Cryptography, Competition, Wrestling

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January 28, 2012 by David Gillaspie

When a fastball is not so fast on purpose.

Andy Pettittie, hiding the ball

Why do NFL coaches talk behind a clipboard on the sidelines?

Why do pitchers hide the ball in their baseball gloves until the last second?

Why does a basketball player whip a no-look pass?

Because they know how to keep their intentions secret.

Sean Payton, Saints. Courtesy

Maybe a lip reader watches a coach giving information to the field, talks to his spotter through a collar-mic, who relays it to the booth.

Pretty tricky stuff, and a little sinister, and very NFL.

You might guess a baseball pitcher hides the ball in his glove to give it an extra scuff with hidden sandpaper. Or maybe he has dry-mouth and wants to work up a good gob to hack on it before firing it over the plate.

More likely, he doesn’t want hitters with 20/10 vision to see his grip on the ball. People say baseball is too slow for the modern, fast paced, world. Those people are not baseball players. A 100mph heater is not too slow. The quick recognition of a pitch is not too slow.

A pitcher hides his grip on the ball to keep an element of surprise. Everyone knows where the ball is going, but not how it’ll look when it gets there. They guy on the mound wants to keep it that way until the last second.

A shifty player on the basketball court has no mitt and a huge ball. What can they hide? No much, but they can hide where the ball goes if they have teammates ready to catch their behind-the-back pass, their pass to the left while they’re looking right. They shield the ball with their body while waiting for the right moment.

What does a wrestler do? No ball. No mitt. No clipboard.

They use cryptography. They hide their actions better than Paul Kocher hiding information from a Chinese hacker.

Cael Sanderson, courtesey

You can stand in front of a good wrestler who points to the leg he will shoot on, and even knowing what he’s going to do, not be able to defend against it.

They trance you.

With no goal except putting another person on the ground, not throwing a ball through a hoop, a good wrestler changes your balance and stance, then takes your leg. You know he’s going to do it. He told you as much. Then he does it.

What if high-tech cryptography worked the same way? Bait the hacker into their comfort zone, let them commit, then crush them. No smoke and mirrors, just good wrestling sense.

Forward this to Washington, D.C.:

Show a standard front (target) with a regular defense. Maybe show unexpected vulnerability. The seasoned hacker knows to beat the first fake (firewall) and moves on. The movement they make next gives them away, shows their intentions. From there on, guide the hacker to their goal through security breaches until they find what you want them to find.

In wrestling, the opponent wants to get into their comfort zone and away from yours. If you’re comfortable in the same place they are, you’ll get there first. It’s called an ‘edge.’

When you find their defense exposed, and they think they’re not, match over. There’s nothing more demoralizing than executing the last move while the other guy thinks their end-game is close.

It’s not a Hail Mary prayer to the end zone, a knuckle ball floating around, or a half court heave to the basket. It is a calculated series of events where your opponent helps defeat themselves.

You’ll know it worked when the ref raises your hand and you hear your opponent say to himself, “I should have seen that coming.”


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