woman in the parking lot of a Cubs Food store, took her purse and hit her in the head with his gun. A man who witnessed the robbery chased the suspect and shot him behind a nearby restaurant during a confrontation. When police arrived, the witness told officers he had a permit to carry a gun, shot the armed robbery suspect and told officers where they could find his handgun. He was detained for questioning.
Investigators say they found the robber's gun near where the shooting took place.
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
That is all the information that was publicly available at the time of the radio show.
So, to break it down witness saw a woman being assaulted and robbed.  Robber ran away.  Witness chased him.  Confrontation ensued.  Witness shoots the robber
Here are some of the things that Emmer was saying that pissed me off:
Emmer – Oh, so we should let bad things happen?  Should he call time out while he calls 911
Davis – But the issue is that he chassed him
Emmer – Of course he should have chased him.  We don’t know what he knew at the time.  He doesn’t know if he has a gun or not.  Guess what bad guy I’m armed too, good night.
To me, it’s not only what Emmer was saying, but the way he was saying it.  Through his tone he came off as an arrogant ass clown, acting as an expert with out any solid information on use of force law.
Self defense is defined as protecting yourself from death or great bodily harm (permanent injury / maiming).  In order for self defense to be justified you must have IMOP
I – Intent
M – Means
O – Opportunity
P – Preclusion
When the witness saw the initial assault robbery IMOP was clearly there.  The Robber showed intent by actually committing the assault, he had the means -  23 year old male with a gun vs. an elderly woman, he had the opportunity  - at night in a parking lot.  One could even make the argument against preclusion because if the witness left the victim may have been further injured or killed.  Had the witness / shooter acted then force would have been justified.  However, when the robber fled, the victim was no longer in danger.  The Robber no longer had opportunity, and he showed lack of intent by fleeing.  How are you protecting yourself or others by chasing him?  Police have a duty to peruse, to prevent possible harm to the public.  When a civilian chases someone after the danger has passed they have violated preclusion.  With out IMOP force is unjustified 
Emmer doesn’t know use of force law.  His statements were very emotionally driven.  Of course the good guy should chase down the bad guy and bring him to justice.  If this causes a situation in which lethal force is used  - oh well “good night”
Emmer’s view on self defense is very one dimensional.  Which brings me back to Erik Kodo’s blog The multidimensional paradigms of self defense.
The Multi Dimensional Paradigms of Self-Defense is a model that describes a person’s overall view of the universe self-defense. Everyone’s viewpoint is different, but viewpoints can still be categorized in groups. The MDP model helps explain the basic differences in viewpoints. It provides people a framework to expand and evolve their self-defense paradigm into one with a more comprehensive viewpoint.


"A journey of 1000 miles begins with a single step" - Lao-tzu

And that is how most people start learning self-defense, they just start stepping with no idea where they are actually going.

A journey of 1000 miles actually needs to begin with a road map. The
Multi Dimensional Paradigms of Self-Defense is a "map" for the journey of learning and applying self-defense.

This journey has many forks, dead ends, and bad roads in the form of incomplete, inaccurate, and missing information.

The journey is made even more hazardous by the existence of the multiple Paradigms that self-defense experts, martial arts instructors, law enforcement, and security professionals use to promote and teach their personal view of self-defense.

These Paradigms are more than just aspects of self-defense. They are viewpoints that carry with them certain pre-conceived "truths" about what is fact and what is fiction. Unwavering belief in these "truths" create the foundation of the Paradigm and allow the Paradigm to exist without modification or evolving into a more comprehensive viewpoint.

Steadfast believers in their Paradigm will deny and refute any and all information that conflicts with their "truths". Conflicting information or evidence threatens the "reality" of their Paradigm and are therefore ignored or attacked as "untrue".


Dimensions on the other hand are not viewpoints. They are aspects or elements. These aspects are combined with the "truths" to create the Paradigms. Unlike a Paradigm, belief in one Dimension does not automatically conflict with belief in another Dimension. For example, you can believe in the existence of the color red and the color blue. But, if you believe that there is only red, then there cannot be blue.

The Dimensions are combined with the "truths" and become the foundation of the Paradigms.


In response to how women should defend themselves from sexual assault:

“Just teach women how to kill quickly. It's that simple. Who's going to convict a woman of killing her attacker?” - Self professed "expert" with 20 years experience of personal protection, physical security and martial arts.

This "Expert" exists and promotes the 1 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense.

a. He has no need for the 2nd Dimension of Avoidance because he believes, you can "just kill your attacker".

b. He needs to deny the 3rd Dimension of Psychology and Physiology in order to make killing something anyone can easily do.

c. He needs to deny the 4th Dimension of Law and Ethics in order to promote killing without legal consequence.

d. There is no need for the 5th Dimension of Violence Dynamics when the issue
as simple as "good" vs. "evil".

e. There is no need for the 6th Dimension of Societal Violence Dynamics if you believe that everyone in society supports your actions.


Think self-defense is simple and clear cut? Marc MacYoung shows you how complicated it is: Reality vs. Actuality
Self-Defense Explained
1 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense

1 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense- This viewpoint is that self-defense is a physical confrontation between the “bad” attacker and the “good” defender. The depends upon using physical skills to defeat the attacker. The attacker is known to be bad because of his actions, or because he attacks first.

1st Dimension of Self-Defense focuses on all concepts that relate to physical combative skills, methods, and training.

More on the 1st Dimensional Paradigm
2 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense

2 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense - This viewpoint acknowledges that physical defense may sometimes fail. Therefore, it is necessary to use situational awareness to avoid a potential confrontation. If avoidance fails, physical defense is applied. This paradigm also defines a “bad” attacker and a “good” defender.

2 Dimension of Self-Defense focuses on all conventional threat assessment, situational awareness, and avoidance concepts.

More on the 2nd Dimensional Paradigm
3 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense

3 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense - This viewpoint builds upon the 1st and 2nd Dimensions and acknowledges that awareness and physical defense is greatly affected by the psychological and physiological responses of the combatants.

Therefore, awareness and physical defense training must include aspects that address these issues. This paradigm also defines a “bad” attacker and a good “defender”.

3rd Dimension of Self-Defense - focuses on all of the psychological, physiological, and behavioral aspects of self-defense such as scenario and adrenal stress training.

More on the 3rd Dimensional Paradigm
4 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense

4 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense - This viewpoint acknowledges that there are legal and ethical considerations for physical defense. It acknowledges that confrontations are not necessarily black and white with a well defined “bad” attacker and a “good” defender. There are in fact gray areas to be considered.

This viewpoint also acknowledges that sometimes physical defense requires using extreme force, and or/ pre-emptive attacks in order to defeat an opponent.

This paradigm also takes into consideration all of the aspects of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Dimensions.

4th Dimension of Self-Defense - focuses on all Use of Force, Rules of Engagement,
legal, and ethical considerations of self-defense.

More on the 4th Dimensional Paradigm.
5 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense

5 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense - This viewpoint acknowledges that violence is complex issue. It is comprised of both social violence and asocial violence with large gray areas between the relative “good” and “bad” of the combatants.

This paradigm acknowledges that the driving intent and motivation of an aggressor has a great deal to due with how the aggressor is ultimately dealt with. That threat assessments, strategic, tactical, and physical responses are influenced by the specific violence dynamics of the confrontation.

5th Dimension of Self-Defense - focuses on the violence dynamics of confrontations. It incorporates these aspects of violence dynamics into all of the other four dimensions.
6 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense

6 Dimensional Paradigm of Self-Defense - This viewpoint acknowledges that not only is violence comprised of the actions of the individuals involved, it is also colored by the social agendas, bias, prejudices, and conceptions of society.

This paradigm acknowledges that a person’s and societies' view and interpretation of acts of violence can be differ widely depending upon the individual’s personal agenda and the norms and social bias of different cultures. This viewpoint also takes into consideration the concepts and aspects of the other 5 Dimensions.

6th Dimension of Self-Defense - focuses on the societal dynamics of violence. It also incorporates these aspects into all of the other five dimensions.

More on the 6th Dimensional Paradigm
More on the 1st Dimensional Paradigm
When most people think of self-defense, they tend to think of the 1st Dimension. The majority of self-defense training focuses on the 1st Dimension. It is the most concrete aspect of self-defense. It is centered around physical skills.

These physical skills are usually taught as systems. The most popular of these systems are formal martial arts styles such as karate, jujitsu, TKD, etc. But a system can also be an informal collection of techniques and concepts that put together by an individual instructor. The basic premise behind the 1st Dimension is to develop your physical skills to such a degree that in the event you are assaulted you will be able to physically prevent harm to yourself and others.

The underlying assumptions or “truths” that support the 1st Dimensional Paradigm are as follows:

1. Self-defense involves a well defined “bad” attacker that physically assaults you without justification.
2. Defeating the attacker is simply a matter of executing the proper physical techniques.
3. The attacker is known to be “an attacker” because he can either be easily identified as “evil” or he initiates the physical assault.

The popularity of the 1st Dimensional Paradigm comes from its simplicity. You are good, the attacker is bad, and self-defense will always achieved upon execution of the proper techniques. Self-defense begins with the physical attack and ends with the attacker being defeated. This Paradigm is appealing because self-defense mastery is an obtainable goal. Just as you can learn to swim and thus not drown if you fall in the water, you can learn self-defense and always be safe.
More on the 2nd Dimensional Paradigm
The 2nd Dimension focuses on developing your situational awareness to such a level that you are able to identify potentially dangerous people and situations and thus stay away from them.

Here is an article that expands upon situational awareness in terms of the Cooper Color Codes.
States of Awareness, the Cooper Color Codes

Cultivating Awareness

The 2nd Dimensional Paradigm is an expansion of the 1st DP. It acknowledges that there are instances where the best way to defeat your attacker is to avoid a physical confrontation in the first place. For example, if you realize that there are certain people who you cannot defeat with your 1st Dimensional skills, then you must avoid them in order to stay safe.

The underlying assumptions or “truths” that support the 2nd Dimensional Paradigm are as follows:

1. Self-defense involves a well defined “bad” attacker that wants to physically assaults you without justification.
2. The attacker is known to be “an attacker” because due to your execution of situational awareness, he can either be easily identified as “evil” before he initiates the physical assault.
3. Defeating the attacker is simply a matter of avoiding him.

The 2nd DP is an evolving viewpoint, but it is still harmonious with the 1st DP. Because, in the event that avoidance might fail or it is not possible to avoid the attacker, you can rely on your 1st Dimensional skills to defeat him.

Similar to the 1st DP, the popularity of the 2nd Dimensional Paradigm comes from its simplicity. You are good, the attacker is bad, and self-defense will always achieved upon execution of the proper techniques of situational awareness and/or physical skills. Self-defense begins with the identifying the potential attacker and ends with the attacker being avoided or defeated.

In the 1st DP, self-defense is ALL about you and your abilities. In the 2nd DP, self-defense is mostly about you, .i.e. your ability to detect and avoid and/or your ability physical defeat. The variable of the other person's abilities is introduced, but it is managed by your actions.

As with the 1st DP, this Paradigm is appealing because self-defense mastery is an obtainable goal. Not only can you learn to swim and thus not drown if you fall in the water, you can also avoid dangerous water in the first place.

Here is Marc MacYoung on:
The Five Stages of Violent Crime
More on the 3rd Dimensional Paradigm
The 3rd Dimensional focuses on the psychological, psychological, and behavioral aspects of self-defense. These aspects are complicated, but nobody explains them better than Lt. Col Dave Grossman.

Why can’t Johnny kill?: the psychology and physiology of interpersonal combat

We now have a situation where there is direct conflict between the 3rd Dimension and the 1st Dimensional Paradigm. Remember, the "expert" who said "Just teach women to kill..."? Grossman is telling us in effect that the majority of human beings don't want to kill each other.

On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs

The 3rd Dimension now casts doubt on both the ability of the defender to execute all of his physical skills under stress, and the willingness of the defender to injure or kill the attacker in the manner simulated in training.

Therefore, the 3rd Dimensional Paradigm adds some modifications to the "truths" of the earlier Paradigms in order to rectify this conflict.

1. The skills of the 1st Dimension must be "gross motor skills" as opposed to "fine motor skills".
2. Psychological conditioning style training commonly thought of as "Reality Based Self-Defense" is introduced as the method to instill the desire and willingness to physically defend yourself.

Similar to the 2nd Dimensional Paradigm:

3. The attacker is defined as "bad", and the "defender is defined as "good".
4. The attacker is easily identified by either situational awareness or his aggressive actions.
5. Self-defense begins with the identification of the aggressor and/or his avoidance or physical defeat.

The 3rd Dimensional Paradigm is an evolving viewpoint that points out deficiencies in the earlier Paradigms. It attempts to resolve these deficiencies with a different style of training. Therefore, in many respects the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Dimensional Paradigms are compatable.

Richard Dimitri talks about Behavioral Protective Offense.

Here is Marc MacYoung on:

a. The Adrenal Stress Response to Crisis.
b. Chemical Baths, Neural Pathways, Monkey and Lizard Brains
c. Mental Preparation
More on the 4th Dimension Paradigm
The 4th Dimension of Self-Defense involves both the legal considerations of self-defense and the ethical issues that arise.

Brandon Oto provides a detailed tutorial on Use of Force in the United States.

Massad Ayoob on Avoiding Legal Traps.

These issues call into question the viability of the lower Paradigms. Much of the popularity of the lower Paradigms comes from their simplicity. You are good and the aggressor is bad. The aggressor attacks you, and you rightfully defend yourself. As a result, there are neither legal consequences, nor moral or ethical issues to contend with.

The 4th Dimensional Paradigm brings with it the complication that even though you believe that you are good and the attacker is bad, you may have to prove it in court. And even if you do prove it on a legal basis, there are also ethical issues to be considered.

Therefore, the 4rd Dimensional Paradigm adds even more modifications to the "truths" of the earlier Paradigms.

1. The aggressor is no longer pre-defined as "bad" and the defender as "good". The definition now resides in the hands of the Court and legal system after the fact.

2. The use of the physical skills of the 1st Dimension are now called into question. To escape criminal and civil penalties, their use must be legally justified.

3. Self-defense may require pre-emptive actions in order to succeed. Waiting to be attacked first may be fatal.

As a result of these "truths", the 2nd Dimensional aspects of Awareness and Avoidance becomes much more important. The very real negative consequences of engaging in the physical actions of the 1st Dimension makes the avoidance of confrontation more important.

The 4th Dimensional Paradigm is evolves self-defense from the simplicity and certainty of the 1st Dimensional Paradigm to the complexity and uncertainty of having to deal with the consequences of one's actions. These consequences have a very real impact on a person's ability and willingness to execute the physical skills obtained through 1st Dimensional training.

David Nerbovig on the ethical considerations of self-defense and martial arts training.

Recent Work on the Ethics of Self-Defense by Tyler Doggett.

Here is Marc MacYoung on:
Going to Jail For Defending Yourself
The Cost of Winning
More on the 5th Dimension Paradigm
The 5th Dimension of Self-Defense focuses on the violence dynamics of confrontations. The 5th Dimension expands upon violence as being either Social Violence or Asocial Violence, and in some cases, a combination of the two.

In the lower Paradigms, the causes violence and the intent of the aggressor are immaterial. An attack is an attack. All violence for the most part is assumed to be Asocial. But, a closer examination reveals that most violence is in fact Social in nature, and is used to obtain Social goals.

Asocial violence is less common, but predatorial in nature.

Here is Rory Miller on Social and Asocial Violence.

Violence Dynamics and More About Violence Dynamics

Tim Larkin on Social Confrontation vs Asocial Violence:

- Part 1
- Part 2
- Part 3

MacYoung on Kinds of Violence.

The 5th Dimension Paradigm further complicates the issue of self-defense because it brings new aspects to consider.

The 1st aspect is that if you are engaging in Social Violence, then you are an active participant in the confrontation. Thus you share some responsibility for it's creation and outcome.

The 2nd aspect is that if you are targeted for Asocial violence, then what you know about Social violence will not help you. In fact, it is highly disadvantageous to bring Social violence "rules" to a Asocial violence situation.

The 3rd aspect is that if your 1st Dimensional physical skills are designed for Social Violence, than using them in a Asocial Violence situation can lead to your demise.

The 5th Dimensional Paradigm illustrates that understanding why a person is exhibiting aggression towards you is paramount to determining how the aggression is ultimately handled.
More on the 6th Dimensional Paradigm
6th Dimension of Self-Defense focuses on the societal dynamics of violence. Self-defense now becomes part of the larger picture of societal views and beliefs. There are no absolute definitions of "good" and "bad", it is a matter of what society or some part of society deems to be "good" or "bad".

Individual actions are judged and interpreted in the context of larger societal dynamics such as Hate Crimes, Victim Blaming, Youth Violence, Domestic Violence, Date Rape, etc.

The 6th Dimensional Paradigm is filled with ambiguity, misunderstanding, and miscommunication. Here is an example of how people's perceptions differ in regard to date rape: The Havens 'Where Is Your Line?'

Much of the controversy that revolves around victim blaming arises from confusing the 2nd Dimension concept of Risk Reduction with the 6th Dimensional concept of Threat Reduction.
Victim Blaming, Threats, and Risks
Paradigm Pitfalls - Dead Ends, Loops, and Wrong Turns

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe and....self defense is multi faceted

Monday, October 24, 2011

Internal training – Outside

Great class Saturday.  We did a lot of martial arts training, without doing a lot of techniques, which was very cool.  A beautiful Autumn afternoon training outside in the city park.  Anyone going by on the bike trails probably thought we were doing Tai Chi. 
Well in a way we were doing some Aiki – Tai Chi. 
Our strike structure exercise looked a lot like this

When Marc was here he made an analogy.  Tai Chi is like a bull with the horns removed.  Other fiercer kick ass Commando styles brag about their horns, but it’s like duct tapping long horns onto a Chihuahua.  Taichi may not use its horns but it’s still backed up by 1,500lbs of unprocessed big macs.  Easer to return the horns to a bull than for a Chihuahua’s neck to support horns
There is an old saying in Aikido – feeling is believing.
 Feeling is believing, but even believing isn’t necessarily accepting or understanding.  I’ve been geeking out about subtle power generation since the seminar.  But I’ve discovered a dangerous flaw in my perception.  The evolution of my thought process follows something like this.
 Marc grabbed me – good luck little guy – I go flying – oh yeah this stuff really works.
 Wicked smile if Marc can have huge results with his small mass how much more can I achieve. 
 Working a drill with Lise to illustrate how easy it can be I just “sneeze”….and nearly cripple Lise. 

With great power comes great responsibility.  It has sunk in how powerful this is, but somehow it hasn’t sunk in that it has consequences and repercussions.  A few days later working on power generation again, Lise puts Chad through the wall. 
Again slow learner I guess somehow not understanding that generating that power has consequences. 
Few days after that working this again, Daniel with no effort or ill intent chucks Lise across the Dojo and she cracks her head million dollar baby style against the base of the BOB heavy bag.  Daniel feels horrible but it’s my fault.   So finally it has sunk in that’s its not magic and it not a game.  Small people generating power subtly has the same results (or greater) as large people using their muscle to hit or throw.  But unlike using muscle and size to hurt someone subtle power can inflict damage with absolutely zero intent.  So as a Sensei just as you take precautions during force on force training to protect your students, safety precautions must be taken when training power generation.

Training outside and having a designated “catcher” so Uke doesn’t get shot put into any trees or the next county or anything is a good way to do it.

Here is a breakdown of what we worked on

·         Stance
o   Falling into stances
·         Striking
o   Bone and Ligament alignment
o   Range
Subtle power generation
Rowing exercise
An example of a rowing exercise jab is illustrated in this video I stole from Wim Demeeres blog
Wag your dick
                Turn and walk
Indian leg wrestling
                Elvis hips
                Off balance / falling striking
Sit Down
                Seio Nage
                Hiji Shime
                Dead Palm
                Seio Nage

Rory had us do one of his plastic mind drills when he was here.  Reading about it will ruin it for you when you get a chance to do it.  So I won’t write about it…..except to describe a variation I have been having fun playing with.  If there were some sort of freaky Friday body swap and I was in a 5’ nothing 100 and nothing lbs body how would I beat 5’10” 240 Kasey.  So, along those lines I have been playing with the concepts of Omote and Ura, front and back or manifest and hidden.  You can’t resist non-resistance.  When you push into me I open when you pull I enter.  5 nothing, 100 and nothing Kasey is making me a better opoeater, and much better teacher
So along those lines we finished class with a few techniques
                Ikkajo Omote
                Ikkajo Ura

All in all a great class.  Much learned and …wait for it….no injuries or destruction to property.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe (play and have fun too)

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Some of the best Aikido I’ve learned was from guys who “hate” Aikido

Wow! what a crazy couple of weeks.  I just get done with the Violence Dynamics Seminar, and then I have a few days to get caught up with work, then bam! Off for 6 days at the Regional Training Center in Sioux City Iowa.  I had the opportunity to attend the only low light precision rifle school in America.  It was tough training but well worth it.  More on that in the future, I’m still trying to process all the information form the Seminar.  Which leads me to today’s blog

Some of the best Aikido I’ve learned was from guys who “hate” Aikido

Let me start this blog by stating I am very fortunate to have the Aikido Sensei (I looked it up to be sure but Sensei is the plural of Sensei) that I have had.  Tom Moore and Gaku Homma from Nippon Kan.  Alvin McClure and Amos Parker from Yoshinkan.  All excellent teachers who helped lay the foundation of how I move / what I teach.  Moore Sensei, and McClure Sensei also gave me the freedom to explore how things work for me and encouraged me to seek my own path which has turned out to be even more valuable than the technical back ground.

Morihei Ueshiba (The founder of Aikido) said do not abandon the warrior arts of the past. Absorb venerable traditions of the old ways into this Art by clothing them with fresh garments, and building on the classic styles to create better forms.

Having said that the theme of this blog is - Some of the best Aikido I’ve learned was from guys who “hate” Aikido.
OK maybe hate is a strong term.  The guys I’m talking about all have a solid respect for the bones of Aikido but hate the way Aikido is all too often taught (who can blame them I hate the way most Aikido is taught too)

So let’s go back to the beginning of Aikido

Most everyone remembers Ueshiba like this

But they forget first he was this

Ueshiba was badass  - like a mustache with titties.

Ueshiba grew up as a sickly little book worm.  His father would recount the tales his great-grandfather "Kichiemon," said to be one of the strongest samurai of his day, and encouraged him to study Sumo wrestling and swimming.

Hmmmm, a nerd who wrestled and was inspired by stories of heroes.

Morihei realized the necessity of being strong after his father was attacked and beaten by a gang of thugs hired by a rival politician.  Ueshiba become so strong he was banned from local rice smashing events because he would destroy the huge wooden hammers used to smash rice into a flat paste / bread (think of a Japanese version of a tortilla)
In 1898 Ueshiba moved to Tokyo.  There he sought instruction in the martial arts. He actively investigated dozens of arts, but was eventually drawn to specialize in three: the sword style known as Yagyu Shinkage Ryu, the staff style known as Hozoin Ryu, and Tenjin Shinyo jujutsu.

He witnessed criminals beat the hell out of his dad so he got strong and started studying martial arts.  Kind of like Batman

During the Russo-Japanese War, he decided to enlist in the army. Standing at just under five feet tall, he failed to meet the minimum height requirements. He was so upset that he went immediately to the forests and swung on trees trying desperately to stretch his body out. On his next attempt to enlist, he passed his examination and became an infantryman in 1903.

He wanted to serve his country in time of war but couldn’t pass the physical so he undergoes a special regiment to pass the test.  Kind of like Captain America
The Russo-Japanese War (1904) provided Ueshiba with a real operational experience. Ueshiba spent most of the war years in the harsh climate of northern Manchuria.
            Having grown experienced and even stronger during his time in the military, he was now eager to continue physical training. His father built a dojo on his farm and invited the well-known Jujutsu instructor Takaki Kiyoichi to tutor him.
            In the spring of 1912, at the age of 29, he and his family moved into the wilderness of Hokkaido. After a few years of struggle, the small village started to prosper. Ueshiba had grown tremendously muscular, to the point that the power he possessed in his arms became almost legendary.
        It was during this time in Hokkaido that he met Sokaku Takeda, grandmaster of Daito-ryu Aiki Jutsu. After meeting Takeda and finding himself no match for his teacher, Ueshiba seemed to forget everything else and threw himself into training.

A muscular, experienced martial artist and operator found a smaller instructor that could effortlessly kick his ass.  Kind of like me
During his early 40s (around 1925), Ueshiba (who was a very religious man) had several spiritual experiences which so impressed him that his life and his training were forever changed. He realized the true purpose of Budo was love that cherishes and nourishes all beings. 

Here is where some of the things I hate about Aikido start to creep in.  Where the focus changed from practical field proven martial art to philosophy.  Rory likes to say Ueshiba is a good example of what happens when a good Jujutsu guy finds religion

But here is the thing, even the philosophical and the almost magical aspects of Aikido have practical operational applications if you cut the bullshit.

So, what is some of the best Aikido I’ve learned and who do it learn it from?
First, remember all of the things I’m about to discuss are in Aikido
"Almost every technique in the Martial Arts works, if you know when and where to use it."  - Rory Miller

However, I’ve found when you get away from the dogma of Aikido you can finally see the really good stuff Aikido has to offer

If you boil down Aikido to its base parts it basically consists of

Tai Sabaki – Movement - don’t get hit
Atemi – Hit them
Kansetsu Waza – Locks
Nage Waza – Throws
Osae Komi Waza – Pins

From Steve Jimerfield I’ve learned
Practical gross motor applications
            If you can’t do a technique with broken fingers, numb / frozen hands, or great big mittens on – then you can’t do that technique on the street.

Not getting hit (behind the shoulder)
            Jimerfield spends a lot of time on the practical application of Tai Sabaki.  Not only getting off line, bet getting to a position of control

Osae Komi that works
            I could write an entire blog on this alone.  As you may have noticed I’m passionate about practical application.  As such I require that my students prove their techniques work during testing.  For Osae Komi waza you can chose which pins you want to do but you have to be able to hold a fully resisting opponent down for a full 20 seconds.  Just like a Judo match.  I noticed of all the Aikido Osae Komi only a few met this requirement.  Jimerfield Sensei is also passionate about this.  Pin the head and the snake stops fighting.  The thigh lock fully controls the subject and allows you to do what ever follow up action is necessary to end the confrontation (see also makes all Aikido Osae Komi field applicable)

From Rory Miller I’ve learned
Response tree Not getting hit (behind the shoulder)
            Further refinement of Jimerfield’s not only getting off line, bet getting to a position of control.  If you have a different block / evasion for every possible attack you’ll never be fast enough to decide which one to use in the time between when you perceive the attack and the attack lands.  If you have one response that works well for pretty much any attack, that improves your position (not only getting off line, bet getting to a position of control), worsens their position, protects you from damage, and allows you to deliver force into them – then you are caught up with or ahead of the attacker and have a fighting chance.
            Along those same lines you can spend years memorizing every joint lock in Aikido, or you can spend a few hours learning how a joint lock works and be able to improvise every joint lock in Aikido against a resisting attacker.

  • Hinge
  • Ball & Socket
  • Floating

  • Bend it against how it was designed to bend

Ball & Socket
  • Take to 90’ angle

  • Twist
  • Bend
  • Twist and bend
  • Bend and twist

Ok Aikido guys I challenge you to find a lock that doesn’t fit into one or more of those categories

From Marc MacYoung I’ve learned how to hit.  How to use structure - bone and ligament alignment to deliver force.  For a non – aikido guy I recognized more Aikido in his motions than in most Aikido Shihan.

Just like joint locks you can spend years learning every throw in Judo or you can learn how any throw works and be able to improvise every throw in Judo or Aikido against a resisting attacker.

How a throw works
You can make distinctions between throws and take downs, involuntary throws and voluntary throws, but basically you:
  • Use skeletal structure to create a catapult or trebuchet which launches him
  • Take his support away (like cutting a leg from a table)
  • Blow his balance and don’t allow him to regain it
  • Slave him to your body
    • He has to fall so things don’t snap
    • He has to fall because you are falling

Ok Jujutsu – Judo - Aikido guys I challenge you to find a throw or takedown that doesn’t fit into one or more of those categories

Some of the more esoteric aspects of Aikido are :
  • Ki no Nagare - Continuous flow
  • Takemasu Aiki - Spontanious technique
  • Ki – Internal Energy
  • Philosophy

The field applicable version of Ki no Nagare breaks down to
  • Don’t break the power chain
            Ride the horse the direction it wants to go.  Meaning once you get a guy moving don’t let him stop or regain his balance.  Keeping him going the way he is going until he meets something really cool like the planet or wall. 

  • Flow from one lock to another.
            If the first aspect of Ki no Nagare fails, the very aspect of that failure hands you success in the second aspect.  What ever effort is used to break your lock or throw hands you energy to use in another direction.  Don’t fight flow, then transition back to keeping him going in the new way he is going until he meets something really cool like the planet or wall. 

Takemasu Aiki
            Spontanious technique – this is regarded as mastery or the highest level of Aiki.  You don’t attempt a technique, a technique just happens.  Rory’s one step drill is practical training in search of spontaneous or improvised technique.  Hunting for specific locks or throws is hard.  Taking whatever gifts are presented naturally is easy.  The hardest part of one step training for me was to stop being a martial artist and just be me.  I am working on how to get that out of myself and my students faster and more easily.  (I believe the answer is in more play and less Sensei)

            Internal energy – My favorite part of the seminar was subtle power generation and structure.  Lise throwing Chad, and especially Marc throwing me has become the throw heard around the world

How many stories have you heard about old small Ueshiba tossing some US Marine, or Judo Champion across the room effortlessly?

Feeling is believing.  Its not magic, F=ma.  I am having fun playing with the math.  If Marc can produce that much force with his small amount of mass….and if by following the same principles I can generate the same acceleration…. how much more force can I generate with my greater mass?  A big guy who can fight like a good little dude is a force of nature.  Hell Yeah!

The philosophy of Aikido is basically that the real purpose of martial training is to nurture and protect all living things.
Cool, but sadly bad understanding of this philosophy has lead to some very bad wishy washy tree hugging granola eating bullshit with which Aikido is now most commonly associated with.

I agree that martial training is to nurture and protect all living things.  My ass is on the top of the list of living things that I need to nurture and protect.  If I can do that with out turning someone into a cripple or a corpse great.  If not, tough shit.  Now don’t take this to mean you should go out looking to hurt others.  Instead lets look at some good field applications of this philosophy.

Marc often says the trip to good behavior is always free.  If I just crank on a guy, I am sending him signals that I’m going to keep hurting him no matter what he does.  So he better fight because if he doesn’t I might kill him. 
On the other hand once I’ve gained control, if he goes with the program, that’s it, no more juice.  He will receive the message fighting equals pain, submission equals relief.  Protecting myself from further conflict also protected and nurtured the guy I was controlling.  That can only work if you are capable and willing to inflict pain / damage and controlled enough to stop. 

So, in conclusion if there any Aikidoka reading this that have serious concerns about the validity of their training against actual violence the answer is yes it can work.  But, I suggest you seek out the people I mentioned.  They will show you how to use what you already know in a whole new way

I think that is the longest I have gone with out a pop culture reference.  So, remember at the end of the last blog when I compared Marc and Rory to martial arts movie characters?  Well, I thought about it some more and came up with this Anime reference

If you follow Naruto, you’ll get it.  If you don’t it will take too long to explain so just enjoy




Train hard, Train smart, Be safe

Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Violence Dynamics Seminar Review

Sunday – Buki Waza / Weapons techniques
This class of the seminar started for selfish reasons.  Many times over the last year I would have a good class or a personal epiphany expressing close quarters control concepts through the sword.  I would discuss it with Marc or Rory and they would say something like that’s cool, try this.  Or I wish I could work this with you.  So I decided that when they came back to town I would set aside an entire day to do just that.  For less selfish reasons, I decided this should be the first class in the seminar because it will touch on fundamental principles that will be discussed in detail throughout the seminar.

Because the Violence Dynamics Seminar is principle based it can be applied to any martial art or defensive tactics system. 

In order to facilitate this cross training and to prepare for physical activity our warm up is going to focus on basic motion.

There are only so many ways a human body can move.  This should help form a reference frame work to help you relate the principles to your previous training. 

Learning Goal:
Using a sword exposes losses in the power chain that may not be apparent without a sword.  Therefore the learning goal of this clinic is to gain deeper understanding of martial art principles by expressing solid fundamentals through the use of the sword

Specific Training Objectives:
Students will demonstrate working knowledge of:
·         Reactionary Gap
·         Structure
·         Movement
·         Power Generation
·         Natural Human Stress Reactions
·         OODA Loop
·         Counter Ambush
·         Operant Conditioning (Response Tree)
·         Dead man’s 8
·         Golden Technique
·         Efficient Motion (Over in Three)

It was cool to see Marc and Rory use European sword techniques too

Monday – Conflict Communications
Things you have always known/ perceived your whole life but struggled to put into words or describe to others.  Con Com established a base line common language / lexicon of violence.  Understanding behavior patterns in yourself helps you, avoid violence from others and articulate why you had to act if violence can’t be avoided.  Great for those who get paid to be where others can avoid violence

Charlie's Angels

Tuesday – Force Physics / Martial mechanics
The best way I can sum up this day is that it is not about adding more power, it is about removing every thing that robs you of power

Here are some of my favorite lessons from Tuesday’s class
Offense does NOT mean pain
            Destroy his ‘supply lines’
            Remove what he needs to attack or resist

You are NOT adrenaline’s punk
            Walking and chewing gum at the same time
            Functioning under adrenal stress

Muscle memory is a lie
How long to ingrain a reaction?
How long to ingrain proper mechanics?
Then to reliably do it under adrenaline

The same dynamics, but instead of 1,2,3
it’s 1,2,3,4,5,6
The more you add, the harder it is

(My ideas on this for training military and possibly children will be a future blog)

Turning hard into soft
            Putting ‘english’ onto the cueball so he falls softly
            Lands in a cuffing position

Buffet of pain

The return trip to good behavior is ALWAYS free
            Pain and injury only occur while he is attacking
            Never while he is complying

Wednesday and Thursday were spent on defensive tactics
Rory gave a great break down on use of force law and policy.  The training was principle based not technique specific.  The focus of the drills was to train officers to find opportunities refining better individual officers.  Increasing the ability to improvise under combat stress

Instead of teaching a specific joint lock take down, show how a joint (hinge, socket, floating) can be locked(only so many ways each) then drill taking any joint lock you are gifted

Friday’s day class was limited to a very few operators only.  I won’t discuss much about this class.  I will say that the information disseminated in this class can only be gained at great personal risk through up close human interpersonal violence.   That kind of information comes with a price.  I am very grateful that Marc is willing to deal with subject matter that brings back hard memories so that current operators can benefit from his hard earned 1st hand information.

Friday’s evening class was edged weapons defense.  During the week we developed a habit of debriefing the day over scotch and cigars.  During Friday night’s debrief Rory summed up this class best.  “This is one of handful of knife defense classes that isn’t stupid or suicidal”.   High praise from Rory, especially when you consider how many people out there are teaching knife defense classes that fit soundly in the other category.

Saturday - Logic of violence
In a week full of fantastic classes, this is probably my favorite class.  Rory is onto something very important here and I see big things for him in the future.  Having said that I don’t want to steal any of his thunder here.  At the same time I want to encourage everyone reading this to seek out this training.  So, I’ll let slip a little sneak peek (I checked with Rory to make sure it was cool with him first)

Logic of violence asks the questions (Socratic) the participants come up with their own answers.  Batman said, “Criminals are a cowardly, superstitious lot.”  Criminals are human just like the rest of us.  When you come up with your own answers to questions criminals face you begin to see the logic behind their actions.  Cowardly and superstitious is just the best way to get the job done.  Seeing the logic makes them much more predicable and shows you where you are at risk.

An example I witnessed on Saturday
Who is your nightmare opponent?
 - Bigger
OK, How much bigger ?
– 3 weight classes up

UFC weight classes:
  • Heavyweight               - Over 205 lbs. to 265 lbs.
  • Light Heavyweight      - Over 185 lbs. to 205 lbs.
  • Middleweight               - Over 170 lbs. to 185 lbs.
  • Welterweight               - Over 155 lbs. to 170 lbs.
  • Lightweight                 - Over 145 lbs. to 155 lbs.

So 60 to1 00 pounds heavier
 - Stronger
OK, How much stronger?

 - Meaner – disregards the rules, wants to hurt you

Fighting this guy would suck!
Now let’s give him the 1st attack by surprise from behind. (cowardly and superstitious)

Do you have anything that can handle this nightmare?
This nightmare is what women face every minute of every day

If you don’t have anything that can beat that nightmare opponent, what are you teaching as women’s self defense?

My thoughts were
If pulling guard and trying for some half assed submission wouldn’t work against a guy 100 lbs heavier, 50% stronger and actively doing everything he can to injure you how the hell are you going to teach pulling guard as a rape defense?
Sunday – subtle power generation and environmental fighting
This class was my favorite physical class.  It is very hard to put into words and has to be experienced hands on.  Another reason there aren’t many scrolls / books passed down through the years.  The good stuff has to be passed down hands on teacher to student.  Your body is capable of generating huge amounts of force naturally.
Without any special training everyone has 1000’s of reps of:
  • Walking
  • Sneezing
  • Puking

This training shows you how to deliver that naturally generated force into an opponent.

It just science, when I say force I don’t mean like power of the force touchy feely metaphysical bullshit.  But watching it, it looks like “chi magic” out of an anime flick


Those of you have read my blog for any amount of time or rolled with me know I’m a pop culture guy.  Rory said he could never watch enough TV to understand what I’m talking about, but he was raised by coyotesJ.  It’s just easier for me to remember something if I relate it to a visual image.  Make connections to previous information.  Having said that the best way I can summarize the week and the instructors is to make connections to pop culture archetypes in martial arts movies.

Everyone has seen a kung fu movie where the teacher doesn’t look like much (not physically intimidating) and he has the student doing some mundane task that seems in no way related to martial arts.  Inevitably the young impatient student gets pissed at learning “nothing”.   Then the master shows him how that “nothing” applies to martial art, and the student crushes a  concrete table, or……throws someone twice their size through a wall

Learning from Marc was kind of like that kung fu master character.   Marc gives different things easy-to-remember names (sneezing/puking/wag your dick at him) so people can remember and apply them naturally.  What hand work or what you apply the motion for is entirely up to you.  Making you a better you not a poor copy of him 

Rory is very good at asking you smart questions.  He reminded me of the archetypical Zen master asking Koans.  Anyone can spit out easy answers.  Good teachers get you to find the answers on your own.

Here is an example, cops (anyone who uses force professionally) not seeking out training on their own is a pet peeve of mine.  I asked why don’t more cops train. 
Rory asked me when I started training. 
I replied 18. 
Rory said, so you started in that magic sweet spot between 16-18 after you discovered girls but before you had a chance with them and have been training ever since. 
Your addictive personality is asking why non addicts aren’t addicted?

Oh, when you put it like that it makes perfect sense.
So out of that two strategies formed for me.  1 advertise to the 16-18 year old demographic.  2 offer class times that work for overnight shift workers (more on this in future blogs)

What I took from the seminar
  • Buffet of pain
  •             If I have to put my hands on some one every motion I do should direct force into them until the situation is resolved (the trip to good behavior is always free). 
  •             Example - A    grab is wasted motion.  a strike that holds on is buffet of pain.  Getting close with me should like getting close with a buzz saw. 
  •             Short range power       generation + mass = holy        shit!

  • Train others to be masters of improve

  • Play more Sensei less
  •             I don’t need to watch to make sure they are doing the technique right.  I need to play with them, force them to make it work on me.  What ever they do to make it work on me is right. 

  • Spend more time playing with principles

  • Allow students to find the principles in the techniques for themselves.  That way the own it from that moment on

Great seminar!, everyone reading this really needs to find away to train with these guys.  Hopefully in Minnesota next year so I can play too.

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe