Simple isn't easy

Simplicity. It's one of the most important perspectives in designing, understanding, or using a system in relation to assimilation and decision-making. However, just because something is seemingly simple, it's not always easy. In fact, the process of simplifying can take a specific body of knowledge, specialized skill sets, a great deal of effort and discipline in order to refine.

In self-protection and fighting, simplicity multiplied by high-performance output and precision is a critical mode of operating. But being mired in too many nonessential details – especially when it comes to decision-making – can not only cost you time, energy, efficiency and/or missed opportunities, it can cost you your life.

If you're trapped in the fog of complexity, reorient by simplifying (which usually requires a particular method). As the axiom goes, "keep it simple". That is, if the opportunity exists.

But what does "simple" even mean? 

"Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler." – Albert Einstein

Fundamentally speaking, simplicity is something that’s direct, free of complexity and easy to understand. It is no more and no less, it is all that it needs to be. (In this case, not to be confused with primitive or crude.) A design or system that's simple, however, can also be sophisticated (which is a good thing). The trait of being sophisticated, for the purpose of this article and replication, is about an informed refinement, performing at a high degree, but not complicated enough to falter decision-making.

Precise, sufficient, efficient, contains the least number of elements or interactions needed – It's what some might refer to as sophisticated simplicity, but we'll just refer to it as simplicity. 



From a 30,000ft perspective of training for self-protection and fighting, context has an important role and design of simplification. In fact, just by identifying a context you may automatically decrease complexity by narrowing in on circumstance. But take that with a grain of salt at the moment.

A contextual problem that calls for a particular solution, whether viewing the broad strokes or details, requires a specific action or skill/s to perform. With simplicity in mind, acquiring a practical skill should be accomplished by learning only what's needed (and validated) in the amount of steps and interactions to understand the objective and how to perform effectively and efficiently as long as it's connected to the whole or grand strategy. Anything beyond that would be superfluous, and anything that isn't truly interconnected is inefficient (sometimes ineffective). (This is relevant to the capacity of our mind and body; not to mention being done so without the end result of error or damage to yourself.)



The aim of effective training and application is not only about the context of use and action, but also involves constraining the number of alternatives needed to make a decision in the time necessary to execute for the desired outcome (see Hick's Law). 

This means that simplicity has purposeful constraint.

In various disciplines of design, the principle of constraint is a method used to purposely limit the elements and actions performed at a particular time in order to be efficient and effective with the least probability of error. This is implemented using both physical and psychological constraints not only based on human capability, but an informed understanding of a circumstance and what the interaction requires. Effective and efficient self-defense and combat also share this parallel.



In the process of a properly designed constraint, it makes the interaction of the design, system or method easier to learn and perform. With physical human movement, the amount of effort to acquire the ability to perform an action or skill is a related but separate experience then the ultimate execution of the learned action or skill – thus making the appearance of being simple or easy when in fact it took great effort to acquire. In other words, it may have taken a great deal of mental and physical work (i.e. education, training and validating) to enable us to perform something that's seemingly effortless. For some, the assimilation of knowledge and skill may be relatively faster or slower depending on our natural abilities.

Simplicity and time both have a related role that factors into in the design of performance. When a design or execution contains less elements and can be implemented in less time, there's now more time available to put effort toward improvement. Adding more elements should only be done if the level of benefit positively influences a greater overall level of performance.

"Entities should not be multiplied without necessity." – William Ockham

Additionally, when something is said to be simple and effective, it doesn't always mean that it's an effective or viable solution for all problems unless otherwise validated. While simplicity can cut through the clutter and marginalize certain opposing or competing actions or factors, it may simply just take care of what's needed for a particular problem you're trying to solve.

Combine too many elements at the same time or overall, you can quickly become overwhelmed with complexity. Conversely, if you incorporate too few necessary elements, you may not achieve your objective. 

See? It's simple. 

So, what's the point? Well, beyond the view that simplicity isn't always easy, it's this: a design, system, or strategic endeavor that contains an efficient number of interrelated elements and performed with strategic intent will increase ability and dynamic output (both mentally and physically) in less time. In the context of, say, identifying particular interactions within a combat flow of weaponry (or empty-hands) during a fight, using the above perspective for acquiring skill and essential attributes, your mind will be able process faster which allows for faster identification of critical factors and interactions, faster decision-making within a feedback-loop, and faster initiation. 

It's about context, mental acuity, sufficient physical capacity and dynamic output in less time. Who doesn't want that?