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Thread: Courage and Commitment

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    Default Courage and Commitment

    I was just afforded an opportunity to talk about my experiences in adapting classical martial principles, training, and technique to modern policing applications to a collected group of specialists in the former, which included a few others who have a foot in both classical training and modern policing. I am very thankful and humbled for that opportunity, in particular to Ellis Amdur, my teacher, and to Mr. Liam Keeley for the invite.

    In that I study with Ellis, our approach is a bit unconventional. Ellis' teacher demanded that budo be applicable not simply in our everyday lives but in moving the world in ways and in situations of consequence. The image is that of the tiger in wild, not in a cage, and certainly not stuffed and displayed as a museum piece.

    How can archaic martial arts, with whatever small bits an individual tradition may preserve of an actual combative curricula, as opposed to long ago turning into "martial art," apply in any practical sense in today's world?

    One word: Uvalde.

    Robb Elementary came up several times in my discussion, though I was the one brought it up. An abject failure of courage, commitment, and leadership. There was a lot of "cool guy gear" in that hallway: rifles, body armor, helmets, shields, halligans, rams, diversionary devices ("flashbangs") and the collective experience of eventually scores of officers, a few score in the hallway alone. We are told many had received "active shooter" training within the last six months. So....how could that happen?

    Lack of zanshin. Absolute and utter lack of fudoshin. Lack of training that challenged them to face their fear of death, to look deep into themselves, and process those lessons. Lack of seriously considering consequences - in an understanding of what "active shooter training" is actually all about, in the same way far too many budoka and bujutsuka fail to really wrap their heads around what it would really be like to cut a man down with an edged weapon - how much work it could actually take, never mind the blood, the gore, the screams and gurgles, the images in your head that echo afterward - or to be cut down in turn. Training, both modern and classical, is sanitized of those things. Both often seem to be about looking the part rather than acting it (what the IHS called "display over effect" - something rampant in the police community today with tactical gear and posturing and lots of what I call "tactagram" postings), and where zanshin is a performative action one takes on the completion of a kata rather than an oscillating psychological state that we have to recognize and manifest, and know when we aren't doing that, when under duress.

    Lack of sen...... you get the picture.

    Looking back over my posts here over the years, no doubt I talked a little too "seriously" for some people about stuff like that. A couple wannabe tough guys and tactical commandos even tried to disparage me or call me out (never wanted to meet with me, though....) But this is the whole reason for that seriousness - to be prepared for something like Uvalde. I've been in that situation - had to go through a house getting shot at through the walls, shot at through one door, shot at with a gun in my face from ten feet away, and shot at again through a door I was trying to force to save a hostage until I was actually shot through the chest. Some here know my story. At the time, I was trying to save a "developmentally disabled young man that was being tortured." Turns out he was a drug addict that was assisting his buddy to ambush us. That didn't change anything - I would do the same thing today knowing what I knew then. That was my job. That was what I wore all the cool-guy gear for......not just to look all tactical.

    But I had an advantage... I had training beyond the standard few hours in-service that officers receive every year, beyond the "active shooter updates" officers receive once a year, if that (we once when almost seven years without any active threat training - think about that...). I had been inculcated in a ryu that believed it was still living, still needed to have relevance in the real world. I had that on top of the various intense modern close combat and cqb courses that I put myself through because I knew what I was getting on the job was sub-standard. And I had a willingness to go forward and do my duty - despite the consequences to myself - because it was my job to place myself at risk to rescue others, it was the expectation of the men around me that I would do so, and it was what the men of old did when doing their service. Anything else would have meant eternal personal and professional shame.

    At the time, I had stopped practice. I had thought koryu wasn't valid or valuable for the kinds of things I was dealing with. I started to realize that I didn't know what I didn't know after using various kata applications in real situations. But after that day, in particular, I knew I had been trained in ways I hadn't even realized.

    It saddens me, now as my career is winding down, where my profession has come. Bookends of George Floyd and Uvalde only serve to confirm for some people the bankruptcy of our policing system, and have rightly called it into question for many others who would previously have fully supported their police. WTF is going on is a valid question, one that we are asking within the profession, and unfortunately I think things will get worse before they get better. Koryu is clearly not suitable as routine training for police, but lessons within them could be, should be, maybe even must be in order to get past this place.

    I hope to work toward that.
    Last edited by Hissho; 25th July 2022 at 16:22.

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