Sunday, April 26, 2015

Tactical vs. Art



of, relating to, or constituting actions carefully planned to gain a specific military end.
(of a person or their actions) showing adroit planning; aiming at an end beyond the immediate action.


the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, typically in a visual form such as painting or sculpture, producing works to be appreciated primarily for their beauty or emotional power.

the various branches of creative activity, such as painting, music, literature, and dance.


It seems the the word "tactical" is the new buzz word today. Everything is "tactical." Tactical defense, tactical fitness, tactical leadership, tactical shooting, tactical storytelling, tactical workshops, tactical flashlights, pens & weapons of all sorts (probably even kitchen utensils), tactical guide books on every imaginable subject from business to parenting, it's ridiculous!  

I must make a confession; I use the "T" word a lot myself *blush.* My love affair with it started out innocent enough (it always does), we were young, impressionable; it was a time in "T's" life before it was so promiscuous. 

So, my humble definition of something being "Tactical" is:  

A quick, down & dirty method that is high probability and easily learned/used by an individual.  

When it comes to martial arts, nothing says down & dirty more than Krav Maga. Krav is a no BS way to handle high probability physical attacks. Simple, effective. However, due to it's goal of simplicity it tends to lean on the more violent side. It's both easier and higher probability to show someone how to kick their attacker in the balls or stick their thumb in their eye than it is to successfully pull off a hip throw, omate gyaku wrist lock, or some other technical maneuver that may take years rather than hours to learn. Krav focuses on high probability attack & response scenarios w/minimal time invested to learn and train. 

When it comes to "Art" I would describe that more this way: 

A pursuit, a perspective, a lifestyle, something that you immerse yourself in for the long haul something you become. It's an expression that reflects in who you are and how you live. It's counted in years, decades & lifetimes, rather than hours weeks and months. You are heavily invested in resources and commitment. 

An art can (often) turn possibilities into probabilities. They make the complex look easy. An art can open up options and different methods that may not be obvious to others. Some things may seem counter intuitive or even impossible to those who are less dedicated to their "art."

The art is typically where the breakthroughs happen. 

When I think artists I think people who really delve into what they do. People who spend a lot of time and resource to continue to explore their craft. They continue to learn, grow and create. 

My approach to martial arts & tactical training involves both ends of this spectrum: 

Tactical is Probability -  Art is Possibility

If you don't have a lot of time to train, you probably should gravitate toward the tactical approach. Short, sweet, down and dirty, but be ready for it to be more violent, because violent is simpler. Be forewarned, because this more violent approach may open the door to other problems. Violence often leads to more problems and sometimes those problems get big!

If you are looking for more options and have the time and resources to train, then you may choose to pursue a more holistic approach, an art. Something where the journey never ends. You will need someone to help you. A good (if not great) teacher, perseverance, time and clarity, but this path can help you in ways that will defy measurement. 

My approach in both training and teaching is to begin with the tactical then expand into the art.  Gimme the "Reader's Digest" version first, the cliff notes, then the novel. 

A question to ask yourself is what do you want to put into your training? Do you have hours or years? What do you want to get out of your training? Do you want probabilities or possibilities? If your going to be a protector, a PeaceWalker it's going to be dangerous, so you have to be good.

For me, Budo Taijutsu, Silat & bjj bring the art to my tactics. They collectively open thousands of years of history and experience for me to distill into what I do and teach. Krav Maga brings the simple, no nonsense, down and dirty tactics. High probability low BS... but I'm always careful of the ripple effect, because limited choices can hurt and leave a residue in many ways. I think it's best to practice both probability and possibility. Understand the difference, train to keep your options open.

A final thought:

I used my martial arts / tactical training as an example here. The Art v. Tactical approach can be related to everything that you do in life. Look for the necessity, appropriateness and benefit in both the tactical and art approach, use each as needed and as always, Keep Going!

All the best,

Friday, April 17, 2015

It Starts Small


Small things often turn into big things.

A mighty oak began as a tiny acorn.

A little spark can create a raging fire.

A constant drip of water will erode an entire mountain.

One small deed can turn into a revolution.

One person can influence generations.

A simple habit can develop into a healthy practice or a debilitating addiction.

A journey of a thousand miles begins with one footstep... and then another and another and another... and before you know it you've arrived at your destination.

Big starts small, small fuels big.

You oversleep once, it's not the end of the world, it probably feels good. You oversleep every day, you'll likely miss a lot of opportunities.

You practice once you're a novice, you make a habit of practicing & you transform into a master.

It's the little things that hurt. As it is the small things in life that, well aren't so small.

When I miss someone I love it's the little things about them that I miss. The little things that they did that were so dear. A smile, word, sigh, giggle, look, touch, breath. Sometimes it's something that they weren't even aware of doing in the moment. Imperceptible to everyone except us and then it's gone and no one else gets it. Like an ancient language that no one understands. The aftermath leaves you a stranger in a strange land for a moment.

Little things can play either way. Which way are you going to go?  
What little things are you doing to change the world? Remember THE world begins with YOUR world.

Remember, it's the little things that end up making the BIGGEST difference.

Keep going,

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Heading Out to the Highway!

Another fourteen hour drive out to New Jersey. In some ways it is hard to believe that it has been going on ten years of this pilgrimage: In others it seems like yesterday when I started making these trips.

There is something about a good road trip that speaks to my soul. A time for solitude, to listen to some good audio books, music, catch up on phone calls, clear the mind, think. It never fails, as the miles roll over on my odometer it seems to put me at ease and allows for a certain degree of clarity. Maybe it's the hum of the road, the down time, the excitement for the training, or seeing my buyu friends? I'm not sure, but whatever it is it puts me into the zone so to speak. I feel inspired, so I make sure I keep a notebook handy to jot down any insights that I may want to hang on to as I drive through the beautiful Pennsylvania mountain side (which makes up a good deal of the trip!).

After training, reconnecting and dinner, it's back on the road. As long as I get a good night's sleep, the ride isn't bad. It gets a little long by the end, but worth the trip.

I have to chuckle when I hear from students complaining that our class is "too far" away. Which to them is maybe an hour or two drive. My response to them is, "are you looking for convenience or good training?You don't often get both! I continue to travel all over the world to train with who I consider to be the best in their field. All of a sudden a drive of an hour or ten doesn't seem so bad, but that's just me."

So, off I go for some breakfast before a good day of training. 

I hope that each of you out there reading this has something in your life that is similar to this experience for me. Something that challenges, yet rejuvenates. Something to look forward to. Something that gives you some downtime to be alone with your thoughts, bringing clarity. Something that helps reconnect you. 

Keep going,

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Hot Child in the City

 Back "in the day," I had a tape recorder EXACTLY like this one!


A sunny summer day sometime in the late 70's or early 80's. Riding my bike around the neighborhood (back when that was still legal for a youngster to do alone and w/o a helmet!).  I had my old single speaker Panasonic cassette deck duct taped to my handle bars jamming to Nick Glider's "Hot Child in the City."  I didn't really know what the meaning of the words were, but I knew the feeling that I got on the first crack of that snare drum and the driving thud of the bass drum in time with the bass guitar.  The subtle harmonic notes from the lead guitar added to the texture... Then the lyrics ring out..."Danger in the shape of something wild..." A few bars later the guitar riff kicks in to complete the steady groove that seemed to open up a new world for me. 

It's hard to put into word how music like that made me feel. Alive! Cool! Like the world was filled with wonder and adventure! It was MINE for the taking! I could do anything.. And I could do it with style! Nothing could stop me or stand in my way... Well, maybe my Mom when it was time to come in for dinner... (Some of you still might remember the, "be home when the streetlights come on," speech!)

It was a great feeling! Later, I felt that same thing as my martial arts training developed, first the empowerment helped me develop to be able to stand up for myself. To not be bullied or victimized by others. To live in the light and not in fear; to have the confidence to walk my own path, alone if necessary. 

After that feeling filled my cup and flowed over its edges, something else inside of me began to happen. Clarity of something more began to develop, something that I would spend my entire life investing in trying to clarify, embrace and articulate more clearly. Respect for Life. Now-a-days I use Dr. Robert Humphrey's lingo, the Universal Life Value or Dual Life Value, but back then it was just called being respectful of the person, even if you had to thump on them a bit when they were bullying me or someone else. In those days I didn't over think or complicate things, I just followed what felt right in my heart. 

I wouldn't go out of my way to hurt or bully anyone, but I wouldn't take anyone's shit either. If I could help someone out because they were being taken advantage of or hurt I would. That's not to say that I was an angel, because I wasn't. I did my fair share of crappy, short sighted things growing up and sometimes still do. I'm no mother Theresa... but I'm no Hitler either. I'm human just like everyone else. If it wasn't for my parents and other good teachers along the way I'd be lost in the sauce like many people I see. That is why I think I have empathy for so many, because I can see how lucky I am regarding people around me who took the time and effort to mentor me, consciously or not. Now maybe I can give back a little as I continue exploring my own path. I'm still more of a student than teacher. I keep learning, training & making mistakes.

I remember liking this powerful feeling, not because of what I could do to others, but because I developed the confidence and skills to do my own thing without feeling afraid of others who weren't respectful. As my abilities increased I was able to deal with situations with less violence. I found that I was often able to talk someone out of wanting to fight. I really just didn't give a shit what others thought and paid little attention to their small minded power trips or feeble attempts at creating drama. I had a sense of clarity, confidence and skill. I felt as if I didn't really need anyone to validate me, which allowed me to walk away from many situations. I didn't need to fight or argue with them. Somehow my strength came from within. I knew that when I was called to defend, I could handle myself. Not like a thug, but as a protector. If there was someone who needed help (for the right reason) I could lend a hand. People were Safer when I was there. And not just physically. I tried to create a safe environment emotionally, socially, etc. where ever I went. In order to do this I realized that I needed to be clear and empowered myself. When I lost my clarity or didn't feel empowered, I noticed (and still do) that I was more likely to make poor choices and become part of the problem. 

As the years passed I met more teachers who were able to help me increase my skills and clarify this protector ethic. Many of the lessons came from the not so obvious situations and people that life throws at you. Many more come from me being a dumb ass and being the cause of my own and others suffering. I am grateful for the experiences and people in my life, past, present and future.

I plan to LIVE, PROTECT & INSPIRE the best that I can throughout my life. When I'm not paying attention or get a little too full of myself, thinking I'm "all that," I fall.. but so far I've been able to get up again, some times hurt, limping and bleeding but I Keep Going none the less.  

That said, I wish the same to you. Keep Going! You are more than you think you are: Deep, Powerful, Mysterious!

All the best,