Fifty - Fifty
Master Archibeque would say,
"50-50 is not smart."
We understood that to mean ,
when a cat fights a dog, it must fight like a cat, and
not try to fight like a dog. When confronted by an
attacking dog, the cat who relies on its natural
inclinations and instincts will have hundreds of
thousands of years of evolutionary programming at its
disposal in its efforts to survive. When the cat copies
the dog, and tries to fight the dog on its terms, the
cat's natural instincts and advantages are corrupted.
Every situation can be defined
by the problems it presents, or the opportunities.
Depending on your focus, you may be locked into the
problems and obstructions, or you may see only
opportunities. The distinction between the two is the
efficacious use of your judgment, and reliance on your
strengths with full commitment, when the opportunity
Imagine yourself as a novice
skier standing at the top of a snowy slope. Preparing to
head downhill, you view the run and notice trees
scattered throughout. You begin your descent with some
No sooner have you started,
when a mature Douglas fir threatens your path.
You veer to the right, notice
a rocky outcrop, look to the left, see a cluster of
smaller trees, find a chute just right of center,
deliberate on your options, then continue cautiously,
holding back out of concern for what might lie ahead.
The experienced skier behind
you also stands at the top, surveys the distance, and
sees nothing but open space. With your inexperienced
eye, you registered only the physical objects populating
the mountain slope. His trained eye sees only the
openings, and the free space for movement.
That skier descends with full
commitment, and confidently attacks the openings,
unconcerned with trees, rocks, shoots, or any other
impediments. His universe consists only of the spaces,
he finds them with ease, and there are no trepidations.
The first skier is
demonstrating the 50-50 approach to activity. Every act
requires an element of negotiation, hesitancy, stress ,
possibly fear, and delay. The second skier is operating
in the realm of 100 - zero. Though trees, rocks, and
impediments can be found on the slope, they do not exist
in this person's conceptual world. It's almost as though
he has entered a parallel universe, where there exists
only slopes, snow, and open space.
Master Archibeque emphasized
many times over, "Having to defend yourself is like
floating on the high seas in a small boat. If the sea is
turbulent, you are stuck. Choice is stolen from you, all
your energy is focused on sustaining your existence,
surviving the next wave. 100 - zero is like floating on
a calm sea. You can go anywhere you want, any direction
you want, as far as you want, in confidence."
To fully grasp the distinction
between 50-50 and 100 zero, one should consider that
self defense is a unique martial skill, and is
inherently different than competitive combat, or
attacking skills. Conceptually, the essence of self
defense is there exists an entity defending, and one or
more entities attacking. If there is no attack, the
defender generally has no reason to move. When the
attack commences, the defender strikes first, holding
In the early days, we were
drilled in how the psychology of attack creates
openings, the psychology of defense, removes openings.
This is no less than a rule of nature, same as gravity,
same as water turns to ice when it's freezing cold.
Master Archibeque emphasized, when somebody attacks and
really wants to hurt you, as soon as they come your way,
there are openings everywhere. The question is whether
you see the attacks, or the openings.
I'm sure you can see how this
parallels the downhill skiing example. The choice is
yours. Will you exist in the universe of attacks, or in
the universe of openings?
To get a better sense of this
concept, let's consider a few examples of 50-50
An easy first example would be
two boxers in a 10 round fight. Everything about the
fight is intended to be 50-50. Their body weights,
levels of skill, age, talents, weaknesses, etc. are all
carefully matched going into the fight. In effect,
either fighter has the "fighters chance" of winning.
Boxing is after all "show business" and balance or
matches of even potential are generally considered good
entertainment. Beneath the entertainment factor, where
so much effort is dedicated to balancing assets going
in, the matches are ultimately decided by physical
attributes, training, experience, speed, and power. Of
course, there is the element of "heart", which looms
large in every combat scenario.
While we all enjoy a good
boxing match, that's not what we want to be doing when
attacked on the street!
Other 50-50 situations can be
found in the grandstand world of professional wrestling,
where even though skills can be quite considerable, it
is the orchestrated balance of 50-50, which provides the
dynamic of tension and entertains the audience. In
other, more authentic to life arenas, 50-50 can be found
in competitive wrestling, professional football, tennis,
pool, baseball, poker, ping pong, unlimited martial
arts, and karate tournaments.
We're not being judgmental.
50-50 has its place in the world of skill, and in the
universe of entertainment. When it comes down to
effective self defense, 50-50 leaves you dependent on
athletic prowess, speed, power, and whatever else it
requires to overcome the physical object standing to
While the attributes remain
of value, the odds of success, over the long haul, are
In the 100 - zero mode, your
concern is openings, and how to use openings to your
advantage. With proper training, you instinctively learn
to avoid attacks, just like the downhill skier avoids
the trees. Since all you register are the openings, you
are left with unlimited opportunity to neutralize the
Clearly, this is a talent
which takes time to develop, and which may not always be
compatible with approaches leading to victory and
success in the sports arena. Again, self defense is a
unique situation. Acquiring skills in self defense
requires a focus on understanding the fundamental
dynamics, and developing that understanding into
instinctive awareness. As you undertake this path, you
may already be a competent 50 - 50 martial artist. You
may find orientating yourself to 100 - zero is not
easily achieved, at least not at first. You will need to
develop the ability to read an attacker's intent, to
close your openings, and to attack with full commitment,
holding nothing back, as the opportunity or opening
presents. These skills sometimes take years to develop,
but ensure your success on the street. The starting
point is now! When you practice at school, and the
attacker positions in front of you, ask yourself if you
are 50 - 50, 100 - zero, or somewhere in between, and
try to understand why. Over time, you will develop a
sense of what each situation demands. At first, you will
improve to 60-40, 70-30, then 80-20, and ultimately,
with commitment, will arrive at the point where your
openings have disappeared, and your ability to defend
against an attack is complete.