Dynamic Combative Movement Infinite Possibilities Part III
May 28, 2020
“Ever since I was a child I have had this instinctive urge for expansion and growth. To me, the function and duty of a quality human being is the sincere and honest development of one's potential.”
― Bruce Lee
Expansion and growth...
It's what we all want in our martial development but in order to get there, we have to develop the right mindset in our training to focus both our minds and our bodies on the right things. Not only in how we approach training but how we perceive what is going on when we interact with another person but also how we perceive ourselves. In my last blog post, I discussed ways to develop more control over your body to create greater Dynamic Coordination.
“To be a warrior is to learn to be genuine in every moment of your life.”
– Chogyam Trungpa
However, I would be remiss if I didn’t delve into how our mindset has tremendous influence over the development of our bodies and how our attitudes and perceptions shape our training. Not just what we do or how to react in a given moment but what our bodies can do based on how we have trained them. The movements, the adjustments, the subtle muscle control, the micro-movements, and fine motor coordination, the adumbrations. All of that!
I’m going to cover this from a more philosophical aspect and then in the next part of this get into some other stuff regarding how to further incorporate this into your training. I’ve broken this up this way because I didn’t want it to be too long. Now, I’ve discussed this type of thing before in past blog posts so some of this will seem repetitive but the intent here is to tie it more to how to get the most bang for your buck out of your training. So, in my last blog post, I discussed how our preconceived notions of the world we live in, plugs us into sort of a Matrix of our own creation these self-limiting boxes not based on fact but how we choose to view things. And how we perceive things can influence the mindset we train with. I’m going to hit on this theme a little more to tie some things together to shift how you think about how you actually move as you are practicing and to focus on the mindset you have at that moment.
In this blog post, I want to focus on our perceptions and our self-talk and how we use our Perceptual Awareness to drive our actions and why it is important to develop your body's Dynamic Coordination so that your body can take action or respond to an event and even shape events before things become a problem for you.
Perceptual Awareness – in Warrior Flow this is the ability to use your body’s natural senses (sight, touch, even sound) as well as the ability to intuit with your body and see with your mind (i.e., see the Future, play where the puck is going to be) in order to take action soon enough to use it to your advantage. But this is not just limited to how you see things but how it also translates into action within your body. By developing the proper perceptions of what is going on, in reality, you can train yourself to not only understand the nature of things but distinguish the difference between irrational fears you may harbor and danger. One is all bullshit and self-created the other is real and must be respected.
Just as an aside I truly believe and I've mentioned this before what reinforces a lot of fear in people is simply not knowing in the body what to do and feeling trapped as if there are no other alternatives to a given situation. My attitude is "that" is the whole point of training to learn how to recognize things for what they are before they become a problem so that you can have the time to do something whatever that is. True some things are difficult and may even seem insurmountable, however, I reject the notion that if you have the time to respond there is nothing you can do in the vast majority of situations. More importantly, I reject training people to think that way. This doesn't mean that you should blow sunshine and lollypops up their ass, but if you're going to tell someone why something can't be done or that you're screwed in certain situations then you at least need to tell them why. For my money, anyone who tells you something can't be done and cannot tell you why you need to look elsewhere for answers.
If they don't know why or can't explain why then how do they know?
More importantly, what makes you think anything else they say is legit?
If they can't tell you why something doesn't work then how do they know what works?
I only bring it up because I see this sort of thing on Facebook and YouTube all the time. People offering advice or criticizing someone's technique without ever offering a reason why or offering a better alternative. I don't care who they are if they can't answer the questions after opining on something. You need to run from them if you have to and resist the temptation of joining in or their poo-poo party. Lest you be possessed by the demons of groupthink. There's too much of this circle jerk shit in the martial arts.
Musashi Was Right and Why You Must Move and Strike To Kill
“Warriors train, everyone else works out.”
– Lahong Guro Earles
I'm just going to say upfront, I don't work out, I train, and for the most part, everything I do in training has a purpose, a focus, a sense of clarity to achieve an effect. Nothing I do is random. When I train people everything I do has a purpose even when I'm talking shit while drinking coffee while their body sufferers. Hey, learning is pain... I'm still doing something and there is a method to the madness. I crush their bodies and minds in training so they can crush people who need to be crushed should their moment of truth arrive. Makes sense to me.
It may not reach fruition now, maybe in some cases for years but I'm always training towards a goal, an objective. As I have told many students over the years who have come to me for training where they have revealed to me they had some form of limited mobility,
"Well...I guess you just have to learn to kill everybody in the room".
What are they going to do?
Where are they going to go?
At that point, they're in it so what the fuck?
You've got to fight!
If you're scared? Fight!
If you're angry? Fight!
If you're happy? Fight!
No matter the circumstances... fight!
It's really that simple.
If they can't run (which I only recommend as a last option or if it is some form of a tactical retreat. Sorry, but people don't come to me to learn to run. More often than not they come to me because at least in spirit they're tired of running. Besides, they don't need me to tell them that they could have figured that out on their own), and they have to fight for their lives doing nothing is really not an option. So the goal is to take as many people with them to the afterlife and die a warrior's death because the alternative is much worse. In other words, people need to understand that if they're going to fear something then fear the idea of doing nothing or what the alternative to doing nothing could be.
Fear the idea of letting your fear control you in a way where you fail to take action when necessary and what those consequences would be. Instead of fearing what it means to fight back or getting injured or killed, you need to develop a greater fear of what it means if you lose the battle. If you lose because you didn't fight back? My friend, I have bad news for you because whatever might happen, whatever you feared was going to happen? Oh... it's going to happen. My point is whatever the odds, no matter how marginal the gain, you can only improve them if you're prepared to take action and take action if required, but if you do nothing when required you guarantee that you've dealt yourself a losing hand.
As I’ve stated in previous blog posts, how you think influences how you move but there’s a little more to it than that. You see how you perceive the world and the context in which you perceive or are experiencing something influences your actions in your training. It is for this reason that when you train it is not enough to say practice how to punch or kick, but you must also be specific in your training.
Say you’re a basketball player, and let’s say you’re really good at dunking and making layups. While that’s all well as good if you want to become good at shooting free throws or three-pointers then you have to practice doing it. So even though they are a part of basketball and use the same ball shooting at the same baskets. The neural pathways needed to shoot free throws or whatever have their own dynamic. The same is true for combat.
“Do not regret a mistake in training. A mistake that is understood and can be corrected is worth more than any effortless perfection.”
– Tagaturo Klement
Since everything has its own dynamic so as you develop through these concepts and refining your movement as you train. You need to focus your training on taking out the bad guys so you are able to as close as possible, develop the skills to kill them. Like I’ve said in the past you can always back off from this proposition if you desire but you need to train with this in mind to get your body to respond in the manner you want. How you think of it in context will shape the movement and how you think of it.
Watch Your Self-Talk
Okay, here’s where I start getting all existential on folks. This is the kind of thing in the martial arts that I personally feel is sorely lacking when people train. I will state right now that one of the main reasons many people in the combative arts never achieve their martial goals is because of their own negative poor self-talk.
“Life should not be a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well-preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside in a cloud of smoke, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and loudly proclaiming "Wow! What a Ride!”
- Hunter S. Thompson
I don't care what they say deep down they know who they are and who they are not. This form of negative hypnosis is the bane of their existence, robs them of energy and life. One thing people need to understand and one of the reasons I approach things from the mindset of a "Viking Warrior" is that we must always, always, “always” be mindful of our "self-talk" because in our subconscious. The place where our beliefs, our true decisions, and judgment reside is always, always listening and eavesdropping on our conversations as well as our actions.
As Heraclitus, I believe once said,
"Day by day, what you choose, what you think, and what you do is who you become."
I’m going to spend considerable time on this issue of self-talk because it is that important. Now, anyone who’s played sports is actually familiar with this because this is what you do when you psych yourself up before a game or a match. That inner dialog that you go through, to build yourself up, getting your mind right. This is something that when I work with folks as they work on developing their abilities to gain greater control over their bodies I continually try to emphasize. This understanding that this is a process of continuous work as you whittle away that with is of no use whether in your movement or how you perceive what is really going on in your surroundings. So that day by day you eventually become that thing that you’ve been training yourself to become in your martial development.
“As you think, so shall you become.”
― Bruce Lee
I remember one of my Masters used to always say things along these lines,
“If you believe you can do it then you’ll do it but if you don’t believe you can do it you won’t.”
This is the importance of why you must get your mind right and continue to build on it before you train, as your train and afterward, because over time how you think and talk to yourself eventually becomes a belief in your ability because it provides meaning to the information you have coming in through your senses when you train and thus becomes who you are.
“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right.”
- Henry Ford
I see it all of the time how people have convinced themselves of a lie through their subconscious fears and poor self-talk and as a result, they have become the people they are today. Sad but true... Even worse they pass on this bad karma totally unaware of this way of thinking which, if they are martial arts instructors. Influences not only how they teach and act but how their students think and act as a result. This is nothing more than the poison fruit from the sickly tree.
“We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.”
This poor self-talk also prevents you from framing things in the proper context in order for the people you teach or yourself in your training to have a basis to understand things properly. When I talk about framing things I’m talking about presenting information in a manner where the goals, intent, or outcomes are clearly defined and the training therefore relevant to what you want to accomplish. This is why context is crucial to our understanding of things because it is the "why" you do what you do the way you do it when you do it. This is something in the martial arts that is beyond most people because they aren't training to fight as if their lives depend on it or that of others.
“Make every move count. Pick your target and hit it. Perfect concentration means effortless flowing.”
– Masirib Jeff Elliott
As I’ve said in the past I can remember Grandmaster Carron admonishing me for not trying to hit him as if I were moving for real and he provided me with an insight that I’ve shared before but it bears repeating. And that is when you move to hit as if you mean it your body literally moves differently than when you just move for the sake of moving. So even in training even when you are moving at a certain speed you should still move to strike as if you mean to cut people in half. In doing so I also learned that should they counter what you are doing you get to see and learn how they also countered your efforts. This would now that I look back became the beginning of my understanding of what I learned from Grandmaster Perkins regarding inverse relationships. As I’ve said to folks I train when I hit them with just a little authority I ask them,
“You know why it feels like that? Because I mean that shit!”
Meaning that shit as I like to call it is everything you don’t have to injure people they just need to feel it enough to appreciate and respect it so they learn to recognize it soon enough to do something about it.
I’m not going to get into how deception plays in this here, just understand that if you never practice moving with killer intent. You never develop your body to move with the necessary ruthlessness needed. Please re-read what I just said there because I’m serious about that. If you are not thinking along those lines you can never get there. It is just that simple.
“The basic difference between an ordinary man and a warrior is that a warrior takes everything as a challenge while an ordinary man takes everything as a blessing or a curse.”
– Carlos Castaneda
In the work, I do with other folks outside of just teaching people how to punch people in the throat. We've proven that if you don't marry up the physical experience framed in the proper context people never get to where they want to be. This is the reason why a lot of martial training when it comes down to real combat doesn’t work. It’s because they're trying to resolve something that is influenced every bit as much as what’s going on between our ears as well as what we do in the body and they never married up the two. The spirit may be willing but you still need the flesh, but the flesh is where we express the focus of our will.
“I know what I’m capable of; I am a soldier now, a warrior. I am someone to fear, not hunt.”
― Pittacus Lore
This is why managing the self-talk is paramount because what you say aloud and to yourself as well as the meaning you attach to it creates a response that resides in your body into the essence and every fiber of your being. Whether it is a positive or negative comment it has a self-reinforcing effect. The idea that what you say and how you say it is as old as man. Even the Bible cautions us on what we expose our minds to as well as what we say to and about ourselves.
For those who’ve served in the military or even those who’ve played contact sports on a team. This is why warrior talk and talking shit amongst warriors is an essential part of the warrior culture. This is how we reinforce and prop ourselves up to learn to face danger with honor and manage our fears. This is how we self-organize to develop the fucking "will", the moral certainty, and perfect clarity to face danger and wage righteous battle. This is also how we learn to recognize things and develop tactics and strategies to overcome danger and win the day.
I believe much of the reason why folks get that deer in the headlights look on their face when faced with danger is that they haven't set it in their mind beforehand and trained to face danger in their training. So when presented with a choice they can't decide what to do. Let’s just say and I know there are going to be folks who will disagree with this because of the concept of free will. That more often than not the choices you and I make are not necessarily conscious choices but choices we've already made in the body at the subconscious competence level.
If you’re a fan of the HBO series Westworld, then you’ll recall that at the end of Season 2, we find out that the humans are trying to find a way to extend their lives by creating robot avatars in which to download their consciousness into but realize that downloading human consciousness is a little tougher than they thought. So in the process of trying to identify the problem, they create a computer to run simulations with figure out how to resolve the issue. During some dialog, the computer explains that humans when you get right down to it think of themselves as having free will in their decisions but, “…are nothing more than 10,247 lines of code”. The computer also goes on to say that because of this coding no matter what we do we always seem to make the same kind of choices and always end up in the same place at the end.
Now, because it needs to be said, this is pure fiction and there is no scientific basis to the 10,000 lines of code nonsense. I had to say that because there are literally raging arguments on the Westworld Reddit forums about this. Personally I think these folks need to get out more. The truth is humans are far more complex and complicated but there is a point to this and that is when we train as my Master once brilliantly once stated,
“Each time you train you’re training yourself as if you’re writing the code. So that when the time comes to react all you have to do is push the button and execute the code because you’ve already programmed it in”.
Again, the choices you and I make especially for combat are not necessarily conscious decisions but choices we've already made in the body at the subconscious competence level. So however we trained them the good the bad the ugly, they're there. So like my Westworld analogy, whatever it is you do poorly until you change the original coding you're going to continue to make the same kind of choices and arrive at the same place every single time. Thus the importance of proper training. This is why no matter what we say about why we did whatever the Hell it is we do. Our description of it after the fact is nothing more than a rationalization of the decision(s) that we've already made. Through rational proper training and proper self-talk, you are able to program in a new thought pattern and a new set of behaviors (change the coding) and can and will allow you to develop your warrior skills but more importantly overcome a lot of fear or at least the irrational kind. If this were not true then how do we ever improve at anything? But it is my belief that it takes focus and conscious effort until it becomes a purposeful habit to do this.
“A warrior accepts the challenges of life in true humility. No matter what his destiny may be, it can never be a cause for discontent, but a living challenge which it is his privilege to surmount.”
― Théun Mares
In Citizenship in a Republic, the title of the speech given by former President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt, in Paris, France on April 23, 1910, The passage everyone quotes because of its profoundness, is found on page seven of the speech is referred to as "The Man in the Arena".
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."
This passage in his speech really sums up much of what I'm discussing here and the impact this type of mindset can have on your training. I once heard a joke on the awesome Facebook group page, FIGHT SCIENCE and the joke goes sort of like this,
How many martial artists does it take to change a light bulb?
Answer: 100. One to change the bulb and 99 to criticize his technique.
Everyone’s a critic but the only one that counts is the man in the arena, the man who steps up, the man willing to put it all on the line. When you train you must never forget that you are the man in the ring, striving for a goal and that is victory in combat. If you do not think this way in your train when developing your body, you will never get there. Some folks due to their poor self-talk can never ever see themselves standing in the winner’s circle. This is why if you are to exorcise the demons of self-doubt, irrational fear, and abject fear of death it has to constantly be reinforced in training and through your self-talk.
Anyway, as I repeat myself, it's simple if you train to do it and you have the physical capability to do it and it's within the laws of physics and human physiology then it can be done. The point is you're either trained or you're not. So train right and work the skills you desire to crush the fucking bad guys after all they're human as well.
But in order to get to this place you have to have that road to Damascus moment where when you train you also do the type of introspective work necessary to develop the proper mindset to have a true breakthrough where the scales truly fall from your eyes. Here's the deal, when you properly train both mind and body for ultimate battle proficiency it fosters the ability to stand in that space between courage and fear known as confidence. Proficiency fosters competence, which fosters the ability to stand in that space between courage and fear known as confidence.
“Cowards hide […] but warriors lie and wait […] the only difference is whether you’re motivated by fear or purpose.”
― Neal Shusterman
Well, that’s if for this post I’ll get into a method of how to incorporate this into your training in my next post.
P.S. for those who want to learn more about how to develop this type of movement.
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