The Search For Simplicity - Hick's Law
The Culture Of Excellence

Concepts vs. Reality

Fighting is really simple. You need to be better prepared physically, tactically, or technically than the opposition. If you are none of those, you are screwed with a capital "F". I am not the only one to say that either.

Here is Musashi in the Book of Five Rings.

“The true Way of sword fencing is the craft of defeating the enemy in a fight, and nothing other than this.”

Today we hear a great deal about “concepts”. I recall Cooper telling me about the International Combat Shooting Association, and how the word “Combat” had to be replaced with “practical” as “combat shooting” was illegal in some countries. These things are important.  You gotta call it something!

The recent word is “Concepts”. We used that term quite a bit early on to describe things like “the concept of reloading”, rather than the technical mechanics of how to reload, as one example. But there are really only so many ways to physically reload a pistol. Where concepts must meet reality is to examine all the possibilities in the context of location and timing. What is happening around you, and to you, while you are conceptually attempting the given technique?

Perhaps concept was not a good word.

Webster’ definition of CONCEPT : “an idea of what something is or how it works”. Something conceived in the mind : thought, notion. An abstract or generic idea generalized from particular instances

Antonyms: actuality, fact, reality

So it seems that “concept” is at odds with “reality”. What brings concept in accord with reality is testing under duress.

What do we know about the context…the fight and the nature of it, and where do we get our data. Quite simply, a man that has not been in a fight does not know firsthand what the fight is like, no matter how much he postulates about its nature. And anything he says describing that fight is something he got from another. So while he may have conclusions about what is what…conceptually, he doesn’t really know, and his words are only as valid as his interpretation of the data he got from someone else. Think of a celibate virgin monk teaching about sex, and that will give you the perspective.

What we can do is to look at a problem conceptually rather than technically. Take reloading the pistol as the example we are using. We know the pistol has a finite capacity…we know the reactive fight may cause us to miss a few shots, and we know that the combination of multiple assailants and moving dynamic situations are not handled as cleanly as a marksmanship exercise on the range. We also know that an unexpected sudden physical exertion or startle will elicit a body alarm reaction, making certain physical actions more difficult than others….specially if they require analysis under fire, or extremely fine motor skills.

How do we know this? We know it from personal, real-world gunfights…our own and that of our colleagues. And we know it from putting anything we seek to validate or discard in the crucible of force on force. In a real gunfight, we will use what we know and never deviate from what we know works. Lives are at stake so nobody wants to risk the unknown. However, in the artificial realm of the force on force gunfight simulation, you can take those risks, and see if something has value or if it must, as Bruce Lee did, be classified as classical mess and discarded.

Things we have validated in Force On Force

1). Eye level shooting, one or two handed, rather than below eye level shooting - unless inside arm’s reach of the attacker.

2). Simple, non-diagnostic, non-analytical weapon manipulations

3). Simple, limited complexity movement patterns to include, the draw, the take-off, and associated functions. As Musashi said…there is no need to complicate things.

4). Physical fitness to enable dynamic movement, resistance to injury, and ability to fight to regain distance to shoot or to regain the feet after falling.

Things we have invalidated in Force On Force

1). Elbow up-elbow down crouch type shooting

2). Analysis based weapon manipulations (Type 1, Type 2, etc.)

3). Complicated analysis variations of the take-off, the draw, and associated functions. The antithesis of Musashi’s “keep it simple”. In truth, I see this the same as the Kung Fu master that wants to teach 1000 variations of the front kick in order to seem “complete”.

4). That the gunfighter does not need physical fitness, that he doesn’t need hand to hand combat skills.

Feel free to test these ideas yourself. If you test is as harsh as a true gunfight, I will bet you arrive at the same conclusions. Being conceptual, and fight focused and all of that is nice, and quite marketable today…but keeping it real through vigorous questioning, testing and constant evaluation is necessary.