Sunday, August 17, 2014

ten ways to trick.

from my old poetry file:

I know ten ways to trick a man to stab him
one is to step in to greet him
one is to step away from his greeting
one is to be fast when he thinks you are slow
one is to be slow when he thinks you are fast
one is to show him what you are going to do
and then do something else
one is to show him what you are going to do
and then do it
half a second later than he thinks you have
one is to slow the rhythm and then break the rhythm
one is to make him think so hard he stops thinking
one is to pare him down to pure reflex
one is to be exactly what you seem to be
I know ten ways to trick a man to stab him-
that's what I say out loud
while my partner Snake gets the drop on them
and shoots them in the back.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012


One of the skills that students should develop is to evaluate the speed of an attack coming at them. Broadly, an attack comes in one of these categories, and of course, they're all relative depending on position, distance, time of day, contents of stomach, etc:

FAST: Meaning, faster than you can use whatever your ideal technique would be. Usually too fast to change position before it arrives- you'd get caught halfway through the movement and it'd be worse than holding your ground. this is where you use what we refer to as "oh shit!" maneuvers.

NORMAL: you can use your ideal technique (assuming you have a realistic ideal). Usually able to take a step backwards, or move off the line.

SLOW: Slow attacks are where the opponent is attacking with a mindset to look for different angles, feinting, generally trying to mess with you. In this case, increasing distance can help as the opponent has to either break off the attack or else accelerate (creating more commitment, easier to deal with). "oh shit!" maneuvers, which generally prioritize which targets they cover, become a liability against these attacks, as you're just displaying a different set of targets for them to choose from.

HESITANT: The attacker is blatantly telegraphing or otherwise unwilling to commit. Great for counter-attacking into, as it's possible to stuff a hesitant attack before it grows any sort of teeth. Or you can just step back and let it fail. Otherwise, using a dedicated defense against this sort of attack is giving the opponent information and confidence for no real gain.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

tactic logics

I've been doing no training, had a long spell with no one to fight with, haven't even done much thinking about tactics. Which is all bad for me. However, I have been learning some game programming, which is nice because I've been able to use some of the mathematics and physics from my supernerd background. I used a transformation matrix to solve an actual problem! woo!

and but then, I learned some things that sort of apply. so here we go.

I've played a lot of computer games, and I like them, but almost all games handle melee combat in a way that doesn't reflect any of complications and tactics I know. At best, you can hit, block, grab, and move, and those options tend to function in a rock-paper-scissors kind of way. Hit slow or fast, strong or weak, etc etc. It can represent tactics on a sort of metaphor level, but it never really feels right to my sensibilities.

Part of this is due to the definite nature of computers. but it's also do the modelling of controls, which can get very complicated. at the basic level, you have this


as in, you're standing there, or you're hitting. Something, or nothing. So the first improvement I learned about is a finite state engine.

READY [transition> HIT

You're still just ready or hitting, but there's a instant phase of logic and calculations that determine if you can hit, how you hit, if other things happen. Better! but still not right. I want at least a preparation phase.

READY -transition-> PREPARATION -transition-> HIT

so that's a bit better- allows for the possibility of counterattacks and reaction time, but... it still doesn't feel right. I could add more states, but that would just turn into complication, and it'd feel like I was making places where there weren't really places, if that makes sense. and from a game programming standpoint, it becomes totally unmanageable.

enter fuzzy logic. I discounted fuzzy logic for a long time, because logic is binary, and you can never get it to be actually fuzzy. and... I still think that. "fuzzy logic" is a lousy name for a useful way of thinking. so before, if we were looking our fighter, it would be like
FIGHTER STATE: ready or FIGHTER STATE: preparation. The fighter could only be one thing at a time in terms of the responses and possibilities, 0 or 1. What fuzzy logic is about is assigning values from zero to one to various conditions and then assessing the state in response.
so now:

the blue indicates READY, the red PREPARATION. so there's a ready state, but then there's a mixed zone that you can assess. you're .8 ready, and .2 preparing. This starts to make sense to me- interpreted as mentally preparing an attack, but not having compromised any physical readiness. The opponent can maybe see it as a change of expression, or a slight change in tension, or any of the other tiny clues. Then it moves on into pure preparation- definitely reconfiguring to attack, but not there yet. And then gradations of attack- the overlap would be where the attack has started and is going to happen, but there is still an opportunity to change targets, or attempt to prepare to stop the attack short, or to make it longer. And then another gradation after that, where the attack has mostly finished, and recovery is starting. etc etc.

and the values never have to go away entirely. for example:
attacking= .8

if you assess their state, you can say "yep, they're definitely attacking. but they're also shying away and trying to avoid getting hit." which is definitely something you see a lot of.and it doesn't have to be limited to two values, there can be many, and you can set whatever cutoff levels you'd like to determine what is going on, and still assess to one current state, but have references and degrees of many others.

Monday, February 6, 2012

defensive assessment of weapon length

This is a categorization that developed as I was learning FMA material and thinking about how hard it would be to use a lot of the material in fencing. When evaluating a blade, people tend to think of length, balance, weight, etc, in terms of attacking. From that respect, there aren't any clear lines in length. However, I realized that, defensively, there are some clear boundaries.

1. Knife
Knife length is where stopping the hand is enough to save you. Imagine someone thrusting at your heart and you catch their hands with both of yours, arms bent just under 90 degrees to the muscle power zone. That distance from hands to chest is where I would draw the line categorizing a knife. This is also about the length from shoulder to elbow- the distance you get from tapping with your forearm. As these are defensive, body-based categories, they're going to be different from person to person, but generally it's about 12-14 in. Those that would class for knives as very tall individuals, but not shorter ones, could be called long knives.

Another key feature is that, to stop an attack by a longer blade, you (generally) must block, not parry or deflect. The blade is not long enough to provide a counterweight leverage advantage or to deflect a blade all the way off the body. Once you do block, there is a problem with framing. With longer blades, when you block with the bottom third of the blade, there is a clear disincentive in trying to go around the tip. With a knife, it is about equidistant for the attacker to go around the tip or around the hand, presenting the defender with a clear problem in constructing tactical trees. (Future research: Is there a blade length at which it is always possible to cutover before the defenders reacts?)
(also: geometry, angles, interception and length)

2. Short sword
A knife becomes a short sword at the length where, if you caught the hand, it would not prevent the weapon from stabbing or cutting. However, once an attack was evaded or blocked, the defender would be able to get a hand on the attacker the attacker to aid in further evasion/control. At this length, deflection becomes possible, as the short sword can form a wing over at least half the body, although it is not enough to prevent retracking once it is past the tip. Parrying is more possible, although somewhat tricky as angles great enough to provide force dissipation also open up the framing problem again.

3. Sword

This was the biggest disconnect for when I was learning the FMA stuff. The knife stuff all made sense, and the short sword stuff made sense in doing it, but I felt like it would be problematic against fencing technique (at least in terms of first blood. It was totally clear that, while I felt confident I could get first blood against most FMA practitioners, nothing in my fencing training would stop them from killing me after that). So, sword length: after stopping an attack, you still cannot reach the opponent's hand. (footwork aside) This seems like it would be just another reach issue, but has more ramifications than that. For instances, deflections with short swords work because as the attacking blade nears the tip of the defending blade and begins to collapse it, the defender can check or pass the opponents hand to prevent tracking. This is problematic against a sword, unless working espada y daga. Also, the length of a sword makes parrying and retaining control of an opponent's blade far easier and more reliable.

Friday, January 20, 2012

defensive actions

doing brainstorming on all possible defensive... energies, maybe?

Contact Angles:
Block- Defensive action where the contact is perpendicular to the attack, with the intent that it will stop and not slide on contact
Parry- Defensive action where the contact is angled such that the attack will be directed towards the guard
Deflection- Defensive action where the contact is angled such that the attack will be directed towards the tip

active forms:
Jam- Closing distance with a block in order to stop the attack closer to its starting position
Circular- moving the tip and guard in a circular motion to pick up the attack and direct it into the guard
Redirect- Pushing the blade to deflect it away from the body


Counter- Swinging in the opposing direction of an attack
Follow- Swinging in the same direction as an attack
Opposition- Pushing against the attack in a line towards the opponent.

Attacks on the blade:
Beat- Sharp, brief contact intended to displace the opponent's blade
Press- Sustained contact intended to hold or push the opponent
Expulsion- Accelerating contact, from strong-on-weak all the way to weak-on-strong

Transfer- Moving the opponent's blade from one position to another
Yield- Allowing the opponent to move your blade from one position to another

Structural- Body alignment allowing the defensive action to draw on the entire combined body weight and resistance
Muscular tension- Holding the defensive action with muscles tensed
Leverage- Using leverage principles (strong on weak, deflection, redirection) to bolster a defensive action
Pulse- Twitching muscles at the moment of contact to create a short-distance power generation effect
Catch- Making contact with the attack and decelerating it with a continuing force
Loose- Minimal muscular tension, relying heavily on structural and leverage resistance or yielding.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

attention and time

Our attention works linearly. That is, we can perceive one thing at a time. To create the world around us, our attention whirls around and creates a simulation in our brain. This simulation seems flawless because it is all we know, but in fact it is full of holes and can be spoofed and tricked in various ways. We have a limited amount of input bandwidth, and there are gatekeeper functions that determine what makes it into our perception. Easy example: if you're sitting at a desk right now, your body makes contact with a lot of things. The chair, desk, keyboard, etc. But you're not actively feeling those things. If you think about it, though, you can focus on a specific body part and feel that contact. However, you can't feel everything at the same time. Also, pain will usually be selected, despite wishing otherwise. The gatekeeper can be influenced, but not totally controlled.

Alright, so your attention can only be on one thing at a time, but it's constantly cycling through everything, and the cycles are fast enough that they seem almost simultaneous, and the simulation makes everything seem smooth and continuous. But... they aren't, and the way those cycles get spent make a difference. Cycles aren't just spent on your senses- your thoughts and memories and feelings also cost cycles. And remember, you're not fully in control, so cycles automatically get spent on basic body awareness and sensory input.

The more cycles per second you spend on something, the slower it seems to go. Generally speaking, you can split it up into external and internal attention. The more attention you pay externally, the slower the world seems to go.

Example: driving trance. If you have a familiar route you drive on, you pay less attention externally, and more on your internal thoughts. And so, bam, you're home before you know it.

The number of cycles you get is basically fixed. You can't pay attention to multiple things simultaneously, so when you split your attention, the world gets faster. This is why talking on a cell phone while driving causes problems. It's especially tricky because the simulation seems smooth and flawless- you never feel like you miss things. People driving through parking lots while talking on cell phones are particularly good examples of this. They go really slow but move continuously- from their perspective, they're driving normally and luckily finding spaces to move into, whereas focused drivers will be moving faster and have to stop to let other people go.

Being drunk decreases the number of cycles. This is the correlation between cell phone talking and drunk driving- both remove attention cycles from the driving.

My explanation for the combat/adrenaline effect of the world slowing down is that the gatekeeper function for attention suddenly allows for different uses of cycles, NOT more cycles. Those cycles normally automatically spent on things like body awareness get dropped, and you suddenly have a lot more cycles at your disposal. The world slows down, but if you're not used to it, you can spend them erratically, suddenly picking up a bunch of little details, and your coordination goes to hell because you've lost things like body awareness you usually have without paying attention to.

okay. I think that's enough basics to tie it into fighting theory next.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Got woken up early in the morning by a call from my friend Basil, who needed a ride from the emergency room.

my understanding:
He was out at a bar, talked to some girls. Dudes with the girls took exception to this. So, after he left, as he was getting in his truck dude came from behind, pulled him out and took a couple shots at him. He doesn't remember exactly what happened, but from what he said, my guess is that Basil shielded his head as he was pulled out, the dude stabbed at Basil's shoulder, but it got caught up in Basil's leather motorcycle jacket, and then Basil blocked the second stab attempt with his arm and got back in the truck, kicked the dude away, closed the door, then dude was waving his knife in the air and got talked down. Basil said he felt alright as they were driving away, but then when he took off his jacket, well... picture below.
He's alright, going to see a hand specialist soon. My guess is, he's alive because the dude's goal was to stick him, and then show Basil the knife to show Basil that he got him, as opposed to pure assault.

Knife wasn't seen by Basil or either of his two friends until the guy was holding it up. Leather jacket had big, gnarly slices through multiple layers.

knife was this or a close approximation: