Daniel Roy Greenfeld

Daniel Roy Greenfeld

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Training failures

This was originally posted on blogger here.

I remember reading once that until the 1920s you could take swimming lessons where you never entered the water. You could eventually teach swimming classes yourself without ever swimming! You would lie with your stomach on a stool and practice various strokes and techniques. These days we realize how stupid that approach is, since while exercises to learn fundamentals can be taught outside of an environment, until you really do something you don't really know it.

Yet we still use this method in the computer age and worse, in self-defense classes.

At some point in the 90s not enough press was made about the fact that Cisco certifications could be had without ever touching a computer. Heavy books were studied, expensive classes taken, and a paper exam was filled out. The repercussions were felt up and down company wallets and finally into Cisco's sales, so things changed. Nevertheless, my first IT job had a certified Cisco engineer who wasn't just bad, he was disastrous. He lasted long enough to cause a catastrophe, and was booted before more damage could be done.

Does this still happen today in the IT industry? Heck yeah. Finding computer security experts who can do manual penetration tests of the most basic cross site scripting types seems to be harder than finding people with degrees in IT security policy. They have paper degrees and no experience in what they are defending against! How can you defend against something you don't know how to do? Easy, you cannot!

Does this happen in the self-defense world? Oh yeah. People learn knife, stick, and rape defense without knowing the methods of attack used. Then feeling empowered they ignore their instincts about not going into scary places and get themselves promptly assaulted. You want to learn how effective your self defense is, then take this simple test:

  • Go buy a cheap, white t-shirt.
  • Get a brand new, reasonably athletic student who isn't used to attacking the way everyone in your dojo/kwoon/studio has been taught to attack.
  • Give the newbie a big, black marker.
  • Have them try and mark your arms and t-shirt before you can take the marker away. Tell them to go as fast as possible.
I've seen very skilled karate, kung-fu, hapkido, eskrima, and jiu-jitsu (Brazilian and Japanese) people all get marked up. The smart/experienced people will ask/improvise a longer weapon and won't take it hard when they get marked.

Moral of the story: Academic understanding is not a replacement for real-world experience or properly designed simulated experiences..


Tags: rant legacy-blogger