Fifty - Fifty

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 presents.

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 trepidation.

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 nothing back.

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 situations.

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 your front.

While the attributes remain of value, the odds of success, over the long haul, are unacceptable!

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 threat.

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.

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