In his book Meditations on Violence, Rory Miller states that the experienced martial artists who are most successful at surviving a sudden, surprise attack do so with a simple plan. In the fractions of a second, you don’t have time to remember a complex series of moves, much less formulate a strategy for victory. He uses examples like one practitioner who “de-fangs the snake” or another that “does damage”. Simple, no-nonsense strategies to overcome the spooling of techniques that freezes so many of us under stress.
A whole laundry list of things I’ve heard from my instructors came back when I read this, like “move your feet”, “breathe” or “knees bent, back straight”. However none of these really encapsulate what we are trying to do. Things like “do damage’ worry me in that It seems like it would be really easy to give in to adrenaline and go overboard. Our Jujutsu practice really focuses on escaping the immediate threat and going home looking the same as when you left the house. We don’t use phrases like de-fang the snake, common to arts like Kali or Escrima. Our goal is more akin to a Koppojutsu, or Systema idea of breaking down the body’s inherent structure and stability.
At a white belt level, it all starts with taking an opponent’s hips out from between their head and feet, then applying locks and throws specifically targeting bio-mechanical “faults” to put them on the floor. As students progress, they learn to utilize striking, kicking, footwork, and even an opponent’s reflexes to make the process faster, smaller and more efficient. One simple movement pattern, translated over a small handful of “techniques” using everything from knives and sticks to towels or flashlights. Everything moves towards attacking the structural/emotional integrity of someone trying to hurt you so you can get out and go home.
The best metaphor that comes to mind is watching the demolition of a skyscraper (or the jarring images from the world trade center). Take out the middle, drop the top on the bottom. So maybe the word implode does the trick? Demolish (too much?) But, that’s the plan.