A recent text exchange got me thinking about “interdisciplining.”

A friend wrote of the joy in tearing ourselves down only to build back up again each day, day by day, especially in the company of like-minded souls.

It is a joy, but it’s also a lot of work.

It’s one thing to hone a singular craft to a high level of skill; its another to forge multiple disciplines into a single craft, to move toward integration so that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. When practicing so that shooting (hand gun and long gun) intersects with hand-to-hand combatives intersects with contact weapons which then returns to the intersection of firearms and combatives (hand-to-handgun if you will; and contact long gun), we are engaging in a process of development and destruction building up tactics, techniques and procedures only to then pare them down to the essentials shared across all of these methodologies.

To say nothing of the other skills needed: threat assessment, tactical communication,criminal and civil liability and decision making, post-engagement resolution, searching and clearing skills, medical management…

This is the true meaning of a comprehensive fighting system, or what we could call interdisciplinarity.

So its clear where the work comes in.

I’ve even found that having some insight into the histories and traditions foundational to modern practice can be useful. They can, some of them, offer insight that enhances our work across current disciplines when considered in the proper context. Rather than dismissing these traditions, especially when ignorant of variable contexts, we can glean what may be useful when the appropriate end state is understood deeply.

Which is again, a lot of work.

With another friend, and mentor, in a different strain of practice noted that he was working with firearms and trying to find his way to doing things in a way that did not conflict with what he has, over many years, already patterned his body to do.

This is an important point, often missed. We can do too much, or too many things, and end up with conflicting platforms. Or at least ones which don’t go together very well. The various disciplines which make up Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), for example, have over time morphed to serve the end goal – success in MMA. There has been a change in organization, stance, tactics, and techniques to fit the environment in which MMA is used. You don’t see pure Judo, jiujitsu, boxing or Thai Boxing in the “cage,” you see a version of those things adapted and changed and combined to meet the demands of the environment. Some groups even morph their practice specifically to serve the end state of MMA competition.

Combatives, and self defense, are no different.

And yet, many practitioners are under the belief that if one “simply” practices firearms, jiujitsu, and (insert knife and stick art here), one is practicing an comprehensive discipline for the end state of practical defensive application. This isn’t true.

That’s just the beginning of the work, the deep work, at least. In the latter we find the commonalities between how we shoot, how we strike, how we stab, and how we “roll,” and we must start to pare off the things we don’t do. In the end, there should actually be less to practice, at least technically. But it will go far deeper in a different direction.


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