Monday, May 30, 2016

Red Pill - Knowledge Taken In

You know the movie 'The Matrix', when Neo is given a choice. Morpheus offers Neo one of two pills. One pill was red and the other was blue. If Neo chose the blue pill, he would return to the world he had always known, nothing would change, his life would be as it had always been.

If Neo chose the red pill, he would be drawn into a world that was beyond imagination. Surreal, beyond plausible and one that Neo would have to adjust to in a rather quick and bizarre way from the get go.

If he chose the red pill, he would not be able to 'un-choose'

How many times in our lives do we wish we could 'un-choose'? Not even a 'do-over' just a plain ol' 'un-choose'... an option to not have ever made that choice to begin with?  Many, many years ago, I was siting around a campfire with Kelly. It was our last campout and we talked about a lot of things. One of the questions she asked was what would I have done different? The conversation took place 11 years ago on July 2. 

My answer at that time was 'nothing'. I would not have changed anything about my life and the choices made, because it all had brought me to the point I was at then. I liked who I was. I still do. My answer today would be the same. I often re-visit that specific conversation I had with Kelly. More often as a gage as to where I am at with myself. And if she would be proud. 

So, what has this to do with the red pill? Stepping onto the floor of a martial arts school is easy, in the fact that it is a physical commitment. Week in and week out, working your body, and learning new stuff, moving in ways that may be challenging, and unfamiliar. Just following commands and becoming stronger. I enjoyed my time in the traditional martial arts tremendously. There are many , many things that I experienced with it, that I cannot believe I did. 

But when I chose to walk away from the traditional martial arts and dive into the Self Defense aspect of it all, I was unaware of the 'Red Pill' world I was entering. Maybe it's that way for every person who has had an experience with assault or violence. If they've trained in a 'fighting' art, the experience disturbs  the ideology of their learned 'skills'.  I don't know. 

My first experience with learning about teaching self defense to women was with Phil Messina of Modern Warrior©. Phil is a retired NY PD who has had over 1,000 felony arrests. He volunteered for the one of the first decoy units NY had many years ago. He knows violence, he has had his share of experience with it. He was a great person to begin my Self Defense journey with. I still go and train with him whenever I can, and it is always an honor. 

As I honed my skills at presenting personal defense information, I continued to learn as much as I could. Then after reading "Meditations On Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence" I found another person to train with, Rory Miller. Rory added more information to add to what I already had, and he also presented a shit load more. When I go train with him, I am introduced to more personal defense people, opening more opportunities to gain more knowledge. Sometimes, as I drive the long hours home, I wonder..

Trying to educate the area about self defense, and all its aspects, is challenging. One of the obstacles I feel I face is that so many people sincerely feel that karate, martial arts, the fighting arts IS self defense. Or that some think it can be fully comprehend self defense in a short workshop or seminar. A good workshop or seminar can certainly open recognition and provide some perception.

The further I pursue learning about personal defense stuff: self defense law, threat assessment,violence dynamics, environmental awareness, criminal methodology, the more I wonder about that red pill. I know that the traditional martial art I trained in failed to educate me about the whole spectrum of self defense. Important details that would have armed me well enough, prepared me well enough to have stopped the assault before it got physical.

The main focus of almost all karate/martial arts classes cover in their 'self defense' segments is the physical. The physical fight, as if it is a fight, a competition, rather than the true ambush of terror it is.   Self defenses is about keeping safe, not being present if the shit hits the fan by figuring out how to escape and evade, or deter the violence. Recognizing predatory cues, and the kind of predator presenting them, and what it is, how it is, exactly to be 'aware' of. And most importantly what you, the individual is capable of doing in her own defense.

Denial is not a very good strategy of personal defense. Being prepared helps one live a little less paranoid, giving options and information give one a bit of freedom. Depend on yourself to defend yourself, because only you will be the one in the eye of the storm, preparation will help better the chances to get you through.

More people should opt for the red pill when it comes to their personal safety. Be Neo. Choose knowledge. Although once taken in, the knowledge cannot be un-learned. 

Monday, May 09, 2016

"It's a dangerous business walking out one's front door..."

I live in a small rural town. Rural, as in, nunya can completely comprehend the real meaning of 'rural'.  You see many rural towns if you drive across Nevada, and this one isn't much different than any other small, rural Nevada towns. There are small rural towns scattered throughout this good ol' U.S of A.

I like it here. There is nothing. Nothing. No medical. No theatre. No stoplight. Hardly any sidewalks. Our grocery store has 12 aisles. But a short 10 to 15 minute drive will get you to the top of a mountain with abundant hiking, fishing and wilderness. That same 10 to 15 minutes will get you to hills with streams and more fishing, or natural hot springs. Its great. Fresh air and very few people.

So when I travel from this middle-of-nowhere town into the great unknown. The adventure is always one that send ripples out that one has no idea what will happen.

As Gandalf says, "It's a dangerous business going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might be swept off to."

When I left the traditional martial arts system back in '99-2000, I soon found myself at a Buddhist Monastery, hanging out with the likes of Roshi Joan Halifax, and others. It was during some time there that I realized I needed to teach women some personal defense. Put some of my skills out there and start teaching a group, a target audience that I had never taught before. My martial arts students were always guys.

After deciding I was going to teach women self defense, I journeyed across the country to attend my first American Women's Self Defense Association* Seminar. I did so strictly to get the little piece of paper that said I was 'certified' to teach. Woo hoo. What I got was so much more that a certificate. I gained an extraordinary teacher when I met Phil, who I now train with as often as I possibly can.

I also gained many long-time friends, from all over the country. All which have the want of teaching women how to defend as a common bond. But most do other things as well; school teachers, councilors, professors, administrators, law enforcement, writers and more.

I live in a podunk, mud-puddle of a town, with absolutely nothing, but the people I have met along my journey, and the friendships gained, have opened doors beyond here. In fact, because of being swept off, I will be participating in a workshop this weekend that has nothing to do with self defense, specifically. But the opportunity to do so has come about strictly because of the self defense involvement.

So, stepping out my front door, driving for 2.5 miles hours to the nearest international airport, I will venture fourth to cross off a long-desired bucket list item. It is incomprehensible to me. How do I find myself at these places with these people, doing these things? Life is amazing and the windows of opportunity are within reach. But you must be willing to step out the door. Even if you have to do so all by yourself. Because you won't be by yourself for long.

Taking that first step sometimes is the scariest. But the journey, the adventure, no matter what it brings fourth, cannot be experienced any other way.

*as far as I am aware the AWSDA organization I knew has changed, I am no longer a member.