Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Martial Arts doesn't teach Self-Defense

In response to this article:


Firstly, Martial Arts in this article will be used to reference specific styles like Karate, Taekwondo, Judo, etc.

Martial Arts has been created to have a self-defense focus plus much more: internal peace, physical strength, mental growth, and awareness internally and externally. 

However, generations down Martial Arts has become watered down or have more of a sports perspective.  Let’s analyze this.

Watered Down

Why?  Because there are not enough Instructors who know how to teach beyond the basics or who can teach beyond the basics.  What we forget is that no matter the style, everything before Black Belt is simply memorizing technique.  It is after Black Belt that one learns to teach, apply, be aware, and understand the nuances behind techniques and how they interrelate.  Martial Arts is more about awareness, but if you stop before you can even begin to understand this lesson then the concept of self-defense will not be understood. 

When your teachings come from a student who has yet to achieve a Black Belt then you will always miss a component of your training because that Instructor is still learning to memorize techniques. 

When an Instructor stops his/her learning then what is passed down is cut down further.

End result:  Instructors thinking they know Martial Arts when really there is far greater learning to be achieved.  Students thinking they are learning Martial Arts and can protect themselves when really they are just scratching the surface.

 Sports Martial Arts versus Martial Arts
Sports Martial Arts has become popular through Olympic desire, movies, the desire of competition or by watching UFC/MMA.  However, sports martial arts focuses on simply that-competition.  It is a different caliber of training for the purposes of one end goal to win a match under specific guidelines/rules, etc.  Under that pretense, it is not comparable to a self-defense situation and it should never be promoted to advocate for being a form of self-defense.   

 The article:

Where do I agree and where do I disagree.  I agree that more often than not, I too see a misconception of reality in the Martial Arts arena.  There is something called situational reality and then there is reality.  When we learn just techniques or sport martial arts, post videos of self-defense situations is promoting a false image and a false sense of strength and ability to protect oneself.  Why, because it is situational.   Self-defense involves prevention and immediate techniques to distract and escape.                           

 However Martial Arts, when not watered down, can provide a sense of empowerment and one can learn self-defense when taught and learned correctly.  More importantly, patience is required.

 What can you do as a student?
When learning, ask yourself:  Why are you in specific positions or doing specific techniques?  How would it apply in a self-defense situation? Could it apply in a situation that you can visualize?  Is there something missing in your training-if you are seeking more, then you are probably needing more.

What can you do as an Instructor?
 Have you continued your training?  Can you adapt to every student’s needs?  Do you see the art or the sport as your primarily goal and henceforth how do you promote your style?  Would you use the same techniques in a self-defense situation?

In Summary:

If techniques are the only thing you learn, the concept gained is a false representation that you can defend yourself. Sadly, this is the accepted ideology. Techniques need to be repeated that is how self-defense comes about. Confidence comes in awareness, awareness comes in repetition, repetition comes in years of training.

Learn the truth, teach the truth, and embrace the truth.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

My training is stagnant....I have reached a plateau

Feeling stagnant in your training is normal.  There is always a moment where one feels
  • "Why am I not testing?"
  • "Am I testing too fast?"
  •  "Why can’t I get someone in a certain position?"
  • " Why is that person learning it faster than me?"
  • And so much more...

The joy of Martial Arts is that we are learning as a team and as an individual.  Your team consists of the various partners that help you train each day.  However, they are not your competition, you are your own competition. 

Your lineage of Grand Masters, Master, and Instructors and the curricula behind their training is very important to your understanding and growth in the Martial Arts.   When you feel stagnant, it is your Instructor and the knowledge of the curricula that helps you “climb the mountain” so to speak. 

When you feel stagnant, do not compare yourself to others.   Do better than your personal achievements from today, tomorrow.  Today you did 10 push-ups tomorrow you will do 15.  Today you maintained the top position for 10 seconds tomorrow it will be 30 seconds.  Today John got you in a choke, tomorrow he will not.  Today you kicked waist level, tomorrow you will kick an inch higher.  Set realistic small goals for yourself and seek to achieve them in realistic time frames.  Recognize those milestones in yourself.  Your teammates become your cheering crew!
You have a team and you have your personal growth.   

Lastly, the most important thing to remember when you feel your training is stagnant:
 Believe in yourself and in your training.  If you lose that, you will feel incompetence in the effectiveness of what is taught.  When you believe in yourself 100% and what you have been taught, then stagnation will improve.

Remember learning is an ongoing process.  It never ends.  A Black Belt is not when training stops.  Those who do stop learning at Black Belt do not understand that the growth/the evolving begins at Black Belt and therefore cannot help you evolve for they have not evolved.  Remember, Martial Arts is as much a mental growth as it is a physical growth.

Keep moving forward.  Keep believing in you.  Keep growing.

Black Belt-Where The Learning Begins

Seminars versus Curricula

Learning martial arts does not start with techniques.  Learning martial arts begins with learning respect.  Learning martial arts begins with building a foundation, building strength, and learning the basics.  That is how one evolves their training.

Children and adults learn very differently.  Children are like sponges, they soak it all in and just perform.  Adults take their time, ask questions, etc.  Let's use a candy bar to give a visual representation of how adults versus children learn.  If you hand a candy bar to a child, they just eat it.  If you hand a candy bar to an adult, they read the ingredients, wonder about the calories, the sugar, if they should/should not eat it, etc...

How does this relate to my topic of Seminars vs. Curricula?

If adults ask so many questions in one class, exactly what can be retained in a 1 to 2 hour seminar?

Let's take a 2 hours seminar and break it down.

10 minutes:  Introduction
15-30 minutes:  explain and practice technique #1
15-30 minutes:  explain and practice technique #2 (usually techniques relate)
15-30 minutes:  explain and practice technique #3 (usually techniques relate)

If no time is left, last bit of the seminar is to spar.

If time is left,

15-30 minutes:  explain and practice technique #4 (usually techniques relate)
15-30 minutes:  explain and practice technique #5 (usually techniques relate)

After this point, depending on the dynamic of the participants, another technique may be taught or sparring rounds will begin.  What happens to the questions?  Some may be answered but not all.  How much will be remembered and how about all the details.  Maybe 1 or 2 techniques, sometimes 3?

Now, some may video record the seminar, if allowed.  Others may hand-write notes.  But, the understanding and perfection of a technique requires repetition under an Instructor who is present to consistently correct.  Why?

As adults,

1.  We have questions....
2.  Techniques evolve based on your opponent and what they are giving.   IE:  is the kick low or high, is the top position low or high, is the wrist grab downward, sideways, or upward?

With #1 and #2, where do we go to ask our questions if the techniques are learned at a seminar?

Why do we go to seminars?  Because we keep seeking to grow and learn.  We need and desire more to expand our knowledge and that is AWESOME!  But, we also need guidance-this is how curricula differs.

Curricula allows for a foundation in learning.  Curricula has continuity- there is always more information to help a student grow.  How?  Curricula has already been developed to address the needs of beginner students, intermediate students, advanced students, Instructors, and Masters.

Seminars are not needed when curricula is present, because everything that is needed and desired is in the curricula.  Plus, it addresses questions and individual student needs.  A class will not teach 4-5 techniques.  A class will incorporate trusting each other, respecting each other, creating a safe environment, building strength, and learning 1 to 2 techniques such that you understand them.  If it needs to be repeated, so be it, repeat it-this is how one learns, but the point being, it must be learned through the guidance of an Instructor who has also gone through the curricula at its highest levels.

In Life and in Martial Arts:

Remember, if you choose to cut the paths to reach the destination, the growth is NOT 100%

When you take the time to repeat what you learn multiple times, grow stronger, and learn with patience the growth is not 100%   it is 110%

Practice does not make perfect.  Perfect and patient practice makes perfect.