This year we are discussing the Book of Martial Power (BOMP) on Saturdays.
Once one of my instructors, when asked, "What are the principles that make aikido work?" sent us a list of 20 or so, many of which were the things that you would expect - ma-ai, power from center, etc... but one of the surprising ones, the first one in fact, was...
Recognize and accept responsibility for your contribution to failure.
And it turns out that this very idea is what Pearlman is talking about in this chapter. Pretty much all martial arts have at least some glimmer of practical value in them. If an attacker is able to wrest control of you from you then it is at least partially your fault. If you had applied the right parts of your martial art, or applied them differently or better, then it would have been impossible for the attacker to take control from you and retain it.
But it goes farther than that. In order to harm you, the Bad Person has to have Ability, Intent, and Opportunity. We can assume that since they are Bad People, then they have Intent, and Bad People generally dont choose stronger, more powerful victims - so you can assume that the Bad Person has Ability to harm you. The element of this triad that you have the most control over is Opportunity. If the bad Person gets an opportunity to molest you, then even that is partly your fault.
So I guess what I got from this chapter can be summarized as:
- All martial arts have techniques, tactics, and strategies that, when applied properly, make it impossible for an attacker to take control from you and keep it.
- You should pay a good bit of attention in your training to pre-fight aspects, such as avoidance and de-escalation, because if someone even gets the opportunity to try to control you then you are already partly at fault.
- In order to become great at martial arts, you have to learn to take responsibility for your own contribution to your loss of control.
The title of the chapter comes from a great little teaching example that Ed Parker used in his teachings... Consider that the following line represents your opponent's potential:
So, how can you make their line shorter? Read BOMP to find out!
[photo courtesy of C. Gilmore]