Rory Miller, former corrections officer, Sargent in the military, tactical team member and leader, and author, has branched out into another area, training people about violence. Miller recently offered a two day seminar hosted by Derderian Academy in Johnston, Rhode Island, which I was glad to be in attendance.
During the two days Miller covered a wide range of information related violence and self defense. The material was presented in both lecture and drill formats. During the first day we spent time performing one step sparring drills, with several variations. If you have never performed such a drill the concept is simple. One person starts an attack with a single slow movement (drills were done at slow speed for safety reasons). Their partner then can perform a single movement in response to this attack. This continues back and forth like this until the instructor calls stop. Yup, nice and simple, the fun comes when you really start to think about your movements and techniques and where they are getting you in a violent confrontation. I won’t give away all the variations of this drill that we did, just in case a reader here goes to one of Miller’s seminars, but one that I found interesting and fun was when one of you was blindfolded infighting drills. These were just part of the drills covered in day one, others were helpful and gave me some things to work on to improve myself. I will get the timing down on the drop step/hip snap/strike so I can do it every time with perfect timing.
The other part of day one were lectures on various topics ranging from the 7 Aspects of Self-Defense to the types of predators and their mindsets. The 7 Aspects of Self-Defense that Miller covers was highly informative. So informative that in my handgun safety courses I teach for people looking to get a concealed firearms permit I plan on covering these topics. I could not do credit to Miller’s coverage on this topic, it is well worth attending his seminar just for the discussion around this area. Other topics covered will be familiar to those that have read Miller’s book “Meditation on Violence” (and if you study martial arts for self-defense reasons you should read this book). The Monkey Dance, the Group Monkey Dance, asocial predators, and other topics were any that I find many people that are interested in self-defense give no thought to at all. If you want to be able to defend yourself, you should know what you are defending yourself against. Having read various authors cover this topic Miller does it as well or better then the others out there.
Day two was also a mixture of lecture and drills, but this time in a bar environment. Doing one step drills in a dojo is one thing, doing them in a place with chairs, tables, all sorts of improvised weapons about, is another thing. An imagine the chaos of the entire class doing one step drills in one big bar fight. Fun stuff. Drills were also done to help us think differently about what we are doing. These would be drills such as “imagine you are some animal (pick one), now do one step drills with this animal in your mind. Very helpful drills in making you think outside of your usual self-defense techniques mindset.
Since fights often go to the ground, Miller also covered basic grappling techniques. Nothing advanced, but ways of changing your opponents base or center of gravity so that you can move them. Grappling is not my strong suit so I picked up some good information in this area. Another aspect of this that was educational was the feel of rolling around on a bar room floor compared to that of rolling around on a dojo floor with a carpet. Not to mention that in the dojo you don’t usually have to worry about rolling into tables, chairs, or posts in the middle of the room.
The last part of the day was spent covering scenarios. First a small group set with Rory while he discussed setting up scenarios. Miller covered many topics around this area in a short period time from safety issues to the importance of understanding how the bad guys think to setup a realistic scenario. During this portion discussion took place on what scenario to assign to what student. In choosing a scenario assignment we would try to determine an area where a person may be weak or something that will be challenging for them and see how they do. Challenges in this case may not always be physical, it could be a mental challenge for the person to make the right decision.
Watching the scenarios and how people re-acted in them was fascinating. It is easy to say “Oh you are just role-playing, everyone knows it isn’t real.” once Miller hollered “Start scenario!” you got caught up in what was happening. Depending on what was happening, your anixety could go up, heart rate increases, and the words “oh shit!” could go racing through your mind. One aspect of these scenarios is good for many martial artists to remember, you may be able to safely get out of the situation without using physical force. Watching the scenarios (and I was greedy and asked to take part in one too) and discussions about what happened was a very educational experience, and eye-opening for some people there too.
If you are interested in self-defense and ever have a chance to catch Rory Miller in your area I would suggest doing so.