Sunday, June 27, 2010

Use of Force

Today was tons of fun. We met in a grimy tavern in a grimy part of town, most of us martial artists for a decade or more, for a self-defense seminar taught by the pretty darned impressive Rory Miller, a man I consider one of my best fighting arts teachers.

We practiced what techniques we knew, and then practiced some things we thought we knew, like power generation, which we now know better. We did scenario fights with weapons and cars and and padded attackers, and after each one discussed how we'd justify use of force. Say you actually do hurt someone in self-defense, how do you explain what you did to a judge or a jury?  You have to understand legal issues of force and self-defense. You have to think.

The range of experience in the room was impressive and a delight to work with, but for me the great part was watching myself and those around me think in new ways about self defense.

Too many martial arts schools are clean, well-lit studios that teach that self-defense is about a bad guy attacking and you defending, and it's that simple. But in the real(er) world, there are chairs and tables, stuff on the floor, coolers with handles. There is your kid in the back seat of your car. There are guys with egos who won't back down, and there are innocent bystanders, and in the thick of it, you can't always tell the difference.

And there are many, many times when the best thing to do is to walk away.

What, Miller asks us in each scenario, is your goal?  What do you want? As much fun as thumping on each other is to us fighting arts geeks, what most of us want is to go home in one piece, not to engage in violence.  To study safety in the midst of danger and go home unharmed, to look at this subject after decades of training and learn new things -- wow.

I had a blast.

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