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Old 09-06-2011, 01:28 PM   #1
mathewjgano
 
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effectiveness: experience on learning

Reading another thread I was struck by the idea of acquiring "martial" effectiveness. This is my effort at sketching out the way I believe effectiveness is essentially developed. I don't think we can exactly train to be effective so much as train toward it, if that makes sense. I use my examples not because I think they make me particularly effective or that others could stand to benefit, but because my experiences are the only things I have to draw from. Please think of them as purely for the sake of conversation.
I consider "martial" effectiveness to be the product of a person's physical self-awareness (i.e. mind-body) and situational awareness. Of course effectiveness will also be dependant on relative abilities of the parties involved. At the current stage of my life I train with the idea of being able to handle the "average" person physically (which, somewhat ironically, means contending with him physically as little as possible). However, I rely on my situational awareness to keep myself and my family safe much more so than my physical awareness. So this is my paradigm. Of course it's mine in that I set the goals and generate the approach, but it's also an attempt at reflecting the objective reality around me...to some degree at least. It's important to respect the fact this doesn't ever reflect the whole of reality, any incongruent part of which I could conceivably stumble into. In this sense, I'm playing an odds game.
To whatever degree I would be physically effective would be based largely on what kind of physical practices I've had in my life. My current state of ability was informed by the one preceding it, which was itself informed by the one preceding it, and so on.
I grew up idolizing Hulk Hogan, Coco Beware, and JYD, so from age 8 to 12 or so, I "practiced" something that might be called acrobatic wrestling. This was where I first began to seriously think about how not to get hurt by all those kids around my age who were sometimes 20+ lbs. heavier than me. As the smallest I was the best "uke." This was valuable "training." I had to be mindful of my head during pile-drivers, and I learned something about the dangers of hyper-extention. We wrestled in the woods around where I grew up, so invariably I got pinned on tree roots and rocks: more valuable lessons.
I wrestled like this less and less the older I got, and while my friends have usually been physically inclined, I wouldn't say I got much physical practice of this nature again until I started training in Aikido (which I trained in seriously for about 2 or 3 years). This is where I really got the idea of how important it is to find people who are better than you. Also, not only better, but different. It was interesting to me to see how different people feel. Two sempai (who were both far more effective than me) would do some movements slightly different. This gave me a chance to compare...to sort of bounce my attention around until I settled into something that seemed to fit me; something that worked a little better.
That was a decade ago. In that decade I've trained in brief fits (got to taste a very little bit of Shodokan: it was delicious ), played a little no-pads tackle football, and as a full-back in soccer I have been able to bang bodies with strikers and midfielders on game days. This is how I "continually" (It's not actually continual ) check my ability to negotiate physical potency, by acting physically in a "free-form" environment. To play around. In both the dojos I got to experience, there was a strong element of "playing around." Always within the confines of the training paradigm, but my fondest memories are of sitting down in seiza and trying to close the holes in some movement (ostensibly: waza), or of getting my ass handed to me by a couple very talented nidans (one of which I vividly remember reminding me that this was randori and I could feel free to execute a techinque any time now).
Now, I've spent most of this post describing my experience (this can be read as "lack of-") with physical efficacy, but I would like to open the idea up to whatever people can think of regarding "martial" effectiveness, which I take to include not having to actually touch your potential atatcker, let alone knocking him out in one shomenate. How do your experiences inform your approach toward being "martially" effective? How does it affect your training presently and where do you see your training going? How do you approach the psychological aspects of a "martial" situation? Etc.?
Take care,
Matt

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Old 09-07-2011, 01:37 AM   #2
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Martially effective to me means to be able to control your attacker with the least amount of effort/energy (both mentally as physically).
Obviously without putting yourself in (too much) danger (read: leave openings to other attacks or attackers).
For me it is not sufficient to be able to 'dodge' an attack and allow the attacker to try again, and again, and again until he gives up. In actual combat that would not make sense.

In my dojo when we practise we always try to understand the technique in a martial context. So simply moving around fluently with your partner is not enough: that off course is a good start, but not enough. No openings, good control, situational awareness. When walking around I sometimes conveniently stand in the way: see how my students react. Some are distracted and point their attention to me and forget about their aite... others ignore me completely and I gently tap them on the head/shoulder/back...

Last edited by Tim Ruijs : 09-07-2011 at 01:42 AM.

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Old 09-07-2011, 10:57 AM   #3
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Hi Tim,
Thanks for the reply!
Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
For me it is not sufficient to be able to 'dodge' an attack and allow the attacker to try again, and again, and again until he gives up. In actual combat that would not make sense.
For the most part I agree. Simply avoiding attacks is certainly a useful skill, but it doesn't necessarily allow for a direct, purposeful resolution, which should probably always be one of the primary goals. The longer the interactions are drawn out, the greater the risk for unexpected developments to pop up, the more conceivably dangerous things can become.

Quote:
In my dojo when we practise we always try to understand the technique in a martial context. So simply moving around fluently with your partner is not enough: that off course is a good start, but not enough. No openings, good control, situational awareness. When walking around I sometimes conveniently stand in the way: see how my students react. Some are distracted and point their attention to me and forget about their aite... others ignore me completely and I gently tap them on the head/shoulder/back...
I like that. I think this kind of spontaneous interaction is crucial. It's so easy to get fixated on our partner, or some other "smaller" aspect of our situation. When I trained seriously I remember making extra efforts to focus on the other pairs around me while I was trying to focus on my performance with my own partner. It was mentally exhausting to split and focus my attention like that, but I think it was one of the more valuable things I gained from my training. I'm very out of practice, but that ability to "passively" track peripheral events while working on some central one comes in very handy now that I have a 2-year old who is constantly trying to get into the various brightly colored, glittering, pointy or poisonous "treats" that seem to always spring up from nowhere.
Take care,
Matt

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Old 09-07-2011, 11:27 AM   #4
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

I'm not sure how relevant this is to martial effectiveness, but something that happened to me recently gave me an insight. Unfortunately, I have been embroiled in a financial situation which really had no positive outcome for any of the parties invovled. Needless to say, this created conflict between all parties invovled. I was even threatened with "war" if this issue didn't get handled properly.

While a "war" of any sort would've at best guaranteed mutually assured destruction, I had the choice of whether to be involved in this war or not. I could either pay the money and be done with it. Or not pay, and then let them bring the war to me. My opponent almost seemed eager to begin this war. Naturally, I sensed that war was what THEY wanted. Therefore I wanted to make sure that I was in full control, and that if a war was initiated, it was due to MY choice, not theirs. Since they desired war, I made the choice to not let them have it--simply because it was against what they wanted.

I chose to give them most of the money, but not all of it. It left them angry, but it dampened the flames of their passion to continue fighting me on it. I consider it a partial victory for myself. I didn't give in all the way, and more importantly, I didn't let them determine what wars I would be engaged in. I made that choice for myself. This is the art of fighting without fighting. It could be considered a form of "martial effectiveness", imo.

Last edited by genin : 09-07-2011 at 11:30 AM.
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Old 09-07-2011, 12:14 PM   #5
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

IMO it's just a matter of training with some honesty and seriousness. Honesty in that you're not just going through the motions. You're actually working with some level of resistence and there are consequences to the training. If you don't move, you're going to get hit. If you don't break my balance and keep it, i'm going to counter you or hit you. That's how I learned and IMO the only reason I think I was ever able to use aikido to defend myself in a fight. I think the psychological aspects, awareness, etc, come naturally with that type of practice because everything slows down as a result.
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Old 09-07-2011, 01:30 PM   #6
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
How do your experiences inform your approach toward being "martially" effective? How does it affect your training presently and where do you see your training going? How do you approach the psychological aspects of a "martial" situation? Etc.?
Good questions and great post Matthew.

How do my experiences impact my training? Well I am careful to not confuse real life with training for one.

As my understanding of combatives and controlling hostile situations increased I realized that there were many factors involved in controlling a situation.

Achieving control and dominance. You either have it or you don't. There is skill involved for sure, however, I don't believe it is necessarily at the technical level of micro level that we tend to think it is in budo practice. Dominance and/or control is achieved in many ways of course. Usually the guy who gets the jump, has more buddies, or has a more useful weapon has it and will win the fight.

Use of Force/Minimal Force. I think this for me, at least, goes without saying. I always try and use the appropriate force for the situation. Of course, this is also predicated on dominance or control. if you don't have it...well to get it, you may have to use alot of force to gain it back. I think most of us really want to use minimal force, however, in reality we don't tend to really appreciate or understand the importance that "having the upper hand" (control or dominance) plays into the situation.

So....how does this figure into my training? well, I try to focus primarily on understanding the principle of dominance and control and make sure I achieve it. It may be through good ma'ai and reading the situation (space, timing, movement), and being able to read the clues in the situation. I also spend a great deal of time in situations where I do not have dominance and I must work to regain it.

So, I focus on working on "problem sets" that put me in various positions/situations and work through them to regain dominance/control.

Really this can be done through any basic jiu jitsu training I think be it aikido, bjj, or whatever you want to do.

As far as addressing the psychological aspects. Well really it requires you to put yourself through a fair amount of stress and stress inoculation type training. Toby Threadgill has written alot about this and if you do a search on his stuff on the web or on Aikido Journal you can find it. He does a better job than I at talking abou this.

Stress training requires you to define situations and conduct scenario based training. One of the challenges of training like this and the thing you have to watch is to make sure you have competent third party support that can provide you appropriate and constructive feedback while you are training otherwise you run the risk of not correctly identifying weaknesses, or actually finding appropriate solutions/responses to the stress you are inducing on yourself.

I think when you really begin to address "effectiveness" as you define it....Aikido training, while relevant, has very little to help us actually gain any real gains in "effectiveness". Effectiveness, IMO, is specific training that must be done in a very different way than most of us train on a day to day basis.

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Old 09-07-2011, 04:41 PM   #7
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

I got into my first fight ,y first day of kindergarten at five years old. We were lined up and the teacher took role for the first time, and the kid in front of me had the same first name as me. I accused him of lying and demanded he tell his real name. Ironically and perhaps less cognitive of me, I am a junior, so the whole premise under which I beat this kid was faulty. Basically I was offended he was trying to steal my first name.

I spent my mornings as a toddler watching Kung Fu theater, and was exposed to the drunk migrant workers fighting, on the ranch my grandfather was foreman on. I grew up fighting from there, and finally when I was eight my parents referred me to a family friend to learn discipline and respect in Kajukenbo. My school principal told my parents if they signed me up for Karate she did't know if she could allow me to continue to go to that school. She questioned their judgement in taking a kid who basically fought and beat up every kid in the school and actually training him to fight. I trained in Kaj for two or three years and was pulled up to the adult class. My school fights had stopped as I had Sifu to answer to and the answer was always exhausting and painful physical exercise and training.

I took these life experiences with me when I started training in Aikido. Coming from the original hard style of Emparado's method of Kaj, I looked for realism in Aikido. When My first Aiki Sensei asked for me to attack him I did as I would in Kaj. I really tried to hit him in the face as hard as I could. cause to any less in Kaj was disrespectful and usually meant receiving a harder technique because of it. Sensei liked this, and often used me for his demonstrations even though I was just a beginner. Some times his demos would last almost a half a minute of me attacking him over and over till he got tired of throwing me. I didn't know how to quit or go half hearted. This was the reason Aikido hooked me. I was attacking this sixty year old man with everything I had, and I was a good fighter. He just shrugged me off and pinned me at will almost. I wanted to learn that!!!

Now, in my own training, I think I may a bit harsh for some. When I train with 4kyu and above or maybe a 5kyu who has been around a while, I make sure I apply the techniques as I would if they were one of the inmates I work with. On the uke side, I make sure to exploit the openings they leave for me. I don't go so far as to totally stifle their technique but make them aware that something just isn't working in the technique.

As far as a non-physical approach, the concepts we use in the dojo, are every bit applicable to the real world. If you are having a confrontation with someone, don't leave an opening, close the space between you, move when he moves. Like others have said, personal and situation awareness are key. You have to absolutely know where you are and what is going on around you.

When I lead some classes a while back, I did some exercises where we stood about halfway down the mat with our back turned to a single line of attackers. The uke were to approach the nage and place nage in a headlock from behind. We worked on the technigue for about fifteen minutes, and then I told nage to go ahead and start the technique, not when they were grabbed, but when they felt the threat or urge to turn around. No uke made it two steps before the nage would turn around. I wish I had more time there, cause the next step was having uke speed up and go for the attack regardless of nage initiating his movement. The point of this exercise though, was for the class to realize their personal and situation awareness, before the attack ensued. We train regularly to defend against an attack in motion. How often do we train to position ourselves to prevent an attack?

I think for martial relevance we should take time each week to train from more modern attacks. Not that the traditional attacks are out dated, but so we can get a feel of how we apply Aiki technique to a modern situation. I think we here on this forum can agree Aikido can be effective on you average guy or a drunk trying to aggravate you. With the rise of MMA and MMA gyms everywhere, more and more people are training, and some of those people may have anger or other issues. To stay Martially relevant I think we need to familiarize ourselves with some of the attacks this type of training utilizes and figure out how to best apply Aiki techniques and principles, to defend against them.
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Old 09-07-2011, 06:43 PM   #8
Janet Rosen
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Great post, Larry. I like that you talk about developing martial AWARENESS as I think this has to be the first step in martial effectiveness. Awareness of safe space around oneself, about observing intent, weighting and movement in another human, about projecting one's one intent and developing some control over own responses are to me the beginning steps.

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Old 09-08-2011, 01:07 AM   #9
Tim Ruijs
 
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Roger Flatley wrote: View Post
I chose to give them most of the money, but not all of it. It left them angry, but it dampened the flames of their passion to continue fighting me on it. I consider it a partial victory for myself. I didn't give in all the way, and more importantly, I didn't let them determine what wars I would be engaged in. I made that choice for myself. This is the art of fighting without fighting. It could be considered a form of "martial effectiveness", imo.
Sound like good blending of interests (kino nagare) to me. You defused the situation with as little effort as possible. A fight does not necessarily mean combat mano a mano, any conflict will do.
Very nice example of aiki.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:09 AM   #10
Michael Varin
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

After a quick look in the dictionary, one could legitimately define "martially effective" as capable of producing a result suitable for a warrior.

Interesting!

For me effectiveness starts with body awareness.

But this is just the first step, because effectiveness will always be in relation to something. Effectiveness depends on our ability to relate to what is happening in the moment.

The more appropriate our actions, the better our results.

-Michael
"Through aiki we can feel the mind of the enemy who comes to attack and are thus able to respond immediately." - M. Mochizuki
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Old 09-08-2011, 04:49 AM   #11
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Michael Varin wrote: View Post
After a quick look in the dictionary, one could legitimately define "martially effective" as capable of producing a result suitable for a warrior.
This definition raises some questions:
What would constitute a result suitable of a warrior?
And exactly what capabilites does the warrior require?

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:02 AM   #12
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
This definition raises some questions:
What would constitute a result suitable of a warrior?
And exactly what capabilites does the warrior require?
once the fight start, the result that allows the warrior to walk away instead of being carry away. and if the warrior cannot walk away then the other bugger won't either. walk away when he/she/it can, fight when must, kill when necessary, sacrifice when demand, eat when hungry, sleep when tire, party when hot chicks around.

as far as capabilities goes, i kinda like the marine approach. bomb you from the distance, then shell you, then shoot you with riffle, then pistol and grenade, then knife, then bite your ears off.

effective indicates goal(s) and result(s).
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Old 09-08-2011, 08:11 AM   #13
Peter Goldsbury
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
once the fight start, the result that allows the warrior to walk away instead of being carry away. and if the warrior cannot walk away then the other bugger won't either. walk away when he/she/it can, fight when must, kill when necessary, sacrifice when demand, eat when hungry, sleep when tire, party when hot chicks around.

as far as capabilities goes, i kinda like the marine approach. bomb you from the distance, then shell you, then shoot you with riffle, then pistol and grenade, then knife, then bite your ears off.

effective indicates goal(s) and result(s).
Just like Avatar.

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Old 09-08-2011, 08:43 AM   #14
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

That much is clear...off course...

I posed the questions because effectiveness says something about the effort it takes to achieve a goal. The goal of a warrior is not only to walk away unharmed....

Last edited by Tim Ruijs : 09-08-2011 at 08:49 AM.

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 09-08-2011, 10:09 AM   #15
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Primary goal is to.accomplish your mission. that might be to walk away...but sometimea there are bigger things at stake than that.

Second to that would.be.economy of force...that might be a part of effectiveness.

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Old 09-08-2011, 01:20 PM   #16
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Just a quick thanks! Nice stuff!
I'd like to respond to all the great points but time will leave me with just a couple questions:
How have your experiences informed whatever understanding of effectiveness you may have? How does it affect your training?
For example, Phi, how would you train to bomb from a distance on the mat?

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Old 09-08-2011, 01:48 PM   #17
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
For example, Phi, how would you train to bomb from a distance on the mat?
If I may be so free: think nage waza.
Simply imagine bomb attached to aite...

In a real fight:
* If you make a bad decision, you die.
* If you don't decide anything, you die.
Aikido teaches you how to decide.
www.aikido-makato.nl
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Old 09-08-2011, 02:24 PM   #18
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Tim Ruijs wrote: View Post
If I may be so free: think nage waza.
Simply imagine bomb attached to aite...
I'm pretty sure Phi was thinking about cabbage when he said that...
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Old 09-08-2011, 03:50 PM   #19
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Matthew Gano wrote: View Post
For example, Phi, how would you train to bomb from a distance on the mat?
Knowing how Phi's mind works, I'd say it involves proper intake of vegetable matter to assure plentiful ki

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Old 09-08-2011, 08:30 PM   #20
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Janet Rosen wrote: View Post
Knowing how Phi's mind works, I'd say it involves proper intake of vegetable matter to assure plentiful ki
ok, you people have figured out my secret. i have now put you folks on my "Dead or Party" list, or was that "Party until Death" list. either way, there will be party and death involved, after all, i got to keep my secrets secret otherwise it wouldn't be called secret, right? *scratching head, did i just went in circle on that one?*
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Old 09-05-2012, 05:47 PM   #21
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Talking Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

Quote:
Phi Truong wrote: View Post
... like the marine approach. bomb you from the distance, then shell you, then shoot you with riffle, then pistol and grenade, then knife, then bite your ears off.

effective indicates goal(s) and result(s).
I do as well: rifle, shotgun, pistol, knife or TKD-kick, karate-punch, then hapkido/judo/BJJ finish

"The state that separates its scholars from its warriors will have its thinking done by cowards and its fighting by fools."
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Old 09-05-2012, 06:24 PM   #22
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Re: effectiveness: experience on learning

One of my best experiences training in aikido was, when traveling as otomo to my teacher in my uchi deshi days, we did a guest seminar at a karate/jujitsu school. It was just sensei and myself. While he ran the skeptical students through techniques, I ran around and helped guys and gals having issues with the techniques. It really made me feel good when I was able to get aikido techniques to work on the skeptical karate students. Really cool stuff.

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