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One must still have chaos in oneself to be able to give birth to a dancing star. -Nietzsche

  October 21, 2016

Fighting Language

Fighting is an exchange of language transformed to physical interaction We fight because it's the only real sport. Children should throw balls around to practice their dexterity and simulate competition, but that's silly for adults to do, and watching is worse still. We are meant to punch, kick, strangle, and mangle -- and need to spar to fulfill this need.

The moves we use to fight betray an underlying language and logic. You have to begin somewhere to express a thought or attack an opponent. Novices have only a few isolated ideas, like a child yelling out a solitary noun or verb. Other words are needed to express a more complete thought, just as well chosen moves in succession exploit opportunities to apply an effective attack.

When on defense, you attempt to disrupt a completed sequence, as if turning a prospective sentence into senseless fragments, essentially reinventing Twitter or texting.

As in a sentence, only certain words connect, and usually must do so in a specific way and context. Rules and exceptions initially guide, until later awareness of their principles allow flexibility to gamble or chose an unconventional approach based on honed knowledge of the specific situation, just as grammar has a formal usage and stylistic choices that are technically wrong, yet can be better suited for communication.

When sparring, you need vocabulary, which consists of known moves you can adequately perform with some sense of their relation to other moves you know. Just as you can speak a language imperfectly and still be understandable, sufficiency is typically the measure for usage, not perfection.

A child progresses from primitive communication like a fighter who begins with just a few moves and short connecting chains. Initial defense is limited because skilled attacks arrive incomprehensibly, as if by magic, without ability to process their elements and no notion of how they would be stopped.

Gradually you gain vocabulary and fluidity, first repeating what you've experienced before, then poetically creating your own paths from this new vocabulary, gradually integrating subtle nuance, and eventually fluent enough to skillfully improvise, both tossing out unplanned concepts at your opponent and developing attacks and defenses based on what you read from their response and a sense of where the interaction could go.

Just as we diffuse potential conflict with words, when it's time to fight, we communicate through a rich language of strikes, holds, and positions. It's always good to know how to say it well.

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