Thursday, February 28, 2013

Bobbe Edmonds - Pecut Pencak Silat Lecture Vidclips

Pencak Silat Pecut lecture given at the Edmonds Martial Arts Academy.

The things I am speaking of in this series of drills and lectures takes time and effort in training to understand. They're advanced concepts, and the application of them will differ from practitioner to practitioner. Don't allow yourself to be blinded by people spouting a magic bullet technique, or some preposterous lineage bullsh!t. FIND THE TRUTH FOR YOURSELF! The only person who matters in your training is YOU. Anyone who tells you any different is selling something.

Pecut Pencak Silat Lecture #1-2

Pecut Addendums

About Edmonds Martial Arts Academy 

I am a teacher of Southeast Asian Martial Arts, and I teach advanced principles and techniques from Pencak Silat, Kali, Pangamot and Wing Chun. Most of the clips are filmed candidly during class, so it's not a rehearsed, professional setting.

This site is not for beginners.


Photo Credit:  Bobbe Edmonds

You can contact Bobbe Edmonds via Facebook or his blog Thick as Thieves and last but not least, please check out his YouTube Channel.

Read Pendekar Edmonds' articles:

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

IN MEMORY OF: Ramon Dekkers (September 4, 1969 – February 27, 2013)

Muay Thai/Kickboxing great Ramon Dekkers passed away today. He was an 8-time Muay Thai World Champion and held a record of 186-33-2 with 95 KO’s. He was one of the non-Thais to go into Thailand and win to become a champion.

He died at the age of 43, after reportedly feeling light headed while training on his bike, in Breda, The Netherlands.

RIP Champ

A serious misfortune has struck the international Kickboxing and Muay Thai community as reports have surfaced that legendary Dutch striker Ramon "Diamond" Dekkers has passed away today at the young age of 43. Reports are coming out of his home town of Breda today that Dekkers was riding his bike when he collapsed in a tunnel after feeling light-headed. A few bystanders attempted to assist him before emergency services arrived and attempted to revive him to no avail.

Dekkers is a former 8-time world champion and one of the first Dutch Kickboxers to really make an impact in Thailand. He was instrumental in helping the sport of Kickboxing to evolve to what it is today and will always be remembered for his accomplishments in and out of the ring.

A 10 minutes documentary on his life and career

3 Highlight clips


More info at:

Photo Credit:  Source pic

Bobbe Edmonds - The Importance of Flow


I will fail at explaining this. Ultimately, I have to – there has never really been a successful literary definition of "flow" for the martial arts, and definitions change with perspective and ability. I stand with a long line of distinguished attempts, though: Dan Inosanto, Herman Suwanda, Bob Orlando, Cacoy Canete…in this respect, I'm in good company.

I'm going to attempt to make dozens of points about flow, but nothing is going to nail it down completely because flow can really only be described through feel, not through description. Anyone who knows how to flow knows this. Anyone who doesn't will likely scoff at it.

I used to think "Fluidity" meant "Speed". When I first began training, the typical approach to fluidity was that the faster you could do something, the more fluid you actually were. That the rate of speed you could reach dictated the level of flow you had. And if I couldn't make it faster, I made the technique higher - so a kick to the chest would become a kick to the head. A foot sweep would become a thigh kick. I have no idea why I did this, maybe I was going for flash if I couldn't reach flow.

As laughably misguided as this was, there was no way for me to discover how far off course I actually was (largely through youth and natural dexterity). I was getting good results across the board, because it was rehearsed to the nth degree. I could do my forms extremely fast and precise, because I trained them into my bones. However, I had no plan for adaptation, and no ability to recover if I slipped, made an error or just plain forgot where I was (which happens to everyone, at some time).

Speed comes with fluidity, but not vice versa. You can't force the fit. Flow can fit into any martial art, but it can't be contained or corralled by any. If you have flow, you don't actually need a martial art. You can "become" any of them. Martial arts don't normally "shrink down" to fit practitioners, or expand to accommodate growth.

Flow does both of these, without force or stagnating, restrictive conventions.

There are several definitions of flow, with regards to the martial arts. I'm going to address a few, but my chief point is completely random flow; constant and unrehearsed.

The first problem is acceptance: "Flow" seems to be the goal of almost every martial art in the world, but obstacles and pitfalls are set in the path of the practitioner that frequently lead them to believe otherwise. Ideas such as lineage, dozens of forms, drills without end and a crispy white uniform are attractive distractions from real knowledge. Further, the logical thought process that fits with learning choreography as an answer to every combative situation.

You'll see this in many traditional martial arts, the need to define and propagate balance and rooted stability over flow. The thought process is linear, first you stand, then you walk, etc.

In my opinion, this is a kind of ham-fisted attempt at re-inventing the stand-walk-run process. Fluidity will save you where rooting cannot, in a combative scenario fluidity can open lines of attack and evasion, where rooting and stillness tend to encourage the practitioner into a "stand there and take it" mentality.

If you are training martial arts, chances are pretty good you have already mastered balance in motion. The simple walking or running that you did in school taught you everything you needed to know about propulsion, balance, maintaining and the loss of balance, as well as intermittent timing. This simplicity doesn't change with combat; the only difference is in the variations that occur in application. In other words, now you have to stay on your feet when the punches and kicks come flying in!

That sounds odd, but when you look at the kinds of people who manipulate both flow and balance in rhythm – dancers, for instance – you see that it's naturally self-validating and completely adaptive to sudden changes in tempo and terrain.

That's not to overlook the one critical difference between dancing and combat: In dance, no one is trying to kill you, there's usually no opposing force. Just as the 2% difference in DNA between primates and humans makes all the difference between having bananas or an omelet for breakfast, that simple fact of violence certainly is the deciding factor between the kind of balance in stillness you find in forms, and the fluidity of balance in motion you find in actual combat.

Flow will save you where strength, technique or speed cannot. Flow cannot be cheated, it can't be faked. If you understand flow and the use of it, you will more easily understand underlying principles that most classical martial arts are built on, without having to train every step in the process of that art. The ability to flow is a martial art unto itself, although it can - and should - be applied in all martial arts.

Flow overrides curriculum – you can teach curriculum out of flow, but not vice versa. Everything considered in the martial realm as a "flow drill", whilst absolutely useful as a primer to those who are just learning to relax and move at high rates of speed, will eventually come to a place where it loses its conduciveness to flow. I would go so far as to say that a flow drill MIMICS flow, under a set of predetermined circumstances. In the end, it's still a hell of a leap between "Flow drill", and flow itself.

Flow accepts any scenario - unlike forms. A much more complimentary and productive tool to have in your chest than 200 Jurus (or Kata, or Kuen) is the ability to flow within technique. A person who knows his art by form and stance cannot compare with an adept who bases his art on motion and adaptation. The former will always be looking to predetermined motions for answers, the latter will allow them to come to him in whatever form they take, unbiased. Flow is also imperative to understanding the application of forms, for those times when you aren't being "fed an attack", you get a feel for true interaction with violent intent at high rates of speed that's unpredictable because it's unrehearsed. You learn how to compensate for size and strength, how to recover from mistakes and exploit those your opponent makes without having to stop and examine your feet, your hand placement, etc.

Choreography Vs. Flow

"It's All In Your Forms"

That saying cannot possibly be true. I hear it preached to the unwashed masses at every opportunity, and see it proven wrong even more often.

Forms differ from one end of the spectrum to the other; some seem to be an attempt at creating a "technique catalog", others are nothing more than basic motions that act as placemarkers for

Still others are combinations of principles and techniques, played out from attack to conclusion in a solo exercise.

The best forms, in my opinion, work the underlying principles of technique, usually as reflected by the style the come from. I've never seen anyone who was completely fluid and adept at their art who got their answers from forms. Don't get me wrong, most of them say that's where they get it from, but I see them working technique and applying principles that can't be found anywhere in their systems, let alone the Kata of said system.

I feel this is another ingrained response in the style of "It's all in your forms".

The practitioner who is constantly running to a form for answers in a fluid environment will be looking for new recipes in an old book their entire lives. Flow allows you to invent your own answers, without the need for rote memorization of choreography that probably doesn't conform to your body type, speed or strength. There is a confidence in the practitioner who can flow, knowing that they don't need to have a secret book of form interpretation because they can adapt to whatever comes their way.

No, I'm Not Trying To Say Everyone Else Sucks

I used to hold fast to the belief that the linear progression of study – such as they way many of us learn a martial art - was the only game in town. In fact, after learning to completely relax and move in combative flow, I knew it was what I had been missing out on all these years, but I still considered it something to be dispensed like an award, given judiciously after years of hard work in class. This is hereditary in many martial art schools – that's how the teacher learned it, and if it was good enough for him, etc.

About six years ago I began to meet people who not only had flow, but taught it from the beginning, skipping over years of in-the-trenches grunt work. This immediately dismayed me, because I felt thought that only through meticulous understanding of the intrinsic calculations of each stance, motion and technique could the art be truly understood…and I dismissed it as a fad.

I learned how wrong I was later, seeing the results the students of these people, and their abilities. What they lacked in finesse, they more than made up for in abundance of technique…and these were people who had only been training a few years, five at most. It was difficult to accept, even with the evidence staring me in the face, but I eventually came around to the concept of flow as the centerpiece to an art that conforms to the practitioner, and never loses relevance no matter the speed or scenario.

The conventions that work against discovering and evolving flow in martial arts are overwhelming, and the chances of just happening to stumble on it are largely against the average practitioner.

This method isn't for everyone. That's not to say everyone couldn't benefit from it, but – not everyone will embrace it. Many practitioners find a kind of comfort in the safe choreography of forms, knowing they are part of a tradition that has been handed down the same way for generations.

For the most part, I firmly believe you need a guide who is experienced in flow to begin with – someone who can control the tempo when it threatens to get out of hand, to make corrections and give constant reminders when the practitioner is reverting to some of the ingrained habits that the sink-and-root process instills. Fluid action looks fast, even when done slowly, and the inexperienced practitioner will fall into a tendency to run to the safety of what they know: Bringing density to their bodies to root in a stance, holding their breath and grabbing their partners in an attempt to "slow down" the action.

A common knee-jerk response to fear is body density. We clench up when startled, or threatened. We restrict and throttle our natural abilities, and sabotage our defense system by letting the lizard run free in our minds.

The natural antidote for this is flow, but it's not a cure you can consume overnight.


My deepest gratitude to Bobbe Edmonds for his kind permission in allowing me to repost his article.

Photo Credit:  Bobbe Edmonds

You can contact Bobbe Edmonds via Facebook or his blog Thick as Thieves and last but not least, please check out his YouTube Channel.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Bobbe Edmonds - Perception in the Martial Arts

Laugh, if you want to, or say you don’t care.

If you cannot see it, you think it’s not there

…It doesn’t work that way.

- Devo


During WWII, the Germans designed three specially equipped U-Boats to discover what secret weapon the Allies were using to detect & destroy their submarines was. The U-Boats were fitted with wall-to-wall state-of-the-art (for Germany, at that time) seismic and radio receiving equipment capable of detecting any electromagnetic waves in the entire spectrum of generatable frequencies – From 10 kilocycles all the way to 2,000 megacycles. (Supposedly, they were equipped with some kind of stealth technology as well, but upon further research I discovered that it was the exact same stealth technology that all the other U-Boats had…Which is to say, nothing at all.)

All three U-Boats were promptly detected and sunk by the Allies within a couple of weeks of their departure. Ping, skaboom, auf wiedersehen, you imbeciles.

The German researchers, using the last reports sent back from the U-Boats before they were consigned to Davy Jones’ Locker, found no evidence of activity over the entire radio spectrum, so they knew that the Allied system of detection must be dependent on something other than RADAR.

But because German radio detection technology never even came close to the 10,000 megacycles that the Allied airborne RADAR used, they never once suspected that they were being pinged with kilowatts of RF energy at frequencies they – again - knew for certain couldn’t be generated. All they had, after all, were klystrons. They didn’t have magnetrons. Presumably, they didn’t even realize that magnetrons existed.

The point to take home here is that their equipment was inadequate in a way that they didn’t suspect. Because they “knew for certain” that it wasn’t RADAR, they focused their attention elsewhere.

As Indy would say on such an occasion; “They’re digging in the wrong place.”

Where I’m Going With This

You ever think something was true, based on no evidence of fact or presentation of argument, but simply from your own experience and conviction that you must be right…And then discover later that you were further off course than a squadron of gull-wing fighters in the Bermuda Triangle?

What made you think you knew what you were talking about?

I was going to say that perception of reality in the martial arts is dependent on four points, but upon reflection I discovered that perception of anything in life is dependent on four points:

  • What we have experienced, for our age.
  • What we have striven to learn.
  • What lessons life has imposed on us (Whether we learn them or not is another matter)
  • What we have accepted as “real”.

The last one is the most important. We all know someone who has had something bad – or good – happen to them, and it doesn’t sit with their perception of normalcy or everyday occurrences. We ourselves are guilty of this at some time or another, perhaps even now.

I have known women who were victims of domestic abuse, and they gravitated – almost magnetically – to others who were just as abusive towards them as their previous relationship partners were. You can still find people to this day who disbelieve such scientifically factual events as global warming, tectonic plating and the Cambrian period. There is no lack of fools in any aspect of life, but to the willfully ignorant (those who cannot be fed true knowledge even if it was baked into a custard), it's what you don't know that will kill you stone dead.

If enough of your life passes without having your illusions shattered, the tendency to think that you are right and safe in your beliefs arises. This is like a swimmer who has never been bitten by a shark or stung by a jellyfish supposing that the ocean is safe. The attitude of “I know without having to look” holds dangerous sway for the unwary, and is often used as a crutch for those who say; “I’ll believe it when I’m shown”

A person who doesn’t ever look beyond the end of his nose in life can say this with all sincerity and be perfectly safe in his assumptions, since he will never look in the first place. There is no one more confident in his knowledge than a Christian who knows for a fact there is a God, or an Atheist who knows for a fact there isn’t. All this points to one thing: What we accept as real is largely based on what we perceive as true. Ask anyone with faith in religion about divine law, or a monarch about the divine right of kings or any creationist about what Homo Erectus might have kept as a cave pet 2 million years ago and you’ll see what I mean. For something closer to home, ask a 19 year old boy and a 45 year old man what the 3 most important things in the world are. I would be pleasantly surprised if anything from the same species appeared on both lists.

Most people aren’t aware of the severity of life, or how quickly it can be taken from you over the most trivial of circumstances. Even fewer would be capable to achieve some level of security or protection, if they were made aware. If you can’t swim, what commitment & sacrifices would you have to make in order to learn in calm waters? What would it take to survive a boat wreck during a storm?

Now add to that: What if you were afraid of the water in the first place? What sort of courage would you have to muster to take swimming lessons in a private pool?

Just as people never really think of a life raft until the ship is sinking, most people don’t usually consider personal safety until they absolutely need it. And unlike your car keys, it’s not something you can casually afford to lose.

Reality in Training

Punching in the air for four hours every week in Karate class tends to lead one to believe that you are actually learning how to hit things. But it’s a large leap from imagining an opponent crumpling before your mighty hammer blows and making corporeal contact with an actual target. The first time your wrist bends at a sharp angle unexpectedly after you hit a heavy bag for the first time, you are finally learning how to hit things. Only then does your mind and body begin to make the necessary adjustments for future love connections. But ask any third-year greenbelt what he’s doing after a sweaty night of air combat, and he’ll tell you in all sincerity: “Learning how to fight!”

Making the leap between weapons systems and empty hand styles that try to add weaponry to the system is another Herculean task.

Martial arts designed exclusively for empty hand defenses aren’t normally suited for weapon defense, at least not without some drastic alterations to the basic structure of the style. Naysayers will take umbrage to this, and immediately point to the various weaponry and forms contained in their respective systems to prove it. But simply adding a weapons form is not the same as training for proficiency in weapons.

In this example, I am going to pick on Wing Chun. Followers of Yip Man, feel free to be offended and throw rotten tomatoes…it won’t be the first time.

Wing Chun has three empty hand forms. There is an additional empty hand training form with a wooden dummy. There are countless empty hand exercises, drills, three-beat combinations and of course, chi sao – arguably the single most practiced exercise in Wing Chun of all time – done with empty hands.

There are exactly TWO weapons in Wing Chun, one of them terribly archaic. There are also exactly two weapons forms, one for each weapon. There are noticeably fewer exercises and drills for the weapons (depending on which school you attend, and the forward-thinking of the instructor) and certainly even less sparring. This must be suspect, since the empty hand training was so obviously important, three different forms and a wooden dummy were created to train them. That's not counting the dozens of drills and patterns thrown into the mix.

Further, consider: No school of Wing Chun will start on weapons until at least five years into the training, many take longer than that. There is no way that the prospective student will see them within the first two.

I was going to leave out the argument of practicality and modern use of the weapons, but on second thought, let’s have it out: Neither one is remotely as practical or useful in today’s world as the empty hand training. In fact, Wing Chun is frequently touted as “The In-Fighter’s Style”. To this I would offer no argument, for it is clearly superior in training to achieve and maintain the inside line of an opponent in the upper body. The sensitivity training is second to none, and Wing Chun players dominate a category of martial arts that has all but been abandoned by most other systems as too difficult to learn.

But the neglect of real-world application, failure to evolve as the empty hand training has and the anachronistic approach to combat of both the pole and eight-chop knives of Wing Chun make them appear to have been just tossed into the pot at some stage like soup bones that once added flavor, but have long since lost their use. The evidence points to one thing; Empty hand training is far more important – and superior – to weapons training, and there is much more material available to develop it.

To take the matter still further, the Wing Chun stance and body support structure are perfectly suited to a particular type of empty hand training, but are particularly suicidal when it comes to knife defense. That rooted, belly-offering, fingers-first stance is a tempting, target-rich environment to a skilled knife player.

As I stated at the commencement of this section, I am picking on Wing Chun as an example. Using the same method of deduction and examination, I could pluck ANY empty hand-based system out of the woodwork, and find similar faults. So, Wing Chun practitioners, take heart; I am an equal-opportunity Martial Arts misanthrope. Next time, it will be someone else’s turn in the barrel.

I should add here that I don’t necessarily consider the Southeast Asian arts without their faults as well. Take for instance, the use of padded armor in training. My philosophy is this: Padding and armor promotes the cultivation of bad habits, especially with poor instruction thrown in for the bargain. You cannot simply let a student suit up and say "Have at it!" and just let him flail away, he needs to be taught some fundamentals in targeting and footwork. But I see many of the good foundations teachers give their students go flying out the window when the gear gets put on, and they do nothing to correct it.

They start leaving their hands out in front of the stick. Why not? It doesn't hurt.

They duck their heads INTO the arc of an incoming attack. Why not? Doesn't hurt.

They don't bother executing advanced footwork and zoning to the rear or the oblique of the opponent, instead they ALWAYS just crash down the middle as if they're friggin' bulletproof.

Because it DOESN'T HURT.

There are a number of other bad habits that are picked up through the armor, and I have found that minimal coverage is a great educator. So usually I only allow a helmet and a pair of hockey gloves, nothing else. This way, if you miss, you pay for it. Not harshly...But still. Enough to remind you.

Swallowing a Bitter Pill

I was having a conversation with a close friend last week, who has been training Pencak Silat since he was a child. We were discussing various knife techniques and the like, when he quipped softly “You know, I’ve been in a few knife altercations…It’s not funny, and there’s nothing macho to it.” Truer words never spoken – I thought of Mohammad and the mountain. Most Asian fighting arts imported into America, although replete with talk about ethics and restraint, really do nothing more than teach a sociopathic love of violence, which is all the more compounded when the true believer wakes up in the middle of a nightmare, after training in a fairy tale.

Something I have discovered is that enlightenment of any sort rarely comes without pain in the learning. Discovery through meditation is a rare thing, and it’s usually punctuated with screams of “Owch, Godammit! That’s hot!” as opposed to “Ah! Eureka! If I put my hand on the stove, my skin shall acquire third degree burns. Best I leave that alone, ‘ere I require medical attention anon!

Something I have tried to instill in my students is to not allow ignorance to be an excuse. This can be trying, since the accepted status quo is to actually employ ignorance as a defense in today’s society, and there are certainly more followers than leaders in Martial Arts. Incredibly, I have seen practitioners in many schools reach for the less-than, strive for the mediocre and beam with pride at their lack of ability.

That’s not to say there has been a shortage of fools in my school either – my expulsion rate is way higher than my retention. But I think I should be ashamed of my time spent as a teacher if the last words from a student of mine were something like; “I didn’t know it would do that”.

To me, that is unacceptable.


My deepest gratitude to Bobbe Edmonds for his kind permission in allowing me to repost his article.

Photo Credit:  Bobbe Edmonds

You can contact Bobbe Edmonds via Facebook or his blog Thick as Thieves and last but not least, please check out his YouTube Channel.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Bobbe Edmonds - Posture, Structure, Stance and Mobility


    Motion is to Pencak Silat what Rooted stances are to Karate.

    Stance + Posture = Structure

    Structure + Footwork = Mobility

    Structure divided by Footwork = Mobility vs. Stability

    In the above equations I am using the following terms and definitions in a calculated formulae:
  1. Stance: The position and transition of all body elements from the waist down. This sometimes includes the spine.
  2.  Posture: Position and alignment of all body elements from the waist up. This always includes the spine.

  3.  Structure: The marriage of Stance and Posture to reflect the needs of the body’s defenses or attack at any given time. Structure is a fluid concept, it does not mean “Stance” or “Footwork”, it means the use of a variety of postures in Silat while maintaining balance in motion.


    Stance” in the accepted Martial Arts reference can be misleading when it comes to Pencak Silat. In the fundamental training of any Martial Art, a stance is noted as a means of sinking the body closer to the ground using the legs for support and stabilization. Now, we do that anyway, every day, just by walking. But a stance is more of an unmoving thing, and the word itself when in reference to Martial Arts usually invokes a kind of statuesque image, the practitioner in a deep-seated squat of some sort, tensing his body and rooting himself as much as possible. Although this is a correct definition, it’s not a really a true one.

    Balance is the heart of stancework, and any art worth its salt will show this early on. Pencak Silat is no different in this regard, only in the approach. In any art, there are essentially two applications of balance in Silat, and they both serve an important purpose:

  1. Balance in STILLNESS (Rooted stance, sinking/squatting with a wide base, almost no mobility at all)
  2. Balance in MOTION (Footwork, Body English, high mobility & ground coverage)

    Balance in stillness isn’t difficult to achieve, it only presents one option: Stand still and find your balance. You would have to be a pretty thick brick to not have some degree of mastery over this after a few months of training. Some arts specialize in this, the common rationale behind such training being that you must be able to stand there and absorb ANYTHING that is being hurled at you. Indeed, most arts advocate sinking deeper in whatever stance and rooting to the ground to appear “immoveable”. The fallacy with that sort of thinking is that it’s only one side of a two sided coin: Motion is just as important as static rooting, and a lack of one will force you to overcompensate with the other. Thus will begin a long confusing road of trying to force the fit of something into a situation where it doesn’t belong, a place where common sense should have just pointed to MOVING out of the way for a better vantage point.

    Balance in motion is the more difficult concept, it doesn’t have a permanent place of residence and therefore harder to nail down in specific terms and postures.

    You can observe the stance-posture-structure relationship in any martial art and discover how it supports the nuances of that particular style: Pencak Silat is mobile and fluid, so less time is spent in rooted positions. Karate is more rigid in terms of posture and stance, so its mobility lends itself to the rooted approach. Southern Chinese Kung Fu styles usually have a blend of the two, although it’s never a balanced one, the static sink/root method being the more dominant.

    To understand the unique use of stance in Kali and Pencak Silat, first look at the objective of these arts: Motion. Everything in the combat systems of the Archipelagos points to MOVING, not ROOTING. Think of stance like this: If you are constantly moving with an innate sense of balance and coordination, then your stance becomes just wherever you happen to be standing, in whatever position your legs/feet happen to be in. It’s not something you think about, or have to look down to make sure it’s there, if you train for it then it WILL be there. The first action in the feet should be to move, not root to the ground. You need to be able to find balance and stability in motion, moving from one point to another without achieving the rooted aspect of stance. If your first action is to sink and root, then you will have to bring your musculature back to the initial point of relaxation before you can move at all, and who has that kind of time in a fight? Mobility is necessary for entries, evasion and counters. Mobility allows you to adjust for sudden changes in tempo and rhythm of the fight, as well as drastic shifts in terrain, conditions, etc. Mobility promotes adaptability, and helps you maintain a feeling with your opponent at several angles at once. Rooting in stance/structure only applies in a force-against-force contest, something you should be striving to avoid.

    The rooting method is usually the first style of stancework trained, and therefore it’s the style that’s emphasized the longest in a practitioner’s life. It’s embedded in his mind, and he will always return to it because it was drilled in as a beginner. Because of this, progression is really the key when training stance. Most beginning students can’t tell their left from their right when they start training Martial Arts, and complex motor patterns will only confuse them. In this respect, focused stance training is fundamental because it teaches a slow step by step process of transitioning from one space to another in a specific manner. Without this training, the beginner will usually have a much rougher road to achieving flow in Silat. That being said, there should be a natural progression OUT of stancework and INTO footwork/Body English, a progression that should move with the momentum of the student’s learning curve. If you delay the transition into motion, then the student gets used to drilling in a static stance, and will have a knee-jerk impulse to “sink and root” in preparation of any conflict.

    The problem with this approach is that it encourages you to “sink into a stance” during times of stress in combat, and root when you should move. It is a static element brought into a dynamic atmosphere (fighting). In training different Martial Arts styles, I have discovered that the traditionalist is often taught that the right stance can counter anything, and by implication, if their stance is strong enough then they can withstand even the most brutal attacks. There is some merit to this, and it does have application…But it’s not really a strategy you can go to war with. A rooted stance of ANY sort only works in one direction at a time: The front, or whichever way you are facing/direction you are going, and it will assuredly stack the deck against you in a fight because you will feel encouraged to either stand in the path of danger and “absorb it” as if you were a tree, or meet the attacking force head-on. This is not a very prudent strategy, especially if your opponent is faster or stronger than you, and it will cause you to make poor decisions in combat because you chose a poor position to begin with, and will constantly be playing “catch up” to your opponent’s lead.

    Also, if you were successful in the initial clash and you did manage to deflect the incoming barrage, you will likely have every muscle and joint locked down, with the muscle mass so dense and rigid it can hardly move at all. You will be inhibited from responding to any openings quickly, nor will you be able to recover or change positions with any real speed, you must unclench your body first. Once you activate density in your body during combat stress, you will find it difficult (if not impossible) to regain mobility and relaxation needed for fluidity, because you have an innate momentum built up in favor of tension over relaxed, dynamic motion. Again, you will return to your first principles, the thing you were taught at the beginning, only it will be working against you even if you are doing it right.

    It may seem as if I am campaigning against the rooted stance approach. Actually, it’s a necessary element, and it does have its uses…But they are far more limited than the use of mobility, and it doesn’t lend itself to fluidity very easily. For this reason you must have a firm grasp of the uses and disadvantages of each.

    There is much written about the mathematical and mechanical elements of stance, many calculations, diagrams and equations laid out to give the appearance of something more meaningful than simply “balance in motion”. In a motion-based martial art, this idea is fundamentally wrong, and it’s a mistake to pursue some algebraic formulae hidden within horse stance, except maybe as an academic exercise. Not that the math itself won’t add up, it will. In fact, if you try hard enough you will discover several different formulae for each stance you know. However, the focus will always be on finding that math in the first place, looking for geometrical patterns in every stance instead of looking for the fluidity OUT of stance.


    Next on the list: Posture.

    By posture, let me say right off the bat that I am not speaking of “proper bone alignment” or “correct shoulder-spinal placement” like what you get from etiquette class. This isn’t the kind of straight-backed walking posture, but how you position your upper body in relationship with two separate points: Your feet & your opponent. Your posture will reflect your ability to move, defend or attack, depending on how you position yourself against an opponent.


    Structure is the final element, and it’s last for a reason: You will have to master Stance and Posture to get to Structure, because it’s a combined element of the first two. Structure deals with our body’s trained and natural defenses, and how we find balance while using them in motion. But the definition of structure isn’t “Stagnant”. There are degrees of stability, and you have to decide what you need more of at the appropriate moment: Rooted, unmovable structure or a fluid, less stable one. There are times for sinking down and absorbing everything coming at you, and times to get the hell out of the way.

    Moving allows you to negate an attack when “structure” cannot withstand the force. If you do not know or train for this, then you will not be prepared for it when it hits, nor will you be able to recognize when the opponent is doing it to you. If you train for balance in motion, you will not be confused. Your hands and feet will seem to move almost on their own, and your attention will be focused on the attacker, not how good your stance is. Balance is something you FEEL, not SEE.

    When it comes to the Filipino and Indo-Malay martial arts, the name of the game is BALANCE IN MOTION. We don’t simply lurch in one direction and pray to God that we have balance when we arrive. The recognition and capitalization of an opening in your opponent’s defenses will only occur if one or more of you is in motion, usually responding to the other’s motion. To pull this off under combat stress conditions, you must be comfortable and confident in your abilities to flow with balance.

    If an opponent is simply standing there with his guard up, why attack? You will need to move to a better position, or change your strategy. Also, motion is critical in countering your opponent mentally. Standing still is a mistake, because it allows your opponent to draw a clear bead on you, plot his attack, and gain the advantage of ground and the ability to adjust for his surroundings, as well as any tactical advantages to be had. Movement makes planning difficult for your opponent and allows you to stack the odds in your favor by choosing the setting & pace of the fight.

    Rooting also doesn’t address what to do if the attacker decides to use a feint & you are caught by it. The purpose of feinting in the first place is to lure your opponent into over-committing to an attack that was never going to the evident target in the first place, a tactic designed specifically for targeting rooted structure. Mobility will save you, but structure bets the farm on a single roll of the dice. You better be able to fight perfectly every time, because that’s what you are training for. And nobody ever fights perfectly, something always goes wrong.

    In the end, you have to have a mastery of all four elements. Then you can decide for yourself what tool is most prudent for your situation, mobility vs. stability, strength vs. speed, footwork/Body English vs. stance.


My deepest gratitude to Bobbe Edmonds for his kind permission in allowing me to repost his article.

Photo Credit:  Bobbe Edmonds

You can contact Bobbe Edmonds via Facebook or his blog Thick as Thieves and last but not least, please check out his YouTube Channel.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Dr. George Thompson - Using tactical communication effectively

Street truth #1: 

The Peace Officer knows what phrases create peace and what phrases create conflict (see my previous columns) but the Peace Warrior also knows some "hidden truths" unknown to most.

Perhaps the most important of these is what we teach in TAC COM (Verbal Judo):

When upset, people never say what they mean!
This knowledge keeps us safer.

When we answer calls, for example, upset and angry people often berate us. I once answered a "see the man about a burglary past" call with another Deputy. The call had come in hours earlier, but we had been too busy with emergency calls to get there.

Once we arrived, the RP screamed insults at us for being incompetent, late, and wholly unhelpful! The lead Deputy got angry and we left.

Hours later we were before the Captain trying to explain what had happened out there. There was no explanation, and an hour later we were back, handling the call a second time!

We didn't have time to do it right, only time to do it twice!

Had the deputy been trained in TAC COM he would have known that "Words fly out, meanings lie behind." People never say what they mean!

In our case, the RP said one thing-all negatives-but what he meant was:

  1. Help me!
  2. What about my stuff?
  3. How do I handle the feelings of fear and insecurity I now feel?
  4. How do I handle feeling 'Raped!'? And…
  5. How come you're late?

The last element-time--is really the minor one, but when upset, that was all he could voice. The Deputy reacted to the words and hence was incapable of responding to the meanings!

When we REact, the 'act' controls us; when we REspond, we re-answer, suggesting control and assertiveness.

Let me present three Laws of Field Contact. I call them Thompson's Laws because cops from across the country taught them to me over the years.

As we teach in TAC COM, the Deputy should have swiftly deflected the insults: "Sir, I can see you're upset and I can 'preciate that,' but I can help you here. Let me come in. . . "--and then focused his dialogue on the professional goal at hand. In this manner, the call would have been handled quickly, effectively and efficiently, the "QEE Principle" of good field contact.

Thompson's Law of Field Contact #1:

All calls for service should obey this principle, thus leading to better response time and more calls answered per shift! Good stats for any department!

Now, what might motivate a Deputy to make an effort to deflect and handle verbal abuse well? What's the "W.I.I.F.M." hook (the "What's in it for me" hook?)

Two crucial police benefits, aside from the obvious PR benefit:

If we treat people well when they do not handle themselves well, they remember that and they remember being treated with REspect. Consider the possible benefit…

What if the Deputy, three months later, is looking for a certain vehicle wanted in a series of hit & run burglaries and he recognizes that the area in question is the same area as the one he answered the burglary report call earlier?

If he handled the subject well then, he can return to that home, knock on the door, and ask the subject to keep an eye out for the vehicle in question. Because he had treated the subject well, there is a good chance the subject will agree to be his "eyes" now. You cannot be everywhere, but your people can be!

Thompson's Law of Field Contact 2: 

"Whenever you contact someone, see to it you develop a "pair of eyes", a pair of contacts!"
Put another way, treating people well is good for you because it 'softens people up' for the next possible encounter.

By contrast, insults and harsh treatment close the eyes and increase the resistance! Rude cops are indeed stupid cops! Such cops are indeed a crook's best friend, for the blinder the public I,s the freer the crook is to ply his trade! Tactical civility is one powerful weapon against such people!

Thompson's Law of Field Contact #3: 

The Closure Principle: "Leave people better than you found them, at their worst!"

It is impossible to "leave people better than we find them," for usually we deliver bad news-"you're under arrest, your son was killed in an accident, your daughter arrested for prostitution"-but we can always leave them better than we found them at their worst!" 

For example, you might have to physically throw someone down to make the arrest, but when you leave him at the jail you can suggest to him that next time, talking would be better. Fighting is not necessary! Only the officer can suggest not fighting and not lose face.

If you think about it, we are paid to say this! If the officer does, there is a good chance the next meeting will be peaceable! "Let's not fight" is one of those great "Peace Phrases" but hard for a young officer to say. Get ego out of the way, and such words will flow forth.

And everyone is SAFER if you do!

If you remember that people never say what they mean, particularly when they are upset, you will never find yourself reacting to their careless, abusive words, and hence you will be smarter, safer, and more professional at all times! 

Good for you, for others, good for everyone!

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Dr. George Thompson - Talking the talk of peace: The Peace Warrior

In my last piece, I talked about 7 things never to say ( Part 1 & Part 2 ), and why. Now I want to provide a balance by presenting some phrases that should be said...often!

We teach in Tactical Communication (Verbal Judo) that "Natural Language" is disastrous. If, as peace officers, we allow words to rise readily to our lips, we are liable to create speeches we live to regret! Our 'inner voice' expresses our real feelings, and since much of what we see is negative, any time we let that voice out, it can cause us great trouble!

As I have watched officers work the streets over the last 25 years, those who were most successful at calming and redirecting others talked differently than the rest of us. As Peace Officers, they talked like Peace Officers. They use what I now call "Tactical Peace Phrases" --  language tailored and shaped to bring peace out of disorder.

Such peace language is not "natural" to most of us but it can be learned and should be employed by all of us. Certainly we should teach this in the recruit academies!

Let me discuss several of the most potent phrases.

"Can you go along with us here?" vs. "Do it or else!"
Police are authority figures and as such tend to order rather than to ask. Indeed, in the academies we hear for 16 plus weeks during our training, "Verbal commands, verbal commands," so when we leave the academy few of us remember to ASK!

Asking people for their cooperation shows them REspect and allows them to save personal face in front of their peers, where 'Do it or else' almost forces the other to resist to save face.

Hint: when you ask, if you turn your palm up, it reinforces the question; if you keep your palm down, it becomes closer to an order. Palm up softens people up! Using the interrogative tone softens people up. Good for everyone!

"You don't need this kind of trouble, sir" vs. "You want a problem?"
The first is tactical, the second more natural, hence worse! The aggressive officer uses the second, the assertive officer the first.

The first phrase has a positive impact, hence "assertive," because it shows a concern for the welfare of the subject.

The second is "aggressive" because it is pushy and combative and encourages resistance. In all cases "Peace Language" is professional language because it enhances the opportunities for achieving voluntary compliance and masks any inner feelings that might be naturally negative.

Any language that stimulates conflict is unprofessional. The utterance of, "You want a problem?" or the closely allied phrase, "You want trouble?" clearly reveals the officer's desire for conflict rather than peace, and generates it! Such phrases are also much closer to the natural inner feelings the officer may have towards a resistance subject.

Remember, the rule of thumb is, never give voice to your inner voice!

"Let me be sure I understand what you're telling me" vs. "Quiet down!"
This former phrase is the most powerful peace sentence because it projects empathy -- "I am trying to understand your position" -- while simultaneously shutting the other person up! The word empathy means to see through the eyes of the other, and it is perhaps the most powerful English word. Hence any phrase that suggests it will likewise be powerful.

If you need to interrupt someone, for example, "Quiet down!" doesn't work! It only exacerbates the situation, making the other more resistant.

To interrupt someone effectively, use the other phrase because no one continues to talk when you say it. All people want to hear their point being given back to them! You are now in control, talking, and they are actually listening rather than just waiting!

People calm down when they think you are trying to understand them and, when you paraphrase back to them what you heard, in calmer language, they almost always modify their original, extreme statements, thus becoming more reasonable! A wonderful verbal tactic!

Consider, the more someone thinks you will not understand them, the harder they will listen to prove it! This is a great example of a judo principle, using someone's negative energy against them and redirecting it into more positive channels!

'I appreciate you doing what you were asked' is a phrase calculated to help a subject save personal face in front of others, particularly after having been resistant! It's the last thing an officer might want to say (naturally), given a resistant subject, but it works, partly because it does not make the subject look as if he gave in. Compliance was his choice! It thus calms the subject and stifles future resistance-almost every time! Hence it makes the officer SAFER!

'For your safety and mine' is a phrase I encourage officers to use every time they meet any kind of resistance. It's good to emphasize both the "yours" and the "mine" so it isn't heard as a threat. It also places the event in a context where officer safety and public safety are the key issue -- not personalities!
For example, if you stop a car, contact the driver, and then plan to return to your vehicle to further conduct business, the last sentence you should say to the driver is, "For your safety and mine I will ask you to remain in your car until my return. Thank you!" Now should the subject later get out as you are trying to write the ticket, he would be in violation of your lawful, legal order based on public safety. Had the officer not said it, or had he just said, "Stay in the car," and the subject had gotten out, the officer would find himself in civil rights argument -- "I have the right to stand outside and smoke!" for example.

Moreover, the phrase always sounds good to those gathered around because it does not sound personal, only professional. I would go so far as to suggest that anytime you give an order, or ask someone to do something they might not wish to do, use this phrase. It's the peace officer talking peace and public safety!
'Can you help me help you' is another Peace Phrase calculated to make the subject see you as a helper rather than as an enforcer. The focus is on "we" not just "you," and the stress is on working together -- a parity of effort rather than in opposition.

The phrase shows concern for the welfare of the other and minimizes the officer as the only real force at the moment. The subject can suggest something and not lose any personal face. Anytime you can help a subject save personal face you greatly increase the chance of generating voluntary compliance!
Indeed, Peace Officers should make themselves experts at finding ways to help others save personal face if for no other reason than their own personal safety! We know that if you can help someone save face you almost never have to fight him!

And finally, that marvelous phrase, "Is there anything I can say to get you to do X,Y & Z? I'd like to think so!"
This most powerful of Peace Phrases puts the ball of verbalization back into the other's court, sounds caring and concerned that words will work, and allows the other to save face should he wish. Those of you who know Verbal Judo know that this is the last verbal attempt in our Five Steps to Persuasion, Step #4, and immediately precedes action should the answer be a resounding NO!

The phrase indicates the officer's hope that words will work and physical force can be avoided. As an opinion-seeking question it allows the other to suggest a verbal resolution, giving him some power as to the direction of the event, thus allowing him to save personal face. Those of us trained in Tactical Communication also know this to be a sign that action is about to happen should the subject continue to resist, so no one is caught by surprise when the officer moves beyond words.

The argument is simple: Peace Officers must not talk as all others do. They must talk the talk of peace, always and under all conditions, and this requires training and practice.


Dr. George J. Thompson was the President and Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute, a tactical training and management firm now based in Auburn, NY. For full details on Dr. Thompson's work and training, please visit the Verbal Judo Web Site. He passed away in June of 2011.

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Friday, February 22, 2013

Dr. George Thompson - 7 Things Never to Say to Anyone, and Why Part 2


In Part 1 of this special series, I shared the first four of seven things I suggest you never say to anyone:

  1. "Hey you! Come here!"
  2. "Calm down!"
  3. "I'm not going to tell you again!"
  4. "Be more reasonable!"

Now, I'll share three more…


If ever there was a phrase that irritates people and makes you look weak, this is it!

If you are enforcing rules/laws that exist for good reason, don't be afraid to explain that! Your audience may not agree with or like it, but at least they have been honored with an explanation. Note, a true sign of REspect is to tell people why, and telling people why generates voluntary compliance. Indeed, we know that at least 70% of resistant or difficult people will do what you want them to do if you will just tell them why!
When you tell people why, you establish a ground to stand on, and one for them as well! Your declaration of why defines the limits of the issue at hand, defines your real authority, but also gives the other good reason for complying, not just because you said so! Tactically, telling people why gets your ego out of it and put in its place a solid, professional reason for action.

Even at home, if all you can do is repeat, "those are the rules," you sound and look weak because you apparently cannot support your order/request with logic or good reason. Indeed, if you can put rules or policies into context and explain how the rules or policies are good for everyone, you not only help people understand, you help them save face. Hence, you are much more likely to generate voluntary compliance, which is your goal!


This snotty, useless phrase turns the problem back on the person needing assistance. It signals this is a "you-versus-me" battle rather than an "us" discussion. The typical reaction is, "It's not my problem. You're the problem!"

The problem with the word problem is that it makes people feel deficient or even helpless. It can even transport people back to grade school where they felt misunderstood and underrated. Nobody likes to admit h/she has a problem. That's a weakness! When asked, "what's your problem?" the other already feels a failure. So the immediate natural reaction is, "I don't have one, you do!" which is a reaction that now hides a real need for help.

Substitute tactical phrases designed to soften and open someone up, like "What's the matter?", "How can I help?", or "I can see you're upset, let me suggest . . . ."

Remember, as an officer of peace, it is your business to find ways to gather good intel and to help those in need, not to pass judgments


A great cop-out (no pun…)! This pseudo-question, always accompanied by sarcasm, is clearly an evasion of responsibility and a clear sign of a lack of creativity! The phrase really reveals the speaker's exasperation and lack of knowledge. Often heard from untrained sales clerks and young officers tasked with figuring out how to help someone when the rules are not clear.

When you say, "What do you want me to do about it?" you can count on two problems: the one you started with and the one you just created by appearing to duck responsibility.

Instead, tactically offer to help sort out the problem and work toward a solution. If it truly is not in your area of responsibility, point the subject to the right department or persons that might be able to solve the problem.
If you are unable or unqualified to assist and you haven't a clue as to how to help the person, apologize. Such an apology almost always gains you an ally, one you may need at same later date. Beat cops need to remember it is important to "develop a pair of eyes" (contacts) every time they interact with the public. Had the officer said to the complainant, for example, "I'm sorry, I really do not know what to recommend, but I wish I did, I'd like to help you," and coupled that statement with a concerned tone of voice and a face of concern, he would have gone a long way toward making that person more malleable and compliant for the police later down the road.

Remember, insult strengthens resistance and shuts the eyes. Civility weakens resistance and opens the eyes!
It's tactical to be nice!


Dr. George J. Thompson was the President and Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute, a tactical training and management firm now based in Auburn, NY. For full details on Dr. Thompson's work and training, please visit the Verbal Judo Web Site. He passed away in June of 2011.

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Dr. George Thompson - 7 Things Never to Say to Anyone, and Why Part 1


Safety lies in knowledge. If you deal with cagey street people, or indeed difficult people at all, anywhere, you need to watch your tongue! The "cocked tongue" can be more lethal than the 9 millimeter or the 45.
In part one of this special two-part series for, I'll share the first four of a total of seven commonly used statements that can work against you.


Consider, you are on patrol and you see someone suspicious you want to talk with, so you most naturally say, "Hey you! Come here!" Verbal Judo teaches that "natural language is disastrous!" and this provides a wonderful example. You have just warned the subject that he is in trouble. "Come here" means to you, "Over here, you are under my authority." But to the subject it means, "Go away-quickly!" The words are not tactical for they have provided a warning and possibly precipitated a chase that would not have been necessary had you, instead, walked casually in his direction and once close said, "Excuse me. Could I chat with momentarily?" Notice this question is polite, professional, and calm.

Also notice, you have gotten in close, in his "space" though not his "face," and now you are too close for him to back off, giving you a ration of verbal trouble, as could have easily been the case with the "Hey you! Come here!" opening.

The ancient samurai knew never to let an opponent pick the place of battle for then the sun would always be in your eyes! "Come here" is loose, lazy, and ineffective language. Easy, but wrong. Tactically, "May I chat with you" is far better, for not only have you picked the place to talk, but anything the subject says, other than yes or no-the question you asked-provides you with intelligence regarding his emotional and/or mental state. Let him start any 'dance' of resistance.

Point: Polite civility can be a weapon of immense power!

Consider this verbal blunder. You approach some angry folks and you most naturally say, "Hey, calm down!" This command never works, so why do we always use it? Because it flows naturally from our lips!

What's wrong with it? One, the phrase is a criticism of their behavior and suggests that they have no legitimate right to be upset! Hence, rather than reassuring them that things will improve, which should be your goal, you have created a new problem! Not only is there the matter they were upset about to begin with, but now they need to defend their reaction to you! Double the trouble!

Better, put on a calming face and demeanor-in Verbal Judo we say, 'Chameleon up'-look the person in the eye and say, gently, "It's going to be all right. Talk to me. What's the matter?" The phrase "What's the matter?' softens the person up to talk and calm down; where 'Calm down' hardens the resistance. The choice is yours!

We teach in Verbal Judo that 'repetition is weakness on the streets!' and you and I both know that this phrase is almost always a lie. You will say it again, and possibly again and again!

Parents do it all the time with their kids, and street cops do it with resistant subjects, all the time! The phrase is, of course, a threat, and voicing it leaves you only one viable option-action! If you are not prepared to act, or cannot at the time, you lose credibility, and with the loss of creditability comes the loss of power and safety!

Even if you are prepared to act, you have warned the subject that you are about to do so and forewarned is forearmed! Another tactical blunder! Like the rattlesnake you have made noise, and noise can get you hurt or killed. Better to be more like the cobra and strike when least suspected!

If you want to stress the seriousness of your words, say something like, 'Listen, it's important that you get this point, so pay close attention to what I'm about to tell you.'

If you have used Verbal Judo's Five Steps of Persuasion you know that we act after asking our "nicest, most polite question,"

"Sir, is there anything I could say that would get you to do A, B and C? I'd like to think so?"

If the answer is NO, we act while the subject is still talking! We do not telegraph our actions nor threaten people, but we do act when verbal persuasion fails.


Telling people "be more reasonable" has many of the same problems as "Calm Down!" Everyone thinks h/she is plenty reasonable given the present circumstances! I never have had anyone run up to me and say, "Hey, I know I'm stupid and wrong, but here's what I think!" although I have been confronted by stupid and wrong people! You only invite conflict when you tell people to "be more reasonable!"

Instead, make people more reasonable by the way in which you handle them, tactically! Use the language of reassurance-"Let me see if I understand your position," and then paraphrase-another VJ tactic!-back to them their meaning, as you see it, in your words! Using your words will calm them and make them more reasonable because your words will (or better be!) more professional and less emotional.

This approach absorbs the other's tension and makes him feel your support. Now you can help them think more logically and less destructively, without making the insulting charge implied in your statement, "Be more reasonable!"

Again, tactics over natural reaction!

Next:  3 more statements to avoid!


Dr. George J. Thompson was the President and Founder of the Verbal Judo Institute, a tactical training and management firm now based in Auburn, NY. For full details on Dr. Thompson's work and training, please visit the Verbal Judo Web Site. He passed away in June of 2011.

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Thursday, February 21, 2013

Suzette Haden Elgin - A New Verbal Attack Pattern?

Those of you who are familiar with my Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense materials are also familiar with the set of English Verbal Attack Patterns (VAPs). (Like "If you REALLY loved me, YOU wouldn't [X]....." and so on.) I think I've found a new one, and that pleases me; that doesn't happen very often, and it hasn't happened in years. This pattern -- "Don't tell ME [X]...." -- came to my attention when I saw an example in one of the books on intonation that I've been reading. As with "EVEN a...." and "If you REALLY...", the opening words appear to be all it takes to signal that the utterance is a verbal attack.

The item seems to me to meet all the criteria for a VAP, but I'd like some peer review, please; let me know if you agree or disagree. Here's my evidence for you to judge, with examples.

**All VAPs must have two parts:

  1. the bait, which is the open attack that's supposed to get the targeted person's attention and provoke a response; and 
  2. one or more other attacks that are sheltered in presuppositions. 

For example:

  1. "Don't tell ME you didn't know it was Friday!"
  2. "Don't tell ME you cleaned this house!"


  1. You did know it was Friday, and you're lying if you claim otherwise.
  2. You didn't clean this house, and you're lying if you claim otherwise.


1 and 2. Lying to me would be useless; there's no way you could fool me!

**All VAPs must have a neutral non-attack counterpart -- an utterance that contains the same words but isn't an attack, and that differs from the attack only because it's set to a different tune. For example: 

       3a. "Don't tell me you've forgotten your ticket!"

       3b. "Don't tell ME you've forgotten your ticket!"

Sentence #3a just means that I'm horrified because it has suddenly dawned on me that you may have forgotten your ticket; I'm saying, "Oh no! Please say you haven't forgotten your ticket!" It's not an attack, and it says nothing at all about your truthfulness. (Like any English utterance whatsoever, it could of course be made hostile; it could be said sarcastically or viciously. But that wouldn't make it a VAP.) Sentence #3b, on the other hand, accuses you of lying and tells you not to bother; it means, "You didn't forget your ticket, and you're lying if you claim that you did -- and don't bother trying that with me, because there's no way you could fool me."

**Finally, a special "attack tune" is characteristic of the VAPs. The "Don't tell ME" utterances have a very distinctive melody, with a sharp rise in pitch on "ME" and then a sharp drop in pitch for the rest of the utterance. 

Copyright © 2002 Suzette Haden Elgin

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Suzette Haden Elgin - The Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense (GAVSD) Overview


1. The four basic principles


2. The goal
To establish an environment in which verbal violence almost never occurs; and in which -- on those rare occasions when it cannot be avoided -- it is dealt with efficiently and effectively, with no loss of face on either side.

3. Using Miller's Law (from psychologist George Miller) 

"In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that it is true and try to imagine what it could be true of." (George Miller; 1980.) 

Our tendency when we hear someone say something that strikes us as unacceptable is to assume that it is false and try to imagine what's wrong with the person who said it. (As in: "That's ridiculous! He's only saying that because he's stupid/biased/ignorant/trying to trick me/..." and so on.) This guarantees communication breakdown; instead, use Miller's Law. The proper response when someone says, "My toaster has been talking to me!" is to give the speaker your full attention, ask, "What has it been saying?", and then listen carefully.

4. Using the Sensory Modes (from Jung, Edward T. Hall, and others) 

We interact with the world by using our sensory systems -- sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste, and more. By the time we are about six years old we've discovered that one of those systems works better for us than the others do, and it becomes our preferred or dominant sensory system.The Sensory Modes are the vocabularies of the sensory systems, plus some associated body language items. Because people communicating under stress tend to rely most heavily on their preferred Sensory Mode, matching that mode is a way to speak their language and increase your chances for satisfactory communication. 

Rule One:
Match the mode coming at you. 

Someone says: "How bad does it look?"
Right response: "I don't see it as serious" or "It looks pretty bad."
Wrong response: "I don't feel like it's anything serious."

Rule Two:
If you can't follow Rule One, try not to use any Sensory Mode language at all. 

Someone says: "How bad does it look?"
Right response: "I don't think it's anything serious."

5. Using the Satir Modes (from Dr. Virginia Satir)

The Satir Modes -- Blaming, Placating, Computing, Distracting, and Leveling -- are language patterns people use when communicating under stress. Suppose that five people are in an elevator and it suddenly stops between floors.... 

Blaming: "ALL right! WHICH ONE of you pushed the STOP button??!"
Placating: "GOSH, if this is MY fault, I'm sure SORRY!!"
Computing: "There's no reason to get upset. Any sensible person knows that."
Leveling: "I don't like this -- it's scary."
[A person using Distracter Mode will use all four of the other Satir Modes, switching rapidly from one to another; Distracting is panic.] 

The Satir Mode Loops:
Blaming in response to Blaming gets you a fight. 

Placating in response to Placating gets you an undignified delay. 

Computing in response to Computing gets you a dignified delay. 

Leveling in response to Leveling is an exchange of the simple truth; it's always the best choice when it's safe and when it's appropriate. 

Distracting in response to Distracting is panic feeding panic; it's always a mistake. 

Rule One:
If you don't know what to do, go to Computer Mode and stay there until you have a good reason to change.

Rule Two:
If it would be desirable for the Satir Mode coming at you to escalate -- if that's what you want to have happen -- match that mode.

6. Using the Three-Part Message pattern (from Dr. Thomas Gordon and others) 

The three-part message is a language pattern for making complaints. It's designed to get past the automatic negative reaction people have to complaints and bring about the desired change in behavior. The pattern is: "When you (X), I feel (Y), because (Z)." All three parts must be items that can be verified in the real world. This pattern is more likely to produce that behavior change than traditional complaints, and is always the best move. Example: "When you don't water the tomatoes, I feel angry, because plants die without water." 

7. Managing the Verbal Attack Patterns (VAPS) of English
Vaps are English language patterns used to demonstrate power over a targeted victim by (a) capturing and holding their attention and (b) evoking a highly emotional response. They have two parts: an open attack (the "bait") and one or more attacks sheltered in presuppositions. For example: 

A. "If you REALLY cared about your job, YOU'D get to work on TIME!"
B. "WHY don't you ever LISTEN to me when I talk to you??!"
C. "Even a person YOUR age should know SOMETHING about stocks!"
D. "SOME people would FIRE you for coming to work dressed like a THUG!"
E. "YOU'RE not the ONLY person who has PROBLEMS, you know!

Rule One:
Ignore the bait. 

Rule Two:
Respond directly to a presupposition. 

For example....... 

"If you REALLY loved me, YOU wouldn't waste MONEY the way you do!!"
"If you really LOVED me, YOU wouldn't waste MONEY the way you do!

(The first part of the attack presupposes "You don't love me"; the bait is, "You waste money.") 

Recommended Responses:
"Of course I love you."
"When did you start thinking I don't love you?"

8. Principles for dealing with the body language of English
A. When the words and the body language don't match, believe the body.
B. No words, no matter how carefully chosen, can cancel body language.
C. Emotional information is carried almost entirely by body language.
D. The most powerful part of body language is the tone and intonation of the voice -- the tune the words are set to.

9. The Metaprinciples
A. Anything you feed will grow.
B. Anything you starve, smother, or neglect will fester or die.
C. Every language interaction is an interactive feedback loop.
D. The only meaning an utterance has in the real world is the meaning the listener understands it to have.
E. Mismatch is a warning sign; watch for it. 

[This overview can do nothing more than provide a very rough idea of the system. For details, explanations, history, examples, exceptions to rules, and additional techniques, see the Gentle Art of Verbal Self-Defense books and audiotapes; see also the sources cited in those materials.]

Copyright © Suzette Haden Elgin 2000


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Stickgrappler's Sojourn of Septillion Steps