People who’ve sparred a lot in combat sports or in their weapons training become good at things I call “micro-movements”, which are rarely taught and legitimately hard-to-teach. Why they’re not taught, predominantly, is because they’re different for every person and experience-driven. (Other contributing factors: the club doesn’t spar or spar often, and the instructor doesn’t know how to impart that particular info due to the previous sentence) Whatever the reason, they are instinctive and good fighters do them innately/experientially. They’re things you figure out on your own (learned, not “taught”) that are subtle and minute but can change the outcome – instinctive and innate. They’re NOT skills like “evading”, “trapping”, or “countering” but the minutiae that facilitate those skillsets. For example – foot placement/replacement, subtle weight shifts, fades, angling, feinting/feigned body commitment or vulnerability, pulls/pushes, pivots, small barely-seen body movements, the nuance used to make a thing go, all the way to feinting and baiting.

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They’re NOT techniques but things learned WHILE fighting, the small elements that we discover repeatedly over time during the honing of those “tools” during testing and application against active and dynamic resistance. People who just do relatively static TMA, I’ve found personally, don’t have these and often aren’t even aware of them. Boxers, grapplers, fencers, all have them as they seldom do anything other than pound fundamentals and train pressure, AND how to fine-tune those fundamentals under pressure. Small nuances that exceptional and experienced fighters do, is what sets them apart. (We see it repeatedly in combat sports with those who excel) And when something is innate and instinctive, it’s immediately more “recallable” and accessible.

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Can they be taught? Maybe, but what they´ll be doing is sharing their micro-movements to another that will then regurgitate them and perpetuate that round-hole-in-square-peg training methodology. We can show students and peers what we do so that they become aware and conscious of their own movements that make a thing work for them. Inevitably, one has to find them out for oneself as nobody can teach you what you´ll do under duress, what McGyver-like adaptations you´ll need, how you´ll react to a given stimulus, what 3-dimensional solutions you´ll come up with to 3-dimensional problems. That is up to the individual and solely the individual. No growth can occur by showing others exactly what works for you and expecting them to replicate, copy, or mirror those actions successfully on-the-fly. Some things are simply left up to the student. If taught, they´re no longer micro-movements but a taught thing that YOU´VE experienced and that they will focus on forcing into a random context.

Micro-movements, natural body-adaptations, innate evolutionary survival-skill are all examples of this and such an integral part of cultivating a student to stand on their own 2 feet and making a given system their own instead of a cookie-cutter replicant of said system and the instructor representing it. Micro-movements we described above – conscious and repetitive after success with them is ingrained (akin to heuristics and that experiential internal “rolodex”), natural body-alignment is how your body moves to a given stimulus or context instinctively – conscious but rapidly-implemented in the moment, and innate survival-skill mechanisms those things we do evolutionarily to react to an unknown input – non-conscious, like a reflex. Just a quick overview as none of these are the norm in the martial arts world, they are the exception to the rule. Most often those that do a lot of sparring, resistance, stress-training, and play are most aware and have learned on their own what works in a vast diversity of situations. Pity, as it´s hard to experience personal-growth while trying to be a clone of someone else´s by-proxy life experience.


If you want to learn how to stay safe, to defend oneself, to know how to fight, to understand violence, to learn about conflict, to protect oneself, to avoid being targeted – one needs to learn martial/fighting arts. Particularly those from the Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, China, and Korea. It can’t possibly be done without. If one doesn’t study these, one simply doesn’t or can’t know anything about violence and cannot be taken seriously.

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Some examples where this is not true:

1. Prisons. Filled with people experienced with violence…and predominantly untrained.

2. Gangs, organized crime, street criminals.

3. People that fight with regularity at the bar or on the street.

4. Most doormen, security, LE, prison guards (outside of a bare minimum introduction and yearly refresher, maybe) Daily, they deal with violence sans training but with experience.

5. The vast majority of violence survivors who fight back and often rely solely on innate survival skill, most often against very dangerous asocial/asymmetrical violence

6. The intelligence community, home security, private investigations, CCTV specialists, and other professional branches that come from a totally different direction to curb violence than head-on.

7. People who grew up in violent environments that needed to learn about and understand violence for pure survival means.

8. The many people in the self-defense, personal preservation, and conflict management realms.

9. People who work in other high-risk occupations: troubled youth, mental hospitals, mental health, low-income housing, public school systems, etc.

Also note that, by far the greatest amount of “human/civilian kills” is perpetrated by civilians….untrained.

Really, I’m not talking down in any way about TMA/fight training if that’s your thing. (and it can greatly benefit survival quotient, no doubt…it has mine) But, in all honesty, if you truly believe this is the ONLY way and that your style and fight training is sooo special that all else is moot or irrelevant, you have a level of Dunning-Kruger that I’m unfamiliar with.


There’s been a lot of discussion, both on the page and off, in-private, on scripts recently…which is positive, as it’s an area often neglected. This is not to counter or disprove anyone else’s ideas but to give a different perspective and outlook. While I get the general use of starting-scripts to get students thinking on potential scenarios, I personally don’t think they’re necessity and, long-term, I think they can potentially stifle the adaptive mind, critical thinking under duress, and problem-solving ability. (should they be stuck to and conditioned as is) Many in the SD world use adrenal-stress response (ASR) monosyllabic (or close to it) scripts for various interview stages. Now, we have an overabundance of people using the same tired clichés and passing them on to their students as viable. “Bro, I don’t want any trouble.” “Dude, can I buy you another beer.” “Buddy, talk to me, how can I help.” So even many instructors are seemingly “stuck” in script-format and rarely vary from these tired responses. These are dynamic, complex, and unique situations so I’m just (personally) not sure that scripting does the thing many claim. When I do drilling on this, I am constantly changing behaviors, giving off confusing signals, escalating/de-escalating in tone and body language, changing dynamic for exactly that reason….to destroy their scripts and show them that that means is often ineffective against live-action humans in complex environments. As a developmental base for future cultivation, sure, if that’s not all that’s perpetuated, I can see some value.

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That being said, I see numerous videos or commentaries on “the interview” where the same sad clichés and mechanical interactions take place, often from long-serving name instructors. Lots. That tells me exactly that, that the scenarios they’re giving to their students involve scripts from both sides. “I’m gonna kick your ass.” “Whatchu’ lookin’ at, mother fucker.” “You gotta’ problem, asshole.” Tired, and this is way I most often see scripting implemented into modern SD training. It makes criminals seem one-dimensional and lacking in creativity, as well as the “defender.” If that’s how you incorporate interview-stuff, it seems more like the idea of being able to state that you have that element in your training rather than actually understand the complexities of the skillset. These are multi-faceted and multi-dynamic scenarios, why not train for them the same way? It’s not an emotional roller-coaster ride for students as there’s a sliding scale of order – low, medium, high – and gradual manner of incorporating it. The sooner you get your students to start interacting dynamically and seeing the rapidity of change that can occur in stranger-interviews, the more prepped they’ll be for adaptive thinking. With more experienced students, yes, it can become emotional but that’s kinda’ the point, isn’t it? To show the physiological, adrenal, emotional reactions you can have under even low-level conflicts and how it can potentially affect performance, whatever that performance may be in relation to – conflict communication, spatial distancing, body language/stress physiology, to actual aggression response. To see in what small head-space you’re in need of working in. That monosyllabic response is sometimes all we’re capable of…yet sometimes we’re capable of far more. (as is aligned with much science coming out on stress-response capability) That it’s not so easy to just open a script-file and pull out the exact one needed for that time, or ad lib with no prior training that advocates for that. Something else worth thinking about, and from my experience, is that “pros” often take advantage of, even manipulate, scripts. They expect many targets to script, whether out of panic, freezing, fear, submission. It’s part of the ambush mentality and if we think it’s of importance, assuredly they know that we think it’s of importance.

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I am, personally, not a script guy, some people are, so I’m not knocking the methods of others, just pointing out that there are options and it’s not imperative. Come to your own conclusions, either way the discussions that we’ve been having on this should be quite valuable and thought-provoking. It’s an important topic. Indexing and recalling scripts for a situation that has (often-great) physiological changes to you, is often rapidly-changing, and can be dictated by huge variations in dynamic….is sometimes not feasible. Sometimes scripts can provide and assist with this, sometimes we’re better off with “conditioned” adaptive and critical thinking.