Friday, January 11, 2008
Here I Am Moe
Over on Rory's blog (Chiron), the subject of expectations in a fight came up, and Rory made some excellent points. I asked a follow-up question, and it's only fair that I offer my thoughts on how to address things from the silat perspective. Rather than clog his blog, I'll do it here.
Silat, as we practice it, is a positional art. Being in the right place at the right time is better, we believe, than having a hard punch and a killer sidekick.
Range varies, and there are all manner of ways to divvy them up. In unarmed combat, these tend to be broken down into four distances -- kicking, punching, elbow, and grappling, from longest to shortest. In armed single combat, there are many more: rifle, pistol, shotgun, spear, sword, knife ...
For us, what is paramount are the same three things most valuable in a small business: Location, location, and --
-- yep, location ...
What this essentially means is that we believe the person who controls the position, (of which distance and timing are an integral part), that person has the advantage. (There is a good study of how people come up with various maps of distance, and what constitutes personal space in the recent pop neurological book, The Body Has a Mind of Its Own, which is worth a read.)
Having the advantage doesn't make you bulletproof, you could still get your ass kicked, but better to have it than not.
So, how do we approach this? Well, a big part involves being proactive instead of reactive.
What the attacker wants to do isn't nearly as important to me as what I want to -- and can -- do.
Somebody jumps out of the bushes behinds you and whacks you on the head with a cricket bat, you're screwed. Total surprise is a big advantage -- more often than not, the first solid hit to connect decides the fight. If you don't see danger coming, it is apt to get you. Baddest fighter who ever lived doesn't shrug off a .308 to the brain.
So part of the strategy involves paying attention. Don't turn your radar off when you are out and about.
Once you have lift-off, once it is obvious somebody is meaning to do you harm, you don't have to wait on him. It isn't necessary for him to throw the first punch. (Or, if he has a gun, fire the first shot. That's only in Roy Rogers and the Lone Ranger's worlds.)
Waiting puts you behind the power curve. Reaction is simply not as good as action.
If the bad guy punches and you block, then he punches again, and you block, and he throws another and you block that one, sooner or later you lose. If you block ninety-nine and he launches a hundred, you eat one. No solace in getting a 99% in that situation.
If you block, then counter, and he blocks and counters, then the match goes on until somebody flubs. One-two, one-two, one-two, one-oops ...
Bad idea. Don't go there. It's a mug's game.
So, part of what we try is to change both the timing and our thinking. Blocking is a last resort; better to think hit, using the same motion. Cut the line, block the attack as you generate your own attack. Catch up -- and forge ahead. It's not about pure speed, it is about timing. In muscial terms, you want to be playing a triplet to his single note, or sixteenth-notes to his quarters.
Whatever an attacker's game is, better you don't play it -- play your own, and make him do it your way, if you can.
Of course, how do this isn't necessarily easy, but it is pretty simple. If, for every attack he throws, you offer him three, you take away his initiative and force him to react to you. If, as he is roaring in to smack you, you get to a position of balance first, better for you.
No, you can't go into a dust-up thinking, "Okay, he's gonna throw a right and a left, so I'll block this way, then that, and then step in and give him an elbow for lunch." Pre-planned specifics aren't going to work unless the bad guy follows your script, and chances are, he won't. But stealing his time and upsetting his position and making him react to what you are doing isn't a bad general idea. Exactly how to do it, you won't know until you get there.
This is why we drill our tools, so that when the opening comes, we'll have something to put forth.
And yeah, shit happens, and you are going to have to deal with things not going according to plan, but the more you depend on basic principles and not specifics, the more wiggle room you have.