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Meditations on Violence:                                      
A comparison of Martial Arts
Training & Real World Violence
By Sgt. Rory Miller

One of the biggest problems in this field is 'stupidity makes great sound bites.' Dangerous, misleading and corrupted information can be presented in tight little slogans. These clich? -- while they sound great in the training hall and on the internet -- will get you killed in a live-fire situation.

Unfortunately, these pithy little slogans sound real good to the emotional, non-logical parts of our brains. This 'monkey' part of our brain is well practiced when it comes to convincing us that imagination and emotion are 'reality.' It is also what usually brings us into the training hall.

That simple statement is the basis for understanding all kinds of behaviors that you see in the training hall (and on the internet). But it relates to sound bite stupidity in a critical way. Your monkey brains ISN'T looking for what actually works in a violent confrontation, it's looking for something that will make IT feel better.

Not necessarily what will work in a violent situation, mind you. In fact, what your monkey brain is looking for has nothing to do with actual violence. When we say 'feel better,' we mean in your day-to-day, non-violent life, you can believe you have an answer to potential violence. A lot of what is being taught in training halls isn't effective for keeping you unharmed by violence. It is designed to address your fears and imagined version of violence.

Meditations on Violence ISN'T the book for anyone who is letting their monkey 'drive the car' of their training. They'll be much happier staying in the training hall believing pithy sound bites that reconfirm their preconceptions about how violence 'really' happens. It IS a useful book for anyone who has a legitimate risk of having to use their training.

The people who will get the most out of this book are those who are out on the streets facing violent people.

It's for people who step up to violent people and stop them. It's for people who seek to understand the nature of violence, the patterns of violence and the effects of violence, because failure to do so means they bleed.

It's the people who are in the field who will most benefit from this book. Better yet, it's written by a man who had more physical confrontations in a bad month at work than entire 'reality-based-self-defense' organizations ever have had collectively.

And that especially means the instructors!

Rory is a meat-eater, plain and simple. Yes he's a martial artist, but he's also a cop. He has not only been there, done that, but as a sergeant in charge of training and leading entry teams, he was spearheading the charge! As such, his writing style, while simple and direct, accurately boils down complex and dangerous situations into easily understood and reliable guidelines for people who need them. It's not sound bites, but is easy to understand.

This is what prompted Marc to say about Meditations on Violence:
"I have never read such an amazingly succinct, accurate and, yet vast in scope, thesis, on violence. These are the nuts-and-bolts problems and factors you WILL face in a violent encounter. I could write an encyclopedia set of volumes on WHY Rory is right about what he says on this subject. It is a must have for professionals and anyone trying to understand the realities of violence."

On top of everything else, Meditations on Violence introduces a new term to language of self-defense, defensive tactics and professional use of force: The Monkey Dance. It's a term you WILL be hearing a lot more about. But in a book filled with brilliant insights, perhaps the most important one is "You don't control the monkey dance, it controls you."

When you understand that, you, not your monkey brain will be driving during a conflict.

Soft-cover  Item #Bmedviolence

Book --$17  Retail $19.95

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Internet Radio Interview with Rory Miller
Want to know if Rory Miller is worth listening to? Well try listening to a free Podcast on your computer

The first is with Kris Wilder and Rory. It is what first brought Rory to my attention as a serious 'meateater.'  Click here to play the Podcast (9.5 MB)

The second is between Dr Kevin Keough and Rory at Psych Journey's Warrior Traditions.

Comments on Mediations On Violence include:
"On Combat" is one of the best books for warriors I've ever read. So is "On Killing." While you're at it, get "Meditations On Violence" by Sgt Rory Miller. The Sergeant covers what the Colonel doesn't, just the way a Sergeant should. -- Dean, Glock Talk

Meditations on Violence is a collection of thoughts, observations, and insights from Miller’s years of martial arts training and exposure to real violence and real criminals. It’s a short text, coming it at under 200 pages, but those 200 pages are packed with good information on a wide variety of topics, including the criminal mind, the complexities of real world violence, ideas about training methods and the aftermath of violence. All of it is information that is valuable for anyone who is interested in, or concerned about, self-defense. I absolutely loved the chapter on “how to think”, in which Miller does a fantastic job of laying out how to scratch your own mental programming and really examine not only what you believe, but why you believe it.

Miller has a very calm, introspective, but casual writing style. I really enjoy it—it almost feels like I’m sitting around having a conversation with him, instead of reading words on a page. He uses a lot of stories and analogies to help illustrate his examples, which resonates with my own learning style, and I think makes things a lot more memorable. It also helps that he frequently can attach a personal experience to his ideas, which lends a lot of credibility to his thoughts and concepts.

He does not present himself as a know-it-all; indeed, he makes it quite clear that there’s a lot he doesn’t know (including how to ride a motorcycle, I think). It doesn’t matter. The best thing that this book does is that it makes you think. It will force you to really, really, examine your training. It may even make you examine your lifestyle. For me, it has done both. If nothing else, I’ll look at the bibliographies of books a lot more than I used to.

This is not a book of techniques—someone looking for another wrist-lock variation or a different take on how to throw a punch may not get much out of this. Someone looking to enhance their safety and survivability will find it invaluable. -- Jake

The most important message of the book is, of course, how different the real violence of the mean streets is from the way we mostly imagine it through our ‘technique laden’ dojo practice, style smugness and the endless talk about the whys of: my style is better than yours…and I am better and tougher than you as we see on the forums now and then …either explicit or implied. :)

In one ‘fell swoop’ he (Miller) chills the reader with a forced look out the window and a sobering peek _ at the brutality of violence down the street below...and our unpreparedness to come to grips with it, physically and mentally _notwithstanding our real or misplaced confidence in ‘imaginings’ of it_ _ conditioned as we are to define violence in our minds as a ‘happening’ always within the blocking and evasion applications, as practiced in the dojo at artificial optimal distance…a luxury we will not have in the where and the when the typical fight will go down
-- Van Canna

Short review: If I could recommend ONE book that every martial artist on earth should read, this would be it. How’s that for a review?

Meditations on Violence opens with a black and white pic of a bathroom floor that has seen extreme carnage. Someone bled….a lot. Fortunately it isn’t in color. But looking at that pic, you know right away that this won’t be your usual MA book.

Rory Miller (author of the Chiron Training blog, I highly recommend reading it) is a former prison guard with tactical team training, close combat training, traditional MA, you name it and he’s done it. All his work has given him a lot of experience with violence. From that perspective he has a lot to say about traditional martial arts training and its woeful inadequacies.

The first thing that Rory does is break violence down into categories like self-defense, dueling, sport, combat, assault, etc. He rightly notes that martial artists think they are covering all of that and they rarely stop to think that those things are not the same. Just the breakdown alone shows huge gaps in “martial” arts training that are almost never addressed in typical martial arts classes.

Further, it’s fairly obvious to see that folks take an art that specializes in one of those categories and then generalizes from that to the others as if they were all the same. Rory clearly shows they aren’t through his many examples in the book. One response that would be appropriate in a duel might get you killed in combat, for example. Here’s a great quote,”From the assault mindset, if you’re scheduled to fight the world heavyweight boxing champion on Thursday, you shoot him on Tuesday.” Not the same thing as practicing for enlightenment, is it?

Rory explains that the reason we do that is that our assumptions of how things “should be” get in the way. We can’t see reality becuase we’re too busy filtering it through dojo stories, advice from “masters,” movies, books, etc. We don’t want to let those perceptions go because they give us a way of dealing with the violence that scares us.

Along the way, Rory points out the many illusions MA people have: the real utility of blocking, “blending” with your opponent, “you’ll always get cut in a knife fight,” the usefulness of forms/kata, etc. Many of these things are practically set in stone in most MA styles so this will be an extremely painful read for most people.

Rory doesn’t spare your feelings. He’s going to strip it all away from you and make you question everything. For everything that you think MUST work he’s going to describe an experience in which the opposite proved to be the case. Everything you think you knew will be questioned.

As painful as it is to read, this book is the perfect antidote to most everything wrong with MA. We NEED someone like Rory to strip these illusions away. MA people have been debating nonsense back and forth for too long. After you read this, you will see that a lot of MAs just don’t deal well with real violence at all.

This book got me back to my own self-defense experiences and the lessons I learned from them. From those lessons, I’ve made hard choices to jettison some of the nonsense and keep what is really useful. Perhaps after reading it, you’ll do the same.

My only criticism of the book is that it’s repetitive in a couple of places. He even once told the same story twice. But the points are so valuable that repetition isn’t a bad thing here.

If dealing with real violence is of any interest to you at all, then you need this book. If you have read it, let me know what you think. -- Dave Chesser, Formosa Neijia

And now from the Author Rory Miller:

I've always enjoyed writing and for the most part, like other writers I know, the purpose of writing was to share. The story might be beautiful, tragic, terrifying, or informative but the real goal was to share the wonder of it, the wonder of creation.

“Meditations on Violence” was different. In a single year, many, many things had happened. Too close to some ugly cases, caught between what I knew and what the media was presenting. The delivery of a baby addicted to crack and heroin. A crushed face and an empty skull and plumber's crack in death on a windy, cloudy day. Looking over sights and pulling the trigger and suddenly seeing a volcano of blood and meat erupting... and there was no one, really, to talk to about it.

I do have a good support network, people who love me and would listen, but they didn't really understand. The hardest were the martial artists. Most of my friends for most of my life have been involved in martial arts. Judo and jujutsu did much to form who I am. But for the first time I was seeing them as people who played at violence as a hobby and had never heard the screams or felt the bones break.

I felt very tired and very alone.

Meditations was never meant to be shared. Like the early entries on the blog, it was just an attempt to get things out of my head, to put them down on paper so that someone else could poke at them for a while. It is an attempt to take some memories that no one should have and shape something useful out of the sewage of a soul.

Don't forget to check Package Deals for extra savings!


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