Friday, December 20, 2019

The D Word



Diversity. 

Diversity in hiring policies. Diversity in schools. Diversity in our neighborhoods. 

One of the things I appreciate about our current geographical community is the diversity our youngest has grown up inside of. He waded his way through middle and high school with one of the most culturally diverse populations I could have hoped for – Subcontinent, Middle East, Asia, Latin America, Eastern & Western European all represented in his school and community. The value of this is already evident in his perspective on the world (and himself) and he isn’t yet out of college. 

Diverse opinions in industries and professions help us grow and expand our world view. Diversity keeps us from becoming stagnant or from positioning into “we’ve never done it that way” attitudes creating gradual, if not sometimes imperceptible, decay. Often the decay inches forward at a glacial pace and no one experiences the creep until the entire ___________ is frozen and dead. The company just locks the doors and walks away. The relationship disappears into a dull void. The organization fizzles out until it is an organization of one. 

Is there a point; however, in which diversity hurts? I don’t mean hurts our feelings, or injures our belief systems. Sometimes that’s valuable. And I think we generally agree that lobbing insults or an Ad Hominem approach to disagreement unquestionably fails to create valid, useful diversity. 

This is more a question of…when we hold starkly different opinions on A Thing, can it create more problems than it solves? 

It depends – like most things in self-defense, the It Depends answer applies here as well.

There is value to having a stand we take on A Thing. To know our own minds enough to state what we believe and do not believe, but an ALWAYS answer in self-defense is risky. In this vein diversity is critical in self-defense. 

One of my early instructors taught with profound certainty. This technique when done correctly will always work. And then it didn’t. To his credit (and I truly mean that), he spent the better part of 15 minutes with me one-on-one with my training partner trying to solve where I had it wrong because the technique was clearly NOT working for me. 

Turns out the attacker had subtly adjusted his position and had remarkably changed his Center of Gravity to Base ratio and there was no way in hell I was going to be successful with the prescribed technique. It took swapping out partners to discover the problem. The instructor cast subtle blame on the training partner rather than addressing the adjustment needed to the technique. This level of certainty and uniformity comes with a steep price I have become unwilling to pay.

And then, there are dissenting opinions that I wish we could all get over ourselves on. Platforms in which a large degree of diverse opinion I think may be causing more harm than good. Another well-known author/trainer in the self-defense world has been noted to say women should not be taught prevention – women’s self-defense should always be physical. …… ???? ....

Let’s back that out of gender and apply it in general: humans should not be taught prevention in self-defense, the education should all be physical.  

I’m authentically curious about this stance but not because I think it has merit. I’m curious because I can’t figure out how one might hold this belief with logic holes you can drive a truck through & there are many people falling down this prescribed rabbit hole.

Or this one: (using a play-based approach to learning the physical aspects of self-defense like we do at VioDy) the Mr. Rogers approach to self-defense is uselessthis is serious material and should be addresses as such. There’s a difference between taking the subject matter seriously and instilling unnecessary anxiety in folks who want to learn personal safety. I am categorically opposed to terrifying students who are there to be LESS afraid. 


Even the “it depends” approach has dissenting opinion. I read a quote somewhere from a fairly well-known individual in the martial/combat industry that said something to the effect of: if your instructor ever answers with it-depends, they don’t know what they’re talking about.

Our commonalities create tribe. Belonging and being in a room with people who hold common beliefs is comforting. Variance from tribe-to-tribe creates the necessary diversity for life to expand and adamantly held, this same diversity drives us to war.  

It’s a continuum. I recognize the extremes help us all find balance in the variance. Once in a while though, I grow remarkably weary of the diversity in the self-defense conversation.
·     Prevention is critical. 
·     Avoidance is the highest order win. 
·     Formal techniques work if the physics work … regardless of the name tag attached or country of origin.
·     Play is freedom and freedom allows the brain to let the body adapt. 
·     Adaptation is the difference between survival and extinction. 
·     Making people afraid does not make them safer.


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