Friday, May 24, 2013

Part II of the Rory Miller Interview


Today we’re are going to continue our interview with Rory Miller, author of such books as Meditations on Violence, Force Decisions: A Citizen’s Guide to Understanding How Police Determine Appropriate Use of Force, and most recently Campfire Tales from Hell: Musings on Martial Arts, Survival, Bouncing, and General Thug Stuff.  He has also co-authored other books on the same subject of realistic violence.  Click here for the first part of the interview.

Jaredd Wilson of the Atemicast: Why did you find the need to write your books on realistic applications on violence?

Rory Miller: It was sort of an accident.  Sort of not.  I met Kris Wilder at a Jon Bluming seminar.  I'd just had a high-end use of force that I expected to get spectacularly political and here I was in a room full of martial artists who all looked like shiny-eyed kids fantasizing about doing something that I was wishing I could have avoided.  Anyway, Kris noticed something wrong and got me talking.  A few months later he asked me to present at a seminar, Martial University.  It was multiple instructors and multiple sessions, and I did a few.  What blew me away was that these martial
artists (and some of them were very high-end) didn't have a vocabulary for the things I was talking about.  they thought that fighting was the same as sparring and didn't understand the difference between a fight or an assault.  They didn't know that self-defense was a legal concept.  they didn't know about freezing or adrenaline effects.  These are becoming common knowledge now, but at that time only a few martial artists and a handful of police trainers were applying the knowledge.

So at first I wanted to write a little pamphlet, kind of a glossary of stuff that martial artists would need to know if things became real.
Then a few more things happened that year.  It wasn't processing well and
I wasn't getting the comfort from jujutsu.  Comfort sounds stupid but JJ was the one place where I could go and forget the world, sweat, bleed a little and on the mat everything made sense.  And jujutsu wasn't cleaning my brain out like it always had.  So I started to write.  I wanted the stuff out of my head so I could poke at it on paper.  When it was done, I figured it would be something I would pass on to students when I promoted them.  When I was done I sent it to Kris.  He is the one who sent it to his publisher.


JW: When it was first published, did you find any resistance, or were most
people willing to listen with open ears?

RM: Not a lot of resistance.  A few people were miffed evidently because I didn't mention their special snowflake style.  There was some resistance from people who felt compelled to say that they already knew all that stuff, but when people asked if that was so why didn't they teach it, that calmed down.

The other thing, everybody did already know almost everything I've written.  We all knew the Monkey Dance was predictable and had steps, but it needed a name and the steps needed to be pointed out.  Everyone who has been in a car accident and tried to dial a phone afterwards knew about adrenaline effects.  For that matter, every shy kid who asked someone out on a date for
the first time knows what adrenaline does to your skills.  Our parents told us that practice became habits became personality, we just somehow forgot it would also apply to pulling punches.

Violence is scary.  Everyone has issues with how they would do in a real fight.  Want to hear something scary?  I don't think I've ever really been tested.  Somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 uses of force, riots, ambushes, PCP freaks and the voice in my head says that because I'm still alive, none of that was the real deal. None of it was a real test.  And the people who have been to far worse places than me? They still have the voice in their heads, too.  It's one of the reasons we get together around the campfire every so often.

But the people who haven't been tested not only have doubts, but find themselves comparing.  Martial arts, in my opinion, used to be taught in a violent world.  It was giving a kid who would be going into war or who could count on his village to be raided by bandits some kind of chance. He would face his fear in battle and then he would know.  Without impending battle, the training has somehow morphed into an amulet.  If I have a blackbelt I can fight.  If I have a blackbelt I won't be scared.  Much of martial arts has morphed into an amulet factory, selling confidence because it is easier than instilling confidence..

And the students are buying answers so that they can avoid looking at the questions.  Does that make sense?

JW: Yeah, I understand.  It's actually why I got your book in the first place.  After I got my Shodan, I didn't feel like I knew enough to accurately defend myself, or God forbid my wife or someone else, because I hadn't been tested enough to know if it worked.  But at least I recognized the fact.
RM: Recognizing is huge.  The trouble with blindspots is that you can't see your own.  And, since you brought it up, many people talk about defending a third party, but how many practice it?

JW: I see your doing seminars under the name of Chiron.  If my Classics serve me, that was the name of the centaur that taught some of the Greek heroes right?  Could you explain a little about what Chiron is and what it does?

RM: There was an incident, I wrote about it here:
http://chirontraining.blogspot.ca/2005/12/sometimes-it-all-pays-off.html

We had put together a new training paradigm for the Sheriff's Office.  It was effective, injuries dropped by about 30% with no increase in inmate/arrestee injuries or excessive force complaints.  We were happy with it. One day, one of our guys was attacked. Close range shanking.  One of the real low percentage situations.  And Roger handled it spectacularly.  The training can't take credit for that.  No matter what training you give, it is always used by a person and the person is the one who makes it work.  With or without training, Roger would have made it.  

There had always been this vague feeling that something here was special, and Roger's incident let me put it into words.  We weren't training people.  We were training heroes.  We were training men and women who, every day, rushed in to help strangers because they had called 911 and asked for help or alone and unarmed, let themselves be locked into a dayroom with 75 violent criminals to keep order and keep the other inmates safe.  We weren't training people who might or might not need it, we weren't trying to make people feel better about themselves.  We were training heroes.  People who would rush in, people who would need and use and depend on the skills.  The responsibility was staggering, and it drove everything we taught and how we taught it.

When I went independent, I needed to keep that ethic.  The only figure that really resonated with that was Chiron.  And Chiron is more of a goal than a symbol.

JW: For anyone interested in Chiron, please click on the link.