Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence

Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence

by Sergeant Rory Miller


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ForeWord's Book of the Year Award FINALIST - 2008
USA Best Book Award FINALIST - 2008
A Comparison of Martial Arts Training & Real-World Violence Experienced martial artist and veteran correction officer Sgt. Rory Miller distills what he has learned from jailhouse brawls, tactical operations and ambushes to explore the differences between martial arts and the subject martial arts were designed to deal with: Violence.Sgt. Miller introduces the myths, metaphors and expectations that most martial artists have about what they will ultimately learn in their dojo. This is then compared with the complexity of the reality of violence. Complexity is one of the recurring themes throughout this work.Section Two examines how to think critically about violence, how to evaluate sources of knowledge and clearly explains the concepts of strategy and tactics.Sections Three and Four focus on the dynamics of violence itself and the predators who perpetuate it. Drawing on hundreds of encounters and thousands of hours spent with criminals Sgt. Miller explains the types of violence; how, where, when and why it develops; the effects of adrenaline; how criminals think, and even the effects of drugs and altered states of consciousness in a fight.Section Five centers on training for violence, and adapting your present training methods to that reality. It discusses the pros and cons of modern and ancient martial arts training and gives a unique insight into early Japanese kata as a military training method.Section Six is all about how to make self-defense work. Miller examines how to look at defense in a broader context, and how to overcome some of your own subconscious resistance to meeting violence with violence.The last section deals with the aftermath—the cost of surviving sudden violence or violent environments, how it can change you for good or bad. It gives advice for supervisors and even for instructors on how to help a student/survivor. You’ll even learn a bit about enlightenment.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594391187
Publisher: Ymaa Publication Center
Publication date: 06/25/2008
Pages: 202
Sales rank: 230,187
Product dimensions: 5.80(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Rory Miller, former Sergeant, has been studying martial arts since 1981. He's a best-selling writer and a veteran corrections officer. He's taught and designed courses on Use of Force Policy and Decision Making, Police Defensive Tactics, Confrontational Simulations, and he has led and trained hi former agency's Corrections Tactical Team. Recently, he taught how to run a modern, safe, and secure prison at the Iraqi Corrections Systems, Iraq. Rory Miller resides near Portland, Oregon.

Table of Contents

Foreword   Steven Barnes     vii
Acknowledgments     x
Introduction: Metaphors     xii
Preface: The Truth About Me     xv
The Matrix     1
The tactical matrix-an example     2
The strategic matrix: what martial arts tries to be     5
How to Think     15
Assumptions and epistemology     15
The power of assumption     21
Common sources of knowledge about violence     24
Strategy training     30
Goals in training     33
Thinking in the moment     36
Violence     41
Types of violence     41
The four basic truths of violent assault     54
The chemical cocktail     57
Adapting to the chemical cocktail     66
The context of violence     72
Violence happens in places     73
Violence happens in time     77
Violence happens between people     84
Predators     89
Threats ain't normal folks     89
The types of criminal     91
Rationalizations     100
What makes a violent predator?     104
Training     107
The flaw in the drill     107
Kata as a training exercise     114
Responses to the four basic truths     117
Operant conditioning     119
The whole enchilada     121
Making Physical Defense Work     125
Stages of defense: movement-opportunity-intent-relationship-terrain     125
The "go" button     136
The golden rule of combat     137
Effects and actions     139
The big three     143
After     153
After     153
Acute events     155
For supervisors     158
Cumulative events     159
Dealing with the survivor/student     164
Changes     166
Bibliography     170
Index     177
About the Author     180

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Meditations on Violence: A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 13 reviews.
dragon25a on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Rory Miller provides an authentic and honest portrayal of how real violence differs from the models of violence on which whole systems of martial arts and self-defense are constructed. His knowledge of his subject is fully substantiated and his observations would be helpful to anyone concerned with self-defense, especially a person contemplating whether to engage in self-defense training, and if so, what approach to take. You cannot read this book without coming away with immense respect for the author.
fullhouse751 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
A wonderful book about the philosophy and real world applications of violence. It shows the difficulty martial arts has in teaching about real world violence. If we could somehow get the skills down to 'reflex' reactions rather than freezing (like what the author convincingly argues that almost everyone with no violence experience will do) then those are real skills for real world applications of violence. The author says violence is a complex topic. Just using a matrix grid {suprised, alerted, mutual, attacking} and {no injury intent, intent to cause injury, intent to cause lethal injury} shows us the problem with traditional martial arts training. Traditional martial arts training is mutual combat with no injury intent or intent to cause injury whereas real world is usually (you) surprised with (they) attacking and (they) intent to cause injury or worse intent to cause lethal injury and (you) ?? depends on your training. As the author points out a real predator won't let you know, "Hey, I am going to kick your ass!" and in the real world of violence you meet many different kinds of people with many different kinds of intentions. Highly recommended, enjoyable read.
inkstained on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book opens with a forward which begins with a diatribe about bridging the gap between fantasy and reality--between what exists in novels, and what exists in real life. I'm a writer, and so it was this particular goal that attracted me to this book, a description of something I know little about--violence between adults in real-life situations, outside of the dojo, off the movie screen, out of the book. I got this as a reference for when I do have those violent scenes to write, but don't know enough to write them realistically. You see I write horror, fantasy, and science fiction. While fantasy and science fiction fight scenes are relatively easy to write--I make the rules in my own universes--my horror is largely based on the universe that exists, the real universe, and on evoking real horror in the readers, so the violence must not come off as fantasy.I think this book serves this purpose well, bridging the gap between fantasy and reality, though clearly he and I lie on different sides of that divide. I'm not a martial artist, but I've known a few, and I think that this is a book that would interest anyone looking to bring their academic studies out of academia and be capable of applying them in real-life situations if necessary, and I highly recommend it both as a reality check for writers, and as a tool for real-life fighters.
actress133 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book, while interesting, doesn't really fit into one genre. It seems like the author didn't know exactly what to write about--is it a guide to winning a fight? a guide to being a martial artist? how to win triumph over violence? The subject is captivating, and the author certainly has personal experiences to share. However, the book lacks cohesion and reads more like a train of thought than a well-written piece.
silentq on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I'm coming at this book having had 2 self defence classes years ago, so I'm not necessarily the target audience, but I got this book as an early review copy and have been enthralled. It's a quick read, the advice no nonsense and sounding like he's talking to you over a beer, swearing included. The author has tonnes of personal experience to draw on, and he's really down on formal martial arts, and extensively lists why training mostly won't work in real life encounters. I talked to a friend of mine who's been training in martial arts for years, and he's come to similar conclusions as the author, so it was nice to get corroboration.One bit of advice reminds me of the Han Solo quote, "Never tell me the odds" - if you're not told something is impossible, you can sometimes figure out a way to do it. So much of self defence is mental, giving yourself permission to be rude and/or violent. I like his concept of having "Go" buttons: things that happen that you've decided ahead of time will trigger an immeditate and violent response.
chuck_ralston on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Violence is not a game. Our theater, film, television, internet streaming video, and other media issue an onslaught of `action¿ and `reality¿ shows depicting mayhem and murder, ad nauseam, yet such is not to be confused with violence. Rory Miller, assures the reader of his Meditations on Violence ; A Comparison of Martial Arts Training and Real World Violence (Boston, MA : YMAA Publications Center, 2008, list $18.95) that violence between humans, one attacker or predator the other defender or victim, will be fast, hard, close, and with surprise (p. 117). All else is posturing: the monkey dance between two males, the group monkey dance (the pack or crowd), as Miller terms the behaviors of (mostly) males who are either showing off, saving face, or telegraphing intent with an `I¿m going to kick your ass¿ bravado. Even seasoned practitioners of the martial arts, the `priests of Mars¿ have had little experience with close-in, surprise-attack violence. Miller, a penal corrections officer, martial artist, with years of training in search and rescue, emergency medical technical training, and other related subjects, hopes to change this by preparing all who read his book for countering violence when it occurs. Violence is complex. Chapter 1 presents a three-by four box ¿tactical matrix¿ giving 12 possible situations arising from two variables, Awareness and Injury: Surprised / Alerted / Mutual / Attacking aligned horizontally with No Injury / Injury / Lethality vertically. Miller then asks rhetorically where in the matrix¿s 12 intersections a martial artist would apply a particular martial technique, for example, the bare-hand back fist or side kick of Karate. The point is that to work from technique to situation is backwards. The complexity matrix grows exponentially when one introduces multiple players and objectives. The several goals of the martial arts themselves ¿ self-defense, sport competition, physically fitness, spiritual insight -- make for complexity, not to mention introduction of multiple players (or attackers). Focus on self-defense is Miller¿s objective. ¿Self defense is about recovery. The ideal is to prevent the situation. The optimal mindset is often a conditioned response that requires no thought . . .¿ (p. 8)Violence for most is unknown. Miller¿s second chapter, `How to Think¿ examines assumptions about violence, what constitutes a `fight¿ and what defines a `win¿. Experience is the best teacher for Miller. Reason and tradition pale in comparison. After review of the relationship between objectives, strategies, tactics, and techniques, Miller provides an example of `thinking in the moment¿ (p. 36) when undergoing a sudden violent attack. This is the `OODA¿ loop, acronym for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act, derived from a military decision making model. Example is of one seeing (observing) a fist, realizing (orienting) the fist is punching toward you, deciding whether to block or duck, acting to duck. Problem with the OODA loop is the attacker is at step four which triggers defender¿s step one. In Miller¿s judgment, those who do well in ambush attacks eliminate OODA¿s middle stages. Instead of orienting and deciding ¿ take too much time ¿ the new loop is `observe; act¿, which means countering an attack with partial information and one ¿automatic reflex response.¿ (p. 38) Miller¿s chapters on `Violence¿ and ` Predators¿ review types of violence (mostly over status or image, or to gain resources) and types of criminals (first-timers who have mad e a mistake, hustlers who work the `system¿ in prison and out, and predators for whom prison is just another pool of victims. In this context, Miller discusses the `chemical cocktail¿ or what happens when the human body undergoes extreme stress when threatened with harm and injury, when assaulted in reality. Training and experience in martial arts is one thing; an assault is altogether something else. Shooters miss intended targets less than two yards away
neilandlisa on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Having only taken a few Aikido courses, as well as some Qigong, I felt a bit out of my element reading this, but the author does a good job of drawing together stories into a cohesive meditation about violence in our society. With a wealth of experience to draw upon, the author makes his book a compelling read even for those of us not in the martial arts community.
freddlerabbit on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I thought this was a fascinating, honest, and thoughtful book. As a recent student of martial arts, I have always been afraid that if I really devoted myself to the art, I would unlearn some good self-defense habits I had spent much of my life internalizing so as not to forget them when I was really in danger. A friend of mine suggested I read Meditations to get some better understanding of some of the differences between violence in real life and the artful violence of sparring and practice. Miller is very clear about survival and thought process, and explains some of the changes that happen to a person when s/he is in danger - and how to start to combat those to maximize your chances of survival in the worst situations. If you are curious about how the brain works in different situations, or want a non-apologetic look at violence and how it might arise and how it might feel, or if you enjoy reading books by thoughtful people, I would recommend giving this one a try.
board More than 1 year ago
This book is not only for martial artists, but should be read by anyone who may use or encounter violence: law enforcement officers, armed private individuals, firearms and self-defense instructors such as myself, and anyone who might be a victim of violence—in short, everyone. The book does discuss many aspects of martial arts training, but it covers topics that go far beyond that limited topic. Although the nonpractitioner of martial arts may find the technical details pertaining to that subject boring or incomprehensible, it’s easy enough to skip over those parts, and even they contain information of use to the general reader. For example, the book’s criticisms of unrealistic training apply to anything relating to unarmed and armed self-defense instruction, including use of firearms. The guidance about how to respond to criminal assaults, including being taken hostage and active killer incidents, is something everyone should know. Years before the Department of Homeland Security produced its “Run, Hide, Fight” active shooter response video, Rory Miller said the same thing in those exact words in this book. And just as important, he provides invaluable advice on how to deflect violence and how to avoid having to resort to violence oneself in the first place.
Marcabru More than 1 year ago
"Meditations" is every bit as extraordinary as folks say it is. It belongs on every shelf. I wish the book had benefited from a good editor, though: Miller's writing is often badly ungrammatical, and some of his digressions seem out of place. That said, don't let the writing put you off. What Miller has to say is too important.  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sen_sei_Steve More than 1 year ago
This is a must read for any martial instructor it has change the way I teach Budoshin Ju Jitsu.
ohdrjj More than 1 year ago
This book was referred to me by a friend and I am very glad to have purchased it. The book is an eye opener and puts a nice reality on violent encounters. Sergeant R.A. Miller, a corrections officer, writes about his experiences with martial arts, his training approach and gives the reader the truth about the violence one needs to be aware of and train for. A nice no-nonsense book to add to your martial arts library.