Solutions to problems that aren’t problems

Tuesday, November 17th, 2009

Rory Miller notes that many self-defense discussions revolve around solutions to problems that aren’t problems:

Someone grabs your wrists, what do you do? I just say, “I know you’re desperate but I am not going out with you.” I know where his hands are. Where his feet are. What he can do and what he can’t. For most things he needs to let go, for the one he doesn’t, the head butt, I’ll feel his intention. There is no problem here, unless you psych yourself into one.

Same with grabbing the shirt. It’s an aggressive, scary move if you buy into the hype. Put it down on paper and suddenly it’s a gift. “Hi, my name’s Ray and I’ll be your attacker today. I’ve decided to open by tying up both my hands in a way that can’t really hurt you, leaving your hands free and my knees, throat, ears and lots of other good stuff in easy reach.”

Lots of the groundfighting positions on the bottom are good places to rest. There are some holds — kesa gatame and kami shiho gatame to name two, where the person can’t hurt you without changing the hold. The only danger in either is to struggle yourself to exhaustion. There is no problem here, not until the bad guy’s friends show up.

Recognizing a problem is a critical strategic skill. Recognizing when something is not a problem and you can save your resources is a critical tactical skill.

He’s making a “big” point, but he raises a “small” point, about the scarf hold (kesa) and north-south (kami), that I’d like to address.

I’ve long thought that competitive judo could improve its applicability off the mat without losing anything on the sporting side by modifying the rules for pins, so that (a) taking the back would count as a pin, (b) a pin would only ever be worth a half-point, so there would still be an incentive to look for submissions from a dominant position, and (c) a pin wouldn’t count unless the attacker had a hand free, almost rodeo style, to represent the ability to strike.

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