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. The process of simplifying with purpose takes 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. 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 can 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. By identifying and defining a context, you can immediately decrease overall complexity by focusing in on a particular circumstance (but take that with a grain of salt at the moment).

A contextual problem that calls for a particular solution (and grounding), whether viewing the broad strokes or details, requires specific actions or skills to perform. With simplicity in mind, acquiring 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 (and 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. Many times, athletic movement requires a great deal of mental and physical work to develop the skills that enable us to perform at high levels, yet may have the appearance of being easy when in fact it took great effort to acquire. 

For some, the assimilation of knowledge or skills through study and experience may be relatively faster or slower depending on our natural abilities in addition to the quality of input.

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 the process of simplification can cut through the clutter and render certain opposing or competing actions and factors unecessary, the designed solution may simply just take care of what's needed for a particular problem that 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? Simple. 

So, what's the point? Well, beyond the view that simplicity isn't always easy, it's this: to perform more decisively and purposely at a faster rate in less time with better results. An effective design, process, or system that contains an efficient number of interrelated elements and performed with strategic intent will produce a more desirable output.

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?