# Hicks Law?

## Reaction Time In Combat? No!

#### By W. Hock Hochheim

Action beats reaction. If you are reacting to an attack, as the good guys generally are, you are already behind the action curve. How behind, scientists have labored intensely to discover over the last 50 years, and like splitting the atom, they have split the single second into one thousand parts to do it.

It was about 25 years ago when I attended a police defensive tactics course and was rather insulted by the attitude of the instructor. We were treated like Neanderthals. He declared, "KISS! Keep it simple, stupid. Hick's Law says that it takes your mind too long to choose between two tactics. Worse with three! Therefore, I will show you one response." I wondered then and there, "Am I to stay simple and stupid my whole life? Who is this Hick and what is his law?"

And, it takes too long? How long was long? How long is TOO long? I wondered? We learned one block versus a high punch that day. What about against a low punch, I thought? My one high block fails to cover much else but that one high attack.

Later that evening while coaching my son's little league baseball team, I saw this very instructor coaching his boy's team on another ball field. He was teaching ten year-olds to multi-task and make split-second decisions as his infielders, worked double plays with runners on base. It was clear the coach expected more from these kids than he did from we adult cops that morning. Hick's Law was not to be found on that kid's diamond.

Next, I slid both feet into this thing called Hick's Law, to discover it was a growing favorite among law enforcement trainers. Other famous police trainers kept mentioning Hick's Law :

" - lag time increases significantly with the greater number of techniques."

" - it takes 58% more time to pick between two choices."

" - it takes 'about a second' to pick a tactic."

"Selection time gets compounded exponentially when a person has to select from several choices- "

What is the definition of "significant time?" 58% of what? What exactly is "about a second?" Exponentially? Compounded? I had to delve even deeper into these cavalier statements. They seemed to have an agenda. The agenda was to sell training courses and dumb-down people and training? If I was going to become this pessimistic, I needed more proof. I hit the textbooks and contacted the experts.

The actual Hick's idea was based on a computer study, a paper written in 1952 and simply set up an equation that states it takes time to decide between options. Just for the record, the equation is TR+a+b{Log2 (N)}. A computer performance study? Do you think that 1950 computers ran a bit slow? The 1950 idea was then extrapolated into human performance, based on very primitive, 1950 push-button tests. The lab method had the testee selecting from several buttons on sudden command. From this, the mythology of the slow decision making brain developed.

Exponentially decision making? Any exponential function is a constant multiple of its own derivative. Many modern tactical instructors still just blindly associate a never-ending doubling ratio to Hick - that is, for every two choices, selection time doubles per added choice. Yet, despite all these quotes on times, Hick made no official proclamation on the milliseconds it takes to decide between options.

There is a general, consensus in the modern Kinesiology community that Simple Reaction Time, called SRT, takes an average of 150 milliseconds to decide to take an action. That's considerably less than a quarter of a second-or 250 milliseconds, or half-a-second, or "about a second." Lets re-establish that there are 1,000 milliseconds in one second-a fact that makes all these time studies fall to include into a proper perspective. 1,000 of them! More than 1,000 milliseconds passed before you can read the number aloud.

Based on the doubling/exponentially rule with the commonly discussed SRT average, then choosing between two choices must take 300 milliseconds. Run out that time-table. Three choices? 600 milliseconds. Four choices? 1 second and 200 milliseconds. A mere five choices? 2 seconds and 400 milliseconds! Six? 4 full seconds and 800 milliseconds. Should a boxer learn 5 tactics? That would mean 9 seconds and 600 milliseconds to choose one tactic from another? You would really see people physically shut down while trying to select options at this point and beyond. Has this been your viewing experience of a football game? Basketball? Tennis? Has this been your experience as a witness to life? Under this casual, exponential increase rule, it would seem athletes would stand dumbfounded, as index cards rolled through their heads in an attempt to pick a choice of action. Every eye jab could not be blocked if the blocker was taught even just two blocks. The eye attack would hit the eyes as the defender sluggishly selects between the two blocks.

One then begins to wonder how a football game can be played, how a jazz pianist functions, or how a bicyclist can pedal himself in a New York City rush hour. How does a boxer, who sees a spilt-second opening, select a jab, cross, hook, uppercut, overhand, or to step back straight, right or left? If he dares to throw combination punches how can he select them so quickly?

Simple, modern athletic performance studies attack the doubling rule, but we need not only look to athletes. How can a typist type so quickly? Look at all the selections on a computer? 26 letters-plus options! How can you read this typed essay? How can your mind select and process from 26 different letters in the alphabet? It is obvious that the exponential rule of "doubling" with each option, has serious scientific problems when you run a simple math table out, or just look about you at everyday life.

New tests upon new tests on skills like driving vehicles, flying, sports and psychology, have created so many layers of fresh information. Larish and Stelmach in 1982 established that one could select from 20 complex options in 340 milliseconds, providing the complex choices have been previously trained. One other study even had a reaction time of .03 milliseconds between two trained choices! .03! Merkel's Law, for example, says that trouble begins when a person has to select between 8 choices, but can still select a choice from the eight well under 500 milliseconds. Brace yourself! Mowbray and Rhoades Law of 1959, or the Welford Law of 1986, found no difference in reaction time at all, when selecting from numerous, well-trained choices.

Why all these time differences? In 2003, I conducted an email survey of 50 college university professors of Psychology and Kinesiology. It is crystal clear that training makes a considerable difference. Plus-people, tests and testing equipment are different. Respondents state that every person and the skills they perform in tests vary, so reaction times vary. One universal difficulty mentioned by researchers is the mechanical task of splitting the second in their testing - that is identifying the exact millisecond that the tested reaction took place. Many recorded tests are performed by under-grads in less than favorable conditions.

The test-givers themselves have reaction time issues that effect time recording! Milliseconds are wasted as the tester sees the testee react, then reacts with a stopwatch device, either estimating or losing milliseconds in their own reaction process. Common test machinery takes milliseconds to register a choice. Results can get vague and slippery within the tiny world of a single second. Documenting milliseconds in the 1950s was almost impossible even in the most sophisticated labs, yet modern instructors ignore modern research and use the 1950s numbers to base their training methodologies. But test-gathering technology is rapidly changing.

The KISS Method- not well thought out as a doctrine.

Many unintended messagesand consequences are involved.

Discoveries made in 1990s, decades after the 1950s Hicks law began, blowing the original, antiquated "mental rolodex/task selection" concept out of the water. The brain has a fast track! Below, researchers Martin D. Topper, Ph.D., and Jack M. Feldman, Ph.D. write about them:

"Currently, the best explanation is provided by psychologist Gary Klein in Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions. He's proposed that the human brain is capable of multi-tasking. Gary's theory works like this: A visual image is picked up by the retina and is transmitted to the visual center of the brain in the occipital lobe. From there the image is sent to two locations in the brain. On the one hand, it goes to the higher levels of the cerebral cortex which is the seat of full conscious awareness. There, in the frontal lobes, the image is available to be recognized, analyzed, input into a decision process and acted upon as the person considers appropriate. Let's call this "the slow track," because full recognition of the meaning of a visual image, analyzing what it represents, deciding what to do and then doing it takes time. Some psychologists also refer to this mental process as System II cognition. If you used System II cognition in critical situations like a skid, you wouldn't have enough time to finish processing the OODA Loop before your car went over the cliff.

Fortunately, there's a second track, which we'll call "the fast track," or System I Cognition. In this system, the image is also sent to a lower, pre-conscious region of the brain, which is the amygdala. This area of the brain stores visual memory and performs other mental operations as well. The visual image is compared here on a pre-conscious level at incredible speed with many thousands of images that are stored in memory. Let's call each image a "frame" which is a term that Dr. Erving Goffman used in his book Frame Analysis to describe specific, cognitively-bounded sets of environmental conditions. I like to use the word "frame" here because the memory probably contains more than just visual information. There may be sound, kinesthetic, tactile, olfactory or other sensory information that also helps complement the visual image contained within the frame - fortunately, the fast and slow tracks are usually complimentary, one focusing on insight, the other on action. Together they produce a synergistic effect that enhances the actor's chances of survival.

But even though these two tracks are complimentary, we know that some people seem to be much more skilled than others at integrating System 1 and System 2. These especially competent individuals seem to resolve critical situations and also adapt to rapid changes in those situations. They invent routines they have never before performed and act in a fluid, seamless manner without employing full focal awareness."

So at this point in our understanding, we have newer models discovered and developing that tell us something about how the brain can operate on two tracks at the same time, but we don't really have a good idea of how the two levels interact, except to say that the interaction is very fast and complex, and some people do it better than others. We really don't know everything we'd like to know. But we do know that specific types of training can help a person develop unconscious competence, and this is enough to make some suggestions about the kind of training that will help make relatively unskilled people more competent in finding solutions to potentially violent encounters.

And then this news on BDNF: Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor :

"If I had to make a signal that could write messages on the brain from the environment, that would be BDNF."

Scientists at Johns Hopkins and the National Cancer Institute have found a "missing link" brain chemical that rises and falls quickly in response to stress, fear or an upbeat mood, and then sculpts nerve circuits in the brain accordingly. Their report, on work done appears in the Dec. 21, 1999 issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). Further, because research at Hopkins and elsewhere shows that BDNF levels vary with subject's experience as it goes down in stressful situations..."BDNF has all the right features to be the critical signal by which environmental and psychosocial interactions impact on the brain," says neuropathologist Dr. Vassilis E. Koliatsos. "It's very rapid, it's sensitive, and it affects a system critical for emotional life and behavior. "What we believe we've found is a link between what happens to a person on a daily basis and the way the brain responds, from an emotional standpoint, over the long term."

Dr Susan Greenfield has written The Quest For Identity In The 21st Century, in which she discusses the natural ways the human brain grows and adapts. " I'm a neuroscientist and my day-to-day research at Oxford University strives for an ever greater understanding - and therefore maybe, one day, a cure - for Alzheimer's disease. But one vital fact I have learnt is that the brain is not the unchanging organ that we once imagined. It not only goes on developing, changing and, in some tragic cases, eventually deteriorating with age, it is also substantially shaped by what we do to it and by the experience of daily life. When I say "shaped," I'm not talking figuratively or metaphorically; I'm talking literally. At a microcellular level, the infinitely complex network of nerve cells that make up the constituent parts of the brain actually change in response to certain experiences and stimuli. The brain, in other words, is malleable. The surrounding environment has a huge impact both on the way our brains develop and how that brain is transformed into a unique human mind.

Doctors Richard A. Schmidt (a decades long expert) and Timothy Donald Lee, in the , ground breaking, 1980s book and subsequent new editions since, Motor Control and Learning reported that task selection is made up of two parts, RT (reaction time) - seeing the problem, and MT (movement time) - physically moving to respond, and thus may be a "few milliseconds " for fast, simple chores, not this compounding, exponential, doubling, half-second format.

Eight decades of performance testing and technology have passed since Hicks simple, little "Computer Choice Law", with new technology and testing on athletes as well as regular, everyday people. Not only are the testing methods better, and the understanding superior, so are the new methodologies created to increase SRT and selection times. Perhaps no better better statement damning the Hicks law model can be found than from neuroplastician Dr. Michael Merzenich, regarded among experts as a leading source on the human brain when reporting in the book, The Brain that Changes Itself, "we can change the very structure of the brain and increase its capacity...unlike a computer, the brain is constantly adapting itself." You will recall that Hicks Law concept first originated from a computer.

How can we change and improve? With training like:

* Sequential Learning - the stringing of tasks working together like connected notes in music, really reduces reaction and selection time.

* Conceptual Learning - is another speed track. In relation to survival training, this means a person first makes an either/or conceptual decision, like "Shoot/Don't shoot," or, "Move-In/Move Back." Rather than selecting from a series of hand strikes, in Conceptual Learning, the boxer does not waste milliseconds selecting specific punches, but rather makes one overall decision, "punch many times!" The trained body then takes over, following paths learned from prior repetition training.

Sure, sure, sure - simple is good. I am all for simple. Absolutely. And reaction time is an important concern when you are dodging a knife, pulling a gun, etc. And there may actually come a point in a learning progression when there are way too many reactions/techniques to counter an attack, and If these moves are a bit unnatural, and not guided somewhat by natural reflex, and taught poorly and out of context, a long list of movements may cause performance problems. Poor systems and poor training may lead to untimely confusion. But we are surely not as simple as Hick's Law misleaders have warned us.

It seems like the last 8 decades, Hick's Law has become a legacy of evolving research. But, Hick's Legacy is really telling us to train more and smarter, not necessarily to be stupid and learn less. Remember one of Einstein's Laws apply also - "Keep it simple…but not too simple." I like the sound of that much better than stupid instructors KISSING me to keep things stupid. And still we learn more.

Dr. M. Blackspear of the Brain Dynamics Center at the University of Sydney Australia reports that the: "...study of functional inter-dependences between brain regions is a rapidly growing focus of neuroscience research. This endeavor has been greatly facilitated by the appearance of a number of innovative methodologies for the examination of neurophysiological and neuroimaging data." This Blackspear statement was made about the amazing new discoveries in 2005 and of how fast, repeat HOW FAST the healthy, human brain changes and adapts "on the fly" (which is the medical, catch phrase for such studies on this now). People select and change options "mid-flight" in milliseconds split into milliseconds.

6 Choices? 400 milliseconds to choose or a full 3 or 4 seconds to rolodex through all of them? Let's go back to the ol' ball game - and back to the baseball analogy that started this article. We expect a common shortstop in baseball to perform a select list of actions instantly. The baseball shortstop is expected to:

- catch a ground ball to his left
- catch a ground ball to his center
- catch a ground ball straight at him
- catch a line drive
- catch a pop-up

Moves all to be executed in the sheer "splitest" of split seconds? Then, our ape man ball player has even more split-second, follow-up decisions to make with runner's on different bases. Even a child playing shortstop has a lot to decide and fast, AND can do it faster than 4 seconds! I hope that the police trainer I mentioned in the beginning of this essay is reading this this and not just when he teaches his kids in little league, but when he teaches his adults in law enforcement tactics. In fact I hope all martial instructors are listening?

Probably the single reason Hicks Law has been spread in the last few decades is as a sales pitch to sell training programs. If you still insist on dumbing things down? Then don't use Hicks Law in your argument. It makes you sound dumber. The more the truth is learned? the dumber you will sound.

ANYONE quoting Hick's Law today as a main basis for training, needs to open up an elementary school science book written since the year 2000, to see it is a decrepit, misleading and unraveled concept. They need to know the rest of the science since the 1950s. Hick's Law has become barely a casual nickname, a sketch or an outline for the thousands of performance experiments in laboratories since 1952. The ironic thing is? The center piece and point of all this reaction research? Even since the 1950s it is really about milliseconds. Milliseconds! Remember, there are 1,000 milliseconds in a second! Just how fast can we get? Start by asking a properly trained person with a healthy mind and body, in a proper system abreast of cutting edge science, medicine and psychology. Don't ask Mr. Hick from the 1950s. If I am not mistaken? Mr. Hick is dead, and his 1950's computer belongs in the stone age.

## Tuesday, April 15, 2008

### Techniques and Principles (Building upon a strong foundation)

By Joel Persinger

I am a great believer that techniques, without a deep understanding of principle, are useless. One simple example is this: if I don’t understand the use of kinetic energy, learning how to punch will yield punches which are weak and ineffective. Yet another example is that of body type and size. Say what you will, but in my world, size matters. It is an indisputable fact that techniques which work for a small person when combating an equally small person may not work as effectively when the little guy is trying to fight off a six foot, six inch, 350 pound hulk. Likewise, techniques which work for a person with a low center of gravity may not work as well for a person with a high center of gravity when applied against the same or a similar opponent.

In addition to the basics of physics, body style, age, relative agility and size there is also the issue of martial style. Techniques which fit well into one martial system may be cumbersome and unworkable when used within another. Thus my friend & instructor Mike Patterson’s analogy of building a car,

“Mixing and matching is analogous to grabbing a hodgepodge of car parts from different makes and models to build a working automobile. You might be able to build something that looks like a car but it will not run effectively, if it runs at all, simply because the parts are not made to work together.”

In today’s world of martial arts, mixing and matching has taken on a life of its own. Gee, one has to look no further than the term, “Mixed Martial Arts” to see the point. The result has been a significant “movement” creating folks who look like martial artists, but whose collection of techniques often does not work together effectively, or at least not as effectively as it might. Yes, a rear naked choke is a rear naked choke and a hip throw is a hip throw. But, when techniques are simply piled upon one another without any foundational guiding principle, there is no way for the practitioner to understand and evaluate what fits and what does not.

Now, before you get out your poison pen and start sending me hate mail accusing me of bashing mixed martial artists, let me make a few things clear. Not one martial style known today was created in a vacuum. All of them evolved over time as guiding principles were established and perfected and as techniques were explored and honed. It can also be accurately said that martial styles have borrowed from each other by taking parts of other arts which fit well into the system and, in many cases, adapting them further to make them fit even better. Since time is not static and since our ancestors did not freeze martial styles in place for all eternity, we shouldn’t either. We should learn from the example of those who came before us by learning from other arts thereby exploring new frontiers.

Where we have lost our way is not in that we have elected to bring new and different techniques into the fold. Rather, it is that we have forgotten to let the foundations of our arts guide us as we incorporate new ideas. For example: I have spent most of my history studying the Karate style arts. Along the way, I have studied internal Chinese arts a little and Filipino martial arts a lot. In fact, my first instructor taught a Karate style art with Arnis De Mano mixed in for good measure. As a consequence, the foundation for my martial arts journey was firmly built upon a mixture of Karate and Filipino Martial Arts. They are very different, and yet my first instructor was able to put them together so that they worked in unison. Thus, my foundation is different than most. But it is strong.

On the other hand, I have a student (who, by the way, teaches me too). He has been studying Hsing-I for twenty years or more. As I teach him the various aspects of Filipino Martial Arts he relates what he learns to his foundation. Consequently, his movement and his application of the techniques he learns from me are very different from mine. Some things which work well for me, will not work well for him and vice versa. Some things may work well for him only after he has adapted them to fit firmly upon his foundation. This is not because the techniques don’t work. It is because our foundations and the guiding principles upon which they were fashioned are different.

The bottom line is that learning new techniques is fun and very positive. However, there is a difference between collecting disjoined techniques as you might pile up unrelated car parts in a junk yard and carefully examining, honing and shaping new techniques to fit well upon your foundation, just as you might select premium, well fitting parts with which to build your car. I submit that that the latter approach will help you become a more complete martial artist, while the former may leave you only a collector of junk.

## Monday, April 14, 2008

### I hate the ground.

I hate the ground.

That doesn't change the fact that it is a reality and needs to be trained for. Seeing as being on the ground is on my top 5 things to despise I approach that area with a specific mentality:

1) How to prevent going to the ground

2) Counters and reversals to enable me to get up off the ground

3) Kicks, strikes and as many dirty tricks as I can find to prevent a wrestling match as most people are bigger than I am and I want to get off the ground.

4) Limit the amount of BJJ, Submission wrestling, etc. tactics that keep me on the ground

5) Maneuverability standing & on the ground to keep me on my feet

6) Aggressiveness that dissuades the average attacker to not get too close or get off me quickHock's materials, Jim McCaan's and Nick Hughes all work in this manner so I get anything that comes out regarding this area from these sources. I do have many other grappling resources but they are all sport oriented despite their 'combat' name.

Jeff Laun www.dallascqc.com/

Training with many Ground-fighting experts whether it be seminars or DVD's, more often then not usually reveals they rely upon extremely complicated tournament or sport techniques and will never be used by either the attacker or the person defending themselves.

When the fight hits the ground there are no tournament rules or referees. The attacker is often motivated and armed. Even if you are skilled enough to gain a submission hold there is little nothing you can do to prevent the attacker from pulling a weapon and using it.

Let’s not forget the trained NHB fighters who know how to put you down with nasty and painful submission holds. Once they get you into one of their holds, you’re completely helpless… and… in the street, you’ll be unconscious or dead.

You need Ground fighting which is a real world comprehensive study of what goes down on the street when the fight hits the ground. Although Grappling and Mixed Martial Arts are extremely useful for self-defense.

The problem lies in where is that line?

That fine line between sport & street. When does the sport aspect of grappling & MMA actually endanger our lives on the street?

The Who? Who are we fighting? Our uncle, brother, a mugger, a gang of attackers?

The What? What do they want? What do you want?

The Where? Where are we? In a bar, in a parking lot, in the mountains or on the beach?

The Why? Why are you fighting have you been attacked? Are trying to stop a fight?

Here is a true story. A guy I know who shall remain nameless is atop notch grappler. He was young and was hanging out in a bar. He got into an altercation. So he decided to takedown the guy, which he did successfully, got to his opponents back put him in a rear naked choke and woke up in the hospital.

See he forgot the who, what, where, & why he was in a fight.

He did a masterful job of executing what he set out to do. The disconnect was that he was in a street fight and did not address the fact that the guy he got into a fight with had friends. So when he got behind his opponent to choke him one of his buddies ran over and skull stomped him.

The who, what, where, & why are very important questions to be addressed.

With that being said you have the guys on the exact opposite side of the coin who only train for the so-called street. They do not spar or roll around and understand what it really takes to move somebody off of them or what it is like to get hit and choked. But the guy who rolls everyday does and is better prepared to handle it. You need to find a happy mix between the two. You have to “Bridge the gap between sport & street.” Which is what I try to do.

Jim McCann www.xtremefreestyle.com/

http://hockscombatforum.com/index.php/topic,3746.0.html

### Tell your kids it is okay to fight

From CrossFitKids magazine
-Jeff Martin

We have been told for years that fighting is morally and ethically wrong. That it is never the answer. This belief has threatened our country’s security and now we see the effects it can have on our children. Fighting is not wrong in the cause of self-defense. It is not wrong for our nation to proactively protect itself nor is it wrong on a personal level to respond with physical force when threatened.

When I was young and in school a little boy hit me in front of the teacher. He was reprimanded and sent to detention. On the way out of school he told me he was going to do it again the next day. When I told my parents about the incident, they told me if he tried to hit me again, I was to hit him. Actually, they said hit him hard enough that he will never want to hit you again. I did and he didn’t.

A couple of years ago my wife went to pick up one of our boys at preschool. She found him hiding under a desk. When she asked him why he was hiding he said he was hiding from one of the other boys who had choked him several times that day. When my wife approached the teacher she was told that the boy “was having trouble at home and just acting out.” While I sympathize with the child who was having trouble at home, this was somehow supposed to excuse him attacking my son. That night we taught our son a simple Krav Maga self-defense technique. He in turn shared his new knowledge with his teacher. His teacher made it very clear to him that under no circumstances was he to defend himself. He was to get her attention instead (with a child’s hands wrapped around his throat) and she would take care of the problem. We of course relieved him of that notion.

Think of the different lessons these two stories teach. In the first, my parents taught me not only that I had a right to defend myself but that the responsibility for my safety rested with me. In the second, the opposite lesson was taught. My son was told his safety was someone else’s responsibility and under no circumstances was he to defend himself. If you have been taught the first lesson, you react instantly to someone threatening your safety. If you have learned the second, you look for an authority figure to help you when threatened. If there is no authority figure to stop the attack you waste valuable time deciding what to do and how to react. We are complicit in the victimization of children by predators if we are teaching children to look for an elusive authority figure for help.

A few months ago, we watched in shock, the video of poor Carly Bruscha simply allowing someone she doesn’t know to walk up, grab her arm and pull her away. She looks confused and frightened on the video. It takes only an instant for her abductor to move her out of the cameras eye. What a different video we might be seeing if at the instant she was touched by the man she launched into him biting, kicking and using everything she had to keep him away from her. I heard a retired FBI agent say, that they knew of no case where a child who was fighting back was killed in the course of an abduction. The reverse is not true. If abducted the outcome is almost universally bad.

On a news program this morning, they ended the story by saying there is “evidence the little girl fought her attacker to the end.” The problem is she didn’t fight in the beginning. Building good character goes hand in hand with a belief in the right to self-defense. Your children must know when and where to apply the defensive skills you teach them. That responsibility falls squarely on your shoulders and on theirs. If you build good character, then self-defense will be exactly that— defense. It will be a reaction to an act of violation, and every child has the right to defend himself if violated. Our children need to be given permission to fight. Yes, they ALSO need to be taught good judgment so they know when fighting might be wrong.

But to demand that children discard their moral right to protect themselves is a lesson that should not be taught in any school or in our society. Children need to know it is morally and ethically right to fight and defend themselves the instant they are physically threatened.

By Jeff Martin of Brand X Martial Arts & CrossFitKids

Tell your Kids it is okay to fight.

432 Maple Street
Suites 1 & 2
Ramona, Ca 92065

Phone: 760 788 8091

CrossFitBrandX.com
CrossFitKids.com
Brandxmartialarts.com

## Wednesday, April 2, 2008

### "You are not stabbing me right!"

Rolling Skating in a Buffalo Herd

Recently, I was teaching an impact weapon class and observed an event I have seen a gazillion times between workout partners. One old hand. One new rookie. The experienced hand tells a brand new person how to properly hit him with a stick. Properly! Because his response "won't work" if the rookie didn't attack - properly. The new guy had some flimsy, wrong-wristed, amateur way to strike that was quite lame because he was new to the baton. Honestly, it does remind one of the old Jim Carry skit on the In Living Color TV show:

"You are not stabbing me right!"

But, the sad thing is, the new person was actually hitting his partner as he would in a fight. And sadder still, the vet partner was only prepared to fight against the proper veteran angle of a skilled fighter's delivery. The saddest point? That "wrong" way is likely to be how 90% of the population will actually attack you.

Want to see a new counter and response from a tactic or technique? Bring a new guy into your workout class. Man on the street. We can almost guarantee he won't attack you "the right way." Nor will he respond "the right way." He will squirm out of your joint locks. He will step in the direction of his fall and confound your takedowns. He'll pell instead of mell. Shuck instead of jive.

The new guy might punch funny, swing a stick poorly or deliver a weird, lame line of attack. He may will shoot you, and quite well, like a cowboy from an old black and white western. But he still shot you first. Martial history is replete with these stories of new people inflicting injuries on vets. Remember the story of the first-day, gangly teen-ager, who accidentally stuck his finger into the eye of a Brazilian black belt and put the veteran black belt out of commission for months?

Several issues for the veteran are at the core of this phenomenon. One is, what I have called for two decades now, the myth of the duel. Systems train against the mirror image of themselves and fight against the overt and the subtle methods of their system. It is an insidious little, cancerous problem. Like a tunnel vision, only it becomes tunnel-vision-fighting.
This mistake is easy to read and understand here, yet martial practitioners still suffer greatly at the hands of the radical and different. Conventional warriors suffer at the sneaky ways of the guerilla. The rule-abiding cop fights the no-rules bad guy. Kick-boxers suffer at the hands of ground fighters. Wrestlers suffer at the hands of ground n' pounders. Firearm-range, paper-target shooting champions suffer at the rabid, trigger finger of the alleyway thug. The boxer never sees the hammer fist. This bloody list of interdisciplinary mistakes is almost endless. Train to fight the enemy you expect.

Second, remember not just to train in a multi-disciplinary manner but to fight against these so-called, "rookie/wrong-ways" of common attack. These are high-percentage probabilities.

Year-after-year your fighting system, your rules of engagement, engrains itself into your muscle memory. You become use to the lines and methods of hand, stick, knife and gun attack that your system delivers. Then someone spits in your eye and hits your head with a frying pan. Wait now - what belt level was that again?

By Hock

(Taken from March CQC Dispatches)