Writer's Block/Expressing a concept
I have a question I hope you can help me with or point me in some directions that might help. My writing impasse is not fiction, it is non-fiction/instructional type text.
I am writing something which is partially conceptual in nature. Conceptual in that it is more of an idea to be applied broadly and abstracted, if need be, rather than an "ABC" or "123" template. It has to do with self defense and how any single movement, which might be understood to be perhaps a block or a strike, could be abstracted or interpreted for many other applications. I am finding it difficult to express it in writing and am looking for input on not to have it done for me but to give me a nudge in the right direction and a "jumping off" place so I can express it in my own words. So, I guess my question is just what are your thoughts on that and and what "nudges" you might have for me. Thank you in advance for your thoughts!
Hi Robert, this is a good question. I'll do my best to answer it.
What you are describing is a complicated concept, and one that is not easily taught to beginner students. The first thing that I would advice that I would give is that sometimes, especially in the case of advanced concepts, it takes a while to explain the concept clearly. There won't always be an "easy" way of saying it.
With my own martial arts students I explain this concept in terms of "set-up points" or "convergence points". The points aren't necessarily a fixed form or position, but rather are a fluid point at which one technique or movement can turn into another. This explanation, coulpled with some exercises and asking them to give me examples is usually enough to make sure that they get it. But, I don't introduce these concepts until after the first year when they've developed a good foundational skillset as those techniques will be the basis for understanding the dynamic change in movement.
As for explaining these concepts in written form, it's best to start by explaining some basic moves first (consider including photos or illustrations to help with your point). One example that I might give, I would explain an Inside Defense against a straight punch (Karate calls it a Middle Palm Block). As the attacker throws a punch directly toward your face, make your hand flat and move your hand in front of their fist and angle your hand so that the attacker's punch is deflected off of your hand, like a ramp. It's not a push, or a swat. You're literally building a ramp with your hands. Now, to explain how I might use this fluid concept, suppose that I've decided that I've been defendeing myself too much and I want to go on the offensive and counter-attack; I might start with the same Inside Defense, but once the attacker's hand is safely deflected I might close my fist, and slide my arm up over the top of his delivering a counter-punch to his face. That same initial motion of extending my hand can be left alone, or it could morph into an attack in its own right.
Another example I might give is to describe a Rising Block (this is part our 360 Defense). If an attacker is making an overhead swing, with a stick, or a knife, or a closed fist, or whatever, I can use the Rising Block to stop the attack. But, if I use the same arm as my attacker (he uses his right, I'm blocking with my right), then I can continue that upward motion of the arm, add in some directional movement with my feet and turn that block into a takedown.
The biggest challenge that you will face here is not knowing how much your readers really understand about the mechanics of the body and the strategies and techniques for self defense. Someone who reads what you write who has a black belt in some style will have enough foundational knowledge to follow along. A person off the street with no experience might not. The key to ensuring that the person off the street can follow your concepts is context. They need to understand the context, so specific examples might help. Even with my own martial arts students I constantly remind that them there's a reason we learn so many different weapon disarms, so many different blocks, so many different throws. There's never a "default" response to any situation. Sometimes the environment itself might dictate how you respond or what you can do. Sometimes there's a crowd of bystanders. Maybe one of your friends is drunk and upset and you need to stop them but not hurt them, a different level of force would be required. Everything is contextual. Don't be a afraid to spend a couple of pages or even a chapter explaining the concept. But, definitely give examples.
I hope this helps!