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The Self-Defense Rolodex

…and other B.S.

I hear people say that a self-defense system needs to be simple and needs to have only a very small set of tools. One of the basic arguments is that you can’t have multiple decisions for tools, defense, or application because somehow you may get “confused” and that somehow you won’t be able to decide on what tool to use…. You with all your fancy options…. Pffft!

I don’t know where that idea started (and I don’t really care to be truthfully honest) or how far back in time it goes, but what I can tell you is that I absolutely disagree.

In the heat of any kind of fighting, scrap, or adrenalized situation, I have never thought to myself, “Wait….. I have a finger jab…. a jab punch…. and a palm heel strike….. Damn!!! What should I do?”

Nope. I just simply did whatever the hell I needed to do and so did everyone else who was ever in that situation.

Did I always make the right decision with my variety of options? No, but from my perspective, that was less about all the supposed options that I was supposedly “sorting” through, than about my own inability to use a preferred and responsive movement effectively.

In that regard, having less options and applying them in every conceivable way is a better solution for self-defense but it’s still not an issue of some mysterious rolodex process. Your mind owns the battle regardless of what you want, and sometimes even despite what you train.

Yes, simple is good. Complexity does break down under stress but not because complex things don’t happen. The whole dynamic of violence is a complex situation. Your ability to read and respond is a complex firing of your body’s instinctive responses.

No, complexity breaks down when it is reliant on a series of smaller reference points to come together in a specific way. Within the violence dynamic there is too much variability for more than a few smaller things to align to some future destination. It’s the pre-determination of complex solutions for specific problems that is the real culprit—particularly when it’s something being done in relationship to another human being and in an environment that is also full of variables.

Complexity is not evil but relying on fixed complexity for the solutions you bring to a dynamic situation is fool-hardy. However, complexity that allows for broad variability can work in a dynamic situation and the beauty of anything that has variability built in is that it also is simultaneously building adaptability.

Think about it.

Sincerely,
Guru Stark

Sean Stark
administrator
Founder of Pencak Silat Pertempuran. In looking for a martial art that was practical and artistic I found Pencak Silat. In silat I found an art that's organic nature allowed me to change it to make it culturally realistic and still allowed me to have the benefit of art and body culture.

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