Saturday, February 2, 2013

Throwing Questions

I have never had the power, size, or ferocity to rely on it to overpower or overcome a much larger adversary .... I mean I know the ways to increase my power efficiency, and I'm not really saying that the ferocity or tenacity to defeat a larger opponent are not possible to manifest given the right motivation, but in training, in dueling, playing martial arts, it has always felt as though I start from a disadvantage.
Part of this is an unwillingness to take damage - I know I can probably take more damage than I think I can .. but I also know that it is wise to avoid getting hit by someone much more powerful, as they can much easier wreck you, than you them.

With this in mind, I'm sure I was drawn to learning from Sonny because I probably outweighed him by about 40lbs ... I think he was slightly taller than me ... though it's actually hard to tell. He looks like he is in the videos of us flowing, and he certainly did from my point of view standing in front of him, but I have also seen him out of his environment, in strange surroundings, and I swear he could shrink up to 4 or 5 inches ... Anyway ... he was not a big man, let's leave it at that, and I reckoned, whatever works for him, should work for me.

So how did he win despite his size?
Was it because he was just better, and faster? Well, partly .... His speed and power were exponentially increased because of how set up his opponent, his accuracy at targeting certainly helped, but his ability to create OPPORTUNITIES was what really upped his odds. He put his opponent exactly where he wanted them, making it safer for him, and easy for him to hit them.
Many martial arts talk about this, of 'using your opponent's movement', momentum and angle, to your own advantage, but many lack a way of practicing HOW to set this up.
The grappling arts seem pretty good at it, as are a few striking arts, at least at the higher levels, but how about weapons?

Often these set ups are taught as a step by step program - Do this, then when they do that, change, and hit them. But this method is hard to find in real time sparring because your opponent is often uncooperative, and the fleeting moments when the technique is possible, pass before you can take advantage of it. So most folks end up relying on power, speed and technique, because they can't make their set ups work ... and to some extent end up leaving it all to luck.

The piece that is missing, at least in my opinion, is that individuals fight differently. Each has a personality and a way of fighting that requires a particular approach. Which approach will work, is often only found by trial and error, by testing and prodding at their personality and at their movement. This is hard to notice in a real time adversarial duel, but you can train it when you are flowing/playing until you can do it full speed.
There is a method, a way to look, and reactions and 'tells' that will give you insight into who is in front of you. But to practice you have to make brain space for paying attention to these things and learn how to throw out temping hooks and false threats. In a way you have to be a good actor, throwing out lines for your partner to improv, and seeing what they say, but not be attached to any particular outcome. This means there is danger and you must have good defenses and an ability to 'surf' the action, and also a way to understand why things might not work so you make smart decisions.


FSD said...

I'm pretty small myself, and staying covered, getting safe first, position then submission, creating opportunities, just plain smart. I think lots of bigger people don't learn that because when they're young and willing to take damage, they don't necessarily need it. But if you're talking weapons, and for real...not staying covered is going to be very, very bad for your health and longevity.

The problem I have with trial and error or finding the right approach, is that in a serious assault with an unknown opponent you're not going to have time. In flowing/dueling/sparring or in situations where you're training with someone you regularly train with, then I think learning how to fight the person/personality is big. But if you're in a self defense situation, where the outcome is probably determined in the first 5-10 seconds of physical contact...even faking is going to be hard as hell to pull off.

Fortunately though we can "cheat", use pre-contact deception, etc., if we see an attack coming. And if we don't, training to use a combination of footwork/position/covering/attacking that minimizes your risk, IMO, is really, really important.

Unknown said...

Do you practice weapons within the Ba Gua Zhang that you do? I found that the forms, drills, etc. create a lot of what you touched upon in your post. When my teacher and I do some flow type sparring with Jian and Dao we both find the 'stuff' within Ba Gua pretty deep and thorough. We also both look at it from a Filipino Martial Arts point of view (Pekiti Tirsia to be exact with my teacher having 30+ more years than I...) and find that the strategies, tactics, etc. hold true.

hessian1 said...

It seems to me and this only comes from view some video was that Sonny had that "mastery" aspect going on concerning timing and positioning. This enables him to control or influence his opponents "loop" you know the one I'm talking about.
As to being smaller, I'm only 5'6" tall but learned to mitigate damage if I couldn't avoid it, plus you need to armor up enough to tolerate shots but not so much as to lesson the advantages of being smaller.

Maija said...

FSD - Agree that in an ambush or 'street' situation, there is little time for these things ... like you point out. If you have any opportunity to use psychology to turn a situation, it has to happen pre contact.
I would say however, that it is hugely useful to train with as many people as possible, and do it for the purposes of learning about how different, and how similar, people are. As humans, we are naturally great observers, we often just need to practice paying more attention. We have an ability to notice odd behavior and body language if we spend some time looking .. and just like boxers learn how to intuitively 'see' the body language for a set up for a punch, so we can too, about many aspects of human behavior.

That should be what good training gives you IMO, but it needs to free enough to create natural responses.

And there are 3 parts to learn about - About you, about them, and about the relationship between you. All parts are important, and 2 of the 3 require seeing THEM.

Wes - The tactical thinking I learned from Luo DeXiu fits very nicely with what I have learned from my Eskrima. I have my opinions about specific Bagua weapons ... which you may have seen a few posts back, but it makes sense to me that weapons played a huge part in the formation of the art .... I mean really, as a security detail guarding a caravan of goods against bandits, why would you choose NOT to carry as many weapons as you could?
I am not a fan of preset partner drills and practice .... which was why it was so fun to compare notes with friends of mine that do do sword forms. It's always entertaining to find oneself doing something during dueling and thinking "This is totally in that Tai Ji form"!!!

hessian1 - Yes, total loop interrupt :-)

Scott said...

So then mastery means the ability to simultaneously see and act outside of your opponents' mind/body/emotional box. To that end, experience with the extreme parameters of your opponents' possible intents and possible self-assertions are what really matters.
Metaphorically speaking, train with an elephant and a mouse for size, train with a zebra and a gecko for camouflage.