Monday, August 06, 2007

Drawing your sword

…a warrior especially needs these three things--he must guard his person with strength, shrewdness and care; he must be free in his movements, and he must be quick to draw his sword. In Praise of the New Knighthood (Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae) St. Bernard of Clairvaux

Pat Parker here, with Mokuren Dojo, guest posting on TDA Training for a couple of days. Thanks, Nathan, for the opportunity.
St. Bernard knew warriors. Not only was he engaged in large-scale theological battle in his time, but he was also foundational in drawing support for a Crusade as well as the foundation of the Knights Templar. When he wrote the above he was talking literally about the worldly warrior – the crusader of his time, but reading it today I draw a different message.
“...a warrior…must be quick to draw his sword,” implies to me that one cannot walk around with ones sword always drawn. If you do you will be subject to any of a huge variety of modern stress-related illnesses.
So, how do you ‘guard your person with strength, shrewdness and care’ without walking around with your sword drawn? One way is to get some understanding of how conflicts arise and have a predefined alertness system. Following is an article that I wrote a while back for another forum. It seems similar to some of the stuff that Nathan posts, so I figured I'd drop it in here. Hope it helps y'all.

Law Enforcement types use a sort of mnemonic or rubric to know when they can justify escalating use of force. The mnemonic is "AOI" which stands for "Ability, Opportunity, Intent" Basically, for someone to be reasonably likely to use violence against you they have to have the ability to physically harm you, an opportunity to do so, and the known or suggested intent to do violence.

This mnemonic can be used sort of like a "alert color code." for instance, when you are perfectly secure in your own home and there is nobody around that has A, O, or I, you can relax. That's "green."

If you see any of the three (A, O, or I) then consider the situation "yellow" and pay more attention to see if the other two factors are involved. If you see any two of the three factors then you should be paying close attention to the situation and starting to work to strategically diffuse it.

If you see all three (A, O, and I) then you should be doing something immediately to make your situation better.

Interestingly, our martial arts train us extensively to diffuse the "A" and the "O". We are always moving offline, flowing with the attack, getting behind the guy's back, releasing, and moving away and these things reduce the other guy's potential "O." The techniques that happen in aiki and judo (i.e. throws, etc... tend to reduce the person's "A" factor to hurt us. I think you pretty much just have to live long enough to get enough wisdom to be able to somewhat accurately judge someone's "I".

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