Beyond Techniques

"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 fundementals exhibited in a performance.

All 3 of these definitions do not relate to personal protection as we all 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 favourite technique?"
  • "Best self defense techniques."

Etc. Etc.

The problem with 'techniques' in the contexte 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 consenquence 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... behaviour, state of mind, state of being, 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 everytime your opponent jabs, you do an outside slip and counter with a left hook. That would be a technical application. 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.

Marc Ste, Marie went on to explain it as such:

"Trying to memorize a solution for each possibilty 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 contexte in which the technique should be used such as the behavioural aspects, the emotional aspects and the variables that surround the situation.

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 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 behing 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 hinder creativity.

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

Train intelligently.
Richard Dimitri