Training the Use-of-Arms Professional: Effect - Not Display
Part Two of Two - Comportment
Hunter B. Armstrong

In the first part of "Training the Use-of-Arms Professional: Effect - Not Display: Performance Characteristics," the topic dealt with the need to develop performance capabilities that are functionally effective . While that portion concentrated on the performance side of combative behavior and performance, it did touch upon the behavioral concepts of display both in demeanor and action. The bottom line of that discussion was that most forms of display are anathema to the use-of-arms professional. This is not to say that the professional shuns the display that designates or symbolize his profession or his link and connection to the group to which he belongs. However, the professional does avoid the display that attempts to proclaim his capability (real or self-perceived), or even his practice of professional skills. In this portion, we'll see that comportment deals very closely with display.

Here again it is important to distinguish between the use-of-arms professional and the amateur. Not in reference to occupation, the single biggest difference between professional and amateur is in the end goal or function of their pursuit of combative capability. In this regard, it is pertinent to quote Donn Draeger's remarks about the distinction between bujutsu and budo. Here, training in bujutsu represents the pursuit of the professional and budo the pursuit of the amateur:

So, there are two differences: Bujutsu is solidarity, not the individual... not self-protection... not for myself. Budo is not combat... but spiritual cultivation for myself... not the group (Donn Draeger - Bujutsu and Budo, pg. 8.).

The warrior arts were/are "designed for group protection through emphasis on fighting skills and concern for combat results." They were/are not designed for "self-perfection." The simple difference here is one between group and self. The professional ultimately is not developing capabilities for his own individualistic or ego driven ends, but for the sake of the group. In the era of the classical Japanese battlefield warrior, the “group" might have been his clan or whatever group entity to which he had pledged himself. Parallels can be found with martial cultures in virtually all parts of the globe, from the Mongols to the Apache, from the Zulu to the Vikings. In the industrialized world, the professional will likely find his strongest loyalty to the group entity with which he is professionally active. This is the unit upon which his survival is based and/or within which his functionality operates. In the military, the group might be a squad or platoon unit; likewise in law enforcement it could be whatever team or group within which the law enforcement officer's survival is based. For those not in such occupations, the group is probably less clearly defined, and perhaps not consciously realized by the individual, but is there at least at a sub-conscious level. The lone professional who works only for, by, and of himself exists only in fiction.

In its most idealistic form this group orientation is societal. The warrior's and the professional's ultimate responsibility was/is to the society at large. Here is the basis of the European code of chivalry, Japanese bushido, modern law enforcement's "to serve and protect," and the code behind which our military operates. This is at least part of the foundation of the professional's comportment.

Perhaps the best description of the professional's comportment is "unassuming awareness." Unassuming refers to an outwardly presentation of posture/movement that neither draws attention for its bravado (swaggering, for example), nor for its meekness (eyes averted, shoulders slumped). As in combative action, non-display is the driving factor. The professional should present neither a boast of capability nor an offer as a target for assault.

Inseparable from "unassuming," and even more important is "awareness," or more realistically, "dominating awareness." This is an active awareness that allows the professional to not only be aware of possibilities, but also able to act in a manner that dominates or even preempts the possibilities. In a well known classical Japanese battlefield tradition there is the admonition:

...unpreparedness is an enemy that shouldn't be forgotten in day-to-day activities.
... continually maintaining a six-foot space while walking; one's decisive actions when passing a [corner of a] building; in these the constant mind is not forgotten.

This awareness at first glimpse might seem similar to the color zones of alertness utilized by the Marine Corps and popularized by Jeff Cooper of handgun shooting fame. However, the color codes are more a reactive type of awareness. The classical warrior's and modern professional's awareness is an active and intuitive one gained through training and experience as versus a conscious and analytical alertness. It is a dominating awareness that is capable of preempting and forestalling as versus reacting and defending. This awareness is the intuitive ability of knowing when to be ambient and when to go focal, of when to act and when to avoid. And here is the obvious, intrinsic link to posture/movement, to comportment.

Comportment is the enabler of dominating awareness. For example, the posture-and-movement of swaggering is a self-absorbed activity. Even subconsciously done, such a display is the outward manifestation of a mind inhibited by its interest in what others think, rather than open to objective observation of what's going on around it. Often connected to the swagger is "challenging" eye contact, as the swaggerer looks to see the reaction of others - "are you lookin' at me?". This is a focal activity that only further limits objective observation.

The other side of the coin is the "mugger's target" - the individual who walks in a slouch, shoulders slumped, cowering, eyes averted or downcast. Where the swagger challenges, the cower invites attack. In place of challenging eye contact, eye contact is avoided, yet still is not used for gathering information. The posture as well doesn't challenge or boast, yet is equally dysfunctional in its invitation to assault as well as its lack readiness for either flight or fight.

The professional's comportment is upright, fluid, and aware, presenting neither dare nor weakness, neither ability nor weakness. The posture is one that provides a foundation for action or avoidance of action. Vision is ambient, looking and seeing without challenging or inviting. In a sense, comportment is the foundation of professionalism. Ultimately, comportment represents the professional's combative capability before, during, and after the fighting.

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