Kapatiran Suntukan Martial Arts


Thursday, March 25, 2010

Rory Miller Seminar - Ambushes and Thugs

Leave the Thumbs

The snow began in the late evening Friday. By Saturday morning at 4 a.m., there was about 5” on the ground, three of those a heavy slush on the road to plow through. In town, the roads were fair. Once I hit the highway south of town, I was in fading ruts and swerving across the lanes. I lost track of the times my plowing of snow caused me to slide at an angle down the road causing me the need to crank the wheel to maintain forward progress. My 45-minute drive took a little over an hour. Then it was Tony’s turn. Luckily he had the 4x4 and could go through the snow as opposed to pushing it. We were on the road to KC by 5:15 a.m. or so with a hope to be there by 9 a.m.. After an hour on the road, I could clearly see Tony’s knuckles breaking through. It was slow going, and we were a little late, but there.

The seminar was hosted by Eric Parsons and sponsored by YMAA Publishing and Eric and the YMAA representative were both gracious hosts.

When we walked into the gym, the group was already engaged in slow motion one-for-one exchanges to help with becoming more efficient. It was refreshing to see most people in street clothes, and the air was quite positive.

Rory Miller weaved in between people giving tips and recommendations. The principles of this exercise dealt with Movement, Pain, Damage and Shock. Slowing down and exploring options helps to see ways to gain efficiency in actions.

At one point, Rory added an unexpected element and had us cradle a focus mitt and pretend it was a one-month-old baby. That changed many people’s tactics.

After the slow motion exercises, Rory took center stage before a whiteboard and previewed his upcoming book with the work-in-progress title, “7.” The book is divided into seven distinct areas to consider when dealing with violence. These points an others were in a handout (which I got at the lunch break since we arrived late) highlighting what he wanted people to take home emphasizing this is not about martial arts or fighting, but about violence.

The first of the seven focuses on the ethical and legal aspects of any encounter. He stressed that our hobby deals with the creation of corpses and cripples. We must be prepared emotionally and morally to deal with that. These martial systems we practice predate the modern legal system in many ways. Rory encouraged all of us to be aware of state’s laws regarding self-defense.

The second category is understanding how and why violence happens. If you are unaware of what’s coming, it will most likely not have a pleasant outcome. He brought up the monkey dance, group monkey dance and predation all of which are detailed well in his current book.

Third was applying avoidance and the use of escape and evasion along with de-escalation. This follows what I have said for years; if you know of an area where bad things happen don’t be there. If you find yourself in a place like that, have a way to get out. If you do find yourself in a confrontation, do your best to de-escalate the situation. Talk calmly, rationally. If the bad guy wants your wallet, give it to him. You can replace the contents. You can’t bring back life.

Fourth is operant conditioning. As we don’t choose when and where bad things happen, we need to have a near-unconscious action to use when it does.

Next was dealing with the freeze. Rory emphasized the need to recognize it happening and to be able to tell yourself to do something and act on it. It may be a two-step process to break out of the freeze – do X, now do Y. No matter how much you practice something, the moment it happens you will most likely freeze. Rory had some good personal examples. He had gone through medical training for emergency situations but when it happened for real, his brain seized. He overcame it by telling himself to move and act. Then all the training kicked in.

The sixth subject he covered was the actual fight. Subcategories of this are you, the bad guy(s), the environment, and luck. All these factors come into play and should be considered along with dealing with the natural chemical cocktail flowing through your veins.

The final issue is the aftermath of any confrontation. You will need to accept what just happened (coming full circle to the ethical aspect in the first category) as well as legal issues. That natural chemical cocktail which rushed through your body can affect you more than you think. It is best to try and maintain your mental acuity as well as be ready for criminal or civil ramifications.

Rory’s next book will focus on these seven facets in much better detail than I am retelling it, so keep an eye out for that release.

In addition, Rory covered the OODA loop: Observe, Orient, Decide, and Act. The biggest concept to take away from this is that when you begin your loop, the person engaging you is already acting. They have already been through the loop. Rory pointed out that the moment and the chemical cocktail can’t prevent you from making the next choice and to pay attention for that.

After this discussion, we did a little infighting drill from a clinch. This evolved into blindfolded drills with one person sightless. They had to feel and figure out what the next move by the opponent would be. Once again these were done in super slow motion to really tap into the movements.

Next Rory began a discussion about the use of force continuum. This was an informative talk regarding the levels of action one has based on the situation. The first is presence. This is you coming into a situation and letting others know you are there. This alone could diffuse the circumstance. The next step would be some sort of verbal acknowledgment like, “HEY! Knock it off!” Following this could be some sort of touch such as at the elbow of the person to get them to see you are there or to gently guide them away.

From there it develops into forms of physical control from locks to handcuffs.

You often have some amount of control through the beginning of the situation, but this is when it goes past what Rory referred to as the “4/5 split.” At this point, things go from a controllable situation to one lacking control which can lead to injury. Serious physical control is fighting to regain order and most likely involves fighting hand-to-hand. The final level is deadly control and has tools that will cause bodily harm with death as a distinct option.

Rory discussed the when’s and where’s to each of these levels in the use of force continuum and mentioned again looking up state laws.

This conversation led into a discussion on self-defense as an affirmative defense. In other words, putting the justification of its use in the hands of the one claiming it. This means it is on you to give justification why you performed a crime-like action to defend yourself. One will have to take into account witnesses, as well as the brain can make up some wacky things it thinks it recalls seeing and hearing. You will need to show the bad guy

· Had intent in doing harm to you or the person you were helping.

· Had the means to harm you, and

· Had opportunity to commit and act against you.

In some states you also have to show preclusion. This is when you need to show that you exhausted every other means to avoid the confrontation and/or used the amount of force necessary and not more.

Next Rory touched on the post encounter action. The instant you can flee, DO and get to a safe place. After arriving at that location, it is imperative to check yourself to make sure you are not injured. This may seem like an odd comment, but the adrenalin of the confrontation may not let you feel the injury just yet. Once you have determined your situation medically, call 911 and report a crime has been committed on you. Say as little as possible until you speak with an attorney. When the police arrive, do as they say and don’t let them have to make a quick decision. They will do their job – let them. They will most likely use tactical questioning to get you to talk, calmly request that you will speak with them as soon as you have spoken with an attorney. Remember, they are rolling up with little information and will most likely be having their own chemical cocktail coursing through their system.

After lunch, we looked closer into Operant Conditioning (OC). Rory asked us what our “Oh shit!” response is to something coming at our face. Two-thirds of the room put both their hands up, most of the rest dropped their chins and raised a shoulder. A few simply didn’t know. Those who didn’t know just picked an option to try.

The ones who threw their hands up were given a drill that had them do a move like a waiter-stance supported with the rear hand. They then used that to enter on the neck of the assailant.

Those who dropped the shoulder were shown an elbow spear entry with the off hand covering the midsection and under arm of the elbow spear arm.

Both groups were shown drop stepping that produced a lunge-like entry into the opponent.

We did this form-like to get the feel for it and followed that up with an opponent. Throughout the remainder of the afternoon, we added elements to the practice. The first was to have someone stand behind us and swing a stick at us doing the drill. This was to sharpen our action and trigger the OC. After this exercise, we moved into multiple assailants - two on either side, one in front. The final drill of the day was an attack from behind. All of these are good practice in developing OC. Rory encouraged all of us to pick our own version and work it.

After a water break and having the door to the media room unlocked, we watched a few videos showing various aspects of the day regarding the monkey dance, the OODA loop (particularly where it didn’t break), and violence.

Rory discussed the common mental makeup of predators and how they view the world and people differently. He mentioned two types: Resource Predators and Process Predators. The Resource Predator wants something and sees you as an animal or object who has what he wants. Rory’s analogy was you are the soup can holding his soup. The Process Predator enjoys what he does. Both forms of predation are usually without witnesses and can use either a blitz attack or charm to attack their prey.

We wrapped up the day with an after action report by everyone. It was a good mix between technique and understanding of the main topic of violence, as well as by knowing what to do doesn’t mean you will do it.

Overall, I found the day to be an excellent compendium to Rory’s book, Meditations on Violence, and highly recommend attending any of his seminars.


  1. Excellent after-action report, Jay! I couldn't have captured the day better. My knuckles have almost scabbed over. :-)

  2. Awesome review. I felt I was there again. Thanks for the kind words about YMAA Publication Center. Regards, Barbara Langley, YMAA Publication Center.

  3. Greetings,

    Thank you for this.

    With Rory Miller's book, "Meditations on Violence," I immediately became a fan of his valuable teachings.

    All good wishes,



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