Monday, February 17, 2014

Head Movement

So the title of this video is 'How to win a street fight with head movement" ..... Aaaand ... I am not going to comment on that.

The reason why I'm posting it is because I think it illustrates quite well how 'defensive' play is not the same as 'waiting'.

What I notice is how our man is setting up the rhythm, giving opportunities or openings for the hitter to take, and thus controlling the timing and giving himself a far better chance of evading the punches that if he just kinda hung out and tried to read his opponent's intent.

He's an active participant in creating his opponent's choices, and he does this by footwork, the occasional shove, and then with head movement. This means the guy who is trying to hit him is behind in the timing and forced to react to him as opposed to the other way around.

The subtlety is that he is not moving around in a predictable rhythm, he KNOWS from obvious previous experience where the probable next shots are going to come from if he moves in certain ways, and he calibrates the rhythm to his opponent so he himself is less readable.

It's the same with swordplay, though perhaps even more important when evasion is so crucial to one's wellbeing.

Perhaps 'creating' and 'waiting' might be better terms than 'offense' and 'defense' ..?

Sunday, February 9, 2014


The following thoughts are connected to a short discussion about this article (Not well thought through as yet, so I apologize if they are muddled):

And also related to Jake Steinmann's blog post:

The discussion started with the comment that there are 'too many experts already' - Referring to the plethora of self titled experts on the internet, but also to lineages of 'experts', given a title through study, but perhaps study of something not exactly satisfying the standards of scientific rigor ... ahem ....

So the discussion moved on to whether there really are experts, whether they are 'useful', and what really separates an expert in a field from anyone else with an opinion?

Of course.
How about credentials? (Containing the implied reputation of the institute of study).
And how about track record in problem solving, or doing something for the common good? Is that a prerequisite?

.... But what if there are experts with experience and good credentials, yet who still get things wrong and cannot seem to predict outcomes or solve problems within their field? Are they still 'experts'?

After all, there are people who have studied how weather works for years and years ... yet who cannot predict or explain certain phenomena? Surely they are experts in their field? But the farmer who has worked the land for their whole life and has watched the weather through those many years .... They too are experts, right? And perhaps they are better at passing on their knowledge to others than theorists or someone building computer models ...?

OK ... Flip to the other end of the equation ... the non expert. We are all non-experts in most things, and need experts to help understand those things we do not know.

There is obviously not enough time in one life to understand everything about the universe, so, we hire a builder to build our house, we take our car to the mechanic, we go to school to learn about mathematics, or ceramics, and we might hire a guide if traveling in a place that is unfamiliar and dangerous.

All these practical skill sets that are fairly easy to rate. The house does not leak, the car works, 2+2 is 4 etc ...... But what of those knowledge sets that are harder to quantify in real life? Economics? Psychology? History?

Seems like you can be an expert here and still be dead wrong in your conclusions ..... So what does that mean? Is 'coming to a conclusion' the place where expertise fails? Or are those people really not experts at all?

Perhaps you can only be an expert in 'things' .... but not in thinking ..... Unless there is a way of seeing if your conclusions hold up in reality. (And where the edges of that reality are is another question ...)

I guess experts can be problem solvers, but perhaps a better description of true experts are those people that can see the right questions that need to be asked. See things as they really are ... the real problems that need to be solved, not just pull ideas out of the air as possible answers .......

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Weakest Links

There's a picture circulating on the interwebs - The picture is divided into two, with one side titled 'Knowledge' and this is represented by a bunch of colored dots spread throughout the field. The other side is titled 'Experience' and on this side all the dots are still there, but this time interlinked.

It's been something I've been thinking about for a while and ties in well with the critique I have of so many poor martial arts videos on Youtube.

Often these videos, though ultimately garbage, are full of things that are in fact true, like - "Don't chase joint locks" or "Be careful where the edge of the blade is so you don't get your hand cut" .... but what makes them useless is that these bits of information then get put into a context that has absolutely no meaning.

Worse, sometimes the narrator extrapolates the small pieces of info into a story, and creates justifications for the choices that are made, that then turns all the small pieces of truth into a load of bollocks.

It's the chain that matters, not the points themselves. It's the links that make information useable or not ... And it's the links, the context, the logic, that are the easiest to break.

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Incremental Part II

A lived for a while in Snowdonia National Park and though I had never really had any interest in rock climbing before I moved there, it was the main pastime of most folks in the area, so of course I decided to give it a go.

I was never really any good, but because I was perfectly happy 'seconding', i.e. being the person who came up second and took out the gear instead of put it in, I was a popular climbing companion. Most serious climbers like to be first, so they can say they actually climbed the route, danger and all.

Snowdonia is a beautiful place and could be called the home of British mountaineering, many first ascents were put up the mountain ranges in the 1800s in the days of hemp ropes, tweed jackets and hob nailed boots.

My most regular climbing partner, John, was interested in climbing all these 'classic' routes and that suited me just fine - nothing too hectic or technical - and generally up the most sensible path up the rock face. But despite the climbing being at the 'easier' end of the spectrum, it still held it's scary moments.

There were many useful things I learned during these days "on't rock" (That would be a Northern term for my non British friends), including:

Your body can tenaciously believe it is in survival mode when intellectually you know you are not actually going to die.

This survival mode will make you freeze, even though stopping in place is not an option - You can't stay half way up a rock face forever.

That survival mode can convince you that attaching your forehead to the rock face can help you grip.

That you can force yourself to move using your rational mind.

That you can stop yourself from shaking with your mind.

And mostly, and finally something related to sword play, that even though you can see nothing within your reach to assist you in your ascent, just moving something, anything, however small an increment it gives you, can change the geometry enough to perhaps find something else ... and something else ... that will finally help you reach the hold you need.

Motion changes things.

Just because your viewpoint 'sees' nothing from one place, does not mean that there is nothing to see ....