Sunday, May 14, 2017

Attempted Brain Dredge

Sometimes I hate not thinking in words. Usually it's a superpower. But right now I'm struggling to explain something that I see as...gestalt is the best word I can come up with. Stayed up all last night trying to find the words. Sometimes words would bubble up and I can explain a piece of it, but sometimes the words open another tangent that's relevant.

Roughly, meaning is important. Syntax is the effective ordering of symbols to deliver meaning. Grammar is an attempt to codify syntax to make it both easier to deliver meaning and easier to detect sloppy syntax. Until grammar becomes it's own thing.

Roughly, fighting is to have an effect to serve the goal. The principles (leverage, structure, etc.) and building blocks (power generation, strikes, takedowns etc.) are the means to achieve that goal. "Form" is an attempt to codify the principles and building blocks. Both to make fighting easier to teach and to make it more efficient. And it works, until form becomes it's own thing separate from effect.

Good grammar is never wrong, exactly. And it's never wrong to punch with good form. This is (sort of) axiomatic because because good form is supposed to be what a punch with perfect body mechanics looks like.

This is where I hit the wall. It's an image, partially visual, mostly kinesthetic in my head, but the words that surface are a mess:

Communication can happen with absolutely no proper grammar or syntax-- Think comforting an infant. And fighters can be devastating even with no recognizable form and shitty body mechanics. A 2x4 upside the head doesn't need a lot of skill. But that in no way means you should eschew skill. A 2x4 plus good body mechanics is better than a 2x4 with shitty body mechanics.

It doesn't hurt to comfort an infant using grammatically correct phrases, unless your focus on being grammatically correct makes your language stilted and unnatural. Then the kid will get weirded out. It doesn't hurt to fight with good form, because good form is just good body mechanics. Unless you are so focused on doing things "right" that your movements become stilted and unnatural and you get your ass kicked.

A focus on form, whether in grammar or fighting, can cover up a lot of ignorance. If I can't refute your arguments, I can make fun of your spelling. If I don't have any real understanding of how the human body works, I can focus on form the way I memorized it-- knowledge memorized substituting for understanding. With understanding, I can teach you to hit harder, with knowledge I can teach you to look like my sensei did when he was hitting hard.

When form/grammar become it's own thing. This is looking like a universal. Grammatically correct nonsense is still nonsense. Punching air while looking right is still punching air. We create these systems to make things better, to make a specific goal easier to accomplish. Whether that goal is conveying information or knocking someone down. But in almost every case, certain people are drawn to become masters and keepers of the system, and to them, the system becomes the goal itself. Has there ever been a piece of great literature that was grammatically perfect? I'm sure Shakespeare had someone correcting his grammar. In fighting and SD, these are the couch sitters that will tell you you survived wrong.  Universal-- I'm thinking of ways that bureaucracies originally designed to solve problems become self-perpetuating machines, sometimes at great cost. Cough*Rotherham*Cough.

And that's even assuming the form is based on what we think it is. Kicking with the instep is less likely to injure your target and more likely to injure you than kicking with your shin... but it makes a slapping noise that is much harder for a referee to ignore. "Ain't" was a forbidden word in my grade school. Not because it was unclear, but because our teachers wanted us to sound like s specific socio-economic class.


Kai Jones said...

It's a tool. Don't elevate the tool over its usefulness.

Unknown said...

I had a multi paragraph rant... Which was better summarised as:

Form *follows* function, stupid.

Danny Martin said...

I think perhaps I understand what you are driving at, at least in the contexts you have described. That being said, a good test of principles universality is to try and find a scenario in which it DOESN'T apply. Think not on bureaucratic systems, but on, mostly mythical, pure political systems. There are very few such systems, if any, but think on the origins of many of our modern political systems. A great deal of what we do in political systems is ABOUT following the form of the system because, rather than SOLVING a problem, a lot of politics is about an ALTERNATIVE to a problem, that is MASSIVE violence.

To address some of the other points you made, I believe that one possible reason for your noticed principle of the universality of systems causing a breakdown in function when the form or system becomes more important than the overall goal it was originally designed to solve, is the idea of human adaptability. Specifically, humans are mostly pattern recognition machines that are infinitely programmable, BUT the "programming" in this case is stress. People adapt more and become more goal oriented under pressure. Limit that pressure, as is the needed environment for training, and people who never go beyond that training will believe that the training is all the growth and adaptation that they need to do.

Josh K. said...

The english language is very good at conveying liner think. But not so good at conveying multilevel probkems with differeng causal relationships.

You said it yourself you "It's an image, partially visual, mostly kinesthetic in my head, but the words that surface are a mess:..."

Maybe a change of language is need? There are several
Good visual languages out there like mind mapping and system diagraming with system archetypes.

Just a thought

Josh K. said...

This what I have come up with on the question brought up to in the post.

If the goal we are trying achieve is quantifiable and seperate from what ever means we are using to achieve the goal. We can test by to see if our means are effective at achieving our goals or ends.

When the means itself becomes the goal or ends then we can loose our means of quantifying what constitutes sucess.

That is even if you are aware of the goals changing or you thinking you are doing something for one reason but your actions are benefitting an subconscious goal.

We humans seem quite adapt at self-delusion.