Saturday, March 14, 2009

Attributes and Principles

So the discussion of attributes and principles came up again in class. This system is about the development of attributes and application of principles, physical, emotional, mental, and for those inclined, spiritual.

Some people see the system as a bunch of techniques in spite of the fact that it's not really designed that way. Try as I do to help people understand otherwise, we are inclined as a species, to want things defined in as neat a package as possible, techniques do just that. We all want to be invincible and untouchable in violent encounters. It's natural to want that. This system doesn't teach that way. This system teaches that the "rain falls on the just and the unjust", trained and untrained alike can be hit, stabbed, pounded, hurt, killed, maimed. It's a fact.

After 1,000's of years or millions of years, we have never been able to figure out how to 100% of the time pound the snot out of some deserving idiot. It hasn't happened. It won't happen no matter how tough we think we are, or how invincible the system we are studying is supposed to be. Furthermore, if someone tells you the system they teach or study is unbeatable, they are a liar and or a salesman.

Even if a system was considered to be unbeatable, to have all elements required to succesfully beat any possible weapon, person, persons, or combinations, we all come with a different set of attributes. Furthermore, there are environmental attributes that enter into the fray. Within this, there is still the reality that even the people you fight will have differing attributes. They are fairly definable, speed, timing, range, height, weight, agility, etcetera, but each one of us comes with a slightly differing quantity of these. That fact, times the options that are available to us via the tools that exist personally or externally, times our understanding, times environmental factors, ad nauseum, make any guarantees of succes within combat, complete and utter nonsense.

So what's a person to do? Well, for starters, you can train yourself in a way that develops your strong attributes and furthermore develops any weak attributes you may have. In addition, by pursuing the understanding and application of the best attributes you have as well as the development of weaker attributes, it will only help. Additionally, by understanding principles of combat, angles, leverage, physiology, autonomics, etc. you further increase the probability of success. I would also add, that if you settle on a method of combat and you don't depart from it, especially when things are at their toughest, it will help you in most cases.

Pencak Silat Pertempuran will help you find and develop those attributes; standing, with weapons, or even on the ground. Additionally, it expands your weaker attributes, helping to make you more rounded as a fighter. Of course, utilizing principles all throughout making the attributes you do develop even more effective. Attributes that are specifically developed are use of angles, timing, understanding and use of range, tools, explosiveness, and aggressiveness, to name some. Some principles are the 80-20, langkah dari batu ke batu, set points, and relationship.

The drills that are found in Pencak Silat Pertempuran can be seen as techniques to those who are untrained, or unclear, but to those who are trained, it is hoped that they will see them as simultaneously developing attributes and principles in application. The primary difference is in how a thing is looked at. A technique fits a situation or event that happens a specific way, at a specific time. It cannot fit any other situation or event as well as it does that specific way or specific time. Principles can be applied across different events or situations and the attributes determine the effectiveness of the application.


Dan said...

What are your thoughts on muscle memory, and the idea that repetitively training specific techniques can decrease your reaction time?

I think understanding the concepts behind the techniques is critical, so you know if you're practicing the right ones. But it seems that a balance between technique and concepts should be an important part of any style.

SilatBlogger said...

First off. sorry it took so long to approve this. Saw it and then forgot to go through the process.

Regarding your first question, I'd like to clarify and answer it.

Repetively training techniques does not, in my experience, decrease reaction time.

UNLESS you mean that it decreases your reaction time WHEN the opportunity to use a given technique does NOT arise as you have trained.

Additionally, technique training in general probably DOES decrease reaction time because of the sorting process that you have to go through to find the specific answer to the event that's unfolding before you.

PLUS, it's somewhat irrelevant for my money, because RARELY does the exact thing occur, that you've trained your technique to accomplish.

I have to admit though, that your question phrasing and follow up statements are a bit confusing to me, especially in regard to the post, which essentially suggests that the use of techniques has never proven out in my experience, when people are truly intent on hitting me. At least not linear techniques requiring more than a single beat to perform.

To me, techniques are carriers for principles and attributes. Necessary, but trained too heavily, like drills, they can become the very thing that holds you back.

There is NO technique that is going to guarantee success, therefore, you must develop your attributes and understanding of principles to learn how to modify and adapt a technique or create techniques on the fly. Thereby not allowing a technique to be the box by which you view the relationship with an attacker.

I am of the opinion that the best techniques are spontaneous and occur naturally based on the relationship to an attacker, rather than preconceived techniques.

You still have to learn putar kepala or tarik kepala and practice them enough to be able to see them if the opportunity arises. That is the issue of balance.

Opportunity is only one beat long. If you see it but don't act, it's not there any more.

Techniques requiring a chain of events to occur that is longer than 1-1.5 beats, probably are not going to happen - Ever. IMO. Well, not in the street anyway.

SilatBlogger said...

One more thing, you need to be careful when repetively training anything. I do several things when I train repetive aspects.

1. Learn to break the drill.
2. Wait as long as possible to respond - rather than what most of us do, which is to start our response before the attack actually starts.
3. Change your follow ups but not your starting point.
4. Get back to your starting point - no matter what happens.
5. Do not be rushed by a trainer who throws the punch before you are back in a relaxed state. Go from zero to 100, not 30 to 100.

There are probably more but i've never really written them down before.

SilatBlogger said...

repetive = repetitive

Dan said...

I want to make sure you know I'm asking questions from a place of respect and curiosity, you're one of the voices on the internet that I think are worth listening to, and your posts are always thought provoking (as you can see here).

As a Wing Chun player (to borrow a silat term :) we drill techniques until we're so board our eyes bleed, so your post struck a chord with me.

I really like the 5 things to watch for when you drill repetitively, that's going in my training folder.

If you're ever in need of a topic to post, I'd love to hear more about repetitive drills, and how you should, and should not be working them.

Thanks for the post, and your thoughtful consideration of my question.

SilatBlogger said...

Hi Dan - I appreciate your question and thank you for the compliment.

Techniques, like drills, are only good if you're willing to break them. In reality, a technique is nothing more than another form of drill.

A technique that is used to train attributes, which Wing Chun does, is good. You still have to be willing to "break" them to get real street applicability from them IMO. I have trained in Wing Chun too - but only for a year - so hardly an expert in Wing Chun, but it seems to me that the techniques of Wing Chun are more about attribute development and principle training. They are the carrier.

They probably are meant to be adapted to the situation in my experience. (I know that's the case from my own teachers in Wing Chun.)

It's not that techniques are evil and it's not that principles and attributes are independent of technique. It's just important to find the right mix of understanding bc there is no way to have a technique that answers every combative question in relationship with the attacker so you must have techniques that are developing attributes of control and utilizing universal combative principles so that they can blur together seemlessly. That is the breeding ground for adaptation.

Aaron said...

Guru, I'd second the request for an article on "breaking" the drill......

....although it'll probably be a while 'till I use it since I'm still (re)learning the PSP drills.

Anonymous said...

nice article, i like silat too

silat said...

where did you learn pencak silat?