Re-Thinking Resistance Part II – Rory Miller

Sports Resistance.

Sports resistance is what you will get in competition. It isn’t full resistance, no matter what you tell yourself. In any competition, there is a balance between trying to win and trying not to lose. The desire to win requires taking some risks and those risks create vulnerabilities.

Full Resistance.

Full resistance is an unbalanced version of sports resistance. This is when a competitor focuses entirely on defense, putting all of his or her energy into denying your technique with no offensive attempts at all. It can be frustrating to face, and sometimes it’s a trap, cf Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope” strategy.

Specific Resistance.

The resistance levels in this essay are arranged in order of difficulty, not in order of applicability. The last seven levels have mirrored a progression from training to sport. But this last, hardest level goes back to training and specifically to bad training.

Specific resistance only occurs when a specific technique is expected. It is always an egotistic power play. Any technique— throw, strike, lock, stab, combo, whatever— can always be made to fail if the practitioner knows what is coming and chooses to directly resist. When a beginners is learning the basics of a lock, anyone can disrupt his or her process. Even when an expert is demonstrating a technique, the technique can be disrupted. A boxer demonstrating a response to a jab will almost always get nailed if his partner feints the jab and throws a hook.

Specific resistance is extremely unrealistic. Outside of training you will never have both foreknowledge and an agreement not to adapt. It is a pure training artifact, but it is very easy to laugh off, “Are you saying I attacked you wrong?”

There are two advanced versions of specific resistance that can ruin a lesson or even harm an entire system.

The first is Gaming the Drill.

People are naturally competitive. Often an egotistic partner, instructor, or role player will not let a solution work. A role player might simply choose to never let de-escalation succeed. A partner who sneaks a weapon into a grappling drill. A scenario facilitator who punishes a student for the safe, easy and tactically superior option of simply leaving a dangerous situation. It is imperative that partners understand how to play a proper bad guy.

The second advanced version of specific resistance is Inbreeding.

It follows this pattern:

  1. There is a tactical or self-defense problem that actually exists e.g. pushed up against a wall with a knife at the throat.
  2. You have a workable solution to the problem.
  3. The person playing the threat comes up with another way to present the same problem such that the solution no longer works.
  4. You come up with a workable solution to the new presentation.
  5. Repeat steps 3&4. Possibly forever.

Within one or at most two repetitions, you will have a solution to a problem that never has and will never exist in the real world but is required for rank testing. It creates an excessive complexity that can make an entire system unworkable.

To be continued.


One thought on “Re-Thinking Resistance Part II – Rory Miller”

  1. I think a useful exercise would be to view specific examples of someone resisting, and then try to determine the resistence level as described by Rory.

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