Introduce Failure Cascade into your training

John Titchen's Blog - Tue, 2016-02-02 13:38

We gain confidence from our successes, but it is from our failures that we learn.

As students practice more and begin to increase the levels of speed and contact, they should come to understand that the failure of one drill is the opening for the employment of another.

In moving from static to dynamic training all that happens is an increase in speed and pressure, so naturally not everything works: failure is the reality with which martial artists (or self defence practitioners) must deal. When failure occurs, if it has happened before, it is predictable. If the trainee knows the strengths and weaknesses of their tactics, and so can recognise what failed and why, then that failure should be both predictable, familiar, and prepared for; they should not be fazed by the eventuality or slow to adapt. Knowledge dispels fear. If the failure has occurred before, if it is predictable, then it can either be prevented, or recognised and turned into a new opportunity by the application of another drill. It is when the drill or pressure level has never been taken to the point of failure, that the training becomes unpredictable and the trainee is most at risk of making a bad decision.

In training I often set up different combinations of what I call a failure cascade. In this instance both attacker and defender in training know that if the defender fails to successfully employ a full counter (and thus end the drill) then the attacker will switch to the most logical next attack, forcing the defender into a new drill. This could run a sequence of several positions, all with different potential ‘end points’. As an example a failed haymaker could switch into a collapsing headlock or clinch, but as trainees gain greater experience and pressure mounts the haymaker could drive into a tackle which if successful could end up in a ground fighting drill or any number of stand up drills depending on the speed and adaptability of the training pair. As the trainees have drills to deal with headlocks, different clinch-like positions, tackles and falling to the ground, putting these into a dynamic context allows for greater development.

To win with a single move is not the highest skill. Anyone can get lucky. You should train to be able to turn any failure, any position, into a new opportunity before your opponent recovers, train and experiment until nothing surprises you, and you automatically adapt and overcome. If you have not prepared for failure, if you do not have redundancies trained and ready, then you have prepared to fail.

This short article is based on a chapter in Volume Five of Pinan Flow System: karate kata application for beginner to black belt.

I Can't Teach THAT!

Rory Miller's Blog - Mon, 2016-01-25 22:55
Violence Dynamics 2015 was pretty spectacular. It will be hard to top next year. More on that later, maybe.

During the drive to the airport, Kasey and I were talking about teaching, and teaching teaching, and about people. In any field there are some people that just don't get "it." Whatever "it" is for that field. There are some people who shouldn't be cops. Sometimes because their emotionally vulnerability makes them unable to deal with manipulators, sometimes because their lack of compassion makes them blind... there are hundreds of personality traits that make someone a poor cop.

Some people will never be fighters. I'm not talking about strength or speed, but there are some people that have essential elements of heart that are simply missing.

And some people will never be teachers. There is something missing and they can't command the respect to be listened to. You can force a hundred students to attend, give a simple and important subject and none of the students will make the connection, none of them will listen, none of them will learn.

And in the real world, there appears to be almost an inverse correlation between ability and desire. Probably for reasons of insecurity, many of the people least fit to be cops or teachers want to be cops or teachers. They think the position will give them the respect they can't seem to get on their own. The people who can't fight want to be fighters, hoping the label will make their fear and insecurity go away.

Kasey and I were talking about teaching instructors, and how to deal with the person who desperately wanted the title and was willing to put in the time and do the work, but would never achieve the standard. What do you do? This isn't a bureaucracy. actual life and safety depend on the quality of a teacher in certain fields. At the same time, our internal ethics would demand that we treat all instructor candidates the same...

Fairness, or the actual lives of a generation of students?

That's a question I'm going to dodge, for now.

But here's the cool thing and one of the things I love about people. In certain circumstances, all of that is bullshit. Almost everything I am really good at is stuff that someone I had every right to believe told me I couldn't do.

Yes. Some people can't teach. And usually the honorable thing to do is to tell them that. And some will believe you and quit, and more will refuse to believe you and manage to get into a teaching position and suck for their entire career. And a few, a very few, a tiny number, will say, "Fuck you." And they will leave and on their own they will become extraordinary teachers. They will work their asses off to prove you wrong.

Some people can't fight. And usually the honorable thing to do is to tell them that. And some will believe you and quit, and more will refuse to believe you and manage to get into a force profession and suck for their entire career, and get other people and themselves hurt. And a few, a very few, a tiny number, will say, "Fuck you." And they will leave and on their own they will become extraordinary. They will work their asses off to prove you wrong.

I don't know what it is about that tiny number. I can't pick them out of a crowd. But that incredible diversity of human attitude is one of the things that makes people so damn cool.

The Giants are Pygmies

John Titchen's Blog - Sun, 2016-01-24 22:05

If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

Isaac Newton, 1676.

Karateka across the world owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the Okinawan and Japanese instructors who, in the first half of the Twentieth Century, laid the foundations for a little known minority martial art to become one of the most practised in the world today. This important role has naturally resulted in those that founded styles in that era, or who pioneered the teaching of karate outside of Japan, becoming highly revered. They are quite rightly seen as the giants on whose shoulders we stand.

We should be careful however not to be led astray. It is right to respect these karateka, we owe them a great debt of gratitude, but their words or approaches should not be blindly followed. In fact I believe that to do so is to squander their legacy. I will occasionally quote an ‘old master’, but I only do so if what they say has been borne out by my research or that of other people whose research methods and experience I can quantify and thus value.

Matsumura, Itosu, Funakoshi, Motobu, Kyan, Miyagi, Mabuni, Ohtsuka to name but a few… these names ring loudly in training halls across the world. Their thoughts on karate are still read and studied. But these men are not giants by today’s standards, in fact in the modern world they are pygmies compared to many of the teachers with whom you could study.

How can I say such a thing?

There are trainers teaching today who have

  1. Had far greater experience of genuinely life threatening violence or who (through research) have collated a wealth of data from people (whether civilian, law enforcement or military) who have had experience and thus been able to draw important and reliable conclusions on optimum approaches to physical and mental training.
  2. Have a far better understanding of human physiology and biomechanics (backed by decades of research that is available to all).
  3. Have had more hands-on experience with other martial artists and have studied under greater numbers of experienced and competent teachers.
  4. Have had access to, and instruction in, a greater number of non-karate styles (again from high quality instructors) to broaden their perspective and increase their depth of understanding in their own arts.

Whether you are looking for a trainer that specialises in Karate for self defence, Karate as a form of Physical fitness, Karate (kata) as a form of moving meditation or dance, or Karate as a competitive fighting sport, or combinations of those mediums, there are large numbers of trainers all round the world who quite simply out-class those ‘giants’ of the past. It would actually be a poor reflection on both karate and those early pioneers if that were not the case.

We should respect those that have gone before us. But do not put them on pedestals or treat everything they said or did as gospel truth. Many of them had less experience and knowledge than either you or the person you train with. Honour their memory by carrying karate forward as they did and pay them the courtesy of respecting the reality of their humanity and fallibility.





Terry's Rules, The Last

Rory Miller's Blog - Sun, 2016-01-24 03:03
Getting back to this series. Got distracted by travel, training and good questions.

Three more: #9 Think. #10 Do. #11 Don't Overcommit.

Rule#2 was "It's okay to stop and think." This might feel like a repeat. I don't think so. The fact that it's "okay" doesn't mean you will actually do it... but there's more than that. Fighting, counter-assault, hand-to-hand-- whatever you want to call it-- is very much a thing of guts and nerve, visceral, not intellectual. And yet, you have a brain. Use it.

When you have time to think, you think. Absolutely. And the quality of your thinking process allows for an amazing level of possibility. One tiny, basic, obvious thing is "reframing"-- instead of coming up with an answer, can I change the question? Powerful. But even when you don't have time to cognitively weigh all options, that doesn't mean "Be stupid." Your hindbrain is actually a very smart survival mechanism that deals with far more nuance than we give it credit for.

Fight smart. Efficiently. Stay alert to options, escape possibilities, unexpected threats... that's incredibly effective, but realistically, the ability to do that-- to deal with a potentially deadly threat and partition part of your brain to do something else-- requires immense experience. I couldn't do it for maybe the first hundred force incidents. I doubt I even considered the possibility before it happened. The people I know that can do it can probably be counted on the fingers of one hand. Terry is absolutely one of them.

But the possibility is there. Your brain is capable of this. The human animal is kind of awesome.

This one is huge. Here's the deal: If you never act you are worthless. You affect the world in no way. You are a waste of time, space and oxygen. It doesn't matter how smart you are or how cool you are or how noble your intentions. If those qualities are never expressed in action, you are nothing. You are worse than nothing. You are a barnacle that increases drag for everyone else.

No one is inherently special. No one deserves to be appreciated just because they happen to be born or they happen to be human. Your value as an entity is based entirely on your actual value to actual other entities. If you want to write fiction that you never share because it makes you happy, that's entirely cool. For you. But if that is ALL you do, you could be shot in the head today and it would not matter one iota to the world.

Right now, check yourself. Over 90% of the people reading this will be nodding in agreement because what I just wrote is simply freakin' obvious. If you are glitching, you need to take a good hard look at your life.

Terry's rules are for high-risk situations, but this one is about life. For the world, the inactive are worthless. But you know what? If you don't "do" if you aren't acting, you aren't really living anyway. This thing you are calling your life is just a pale imitation of the real thing.

Get off the damn couch. Turn off the laptop or the smart phone. Do. Live.

Don't Overcommit.
This is the one I want to argue with. But it's right except for where it's wrong. DON'T overcommit. But don't undercommit either.

There are two classic pieces of advice. Winston Churchill's: "I am addressing myself to the School - surely from this period of ten months this is the lesson: never give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty - never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense." 

And a very wise man I knew called Jake Rens: "When a smart man realizes he's in a hole, he quits digging."

Churchill saves it in the last four words, especially the last two. But it takes immense judgment, sometimes, to distinguish between good sense and fear.

Commitment is important. I think, in a dangerous situations one of the most common and almost universally doomed action is to do anything half-assed. Running is fine, but run with your whole heart. Half running or running and hesitating makes you an easy target. Fighting is dangerous, but fight with your whole heart. Half-fighting is not fighting at all, just struggling. And it doesn't save you, it just excites the bad guy.

Overcommitment. If you overcommit your balance, you are vulnerable. If you overcommit your emotions you are vulnerable... And this is the grr for me, because you can't drop step without vulnerability and overcommitment, and you can't truly love halfway.

The one universal with overcommitment appears to be this, in my opinion: Never double down on stupid. Don't reinforce failure. When you catch yourself doing the wrong thing, don't let your monkey brain con you into doing the wrong thing harder. Always be humble enough to admit when you've screwed it up and change. And adapt. And win.

Training Habitual Acts of Violence

John Titchen's Blog - Tue, 2016-01-19 13:40

Grabbing, pulling and throwing a haymaker – a dynamic unbalanced moment that is hard to ‘pose’ for the camera.

Martial Arts training that has any validity from a self defence perspective  must address the HAOV (Habitual Acts of Violence) that we are likely to face in a conflict management situation.[i] It is important for us to address realistic attacks rather than focus on martial arts, media or film-induced perceptions of violence. Due to its context, real violence rarely plays out in a similar fashion to any existing competitive rule-set, and training against well delivered martial arts techniques does not ensure good identification and preparation for, or success against, natural behaviours and wilder uncontrolled attacks.

There are a number of different terms in use in the martial arts and professional confrontation management communities to describe aggressive and violent behaviour patterns. The memorable term ‘Monkey Dance’, coined by Rory Miller, is now commonly used to describe pre-fight behaviours (where humans have much in common with other primates).[ii] Some trainers use the term PIA (Primary Initiation Attack) to describe the initial means of physical assault. In the martial arts community an umbrella term of HAPV (Habitual Acts of Physical Violence), has been used by karateka Patrick McCarthy, but I prefer the more widely used HAOV since it highlights the inclusion of certain actions that many would not regard as physical violence such as pre-fight physical posturing and verbal threats (what I might call Primate Posturing and Rory Miller calls Monkey Dancing). These are the point where avoidance training, the acknowledgement of flinch responses and your own personal protection strategies should come into play – before any physical violence begins.


What are HAOV?

The majority of the data on violent crime that I have studied over the last sixteen years comes from the British Crime Survey, the Scottish Crime Survey, Home Office reports on various Violent Crime Initiatives, Hospital Emergency Department reports on violent crime injuries, the Crime Survey in England and Wales, news reports, CCTV footage and data provided by the FBI on their website. The often unconscious behaviour patterns of participants in the high-adrenaline scenario simulation training that I have run for people from a broad range of backgrounds has corroborated a significant amount of that data and footage.

The weighting and predominance of HAOV does vary across the world. Cultural taboos, national pastimes and sports played all seem to play a role. While this may affect the likelihood of some attacks (such as the frequency of weapon use or ‘the most common attack’), there are a number of very common (unarmed) attacks that can be replicated to form the backbone of training against HAOV:

Space invaded with aggressive language and a head butt on the way.

Personal space invasion, arm splaying, head leaning forwards, telegraphing arm withdrawal, pushes, swinging haymaker punches, unbalancing pushes or grabs followed immediately by swinging punches, pushing and pulling, wild wind-milling punches while charging forwards (often head down), head butts (with or without grabs), knees to the groin (often preceded by grabs), headlocks, hair-pulling, tackles to the waist or the shoulder or the legs, clothing and shoulder grabs, lashing kicks to the legs or groin, stamping or kicking people on the ground.

The above ‘list’ is a starting point for the most basic physical element of training. It is best combined with a study of patterns of violent crime to develop context appropriate decision making training.


Training Habitual Acts of Violence

HAOV can (and should) be placed into context, so in addition to drilling against individual techniques , much as we might practice slipping a jab or defending against any combination of martial arts moves, there are a range of different ways that training can be broadened.

Vernal and Visual Cues

Physical attacks preceded by visual and/or verbal context to train the observational skills, positioning and body language of students so they are better placed to defend or pre-empt as necessary. Not everyone is a natural at adding this ‘extra’ dynamic to the physical attack but it is possible to train some people to take on this role. You can find out more about building the attacker here.

Multiple Combinations

Unlike competitive events a fair proportion of real violence begins and ends with a single attack, but it would be foolish to limit training to this. Training should also prepare students for determined sustained attacks. As with ‘free sparring’ this is a natural progression on from static drills to multiple combinations of HAOV.

Failure Cascade

We gain confidence from our successes, but it is from our failures that we learn.

As students practice more and begin to increase the levels of speed and contact, they should come to understand that the failure of one drill is the opening for the employment of another. In moving from static to dynamic training all that happens is an increase in speed and pressure, so naturally not everything works: failure is the reality with which martial artists must deal. When failure occurs, if it has happened before, it is predictable. If the trainee knows the strengths and weaknesses of their tactics, and so can recognise what failed and why, then that failure should be both predictable, familiar, and prepared for; they should not be fazed by the eventuality. Knowledge dispels fear. If the failure has occurred before, if it is predictable, then it can either be prevented, or recognised and turned into a new opportunity by the application of another drill. It is when the drill or pressure level has never been taken to the point of failure, that the training becomes unpredictable.

In training I often set up different combinations of what I call a failure cascade. In this instance both attacker and defender in training know that if the defender fails to successfully employ a full counter (and thus end the drill) then the attacker will switch to the most logical next attack, forcing the defender into a new drill. This could run a sequence of several positions, all with different potential ‘end points’. As an example to begin with a failed haymaker could switch into a collapsing headlock or clinch, but as trainees gain greater experience and pressure mounts the haymaker could drive into a tackle which if successful could end up in a ground fighting drill or any number of stand up drills depending on the speed and adaptability of the training pair.

To win with a single move is not the highest skill. Anyone can get lucky. You should train to be able to turn any failure, any position, into a new opportunity before your opponent recovers, train and experiment until nothing surprises you, and you automatically adapt and overcome. If you have not prepared for failure, if you do not have redundancies trained and ready, then you have prepared to fail.

Scenario training

Where possible, scenario training is a great way to bring elements of training together. You can find out more about building scenario training here.


An imbalance in training – drilling bad technique?

A number of years ago a good training friend of mine raised the question that if we were drilling against HAOV then logically (at least) one training partner is spending half that time using HAOV rather than the ‘superior’ techniques of their martial art. So can training against HAOV develop bad technique?

  1. Utilizing HAOV provides a better biomechanical understanding of the positions and ranges involved and the strengths and weaknesses of the techniques and tactics. Executing the techniques provides a far better insight than solely defending against the techniques.
  2. Any drilling against HAOV should be part of a broader training programme which will normally include pad work. Whether holding or hitting the pads trainees are executing the techniques of their chosen art (and observing them) and this (added to their defences against HAOV) means that they will always proportionally be spending more time on their own repertoire than on executing HAOV.
  3. HAOV are not necessarily ‘bad’ techniques. In some instances the difference between them and the tactics of normal ‘proven’ martial arts are minor or non-existent. The fact that they are both natural and generally very successful (especially against people unused to them whether they have had ‘training’ or not) means that having a good grounding in them as part of your practise isn’t a bad thing.
  4. HAOV can have benefits beyond ‘combat effectiveness’. If you are training for self defence then the majority of your movements should be executed in a protective power-generating posture which is sometimes known as ‘hollow body’. The wilder ‘haymaker’ type punches and pushes open up the body and serve as a great counterbalance to the ‘closed’ protective postures.


So, if you haven’t done so already, perhaps it’s time to add HAOV into your training drills.


[i]I adopted the term HAOV for my first published article on the topic in 2005 due to the training I have done with martial artists Rick Clark and Bill Burgar (who have both used the term in their books). Before that I had focused on researching violent crime and not used an acronym. I continue to use HAOV as in my experience it is now the most common term for the subject matter in the international Anglophone martial arts community. The term HAV is a recognised abbreviation for a medical condition, a form of aircraft and a form of media among other things. HAPV is normally associated with Hamster Polyoma Virus. As a result HAOV is useful for disambiguation. I interpret ‘habitual’ as ‘common and expected’ rather than ‘historical’.

[ii] R. Miller, Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real World Violence, (YMAA Publication Centre, 2008).

Knowledgable is not Smart

Rory Miller's Blog - Thu, 2016-01-14 08:12
Don't confuse knowledgeable with smart. In this field, there are a handful of people I respect who have gathered their knowledge through bitter experience. And none of us are very smart. You don't learn this stuff by being smart, you learn it by being stupid in very specific ways.

"You want a job son? I got one for ya. Basics is being locked, alone and unarmed, in a room with 32-190 violent criminals and maintaining order for eight hours. Yeah, yeah, the media tells you that most are non-violent drug offenders but the reality is that we're so crowded only PVs and person-to-person violent crimes are locked up. What'd ya say?"

No intelligent person goes for that job.

The thing is, though, that there are certain lessons that can only be learned by doing certain things. Dumb things. And the lessons are valuable. On an earlier post, "Agent Cbeppa" wrote:

I've been wondering about a seeming paradox for a while now. 
You write a lot about how ordinary people who have had no experience with violence make up their own (largely false) stories and identities. When people go through a violent experience, they realise what is fact and what was fiction, which sounds like a handy thing to know about yourself.
Conversely, you also advise people to avoid violent situations as much as possible. It's the safest and most sensible thing to do. 
Do you have any explanations that might clear this up for me? Or is there no right answer?

It's not a paradox so much as a side effect of life. Everything involves choices, and every choice you make now removes other choices. Every hour you spend plugged into practicing a language is an hour you can't spend practicing music. Spending six years studying biochemistry is six years not studying physics. I was very happy being single and am very happy being married-- but the happiness centers around different things. Every door you take leaves unopened doors in the background. That's just life. Even if you could have it all, you couldn't grasp a fraction of it.

With the violence stuff, you can choose a long life where your joints work fine and you have good vision in un-gouged eyes and fewer spasms from nerve damage and less arthritis and an ability to sleep through the night... or you can shatter some illusions about violence. You can't have both.

Of all the gods, only Odin was willing to maim himself for knowledge, and that's the choice here. All this-- call it insight or special knowledge or whatever-- comes at a price. I focus on the physical price because that's the easiest for others to see, but the real price? I can count on one hand the people I can really talk to. The books, the blogs, the articles... there's a compulsion to get the information out, but also the knowledge that most can't grasp it, there is simply no touchstone.

So Cbeppa, it's not a paradox, it's an either/or. I advise people to avoid violent situations as much as possible because that way leads to the kind of life that most can handle. But there is a different truth, and that truth, universally, feels more real to the ones who have followed it (probably just a side effect of adrenaline.)

There's one other reason to preach avoidance. Maybe you get new truths through engagement. Maybe your illusions get shattered and you can get new insights or even enlightenment. But only if you live, and hopefully unshattered. I talk about dealing with knives and luck, but if I had been a tiny bit less lucky, I wouldn't be here to talk about it. It's very cool to imagine going to the bad places and learning the cool lessons, but not everyone comes back and of those who do, many are too damaged or adrenalized to remember what happened. Seeking safety, by its nature, is safer than seeking the alternative.


Ron Goin's Blog - Sun, 2016-01-10 23:17
"Beware the irrational, however seductive."Christopher Hitchens

The late great Johnny Carson, when confronted with something unusual or novel, used a phrase that I love. "THAT," he would say, "is some weird, wild stuff."

The way I see it, the thoughts, functions and processes within the human mind are some weird, wild stuff.  

We can create images in our mind's eye and mentally project ourselves forward or backward into both time and space. We can make ourselves believe in things that do not /can not actually exist in the physical world and make them seem all too real.  Our minds can invent supernatural agents which have purposeful intent as well as the ability to influence the thoughts, attitudes and actions of actual flesh and blood beings. Some people believe that they can harness a unique, metaphysical force that cannot be detected or measured by scientific instruments, and they believe that they can then use that ability to harm or heal others.  

It amazes me that fortune tellers, faith healers, spirit communicators, witch doctors, shamans, energy workers, and channelers still abound in the 21st century.  After all, this is the age of incredible scientific advancement where technology has reached unimaginably incredible achievements.  Case in point, the New Horizons spacecraft, that was launched from earth in 2006, after almost a decade of travel, recently arrived near the farthest reaches of our solar system and provided awe-inspiring photography and enhanced imagery of the dwarf planet Pluto. Something that before now had always been a mere blur on our best telescopes could now be seen in magnificent detail.  It is hard to grasp the sophisticated knowledge, precise engineering and the mind-boggling calculations that went into such a mission. 

But, in spite of this, rational thinking is still a rare commodity.  People, it seems, tend to believe in some weird wild stuff.

Not that I am somehow immune to irrational thinking. Brought up in the American South, right smack in the Bible Belt, I truly believed, however briefly, that we were living in the end times.  In the 1970s I read Hal Lindsey's "The Late Great Planet Earth," and I was convinced that the words of Biblical prophecy were coming true right in front of my own eyes.  Wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine; all of this convinced me that the words of Revelations were not so much written by ancient scribes who didn't know what germs were, but instead were hot-off-the-press news alerts. I sincerely believed that everything would end before the end of the decade.  Obviously, we're all still around to look back on this era as a more simple, gullible time, a time of naivete and silliness. 

But weird beliefs have firmly taken root in our society.

According to Daniel Loxton and Donald R. Prothero, the authors of Abominable Science: Origins of the Yeti, Nessie and Other Famous Cryptids, a whopping 68%, over two-thirds, of Americans believe in at least one of the following: "telekinesis, fortune-telling, astrology, communication with the dead, haunted houses, ghosts, Atlantis, UFOs and monsters."  

Some, believe it or not, actually believe in every last one of them.

In the martial arts world, where people train to fight with fists and feet, you would think that people would be down to earth; skeptical about metaphysical, supernatural powers and unusual claims.  Fighting is a matter-of-fact enterprise, and boils down to nuts and bolts, cut and dry reality. However, I have encountered lots of martial artists who are willing to suspend logic, common sense and rational thinking and accept some pretty amazing ideas.

First up:  Dim Mak "The Death Touch"

Dim Mak was all the rage back in the 70s.  People claimed to be able to hurt or even kill an opponent with a couple of light touches to vulnerable parts of the body.  Case in point, Count Dante, the "deadliest man alive."  Count Dante was actually a hair stylist who found out that advertising in comic books could make him a TON of money.  Kids gobbled it up and ordered his books and courses.

I have a dim view of Dim Mak.  I'm not saying that there aren't vulnerable or sensitive areas on the human body.  I'm also not contesting the fact that it might not take a lot of power to induce pain or disorientation by striking these points.  

But to claim that there is a science to all of this; that certain points are more sensitive at certain parts of the day or on certain days of the calendar is ludicrous. It's just fantasy.  My guess is that imaginative kids, picked on and dominated by bigger kids, wanted this power and bought the books, believing that they could bring down the bully with a gentle touch to the shoulder or a light brush on the forearm.  What's not hard to imagine is their surprise when it didn't work and it only made the bad guy madder.

There's just no evidence, none whatsoever, that the Dim Mak death touch is real.

Next up:  Ninjitsu

For much of the late 60s and early 70s it seems you couldn't turn on TV or go to the movies without seeing ninja attacks. They were everywhere.  They were in the famed TV mini series "Shogun," and they were in the popular "American Ninja" movies.  I first saw them in my favorite James Bond movie, "You Only Live Twice."  Bond even gets to go to a private island and train to be a ninja.  Later he and a whole army of ninja attack the rocket launch site hidden in a volcano!

I met a guy in the mid 70s who said he studied ninjitsu.  He had the outfit and the special shoes, the sword, the claws, the ropes, the shuriken and caltrops, and even some type of blow gun that could launch out a dart or a smoke bomb. Thing is, he couldn't fight that well.  When it came to going up against someone one on one, however, he wasn't very effective.

Sure, there are plenty of guys who are fit and who can use this odd equipment to do some damage.  But it's merely cosplay, fantasy action, the stuff of imagination.  

The evidence surrounding the historical ninja is sketchy and limited.  

Want to own the night?  Forget all that comic book stuff and become an Army Ranger.

Similarly:  Shaolin Monks

The Shaolin temple is a popular tourist destination for thousands of people each year.  Visitors can see the depressions in the foundation stones where monks in ancient times practiced their martial arts patterns, stomping the ground as part of the exercises.  They can learn all about these peaceful monks who trained to fight and traveled the countryside teaching peace and harmony.

But much of the history is totally made up.  The evidence is very weak.  True believers point to modern Shaolin monks who practice a harsh form of Chinese martial arts and perform elaborate acrobatic moves and tests of skill and strength.  However, much of their performances are nothing more than strongmen and stage acts from street performers.  Sure, some of their WuShu takes incredible conditioning and perfect timing, but it's not really what most people think it is.

Also: Commando Combatives

I know what you're thinking:  "Goin, you're nuts.  Commando combatives is a REAL thing!"

I can't argue with you.  Elite operators across the globe must learn close quarters battle skills and be able to use knives, fists and feet to get the job done.

It's all quite real.  But that's not what I'm talking about.

What I'm talking about is people pretending to be something they're not.  Pretending to be warriors.  Pretending that warriors train hour upon hour to deal with all kinds of empty hand combat.  I think most of that concept is horse crap.  They have lots more to do than work on hand-to-hand skills all day long.  They have to spend hours at the gun range.  They must learn the technology of modern combat--communications and navigation for example.  They simply don't have time to become martial arts experts.  They need a few go-to, bread-and-butter, time-tested, battle-proven skills that work in a wide variety of scenarios.

I think it's time that martial artists let go of the b.s. that has so long fertilized crazy beliefs.  Get back to basics--hard work, smart training, and learn from as many valid sources as possible. Just don't let emotions and superstition take hold. 

Terry's Rule Part II

Rory Miller's Blog - Sun, 2016-01-10 05:55

Betray yourself before your people
"Betray" is a hard word, and, for me, this sentiment goes deeper. Substitute sacrifice. Substitute risk. Take the triggering words out of it and it comes down to priorities. My people are more important than me. In the macro, people take certain jobs so that other people don't have to face those realities. At that level, this, to me, means 'do the job.'

But it is also an ordering of priorities. The mission comes first. Then your troops. Then you. The first commander of our CERT had one sterling qualification: Of everyone in our administration he was the only one --the only-- we all believed that, given a choice between sacrificing one of our lives and sacrificing his career, he would sacrifice his career without hesitation. NPNBW, brother.

This one is the hardest for me to explain logically. If the leader has more skill and experience, shouldn't he or she more valuable than his or her troops? I can't break it down logically, but anyone who believes that shouldn't be followed and can't be trusted to lead. It just is.

Last point on this one: Does it contradict the first rule? Not if you see your people as an extension of yourself. But that's a sophistry. So what if it contradicts? I can handle two things in my head.

Be equipped, be prepared, be ready
I despise MacGyver. He inspired a whole generation of people to believe there was something noble about choosing to be poorly equipped. If you refuse to carry the equipment to do the job, you aren't a hero. You are an idiot who is willing to sacrifice innocent people (and yourself) for ego. For image.

Not just equipment. Survival and effectiveness works in a matrix of skill, tools and will. Have the right equipment, but a closet full of high-end toys means jack shit if you don't know how to use them. And the best equipment in the world combined with the best training available also means squat if you don't have the will to access them under pressure.

Acquire the right equipment. Get the best training you can find. But forge and test your will.

You won't ever know what may happen, be ready anyway
One of my pet peeves is that so many people want answers and so many people are willing to sell them, but it is physically impossible to have a good answer when you don't know the question. And you can never know the question because, unless you actively participate, you can't know what kind of bad things will happen to you.

Acknowledging that is another superpower. Or maybe it's just simple maturity. Maybe that's redundant. Here's the deal: Understanding how much you don't know and can't predict gives you an incredible freedom if you aren't scared of it. It shifts training to simply getting better-- at anything and everything-- and away from trying to memorize one more solution to one more imaginary problem. Adaptability is the hallmark of humanity, something we should embrace, and not fear the chaos that makes it so necessary.

Just because no one is ready, ever, to be a father doesn't mean you can't be a good one. One of the most valuable pieces of advice I ever got, was to quit looking for the right girl. "Quit looking for Ms. Right. Work your ass off to be Mr. Right so that she knows you when you finally meet." Quit trying to  be ready. Focus, instead, on being excellent.

Acknowledge emotion, don't be enslaved by it
Are you smart when you're in love? When you're angry? When you're afraid? Of course not, and that goes for every emotion. All of the special snowflakes want to believe that the depth of their caring or their emotional involvement somehow makes them superior, but in actual fact it makes them stupid. Sorry to say it and I know it hurts, but if you're excited about a cause or a group or a party or a candidate, odds are you are wrong. At best, you might be right by accident and despite your emotion-induced stupidity.

And don't pretend for a second that in your special snowflake case you coldly analyzed the facts and got emotional later. Sorry, buttercup. The human mind goes emotion first.

And that's why you always have to acknowledge the emotion. Because it does come first and it is more powerful than reason. (And this is where I tell myself, "Suck it up, Buttercup" because I want so badly to believe that my emotions are fairly weak... but wanting is an emotion itself.)  Emotions aren't necessarily right or effective-- but the righteousness of logic doesn't make it a winner. Emotions win, if you let them. And it takes a lot of skill and a lot of discipline to even recognize when you are enslaved by your emotions, because you will always want to rationalize it. And the smarter you are, the stinkier bullshit you can successfully rationalize.

Terry's Rules

Rory Miller's Blog - Mon, 2016-01-04 02:57
Terry Trahan posted something on FaceBook. Something important and iconic, and I want to play with it, the way I intend to play with Wilder and Kane's recent work on Musashi's Dokkodo soon.

Terry posted them as his rules. The Italic afterwards is my commentary.

No matter what, I go home
Yes. Everything else is bullshit. This is also the first of Mac's Golden rules: "You and your partner go home safe at the end of each and every shift." It is the essence of hostage rescue's "Immutable Order." Here's the deal. It's not just because we do this so we can go home to our families. If that was the only criterion, the smart thing would be to do something else. Be an accountant, whatever. But for society as a whole, someone has to stand up, someone has to take the risks and take the hits. As the saying goes, "If not us, who? If not now, when?"

But the cold hard math of it is that a dead medic never saved anybody. A SWAT operator who overestimated himself and did something stupid and got hurt doesn't just take himself out of the equation. He takes himself and all the resources diverted to save his dumb ass. Those resources are now unavailable for the primary problem.

So, absolutely, for your family, for yourself, and for society your safety comes first. We aren't paid to lose.

It's ok to stop and think
One of the hallmark differences between an amateur and a professional is how they understand time. If no one is getting hurt, the bad guy can say any shit he wants. If I can tell, because of height, distance and weight distribution, that attacking me will take a full second, I'll use half that second to plan.

Time is a magic thing. It makes many problems go away, especially problems based on a bad guy's adrenaline. If there is any time to stop and think, I will use that time as ruthlessly as I would use a weapon or any other resource.

Remember to get doing again
That said, when you have time, you think. When you no longer have time, you need to be me moving. Running, fighting-- whatever is appropriate. But if talking is going to get you killed, one of the stupidest things you can do is keep talking.

There's a subset in our society that thinks that planning and thinking are just as valuable as doing. They can kiss my ass. There's an old saying in intelligence that communication without information is noise and information without communication is useless. Plans without execution are useless masturbation. Thought should inform action, no doubt. But everything predicates on action.

Do nothing you can't live with
Any form of violence has consequences-- physical, legal, medical and psychological. There is always a moral aspect to any use of force. In the end, you have to be able to live with whatever you do, whatever you have done. The drug abuse, alcoholism and suicide rate among survivors is unacceptable.

And this involves knowing yourself. It's easy to say the words, no matter what the words are: "I would kill to protect my children." "I'd rather be tried by twelve than carried by six." "There is no moral way to use force." There's a lot of words, and all of them are bullshit until they have been tested by you in the field.

Knowing what you're capable of is less than half the battle. Knowing what you can do and still look at yourself in the mirror is the greater goal. And, my personal take-- learning how to change what you can live with is a superpower. Understanding the depths beneath the ethics.

That's enough for tonight.  4/11. More coming up.

Things That Impress Beginners

Rory Miller's Blog - Sat, 2016-01-02 21:42
Most people thinking about starting martial arts or self-defense are "naive consumers" which means that they have no way to tell good instruction from utter crap. What little information they have comes from TV or other entertainment sources, and the potential instructor who can talk closest to that fantasy baseline sounds the most credible.

One of the odd side effects of this, is that many of the things that impress beginners are the exact same things that are red flags to people who have been around for a while.

Certificates and Diplomas. If someone has ten "Grandmaster" diplomas in ten different arts, to a beginner that sounds like a good thing. That's like a PhD, right? And someone with ten PhDs must know more than someone with just one, right? Depending on what "Grandmaster" even means within the system.
Does it mean that the person has trained "masters" defined as people who have trained other instructors? Because that would require three times the minimal time to get instructor rank in each of those styles. Assuming extreme belt inflation and a person could get to instructor rank in 3 years, it would take a minimum of nine years to get each of the grandmaster certs. Ninety years for ten of them. Thirty, if the person in question had no life and could study and compartmentalize three arts at once.
If Grandmaster means headmaster, he'd have to be the sole survivor of his generation of instructors and all the previous generations of instructors-- sole survivor ten different times. If the Grandmaster is the hereditary lineage holder, the poor guy would have to have ten fathers and/or mothers, which would make the holidays really hard.
One of my friends ordered a box of DVDs that included instructor certificates for all of the things covered in the DVDs (I don't remember Jeff, was it forty of them? A hundred?) Just fill in your name, you already sent your money.

Ranks. To a beginner, dan rank is dan rank and a fifth degree blackbelt must be better than a first degree blackbelt. But there was a huge change in the early and mid-eighties. An article I read in the late seventies said on average a black belt in karate took eight years to achieve. Some styles now offer them much more quickly-- eighteen months to black belt, anyone? I consider Jim Onchi (judo) to be one of the only two legitimate ninth-dans I have ever met, and he trained from 1929 until his death in 2013. 75 years. When I see a pimply-faced kid advertising tenth dan, I want to puke in my mouth just a little. To someone who has been around, extraordinarily high ranks that don't match the person's age (and ability to move, modified, of course by age) are red flags. And if super-high ranks are norms for the system, it calls the legitimacy of the whole system into question. It's like everyone at a fast-food restaurant being either a manager, assistant manager or manager trainee. Pretty good sign you're not at a 5-star restaurant.

Halls of Fame and Headmaster Associations. Again, the beginner sees these as marks of legitimacy. In the normal world, other sports' halls of fame are managed by governing bodies with a big stake in maintaining the legitimacy of the sport. You can't, as far as I know, buy your way into the Baseball or Rock Hall of Fame. But at least one of the martial arts halls of fame contacted everyone on their mailing list to induct them. My wife, with her (at the time) green belt in Shito-ryu could have been inducted into this hall of fame and all she had to do was pay $600 dollars to attend a dinner. Like almost every other senior practitioner, I've turned down multiple offers. (Full disclosure, I was inducted into one without my knowledge. My wife said it would be rude to refuse). To the experienced, Halls of Fame and Headmaster associations look like cynical, mutual ego-stroking societies existing sole to market to the naive. O maybe I'm the one being cynical.

Medals and Trophies. Yes and no. If you're into sport, you want to train under winners. But this is one that seniors get skeptical about. If they've never heard of the tournament, they wonder. If it says "World Championship" on the trophy but it was held in a one-horse town, you have to wonder. And there are some big tournaments that have a huge number of divisions so that almost everyone can go home with gold medals because there are usually only one or two competitors in each division.
But if you're learning a sport and some of the coaches or practitioners were on the Olympic team, you've struck gold.

Uniformity. Maybe this is just me, but TV always shows lines of people doing things in perfect unison, and that strikes me as dangerous. Tall people and short people should move different. If everyone's head is level throughout the kata, they aren't being taught how to drop step or use weight for power. An over-emphasis on visual measures of effectiveness is one of my red flags. But to the naive, consistency and conformity are almost always interpreted as signs quality.

There are exceptions, always. A red flag don't always indicate a smoking gun. But it strikes me as very odd, maybe funny, that what looks good to a beginner often looks just the opposite after a few years.
Or maybe it's just me.

De-escalation Tactics – Part Four

John Titchen's Blog - Sat, 2016-01-02 16:18

This four part series is designed to be a brief introduction to the field of non-violent resolution tactics.

Part One – Underpinning Principles

Part Two – Verbal Approaches

Part Three – Body Language

Part Four – Personal Psychology


This element of de-escalation tactics is perhaps the most important and most neglected area of personal discipline.

To successfully de-escalate a situation you usually

  1. want to achieve a peaceful resolution,
  2. need to have the self confidence to believe that avoiding an unnecessary violent or aggressive event is indicative of mental strength not weakness.

For many people the ego is the Achilles heel of successful conflict avoidance. It is not unusual to find individuals who have either set false standards of behaviour for themselves, inappropriate goals, or believe (often incorrectly) that others expect certain types of behaviour from them. Many have a needless value that they put on the (temporary) perception of themselves by others.

Conflict de-escalation is still a form of conflict. In simple terms to prevent force or greater aggression from being used the other party needs to feel that they have either won, or at the very least that they have not lost. In many instances this is about saving face (in front of their peers) and to do this you may need to be seen by them (and perhaps by some bystanders) as having given in. The paradigm shift that a lot of people need to get their heads round is that this does not mean that you have lost, rather you need to understand and appreciate that your victory is in achieving a different aim (lack of violence, criminal damage, injury or prosecution) and one that may not be immediately apparent to the other person.

Do not think that you have to win, think rather that you do not have to lose.

Gichin Funakoshi

If you have good trouble avoidance protocols then the likelihood or frequency of your being involved in a de-escalation event with potentially serious consequences while surrounded or observed by people that know you well should be low. In such instances, acquaintances whose judgement you value should not view you harshly for taking action that avoided any escalation in aggression or violence, even if that means ‘giving way’ or apologising for something that was not your fault.

If a similar instance occurs when you are surrounded by strangers who you are unlikely to ever see again, should you care what they think? If you are in a venue where even saving face for the other person carries a high risk of being attacked for being weak then you are in the wrong place. A location where a level of aggression that risks or inevitably results in physical conflict is the only acceptable response is not one any sensible person should frequent.

Whether strangers or acquaintances, people whose judgement you value should recognise the value of taking steps that avoid risking injury (and property damage) and further repercussions to both yourself or another person.

Pride in your combative skill-set can be a dangerous side effect of martial arts training, one that brings for some a subconscious fantasy promoted by films where the subject uses their skills to beat or humble another person. It doesn’t help that this is the mental picture and expectation that most non-martial artists have of their martial art practicing friends.

You do not need to let your pride go, you just need to change its focus.

For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

Sun Tzu



This four part series has been described as a brief introduction to de-escalation. That is all it is, no more than a starting point. Each of the four umbrella headings that I’ve chosen are arbitrary, and represent summations and generalisations of a vast topic. Since I have generalised while writing this not everything that I have said will be right or applicable all the time.

I do encourage you all to do your own research and training on this topic, but caveat emptor. There are a number of writers and training providers out there who may make you mistakenly feel ignorant or inexperienced because they use ‘specialist’ terminology to refer to most elements of what they are teaching. In my experience this is marketing dross rather than a useful educational tool and it simply creates a false divide between those ‘in the club’ and those outside. In the majority of cases the specialist terminology employed has no basis in the fields of psychology, psychiatry, criminology, medicine or policing – it’s simply an in-house teaching tool.



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The 2015 Review

John Titchen's Blog - Tue, 2015-12-22 17:23

So farewell 2015. It’s definitely been a Phoenix year for me, rising from the ashes of 2014, which I wrote about here.

January 2015 began with me just starting on solid food again following on from a lingual tonsillectomy just before Christmas. The surgeon did an excellent job removing the tissue from my tongue, the oncologists declared it cancer free, and other than one unplanned overnight stay in Oxford due to a post operative bleed in the new year, my recovery has been smooth.

It was fun while it lasted!

Recovering from a year of chronic tonsillitis has naturally meant I’ve been able to benefit from greater activity and overall this has been a good year for both teaching and personal training. I’ve been very lucky to have a great group of students to work with in both my Shotokan and DART karate classes and they’ve really inspired me to continue to refine both my own karate technique and my teaching methods.

Just enough to take the old car off the road…

February 2016 saw my recovery hit a slight setback when a driver used to being on the other side of the road drove straight into the passenger side of my car as I was on my way to training. Regrettably I suffered whiplash and related shoulder, neck and back problems as a result of the crash and these plagued me at intermittent intervals throughout the year up until October. The back injury put the brakes on some groundwork training that I wanted to do and I’ve deferred that until 2016 to make sure everything has healed fully. I have to say thanks to Linslade Physiotherapy and Dan White PT for their help and support in keeping me active and helping my recovery.

June saw my favourite seminar of the year, the Martial Arts Planet Annual Charity Meet at the High Wycombe Judo Centre. This year’s charity was CHECT, the Childhood Eye Cancer Trust. I always enjoy this Meet with its mix of well-known and ‘hidden’ high quality instructors teaching across a broad range of martial arts. I limited my participation due to my back problems but taught a 90 minute seminar in support of the first three (previously published) volumes of the Pinan Flow System and enjoyed a great Judo class with Paralympic Silver medallist Ian Rose. I always come away from the MAP Meets bursting with ideas sparked by watching so many different martial artists from different styles all training together and 2015 was no exception. The 2016 MAP Meet on Saturday 21 May at Wycombe Judo Centre will be supporting Shelter and I’ll be writing to tell you all about it soon. In the meantime, mark the date in your diaries!

It was my great pleasure this year to finish publishing the Pinan Flow System series. I had published the first two volumes in 2014, but now all four books in the series are now available worldwide in both paperback and ebook formats, and have been received very positively by the martia arts community. I’ve had a great time teaching this karate kata application material to my own students and sharing little snippets of Heian / Pinan bunkai on my youtube channel, but I’ve been humbled by how many of you have embraced the books and given the training concepts a try. I’ve already got a number of kata application seminars in the pipeline for 2016 which I’ve highlighted on my facebook page, including one with the excellent Andi Kidd, author of From Shotokan to the Street.

The full set!

My summer treat this year was a trip to Frankfurt to enjoy a weekend of training with other karateka as part of Jesse Enkamp’s KNX 15, which I’ve already written about here. The event was marred slightly for me by a resurgence of my back injury and I completed each day’s training ‘well lubricated’ by 60mg of Codeine and 1000mg of Paracetamol four times a day. Somewhat embarrassingly Jesse asked me to demonstrate my version of the Shotokan form Nijushiho alongside his Ryuei Ryu Niseishi while in a haze of painkillers, and although I felt ‘all over the place’ as a result, the resulting video (which non attendees can purchase along with all the lessons from the weekend) doesn’t seem to have caused internet outrage yet. At the end of that seminar I did get to grade as a White belt with Master Ken and it will be up to people who train with me in future to discern if they can spot any Ameridote influences.

Master Ken pulling rank!

Yes, I now have a white belt. :)

One of the on-going projects of 2015 has been the renovation of my personal training dojo at home. This was a great space which suffered from a low ceiling that affected some of the training and filming I wanted to do, while the weakness of the beams made me unwilling to risk hanging a heavy bag for impact training.

The old low and buckling beams.

This weakness has now been rectified with new support and while I still have some electrical and insulation work along with tidying up to complete before I can use the dojo regularly for my own training, I expect the project to be complete by the end of January 2016.

The newly supported ceiling.

One of the many highlights of the year for me has been the scenario simulation training events that I’ve run for my own students and guests at the Wycombe Judo Centre. It’s always great to see the development of people on these days and very encouraging to see returnees applying the lessons of their previous experiences to better de-escalate situations or position themselves appropriately to escape or engage physically as required. I have had some amazing groups this year and we’ve all taken away good things from the training.

A great mixed bunch of my own students and guest trainees.

Another amazing bunch!

So this holiday I’m definitely going to raise a glass to 2015. I’ve met some fantastic people, made some great new friends, and recovered from a chronic illness. Looking forward I believe that I’m finishing 2015 stronger, faster, more flexible and more knowledgeable. 2016? Bring it on.

Three things that will revolutionise your karate

John Titchen's Blog - Mon, 2015-11-30 15:57

1. Treat each demonstration by an instructor as if it is the first time you have ever seen it.

We look, but we fail to see, We listen, but we fail to hear. We observe, but we fail to understand. We’ve all done this and in many respects the longer we’ve been training the easier it is to fall into the trap of not paying attention to a demonstration or teaching point. It’s easy to look at something and say “Oh, I know this” and not give it your full attention, or not look closer to pay attention to the finer details which may be left unsaid.

One of the most difficult challenges I faced when writing my most recent series of application books, the Pinan Flow System, was choosing how to describe and illustrate the actions of the application drills. Next to each picture I had space to write about thirty words. Thirty words and a picture to sum up a little element of an application drill when I could quite easily spend at least a good twenty minutes talking through all the different nuances and underlying principles of that particular element of the drill.

In similar vein when a drill is taught it is usually layered, with different elements being emphasised for the different audiences, and a normal lesson time explanation cannot begin to cover the depth of understanding needed for good practice.

The simple step of assuming you don’t know anything about the demonstration that is taking place in front of you and trying to view it with fresh eyes to always seek extra details will make a huge difference to your karate.

2. Question everything.

I don’t mean sticking up your hand in the middle of the class all the time and asking your instructor for more information. Your instructor is teaching on a tight schedule, they are giving you as much information as they feel you need to know and have to balance the training needs of all the other students. If you need to ask your instructor a question, often it is best to wait until the end of the class; it’s not good manners to interrupt everyone else’s education and training.

If you are given a rationale for a drill or exercise, apply a solid BS filter to it. This will mean that you have to put in time to get the background knowledge to understand whether it is BS or not. The nature of your filter will depend not only upon your knowledge level (and the quality of your source information), but the purpose of your filter; are you looking for optimum training for strength, balance, flexibility, aerobic fitness, competition success (in kumite or kata) or self defence?

A lot of people peddle information that may have passed a BS filter back when they were first being taught, but time and research have since shown to be wrong. They may not be aware what they are teaching is inaccurate or flawed. Other people peddle false information because they’ve never done any real research on the topic and are relying on their imagination, their own very limited experience (which they may not realise is limited simply by being personal) or movies.

Do your own research. How does this work? Why does this work? When should this work? Where does it come from? How can I improve this? What do I need to change to improve?


3. Train at home, no matter how little time or space you have.

As an instructor it can be frustrating when you run several classes a week but students only make it to one. What we often fail to realise is how lucky we are to get that student at just that one class. Often on chatting to students I find that they may be out another one or two nights a week pursuing other physical hobbies (such as running, or tennis, or swimming), looking after the children at home on another night while their partner goes out to an activity, acting as a taxi service to children on other nights for their activities, and if they are lucky actually getting to spend one or two evenings a week at home with their partner. All this on top of working throughout the day earning money!

The reality of modern life is that it isn’t easy for many students to come to class more than once a week. The reality of karate is that you need to train regularly to see improvement. The two are not mutually exclusive.

You do not have to train in long sessions to have beneficial karate training.

Every good repetition of a movement counts. That means you can train for 30 seconds standing on one leg or rotating your hips while waiting for the kettle to boil, or a partner to come down the stairs before you go out rather than pacing in front of the TV. You can do a lot in a five minute session, and it is easy to find a five minute or ten minute moment in the day, and probably better for you than sitting down. Anyone can find time for personal training if they want to find time for personal training.

You do not have to break a sweat or change clothing to have beneficial karate training.

You can’t train because you don’t have time to change or shower? That shouldn’t be an issue. You don’t need to break a sweat for good training. Training comes in many forms, and as I’ve written here, often the best form of training is slow movement focusing on precision, good biomechanics and balance. You can sweat when you go to your karate class, or engage in any other form of exercise you practice.

You do not have to have lots of space to have beneficial karate training.

You can achieve a lot standing on the spot. There are lots of different upper body, hip movements and weight transference exercises you can do on the spot. It’s great to have a fair bit of space, but you can easily improve your karate just by standing on the spot.

You do not have to have a training partner to have beneficial karate training.

Paired and multiple person work is obviously a big part of karate, but you do not need company to improve your kihon or kata. If you have a kick bag, speed ball traditional strength tools or a makiwara at home you can work on those. Playing tug of war with reasonably sized dog is a great way to improve your hikite, and you may learn a lot about good biomechanics by observing how your ‘training partner’ utilises its whole body.

Try these three things for just one month and see how your karate improves!

The Next One

Rory Miller's Blog - Sat, 2015-11-28 19:13
Traditionally, I do a ton of writing in November. Just not here.
November is the National Novel Writing Month or Nanowrimo. The challenge is to finish 50,000 words in one month-- a month with a major holiday, family obligations and all of your regular work, too. Lots of my friends take the challenge and I try to finish something. It's not a novel, but I add 50,000 words to a project.
For the last 28 days, every spare minute has been spent on the IDC manual. IDC was our cop jargon for "Instructor Development Course." So a book on how to teach. Finished it today. Or, at least, thought I did. Then realized I needed to add a new section. No idea why these things always seem to pop into my head in the shower.

So, if anyone is still reading the blog, here's a taste. The Table of Contents:

IntroductionSection 1: The Unique Problem of Self-DefenseSection 1.1: RaritySection 1.2 An Open, Not a Closed System Section 1.3 Surprise, Fear and Speed Section 1.4 The Problem is LongitudinalSection 1.5 The Problem Exists in the Real World Section 1.6 You are Teaching Students, not Subject MatterSection 2: Subject Matter ExpertiseSection 2.1 Knowledge of the ProblemSection 2.1.1 The Ethical and Legal Implications of Using ForceSection 2.1.2 Violence DynamicsSection 2.1.3 Avoidance; Escape and Evasion and De-EscalationSection 2.1.4 Counter AssaultSection 2.1.5 FreezingSection 2.1.6 The FightSection 2.1.7 Aftermath Section 2.2 Applicable SolutionsSection 2.3 Experience ThresholdsSection 2.3.1 Sharing ExperiencesSection 3 The Ability to TeachSection 3.1 Adult LearningSection 3.2 AssessmentSection 3.2.1 Reading StudentsSection Creating Student ProfilesSection Troubleshooting Difficult Students Section 3.2.2 Reading a ClassSection 3.2.3 Assessing Sources of InformationSection 3.2.4 Assessing DrillsSection 3.2.5 Assessing TechniquesSection 3.3 The Transfer of InformationSection 3.4 Curriculum DevelopmentSection 3.4.1 Curricula in GeneralSection 3.4.2 Curriculum Design for Long-Term ClassesSection 3.4.3 Curriculum Design for Short ClassesSection 3.4.4 Teaching Groups vs. SinglesSection 4: Principles-Based TeachingSection 4.1 Background Concepts of Principles-Based TeachingSection 4.1.1 Building BlocksSection 4.1.2 PrinciplesSection 4.1.3 ConceptsSection 4.2 The Process of Principles-Based TeachingSection 4.3 The Flaws of Principles-Based TeachingSection 5: Teaching Professional (LEOs, Military and Specialty Teams)Section 5.1 The Fundamental FundamentalsSection 5.2 Before You teach, Know the PoliciesSection 5.3 Teaching ProfessionalsSection 5.3.1 Class StructureSection 5.3.2 PreparationSection 5.3.3 Class FormatSection 5.3.4 Deciding What to TeachSection 5.3.5 Setting up the ClassSection 5.3.6 PresentationSection 5.3.7 TroubleshootingSection 5.4 After the ClassSection 6: Instructor EthicsSection 6.1 EthicsSection 6.2 Student EmpowermentSection 6.3 Assumptions and BiasesSection 7 Business and Marketing, to be contributed by Randy KingSection 8 Tips and TricksAppendicesAppendix 1 Building BlocksAppendix 2 PrinciplesAppendix 3 ConceptsAppendix 4 Dracula’s Cape as an Example of Operant ConditioningAppendix 5 Example Flexible Curriculum Template Appendix 6 Example Revolving CurriculumAppendix 7 Example Professional Lesson Format
Appendix 8: Sample Safety Briefing 


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