On the topic of the Norway bombing and how people tend to get slaughtered like sheep when they rely on someone else to do the defending for them, the Japanese have very strict weapons control both in legal and in actuality:
The Japanese even have laws against the mass production of steel swords, focusing it in a few sword smiths called national treasures. While this is mostly to ensure quality, something the Japanese government has done historically, it is also a form of weapons control.
The Japanese culture is even more based upon order and authority than the Germans are, so the people who smuggle in weapons, the Yakuza, are already labeled not part of mainstream society. While this is an example of how “weapon controls work” (meaning, for those that want guns, it doesn’t work), it is also an example of how a nation that is primarily built upon order and obeying social conformity rules, can function relatively well without weapons. They just lack independence on an individual or government level. Many Americans would love to live that kind of life, as we all well know. To be taken care of and to leave the dirty business of dying or killing to somebody else, out of sight, out of mind. This has the effect of, even if you include feminism, maintaining many “chauvinistic” attitudes. For example, in Japan it is still expected of a man to escort a woman home if the area is dangerous or it is at night. Firearms equalizes the difference the sexes generally speaking. Feminism without firearms, is basically meat without cooking. Yea, you can eat it, but it might not be a good idea given the risks.
Btw, the movie Tom Cruise starred in, the Last Samurai, tried to make the whole getting rid of the great and noble samurai class as somehow the fault of greedy Westerners. Wasn’t so. The Meiji Restoration was a local Japanese movement designed to restore power to the Imperial Family and adopt Western ways of egalitarianism, dress, and philosophical concepts. The Japanese method integrated both traditional values such as Shinto with Western values such as Christianity. And they did it without having to fight a war about it, because they fought that war in 1600 and the Western clans, those who first traded with Europeans and adopted Christianity first, lost. 2 hundred years later, their sons and descendants came back and got rid of the Tokugawa Shogunate (the winner of the previous clash, called the Armies of the East, because it was the Eastern Japanese clans that were the most traditional and not as open to Western ideas).
Due to the Japanese laws against the mass manufacturing of katanas, kendo and kenjutsu classes in Japan must use a zinc-aluminum-alloy iaito for training purposes: an iaito is a sword that is unsharpened and thus too blunt to cut… well most things. Zinc-alloy is much lighter than steel, thus there’s a tendency for it to shatter and hurt someone if used in contact with other swords. This means wooden swords (bokuto) are used more for training purposes and when contact is required. Laws of this nature has also raised the price of a Japanese katana forged in Japan to something like 5,000 to 10,000 US dollars: 500,000 to 1 million yen. Commercially, the market price is 1,000 to 2,000 USD for a Japanese katana forged in the traditional way, but not in Japan. Machine forged blades using high carbon steel that do not use traditional Japanese blade forging techniques (because we got machines to do that work for us), cost around 100-300 dollars at the entry level and 300-800 at the medium price point (folded steel upgrades). The hamon, or wave line on a blade that has been classically used to judge the worth of a sword’s steel and sharpness, is made by differentially hardening the back spine vs the edge of the sword. The reason why Japanese katanas are sharpened on only one end is because Japanese katanas are constructed from a layered steel system (laminated) where the spine is softer and designed to absorb force while the edge is hard and able to cut without chipping or denting. The hamon results from how the different sections of the blade are heat tempered, but the sword can also be made from folded steel which produces a soft spine and a hard edge that if not tempered at all, could still have the layered steel behavioral characteristics in cutting. Such blades meant for battle are usually constructed using 1095 steel, or one of the hardest steels around, for the edge and a softer lower HRC (55 or lower) steel for the spine and body. Sword steel, at minimum, must be 1045 high carbon. There is also spring steel or 9260 steel which is about on par with 1095 steel in terms of hardness and ability to retain shape. Spring steel is what is used in springs and other firearm components, as it is very durable and you can bend it at 90 degrees and it will return back to normal shape, with very low metal fatigue compared to other high carbon steels (which tend to become permanently bent at more than 45 degrees).
The only sharpened blade I’m probably ever going to buy is a wakizashi from Cheness.
They have a great price, hand tempered blade using clay (traditional), and with the steel being composed of spring steel, it is just as durable, if NOT MORE durable than the traditional Japanese construction. And there’s no room to draw a katana, which is around 40 inches in total length, in CQB. There is, however, for a wakizashi.
So here’s the comparison about security issues from before. Not only are Americans gun crazier than the Japanese… but we also tend to be sword crazier as well. There are far more quality steel blades in the US than there are in Japan, although the ratio is probably not as great as the firearms differential. And America is definitely more security conscious, on an individual level (in some states), than Norway is.
Might be something people can mention if they are ever in Japan, when people don’t understand America’s obsession with guns.
P.S. Cleaning firearms is surprisingly similar to cleaning swords because both are prone to rusting and other little issues. Discovered that while learning how to maintain a steel sword.
I got to say, my search for value turned out quite well. It was far below what I expected to pay, so here’s hoping nothing goes wrong when I get it.
Those videos start off on the right route. But it’s just the tip of the iceberg.
I can now understand about 40% of common Japanese spoken lines in things like sitcoms, greetings, and slice of life animes. Missing mostly nouns and verbs, and grammar. The old style japanese, spoken by samurai/ninja or other nobles of 200 or more years ago, I understand almost nothing. Except the words they keep using. Even the Japanese native speakers call it “old fashioned” or “what era do you think you are in” when commenting on formats.
The written language is a tougher nut to crack. A lot of memorization will be required but once I can translate the kanji into romanji, I’ll be able to recognize a lot more words. There’s a reason why material for 20 and younger use furigana, phonetical spellings of kanji words above the kanji itself, whereas older individuals are expected to understand traditional Japanese literature as well as have a large kanji vocabulary. Primary issue is reference sources. I don’t have the keyboard to type in certain symbols, thus there’s often some issues finding definitions of Japanese words when the only thing I have are the phonetics or the kanji (that can’t be copied and pasted).
There’s two timelines I’m talking about here concerning defense and attack methodologies. One is the actual physical timeline, where I agree that defense precedes attack. In fact, simply closing the distance in an internal body momentum structural rooted stance strike, has already completed the defensive maneuver of getting inside the other person’s external strike range and rendering it ineffect. Just as being too close makes a gun and sword less effective, getting really too close makes even punches and kicks less effective and just slower at that. That’s a defense.
The other timeline is what is actually going on in people’s mental landscapes. In that reality, thought precedes action, and if the thought is “I want to make sure my defense is solid” then the thought is basically taking up time-space when it could just have been “I want to make an effective attack and while on the way to this goal, I’ll coincidentally assure my own safety and lower the risk of fatal damage to my body”.
By focusing purely on the physical action timeline, the training methodology is decremented and disorganized since it is humans that are being trained and expected to do these things, not simply logic order machines. The continual emphasis that defense precedes attack, makes students believe that defense is the primary importance and that it is a prerequisite to the actual attack. Thus if their defense fails or simply doesn’t work the way they intended it, their OODA cycle “resets” and they basically start from square one. Until they go through the successful defense motion, in their heads they won’t proceed to the “attack mental loop”.
Against determined attackers who actually want to hurt somebody, instead of just getting angry and starting an anti-social fight, they will bring weapons, numbers, or other tactical advantages in order to “cheat” at the fight. Because they’re not interested in fighting, just making sure their target is either dead or hospitalized. This means such attacks are either 1. determined or 2. skilled or 3. both. In such circumstances, the defender, or regular civilian, must turn the tables and remove the attacker’s initiative because the situation is not in the defender’s favor. It wasn’t designed to be. Because the attack is determined, the defense must also be as strong or stronger. Yet even if the defense suceeds, the defender may not be able to mentally switch gears in time to go on the attack. Instead, they try to defend again, and given the KISS principle, all it takes is one successful attack to make the defender start looping mentally, instead of breaking out and attacking. The body only goes where the mind has already gone. If the mind is still in “I got to make sure this defense move works”, that person is just not going to switch to offense. Unless they believed their defense had a less certain chance of safeguarding their life than actually attacking. The mind has to believe and switch gears, before the body does anything.
Adrenaline also causes consciousness focus and tunnel vision. Basically, there’s this tendency to laser focus on doing a single thing, if that thing is what a person believes will let him survive. By focusing predominantly on “defense first, then attack”, this is basically training a person to think in such a fashion that when under adrenaline, they are in danger of “looping” the defensive part and never going anywhere else. Like I said, there is the physical timeline and then there’s what is going on in a person’s mind’s timeline.
A person that intends to use a hard block as a strike, doesn’t care whether an external observer thinks his first action is a block or an attack. In his mind, it is clearly an attack. It doesn’t matter what it looks like to people on the outside, because none of that matters compared to the priority the fighter has to place on what he is actually devoting his time to thinking of in a fight. Time is a precious commodity and it cannot be regenerated once lost.
Because of this, I don’t emphasize physical timelines of what comes first. From the fighter’s perspective, the attack comes first because that’s what his brain needs to be thinking of in order to make the correct decisions. If he first does something the rest of us would call “defensive”, that’s not really going to matter much. This is the often noted Void Miyamoto Musashi wrote about, where mental perspective starts actually affecting physical reality concerning humans. Miyamoto often talks about cutting with the Void or with the spirit, and people don’t get it because they think “how can I cut with my spirit, when all that is doing the cutting is my sword and arm”. Well, that’s because the brain has to be clear first, before the body will be clear in obeying orders. Too many complications like thinking about defense, then attack, then defense, then attack, starts running into Murphy’s Laws.
The only thing with a purpose is the human brain. That is the original weapon of man. A technique has no purpose, because a technique is a lifeless, unaware tool. The purpose of any weapon or tool created by man, is the purpose the creator’s brain came up with. A block has no purpose. Nor does an attack. But the person using it has a purpose and a goal and an intent.
Before, I wasn’t speaking of a specific martial art, TMA or otherwise, but more in general on training methodology I see people use. Specifically: training methodology that deals with training the mind to focus on things and view the context between offense/defense. Training methodology requires a different skillset than actually using H2H techniques. Thus even the best technicians, aren’t necessarily using the best training methodology.
“In other words, doing the torque during the impact as you explain it to be the case for soft blocks in your system.”
My interpretation: when rotation is applied to a forearm strike, it sticks and compresses the radial nerve longer in the arm, thus producing more damage. Less so with the forearm rotating and more so with the torso/shoulder rotating down and around. Depending on the meat of a person’s forearm, it might take a much longer duration force-strike to do anything to the radial nerve in the opponent’s arm. Just because the radial nerve is only close to the surface, not right on the surface of the arm.
“(Such “rolling” doesn’t apply to knife-hand [hard] blocks, which are used in more of a chopping fashion.)”
That makes sense, as the knife’s danger is a vector and making the vector go as far away as possible from your own body/lims allows your body to get close in and do some damage to the knife user.
“….do anything but reduce the impact force to the attacking limb”
If it is just the forearm rotating, like the videos posted here, then it’s not enough: the impact will reduce. If it is the shoulders, torso, and knees rotating and dropping in a gravity well, it’s more than enough to transfer even though it isn’t going in a straight A to B progression. Rotation applies just as much force as linear penetration strikes, it just takes longer contact for it to work. This is good against targets that are resistant to linear force strikes. The human arm tends to be very floppy. The elbow also tends to make it twist in angles. Thus it is hard to apply force with continous acceleration against the arm in a straight line strike. The arm just flies away and the force is lost in kinetic motion as it bleeds away the momentum. By applying rotation and penetration, the resistance of the arm is destroyed before the arm is able to move away and absorb further applications of force. Not real useful for breaking bone (there are easier ways to do that), but against a nerve target, it’s enough.
“Otherwise, in my experience people high on adrenaline don’t really notice pain in the forearms. “
This is probably due to dilution or mistranslation from Chinese medicine to Western medicine, but most of the targets those TMA systems are hitting isn’t the arm. It’s the radial nerve in the arm. I’ve noticed nobody actually says that. Maybe cause they don’t know, anatomically, where that nerve is as it wraps around the forearm or if they do know, they know it by a different name and system (meridians). A proper strike against that nerve deadens the nerve and causes temporary nerve damage, preventing a person from sending reliable signals to his hands and fingers. They also lose a lot of strength there, although adrenaline can make up for some of that with pure willpower. Adrenaline can ignore pain. It cannot ignore damage to the nervous system in terms of controlling organs or muscles. So an adrenalized individual won’t feel pain. He’ll just lose control of his arm and hand for a time. Very nasty for someone who trained their entire life in hand speed or punching power. A trick to use against stronger and meatier opponents. The human body can take a lot of non-specific trauma. Note Dan here as Case Example Alpha. But the human body cannot take injury at all. Nerve damage is, indeed, an injury. Albeit one varying in life threatening levels.
“I have found that most “hard” blocks can be done in a way that is “soft” – ie. that minimises impact during the deflection.”
I see any technique, attack or block, motion or throw, as a tool. One that is modified by the user for the user’s purposes. Thus if a user wants to modify hard blocks into soft, they can do so, if they can do so that is. If they believe it will benefit them, that’s their choice to make.
“It seems to me that this is not a deflection, which wedges into the attack at an angle and deflects it off its axis. “
It isn’t a deflection, I agree. That’s because it’s a hard block used as a strike with the intention of attacking and doing damage with a block. IF that doesn’t make sense, refer back to the difference between physical timeline and mental thoughts. It’s why I said for TMA, a hard block was originally used as a strike. That’s because that’s what it is most useful for. A strike on the arm, which also coincidentally stops the arm from attacking. A deflection is something totally different. A deflection setups a strike on the body/torso, not on the arm. It evades and avoids the arm because that’s not the goal. The arm is just in the way, so it gets flicked off.
“I don’t believe literal blocks are advisable – and I speak from experience.”
If the intention was to solely defend, that would be true. Such a block would not serve the purpose, given it’s force on force. If the intention changed, however….
The point I wanted most to clear up is that when I speak of offense or the way of strategy on attacking, I don’t speak of always attacking first in reality. In a physical confrontation, I may very well have to defend myself first, then go on the attack. But in my mind, I’m thinking of attacking first, defense a secondary or tiertiary issue. That’s because I have a specific goal or aesthetic in mind. When I see an incoming mortal blow, I want to be able to immediately conceptualize and launch a fatal strike that arrives before the mortal blow kills me. Sometimes that isn’t the case, as in Japanese double kill ken jutsu scenarios. Sometimes the enemy’s hit hits, but it isn’t immediately fatal, just eventually mortal, without medical treatment. But the ideal is to launch a fatal strike, while totally ignoring the incoming mortal strike, in order to kill and destroy the opponent’s ability to apply power to the cut or strike, so that even if it hits me a quarter of a second later, it has lost most of its power and leverage. That is what I view as beautiful and true. An ideal to be striven for. The concept isn’t about being suicidal, but about putting everything you got on destroying the enemy, and coincidentally preserving your life. If your life is of value to you. Also applies to getting shot. Don’t assume one bullet at point blank range will stop you or anyone else you are shooting.
Everything I talk about concerning the Way of Strategy, bears that kind of mentality in mind. Other people will not have this mentality or list of priorities, I realize that very well. That’s because I was not just interested in self defense, but also defense of others, including family, friends, strangers, civilians, or simply the country itself. Form follows function. When the function changes, the form changes as well.
“The knowledge is there and it is not lacking as you imply.”
If such knowledge was present and the training methodology exists to pass it on to people without any martial arts background, I would agree with you. But I can’t, because I don’t see that in evidence. While there are many individual practitioners that have gained their skills through dedication and time placed effort, that’s not the same as having a training methodology that trains neophytes to be on the same level, faster than it took the Master to get to his level.
While I understand more about your background from your elaboration concerning who you view as “we” in your reference to those who know how to attack, that still doesn’t change the problem of training methodologies. A training methodology is to educate neophyte students so that they learn faster than the teachers themselves learned it. Knowledge is of little use to people, when only some people have it and they can’t pass it along efficiently. Or if it takes decades and decades. That basically means the number of “potential people” who can acquire that knowledge goes way down… So when I see the emphasis on “block first, attack second”, I’m telling you that my observation and conclusion is that this is part of what makes traditional martial arts so long to master for neophyte students. The training methodology is lacking, even if the technique itself has been perfected or refined over centuries.
In reply to the formal post of Dan’s here.
The objective is to checkmate the enemy’s king, which is to say attack in such a fashion that the enemy cannot avoid or defend against it. In a checkmate strategy, the opponent has no options at all. Even in chess, which utilizes an equal time and round table format, the defending player must react to the attacking player’s gambit or move. And the stronger the attack, the more tendency there is to panic and react to the single threat, rather than looking into the future and seeing the second, third, fourth, and fifth potential threats. Thus a grandmaster attacks in such a way that the enemy never gets a chance to counter-attack, regardless of how many turns he has at moving his pieces. He never gets a chance to counter-attack because he is always on the defensive. What is called “one move behind”. He has no time to do what he wants to do. And time is not something one can get back. (Refer to Napoleon’s famous quote: approximately, give me anything but time)
In a physical reality that we inhabit, we don’t have turns. Things either happen simultaneously or the attacker attacks and the defender defends. This keeps going on until the attack goes through the defender’s guard and checkmate happens automatically at that point. In reality, time is much more valuable a commodity than in chess, because nobody gets a “turn” based upon some arbitrary rule.
The grandmasters (of chess) can simulate the reality of an uninterrupted and invincible offensive by simply never giving the opponent any time to launch counter-attacks. An opponent’s skill, speed, strength, or insight is of no use when he has no time to use it. He has to process the data, decide on an action, and then use his nerves to send the command to his body so that his body will carry out the action. In chess, he has to make his moves quickly or else timeout and lose. In reality, fighting takes endurance and the smallest of mistakes add up to loss of time in the long run.
By attacking in such a way that it interrupts or prevents the opponent from acting, allowing only reactions, blocks and deflections are no longer a feasible way to achieve victory.
Rather, any block or deflection used is simply because the attacker planned on using it to setup a more devastating attack. A grandmaster threatens the king and forces a reaction by the defending piece to block the attack or support the defense, then brings in another attack utilizing the gap in the defense or increasing the pressure by threatening another sector/piece. If the defending side only had time to do two moves, he would be out of that trap. But he’ll never be allowed that time. Chess has relatively simple rules, which can be data processed by AI linear thinking or parallel processed by human experiential thinking. Even with such simple rules, the human mind can crash due to the stress. Imagine what the case would be in an actual life and death confrontation. If people are upset about their situation while playing chess…
In fighting, only human experiential thinking will be of use. The variables are too many to calculate linearly.
An effective attack plans ahead by decreasing the opponent’s options and time. So long as a person has time to think and act, he can do things to disrupt your plan. But once he runs out of time due to tactical or strategic advantages the enemy holds, the defender no longer has an option to even defend let alone counter-attack.
The more experienced I became, the better the quality of my opponents became.
I’ve played in a inter-college tournament between Georgia Tech and other schools. Tech’s highest ranked players are in the 2200, which are very hard to beat since they have a lot of experience to back up their data processing speed. It is mostly in the end game where experience tells the difference in timing. Instead of calculating 50 different moves per turn, they know that if they get this One Thing, that in the end game they will have an advantage after X amount of turns.
Human experts don’t so much calculate their moves ahead of time as they already “know” what will happen using experience. Thus they are predicting, not this chess game, but previous chess games like it. Thus they only need to follow the prediction for one chess game. The chess game where they win. If they can predict the moves and make it happen, they win. They don’t need to waste mental cycles thinking about how to block an attack while disadvantaged. Their plan of attack will automatically prevent the enemy from making trouble.
The only thing a fighter needs to worry about is the optimum number of attacks he needs to use to destroy the opponent’s ability to have time to react. Blocking, because it is reactive, operates on the assumption that the opponent is attacking but makes a mistake in timing. A mistake in timing allows the defender time to act differently and disrupt the overall tactics/strategy. Defense also uses up time, but does not force the opponent to waste equal time. Thus while one can use it to turn the tables and reverse the initiative advantage, it isn’t “designed” to prevent problems before they happen. It’s to deal with problems when they happen. But when you have problems, that means you’re not winning and are in fact not devoting all your resources to completing the most effective attack you can. Resources are diverted to defense and time is wasted doing that.
The general nature of strategy hasn’t changed since Sun Tzu or Neanderthal days. What has changed are the tactics, the specific methods people use. Our technology has advanced, our training methodologies have diversified, and our general knowledge of the world has become clearer. None of that has changed the goal of strategy.
The primary difference I see in training focus is that defensive training assumes that the opponent will make a mistake and allow you to reverse the tables. Or it assumes you made a mistake allowing the opponent to have the initiative. Offensive training focuses the human mind on creating opportunity and denying it to the enemy. Offensive strategy does not assume the attacker has the advantage. Only that if you want to win, and not lose, your only option is an effective attack. Anything else simply delays the inevitable.
TFT is more similar to Japanese Iaido and iaijutsu than karate. In fact, much of the Japanese sword arts are based upon the strategy of successful attacks. Something only hard won experience forged over time can render usable. While China lost their sword fighting days thousand of years ago, Japan only lost it in the last 2 or 3 centuries. Relatively short on a cultural timeline. Americans lost medieval swordmanship after it was already lost in Europe, so double penalty there. They did get a resurgence on pike/bayonet techniques, though.
Humans tend to treat open handed fighting systems different than they treat firearms, clubs, bombs, firearms, swords, or artificial materials such as poison or WMDs. This kind of disassociation and segregation of what are really the same things (tools humans use to get things done quicker) really muddies the mind and clouds the waters on the Way of Strategy.
In strategy, a defensive action isn’t defensive to begin with. It’s a trap or logistical support for the offensive action. Karate deflections would fit that definition, except humans need a very concrete intent present in order to get things done. Otherwise even the correct tool won’t get the job done when the user has uncertain intent.
Offensive action is not 90% of the equation, but 100% of the equation that leads to victory, because real offensive operations and actions don’t exist without 100% defense. An attack that is interrupted or counter-attacked, becomes ineffective because it can’t do what it planned to do. That’s no longer an “attack”, because it didn’t happen. He wasn’t “attacking you”. He was setting himself up to fail and you just took advantage of that. That has little to nothing to do with an attack that generates a threat that must be responded to.
Defense, however, can be passive as well as active. An attack threatening enough to completely kill or disable a person, must be responded to or else it is game over. However, there are only X number of ways to respond to it and the attacker knows exactly which ones they are. Thus the attacker has already planned further attacks, ahead of time based upon this predictive process, to take advantage of any counter attempts or defensive methods the defender can use. The attacker’s mind is ahead in the future while the defender’s mind is in the past. This leads to the situation where offensive strategy has more time than a defensive strategy: where time is a resource that can’t be renewed. Completing the process, the defense that the attacker uses becomes solely focusing on generating effective attacks that demand the defender react to it in predictable fashions. The defense of the attacker comes 100% from successfully attacking and generating threats for the defender. The moment those threats are countered or cease to exist, or if the threat is louder in bark than the bite, the defense of the attacker becomes zero. Thus in order to accomplish defense and attack successfully at the same time, one must focus on attacks that generate results. Focusing on defense often allows the attacker to generate a better attack, which eventually defeats the defender’s best defense. There is also the signal delay while the brain tries to figure out which to use, attacks or defenses. Strategy figured out a way to deal with that issue as well, by forgetting entirely about defense and only thinking in terms of offense.
There are two issues that people have with this goal or strategy. Most people are too incompetent to generate sufficient attack timing/power to defeat good defenses, like most chess players are too inexperienced to see what is obvious to a grandmaster. This means even a weak defense can defeat most attacks because those attacks are done with incompetence in mind. The other issue of the two concerns how humans treat H2H different than they do with tools of mass murder. Because their “intent” in mind is different when they see the open hand vs a gun in hand pointed at their head, they are unable to generate sufficient power and damage with their attacks. So human H2H attacks often count on luck and initiative to win, not on actual effective threats being generated that forces the defender to react. The defender isn’t forced, but is just prodded to react in a way the defender decides is best for defense. A moderate attack will often be defeated by a superior defense, but even a weak attack can defeat the most absolute of defenses given time or luck. In H2H death conflicts, “probably” is not good enough of an answer. “Certain” is what one should strive for. If your defense is not “certain”, but an attack is “certain” if the attack is of a sufficient level, then human effort should be devoted towards the latter not the former. Like I said, one of the issues people have with this strategy is that they think they are incapable of generating lethal force with their hands alone. That may have been true back in the stone age, but human knowledge and proficiency has developed methods that our ancestors could only dream of.