Defensive head movement

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Re: Defensive head movement

Post  steve morris on Wed Oct 31, 2007 5:26 am

Iím always interested in anything that will influence me as a fighter and a fight trainer, and that includes how, a la Tyson or any other fighter for that matter, the head might be used to initiate a dynamic offensive, defensive, or counteroffensive response to my opponent. Personally Iíd rather learn from watching the likes of Tyson fighting and training than going to the seminar or buying and watching/listening to an instructor who extols the virtues of using a palm heel strike to the hinge of the jaw to take somebody out, when the instructor himself moves like a block of wood. I know that the dynamics, skills and tactics of fighting are supposed to be simple, but from my experience and observation, they are never THAT simple.

For forty-odd years Iíve been trying to consolidate what I know into what is essential with regards to fighting and fight training, on the feet and on the ground. And you know what? I havenít as yet boiled it down to five simple ways of moving/skills/tactics, etc. And I donít expect I ever will. Fighting and fight training is much more open-ended than that.

Sure, Iíve got what you could call fundamental skills and movement patterns that can be applied to anticipated situations/opponents, etc. as well as spontaneously adapted to unanticipated situations. But these are by no means definitive. Thatís why I call what I do a method and not a system.

The thing about being able to spontaneously adapt even the simplest of movement patterns, skills, or tactics to a situation never previously encountered is that you have to have the multidimensional mindset and the physicality to be able to do so. Those things arenít a birthright. They come from training.

A number of combatives instructors that Iíve observed are far too rigid in their mental and physical approach to fighting and training to be able to functionally adapt to situations theyíve never previously encountered, be it on the feet or on the ground. Indeed, their characterisation of a fight and training often leans toward being one-dimensional. Sure, you can use the same movement pattern to solve a variety of problems depending on the situation, but you canít solve all problems with just a few moves.

In my experience, what you really need is a deep understanding of those factors that are influential on the fight. The skills will arise out of that, but just having a set of techniques that you practice ad infinitum isnít enough.

In my opinion, there are so many variables within any scenario or situation that you have to be multidimensional and versatile in your approach to fighting and training. The idea that one move solves everything doesnít do justice to the reality of the fight. To suggest that it does implies that Iíve wasted my time for the last fifty years, because I could have got it all off a weekend course.

One of the problems I have with much of the combatives I see is that the instructor assumes he knows what the fight is going to be, and he gives to the student the confidence and the tools to be able to deal with that situation as heís portraying it. Personally, for the number of fights Iíve had, no two have ever been the same. I wouldnít presume, as an instructor, to tell people, Ďthis is whatís going to happen.í

Itís not the case with all combatives, but itís a general trend, as in karate, to adapt the situation in the gym to fulfil a predetermined skill requirement. I always see it the other way round. Iíve got to adapt to the situation, and the situation is very plastic.

Sometimes, as well, you get a power-oriented approach. And Iím a believer that even if you have limited skills, with the right state of mind, physical conditioning/athleticism and way of producing explosive power, you can make even the simplest of skills work. BUT even this stick-of-dynamite approach isnít to be relied on exclusively. Itís not going to work for everybody, and in order to work at all the person needs an accurate representation of this explosive effort that they can emulate. And a lot of times, theyíre not getting that from their instructor.

Thatís yet another reason why I say, ĎWatch the fight.í Watch people like Tyson in his prime.

And I say that with some authority. Nick Hughes said 15 years ago that I could punch and kick like a mule, and Iíve got better since then! I know the kind of generation of forces which are required to knock people out and break arms and legs. I can recognize that kind of effort when I see it in somebody else. But when I listen to the claims made by many martial artists and then I see what theyíre actually doing, thereís a disparity between the claim and the action.

Tyson, heís the genuine article when it comes to delivery of power on the move and in the static position. So if youíre watching a guy standing and hitting or hitting and moving and it doesnít look something at least a little like Tyson, then you know something ainít quite Kosher.

As far as Tysonís aggressive/pursuing entry, I would personally see it as a key move either to be practiced as part of your repertoire if you were going to be fighting a larger guy and you needed to close the gap, or if you were engaged in aggressor/dissimilar training, using it to prepare someone to deal with a guy of this type. As a martial artist, you canít just be limited to what you want to win the fight with. You have to be able to replicate for your training partner what he might have to deal with, and that could be anything. It could be a Muay Thai fighter; that means youíve got to be able to do a high round kick to a good standard, otherwise youíre selling your training partner bullshit.

Thereís no easy way out on this one, Brian! Not for me, anyway.

And that's the fun of it.

--Steve
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Re: Defensive head movement

Post  Nick Hughes on Wed Oct 31, 2007 9:17 am

Yep, I was going to raise the same point, albeit with a different analogy.

I've always likened Steve to a neurosurgeon and most everyone else as everything from first aiders and EMTs to general practitioners and optometerists.

For the average guy, dealing with the average drunken lout in a pub, replete with pushing and shoving etc, methinks first aid courses and EMT work will do just fine.

For the average doorman, squaddie etc going to medical school i.e being a general practitioner will suffice because of all the other stuff he has to do.

Unless you're going to devote your life to medicine - which some do, and there's nothing wrong with that - I don't know that the neurosurgery route is the way to go.

In other words, I've been knocking people out for years. I have scars all over my fists and not one on my face...how much better do I need to get?

Nick

PS: Steve...I didn't say you hit and kicked like a mule...I said you looked like one Very Happy Just kidding mate...but on that note...you were breaking bones with blocks then...again, how much better do you need to get if you're capable of that level of force?
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Re: Defensive head movement

Post  JonLaw on Thu Nov 01, 2007 9:46 am

Inertesting analogies, Nicks especially. Taking the medical theme on a little, there needs to be those out there that devote their life to medicine in the way you suggest, so that new breakthroughs can occur with scientific development the result.

Without the neurosurgeon, neurological researchers and the like medicine would not develop but would stay still. This would mean that the first aiders, happy with their lot or not, would not have access to contemporary first aid CPR protocols or whatever.

Although the point you raise I suppose, concerns whether we need to become the neurosurgeon, i.e. reach the skill level of Steve Morris. For the vast majority of people the answer would be no, given the circumstances you describe. However, access to the information available from the neurosurgeon would bring the first aider's ability closer to the GP and so on. In that instance wouldn't the first aider's patient be better attended? Of course.

So, perhaps, while the neurosurgeon route isn't the way to go for all, if that neurosurgeon has the skills to get the optimal message to the first aider or GP access to the neurosurgeon is important or at least useful. Perhaps the important issue concerns the ability to get the message across at an appropriate level to the learner.

PS: Steve...I didn't say you hit and kicked like a mule...I said you looked like one Just kidding mate...but on that note...you were breaking bones with blocks then...again, how much better do you need to get if you're capable of that level of force?

Depends on the definition of better, more economical in terms of effeort/energy expenditure would be one method of improving. Just a thought....

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Re: Defensive head movement

Post  Nick Hughes on Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:03 am

Jon,

I probably read it wrong...one of the problems with email as comms is you can't pick up on intonation etc...but I almost get the impression you thought I was being critical of the neurosurgeon route. Apologies if I'm off base with that. Very Happy

Just to be clear...nothing could be further from the truth. I just think, as in medicine, there isn't a need for many of them given that most people can get sorted with the band aid in the cupboard, or a trip to their GP.

Nick
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Re: Defensive head movement

Post  steve morris on Thu Nov 01, 2007 11:21 am

The problem with the boot is this. Before we even get around to polishing it (something, by the way, I try to avoid doing whenever possible!) we need to talk about whether weíve even got a functional piece of rugged footwear! And in combatives, I think thereís a big question mark hanging over the boot. Now, I donít want to diss anybodyís boots, especially their favourite combat boots, but Iíve been hard at work designing what I think is a better boot. And it doesnít need any polish! I would never design a boot that needed to be polished because in the army I was known as ĎGypsy gone fishing Morrisí. I was that scruffy. Still am. (Nick, hereís your change to jump in and tell me that my mulish looks are the reason for all my problems. I know, mate. I need to get a haircut. I had three on my first day in the Army.)

When it comes to this idea of perfection, I have a more Third-world approach to fighting and fight training. Necessity is the mother of invention, and I love seeing a guy from Africa or Brazil take something that looks like rubbish in the West and turn it into something functional. Thatís where my head is at. Or, as Mick Coup said to me yesterday, gunsmiths in Afghanistan making automatic weapons from scrap.

Now letís talk about how to train. I can appreciate that the guys youíre training donít have a lot of time, and they want a quick fix. But I know that my approach as a trainer doesnít take up any more time than yours; in fact, I can get quicker results than anybody. I challenge any trainer to produce the results I do in less time. Did you ever watch those reality TV shows where they take a novice cook and turn them into a pretty good chef in a couple of weeks? I can do that with a martial artist. Iíve only been down in Coventry three Sundays, and Iíve got a kid down there who started out with ability but hadnít got the right direction. If you watched him now, you wouldnít recognize his performance from the first day I had him. Itís not the first time Iíve done that, and it wonít be the last.

But the only reason this process can work is because the experts that the BBC (for example) are entrusting the novice to, are truly master chefs in themselves. Theyíre not short-order cooks. They know everything there is to know in the kitchen, and thatís how theyíre able to impart the functional essentials in a short space of time, provided that the pupil is focused and motivated, and that he comes to the process with an open mind.

But itís the closed mind thatís been the hardest thing for me to overcome in convincing people that they could be training a better way. My method involves a change in perspective from the way people want to think in self-protection and in the martial arts in general. Itís not about techniques. You have to let go of that old way of thinking. What Iím proposing is a paradigm shift. It doesnít fit in with what youíre doing already. It requires abandoning what you think you know and taking a risk. Youíve really got to jump on this one.

Nick, you want to call me a neurosurgeon, a genius, a prodigy so that you can call yourself a GP and everybody can be comfortable with who they are. But the problem with your analogy is that a fight is a fight is a fight. All fights are chaotic. None of them are about Ďperfectioní. I donít believe in the perfecting of a move, because personally Iíve never used the same move twice in exactly the same way.
If Iíve had a personal quest that makes it seem like Iím looking for perfection, the result of that has been something more than simply my own personal achievements. The result has been my knowledge of fighting and fight training.

I was knocking guys out in the Sixties and Seventies. If Iíd have been satisfied with that level of performance, Iíd never have developed my method as it now stands. By being able to understand the processes by which I can break arms, for example, I can now take the most mediocre of individuals and exponentially improve their performance. Sometimes in a matter of seconds. I know what to look for because I understand the processes inside and out. In minute fucking detail. So at whatever level you want to learn from me, I can help you.

Nick and Brian, your interpretation of what is a fundamental skill, key move, tactic, strategy/stratagem is in all likelihood very different to my own, as is probably your knowledge of the laws and principles of force and motion and the neuromusculoskeletal structure with regards to how emotions, thoughts, and sensations (extero, intero, propro) are translated within the integrative action of the CNS into biomechanical work (particularly how the CNS organises those inherent reflex and bequeathed behavioural patterns that are the foundation of all motor skills). Most importantly my understanding, by experience, research and good guessing, of those combative scenarios and situations I envisage I will find myself in against different psychological/physical/stylistic types, is undoubtedly very different to your own. Not to mention the ways we might go about incorporating this knowledge into various specific and non-specific exercises, fighting drills, conditional fighting methods (aggressor/dissimilar training) and playfighting so as to not only improve our own personal performance but also the performance of others who may well be put together very differently to ourselves. My knowledge, in short, is very different to yours.

And I would suggest that it is by way of this knowledge that over the years Iíve been able to take myself to another level in performance and understanding of the martial arts. This knowledge, in terms of time, wasnít acquired by polishing or cleaning some figurative boot, but by challenging what others believe the martial arts to be as well as what I believed it to be.

And thereís an interesting point. Whilst in the early days of my journey I spent countless hours practicing by trial and error and researching, I now spend very little time doing so. The Ďsystemí seems to have switched on at an unconscious level and my mind and my body as to what I need it to fulfil for me, and it provides spontaneous solutions to problems without a lot of effort on my part. So actually, Brian, in terms of time, I probably spend less than you.

Similarly, Nick, fightingís not as in a medicine where you have an operating theatre where you can take the patient and do fancy maneuvers. Thatís not who I am. All of my analysis and research starts with the fight and comes back to the fight. And having achieved the level of understanding that I have, what I find frustrating is that people want to include me as an example of the martial arts at the highest level, but they donít want to listen to what I have to say.

Brian, take your question about learning to bob and weave like a boxer. Do I think itís one of a few essential tools? I donít advocate the toolbox/technique approach, not for professionals, recreational fighters, executives looking to defend themselves in the pub, women, children--anybody. And even if I was to say yes, how would you learn this bobbing/weaving? In training you shouldnít be trying to fulfil a technical requirement. Youíre trying to solve a combative problem; i.e., enter his space without sacrificing your head. It may seem like a small difference in words, but itís a very big difference in perspective. And itís like I wrote previously: in order to learn this skill, you need to have your aggressor/dissimilar training program in place. You need to learn your head movement against a guy whoís trying to knock it off!

Your training methods could be much, much better. Iím not saying you guys canít fight and your methods donít work. But I am saying your training could be much, much better for the same investment in time, effort and money. That I guarantee. I fully understand where youíre coming from. Iíve been there, more than thirty years ago. But you havenít been where I am now, and youíre finding it hard to accept what Iíve got to say.

But youíve got to open your mind. You want to go forward, but you want to do it in a way that feels comfortable and doesnít involve radically changing anything which might threaten your authority, your livelihood, or your sense of security in what you believe the martial arts to be. But like I said, what Iím doing isnít a logical extension of what youíre doing. It revolves around different methods and a different way of looking at things. You canít have both. You canít have your arsenal of special techniques and have my method in the same breath. Theyíre mutually antagonistic.

Thatís why I start every seminar by telling people, ĎIím your enemy.í Like Schopenhauer said (and Pat McCarthy gave me this quote) ĎOur friends teach us what we want to know; our enemies teach us what we need to know.í

Iím your enemy. Iím shouting at you what you need to know!!

Thereís plenty of guys around who will support your point of view with respect to Ďessential techniquesí. Iím just not one of them.
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Re: Defensive head movement

Post  JonLaw on Thu Nov 01, 2007 4:46 pm

Nick Hughes wrote:Jon,

I probably read it wrong...one of the problems with email as comms is you can't pick up on intonation etc...but I almost get the impression you thought I was being critical of the neurosurgeon route. Apologies if I'm off base with that. Very Happy

Just to be clear...nothing could be further from the truth. I just think, as in medicine, there isn't a need for many of them given that most people can get sorted with the band aid in the cupboard, or a trip to their GP.

Nick

Hi Nick,

You're so right concerning the limitation of communicating on the internet, it can lead to the wrong impression. I didn't get the wrong impression, Iw as merely trying to point out one possible reason why the neurosurgeon, other than the obvious, is required by the First aider and GP.

But I think talking too much in analogy is probably confusing things.......

At university often researchers bemoan the difficulty of diseminating primary source evidence to the general public, this doesn't negate the value of the scientific research process, perhaps that of our neurosurgeon. Rather it highlights the need for the general public (& first aider or GP) to make the effort to understand useful research rather than believe the commonly held 'scientific' view. Unfortuneately, that is not often straightforward or easy, particularly as so much research is 'tainted' by opinion and bias.

That extended anlaogy extrapolated to the work of Steve Morris, and MA's in general, works quite well I think. But then I have good experience of scientifc research and am well aware of how poor so much of it is, similarities with the MA's are striking.

Science should be a beautiful evolving entity, each backward step or failing theory replaced with better empirically based forward steps or theories. Sympathetically, IMO MA's should also evolve in a similar manner. Development and progression , I believe, was important to the Okinawan originators of karate and certainly important to the systems pre-dating those on that little island. Progress or stagnate and lose effectiveness, in science and MA's both.

In the interests of clarity this is by no means any kind of attempt at criticising yourself or anyone else, just my opinion.

Jon

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Re: Defensive head movement

Post  steve morris on Fri Nov 02, 2007 12:20 am

Brian, I've tried to explain this thing on this forum and also on my own site in both the simplest and more complex terms. There's a fundamental gap between the way that I think and train and the way that the overwhelming majority of martial artists think and train. Sometimes, when people hear my explanation, my breakdown, they're overwhelmed--like Lito. But to make that actual shift in thinking and practice is another thing, and it's not so easy for many people.

No matter how many times I try to go over this one and explain it from different angles, I don't think you're going to get it.

You need to take your thinking to another level. That's the challenge.

From my conversations with Mick Coup and reading what he's written and his support of what I do, he seems to understand exactly what I'm talking about. So maybe he's the guy to ask to break this one down for you in more familiar terms and with the same combative approach in mind.

In fact (insert plug) we're doing a seminar together in Coventry on 1 December, and we're going to be addressing some of these issues from our respective points of view. We're going to be trying to change the direction in which people think about and practice martial arts, including combatives.
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