Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Push Forward - Pull Back

I haven't posted a blog in awhile.
I realize that far too many of my blogs start that way.

"Team Handsome"

Sometimes, after some experiences,  so many thoughts are bouncing in my head that although writing them down may be useful to me, it is not enjoyable for the reader.

So the blog has been delayed primarily because I have been blessed by being crazy busy traveling the country doing things I love with very cool people.  Also I've been {phrase totally stolen from Tammy Yard - McCracken} allowing a pregnant pause.  Letting the subconscious process the ideas for awhile into something of use to others

In June I was in the Washington DC area for Violence Dynamics.
In July I was in St. Louis for the World Wide Martial Arts Association National Training Camp.

Two fantastic experiences.

In the past I have gone in depth into after action debriefs of large events like this.  No longer.  Instead I prefer to discuss one or two concepts or principles from that type of training.

And show pictures of the fun I had learning these things to encourage people to attend the next training opportunity.

Some things I want to focus on

  • Push forward pull back
  • What remains
  • The best victory

Push forward pull back

One of the basic tenets of Judo is when pushed pull, when pulled push.

At the last after class debrief from Violence Dynamics DC 2017 Some Unnamed Schmoe commented that his favorite thing from the seminar was the push froward and pull back of all the classes.  In the end it appeared that everything had been scripted down to the minute  The final people watching exercise was a culmination of all the academic classes and a way to play using that information as opposed to classroom setting.  The environmental fighting exercise incorporating all of the physical skills we had been working on that week.  Every class pushed forward, setting the stage for future classes, and also pulled back showing how the material we are working on now is related to previous classes.

This is very hard to do.
In fact it is impossible.

The truth is, this came about organically because the Instructors are familiar with the entire program, know their stuff well enough to be able to adapt to the circumstances, and one more vital and rare commodity.

It is very easy in situations like this for an Instructor to feel insecure.  Sadly in many of those cases they may try to make them self shine a little brighter by diminishing the others.

So instead of using the time to help the students and work the topic assigned you get something like...

"Well, he does it like this and that is OK, but this is how I do it better"

The very special thing that was accomplished at Violence Dynamics DC 2017 was the opposite.

There was no insecurity.  Or at least it never manifested negatively.  Everyone wanted to present the best possible product.  In doing that each Instructor lifted the other...

"Remember how she did that?  This is how we apply those same biomechanics to what we are dealing with in this class"

The whole becoming greater than the sum of its parts.

That rare commodity is looking good by making others look better, and it is very cool to experience.

What remains

I have written it here many times  -
I like to make the analogy of a sculptor.  If you use the chisel of successful application to remove everything that does not work what is left regardless of it's original source material is going to look pretty similar.  Clearly there will be some variation do to different application and plain personal preference, but you will find similar forms to provide a specific necessary functions.

This was fun to see at the World Wide Martial Arts Association National Training Camp.

Another way to say it is there are many paths to the top of the mountain.  Once there the view is the same.

Because of this, the presentations I enjoyed the most at camp also had an organic push forward and pull back.  Some of it was on purpose.  I knew Randy was going to teach Dirty Boxing on the second day.  So I left hooks (ha, boxing pun - see what I did there) to his class in my class on the first day.{Push Forward} Which Randy referenced in his class.  {Pull Back}  However, for the most part this just happened.

What remains, what is proven to work, regardless of it's original source material is going to look pretty similar.  Acknowledging that, and playing at the cross over was a lot of fun.  It allowed Judo guys to play with Karate guys and strengthen the fundamentals of all.
That was very cool.  Especially in an environment where there are multiple martial arts and different training focuses on the same martial art.

I like to embrace what I call positive competitiveness. 

I want to be the best there is at what I do.  I  am constantly striving to be a better Instructor, a better presenter.

One of the ways I chase this goal is to surround myself with other Instructors that also want to be the best, and learn from them.  They push me to be better, never allow me to rest on my laurels, and if necessary call me on my bullshit.

Another way I pursue this goal is to critically watch every class, every presentation no matter the topic, to see what works, and what does not.  That way I can incorporate positive presentation aspects into my own material and avoid pitfalls.

Just as I have found that working with others, helping them to look good positively influences my presentation, making me look better than I actually am. (which I admit is pretty hard to do) 
I have also found that the quickest way to shut down a room, or to lose an audience completely is to do the opposite.

Any time an Instructor implies that what he or she does is the only to do something and if you don't do it that way not only are you wrong, but you are stupid too shuts down all learning.

There is really no recovery from that.  No matter how good your presentation is after that, the class can't learn because they are unwilling to listen to anything else you have to say.

Clearly I have a high opinion of what I do and what I teach.  You can't do this job with out a high level of confidence.  Therefore I have to watch myself for this closely.  Especially when discussing things I am passionate about.

Counter Assault for example

Counter Assault is an operational discipline.
As I've mentioned before, I define Operational Disciplines as skills people need to make their previous training and attributes viable for personal protection and professional use of force.
1: Legal and Ethical 
2: Violence Dynamics 
3: Avoidance (Conflict Strategy)
4: Counter Ambush 
5: The Freeze 
6: The Fight 
7: After 
These ideas are what we developed the entire Violence Dynamics Seminar around.
These classes are required for entry into and promotion within the Keishoukan Dojo
There is an entire book written about them:
“Facing Violence—Preparing for the Unexpected” Rory Miller

It is far too easy for me to start a presentation with...If you have self defense plastered on the window of your Dojo and don't teach these things you have failed your students.

Everyone listening that has a self defense program shifts train of thought to fuck this guy.  Who does he think he is?  I have a top notch (insert name of martial art) for self defense program.  I'm going to spend the rest of our time together reinforcing how I am right and therefore he must be wrong.

I have to watch myself closely to avoid that.  I have much more success with with an approach closer to this.

Any martial art, any combative system is viable.
Whatever physical activity you enjoy doing is great.
However, whatever it is that you do can be enhanced  with a firm understanding of these seven topics.  Especially if you are going to use that activity for self defense or teach that activity as self defense to others.

Everyone listening that has a self defense program shifts train of thought to... this guy likes what I do.  I like what I do too.  He must be pretty smart.  I'm going to spend the rest of our time together listening to what he has to say

In retrospect, like the meme above maybe I'm not competitive - I just really like winning.  As I get smarter I have come to realize that someone does not have to lose in order for me to win.

In summary the lessons I've learned during my summer adventures can be paraphrased as:
Push forward / Pull Back
What remains, is what is important
The best victory is when everyone wins

Before I go, one more really cool thing happened during my adventures.  Without getting into the politics of martial arts organizations.  Several of the men pictured above helped develop and spread Judo across America.  Some of them were instrumental in developing the testing process still used by major Judo organizations today.  When these gentlemen were made aware that Gary Rudenick Sensei had not been promoted in decades, and his contributions to Judo went unrecognized they wrote to these major Judo organizations and were ignored.

These men have all the same or greater requisite pedigrees and certifications as the boards of the other Judo organizations.  So they decided to take it upon themselves to promote Rudenick Sensei to Kudan (9th Black Belt)

A hard earned, well deserved and long over due recognition of a lifetime spent dedicated to an art.
The best victory is when everyone wins

Because I am critical of every presentation I encounter, I think it speaks volumes that I save vacation time every summer to assure I can attend this training camp.

If you would like to experience it first hand to understand what I have been writing about click HERE

Train hard. Train smart, Be safe