No styles, no systems, no rituals, no lineages, no masters, no labels, no belts, no katas, no uniforms, no dogmas;

Only the process of self actualization & personal expression of truth through functional combative movement and fitness.

On a purely physical level, we share how to individually and collectively use all of our natural tools as well as extended ones, offensively and defensively in a strategic and tactical manner and in all ranges of combat.

We're put through functional physical fitness training where we learn to push ourselves through our own perceived limitations. We also have much to offer on nutrition, health and optimum performance.

On a more cerebral level we learn about the psychology of violence, fear, stress & confrontation management skills, deescalation strategies and holistic survival tactics.

As the mind navigates the body; by challenging personal self defense dogmas and individual & core belief systems, personal growth and evolution occurs.

On a human level, we learn about the ripple effect and the moral, legal, and ethical consequences of our chosen actions while self examining our darkest emotions. We are encouraged to question everything, to learn to think for ourselves, to be more accountable and research everything we learn and to be open and responsive to life without judgment.

On a personal level, the training can make you face and slay your own demons.

Everything shared here is highly encouraged to be individually researched, to “absorb what is useful, add what is specifically of your own and disregard the rest.”

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Beyond 'Techniques'

This article first appeared  on our forum in 2003 as a response to varying questions regarding our take on our conceptual approach vs a technical one:

"The conventions of language reveals the ways in which we see the world." ~ Dan Millman

Techniques as described by Webster's II New College Dictionary goes as follows:

Technique: 1. The systematic procedure by which a complex or scientific task is accomplished. 2. Procedure, system, routine; method. 3. The degree of skill or command of fundamentals exhibited in a performance.

All 3 of these definitions do not relate to personal protection as we all (should) know that fine or complex motor skills go out the window. Tool and target development based on strategies and tactics is NOT a "systematic procedure".
In martial arts today, the term "technique" is expressed as a physical response to an attack. For the most part, it is looked as "If someone does this, you do that." If we're to take a look around at the majority of martial arts forums, you'll see threads like (the following are actual threads found on various popular martial arts forums)

- "Which technique would you use against a grappler?"
- "What's your favorite technique?"
- "What are the best self defense techniques?"

Etc. Etc. 

The problem with 'techniques' in the context provided above, is that those who use them look to them for a specific result (in order to establish their next technique) as opposed to the reaction from their attacker as the consequence of their chosen action. The problem lies within the lack of ability to see the 'fight' outside 'the box', outside of the technical applications, since the individual using it cannot choose if the technique worked or not (especially the way it was designed to function). Your opponent will always dictate what your next 'move' is going to be based on their reactions; behavior, state of mind, state of emotions, will dictate. 

The mere term "technique" conjures up the image of memorized sequential tactics as a response to a given attack. Take boxing for instance, they don't teach techniques, they teach tools. Imagine if in Boxing, they taught that every time your opponent jabs, you slipped to the left and counter with a left hook. That would be a technical application as definable by many in the martial arts world. 

We all know that there are countless ways to counter a jab, and what does it depend on? Position, distance, momentum, mind set, delivery speed etc. So, we teach personal protection and hand to hand combat within the similar frame that Boxing is taught. Tool and Target development, Strategies and Tactics.

One of our Team members from Montreal, Marc Ste. Marie went on to explain it as such:


"Trying to memorize a solution for each possibility is ridiculous. Pre-planned scenarios applied to situations affected by multiple variables are useless..."

And I couldn't agree more. Everyone looks at it from a purely physical perspective. They have a difficult time understanding the holistic approach behind the context in which the technique should be used such as the behavioral aspects, the emotional aspects and the variables that surround the situation including environment and other possible unforeseen parties. 

Here's a question I ask every martial artist who walk through my doors to illustrate my point. I ask what would you do if someone grabbed you by the neck and pinned you to a wall? 

The response? Always and without fail, a physical response. "I would wrist lock and jart kick" - I would parry and punch" - I would grab the hand and kick" etc. etc.

Then I ask: What if the person grabbing you is a pissed off waitress who mistook you for the asshole who just pinched her butt at the diner? What if it was 6 foot 4 biker who's friends were standing behind him and they were armed? What if it was a drunk guy in a bar and 2 of his friends were standing at each of his side? What if at the same time, you were with your girlfriend who was a little drunk and began to mouth off?

The Point of the matter is, is that techniques are incidental. Techniques relate to fixation. Tools in contrast offer diversity and diverse ability. Techniques are easily dismissed in certain situations. Tools aren't. A tool will be used when it is called upon allowing for creative spontaneity moment to moment, a technique will not due to the faction in which it was created. For instance, a hammer is a tool. Primarily designed for hammering in nails but the diversity of this tool is widespread and its functions exceed 'the nail'. A technique will fixate an individual on its use and they will hinder creativity.

Semantics? Maybe. However just because everyone has the wrong definition of 'technique' doesn't mean we have to succumb to it and go along with it. 

To add to this, yes we teach escapes, releases, strikes, as well as their proper biomechanical applications but we do not offer them as THE SOLUTION to a given problem, merely a tool that should be placed in the RBSD 'tool box' so to speak and used when it is needed. Spontaneous improvisation is critical, this cannot happen with preplanned techniques.

A Krav Maga instructor on my forum wrote the following in reference:

One thing that happened to my student:
He was choked in nightclub. He did the release but for some reason didn't feel comfortable with the knee kick (or forgot it due to stress) so he made just the release and immediately grabbed the guys hair with other hand and stuck another thumb into eye and pulled the opponent down with a neck crank.

And I replied:

This particular student was the exception to the rule. An average or less gifted student who would have 'forgotten' as you state, 'what to do due to stress' would have panicked because what was memorized as a technique and was ingrained into him by his instructors (people whom he respects and put his faith in) would have failed him at that moment. 

The "uh-oh, this isn't the way we trained it in class" syndrome would have kicked in and caused hesitation. Remember, there are some people out there who can make Karate and Tae Kwon Do work in serious violent confrontations... doesn't make the arts functional for self defense though, it's the person, not the art that made it work and general population isn't gifted enough to make most traditional arts function during high stress situations.

The gifted people are exceptions to the rule... the average citizen isn't like that, we must never forget that as self defense instructors, our target audience is general population, not the gifted athlete, the already experienced brawler, the above average young male who can pick things up quickly... if that student of yours was a 50 year old mother of 2 housewife who encountered a violent confrontation and had the technique fail due to stress, I highly doubt she would have recovered like your student in question did. Unless of course, you train them to improvise outside the technical content... ;`)

For example, when we teach in class, we allow the student to be creative. There are no patterns to follow, there are no physical guidelines. You may have 7 students work a knife defense and each will look entirely different from the other due to the moment. A student will turn to me and ask "Did I do that right?" and I'll reply "Did you survive?" He'll say "Yeah, but I'm not too sure I applied the right technique?" I'll reply that anything he did that allowed to him survive with he minimal amount of damage done to him was the right technique.

The guidelines are the concepts and principles. The physical choices made are the manifestations of the strategic and tactical implementations of the moment dictated by the scenario and situation.  As our really old and dated website says: 

"Rather than provide technical aspects for people to use in particular situations, we provide analytical skills that are useful in all situations." ~ Senshido International

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