Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Aliveness, or Why I Keep Thinking About Guns

Aliveness, it's a strange term. It's even more difficult to explain in the context of Martial Arts. A art should be alive, it should be changing, evolving, and growing. However an art that grows, changes, and evolves may not subscribe to the principle of Aliveness.

matt Thornton of Straight Blast Gym (SBG/SBGi) is the godfather of this term, and has done much to bring it to the forefront. His own words can be found here.

So, what does this have to do with me? Simple. I began my martial training in earnest in Wing Chun. A system espousing deadly efficiency. As I spent more time in the club, and more time sparring I realized that when I fought (badly) I used very little of my training. So I began to look at what I was doing wrong. Around this time I was introduced to the concept of Aliveness. I was shown that in order to use something it had to be practiced and not just in forms. I was introduced to the three I's. Introduction, Isolate, Incorporate.

Take a subject dear to my heart, programming. I wish to learn a new language, I am Introduced to it. This introduction is most likely dead, as in there is no resistance. I read, I ponder but I do not do any coding.

Next I begin looking at same code, writing toy examples, playing around. I debug bits of code, deal with errors and push a little bit. I want to learn the control structures, so I work with just control structures. This is the Isolate stage. I'm writing code, I'm playing, but it's still on a toy scale.

Lastly is the Incorporate phase. In this phase I begin writing code. I begin internalizing the language, making comparisons with what I already know, making it "work" for me. At this point I know the language, or at least parts of it, and can build from there.

So, back to Martial Arts. Wing Chun was stuck in the Introduce and Isolate stages. A technique was shown, and drilled in a non-resisting fashion but it was never tested, it never because an intrinsic part of my game.

I then switched to BJJ, and in doing so found the way things "should" be done. A technique is shown, drilled with increasing resistance then I would attempt to use the technique in free sparring against a resisting opponent. I would fail, get feedback, adjust and try again. My current art, Judo, works the same way.

So, why guns?

Because in training Alive, in competing, and fighting it is eventually natural to realize that there are limits. There are situations that no matter how good I am, no matter how conditioned I am I simply will not be fast enough, strong enough, good enough. So, I look for tools to improve my chances. At first I looked at Kali, and thought that a blade would be the natural equalizer. However, even good Kali is mostly dead. There are few groups willing to train a weapon based art in an Alive manner simply because it hurts!

So why would I carry a blade if I'm not 100% sure that when I need it I will know how to use it? I wouldn't.

So I looked elsewhere. Time and time again I came back to IPSEC and firearms. IPSEC is a competition format where a shooter moves through a course with preset targets, both good targets, and "bad" targets. The shooter is scored based on speed and accuracy, with penalties for shooting the "bad" targets.

It is as close to an Alive weapon art that I have found and frankly, it just sounds like fun!

I don't plan on pursuing a pistol permit any time soon, but it keeps bouncing around the back of my mind and like an itch will one day have to be scratched.

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