Friday, January 31, 2014

What's in a method?

Huh, this was a longer hiatus that I thought it would…but, let me then use this post to tackle/some up with on of my earlier promises, i.e. discuss some of the features of what I would consider a good training methodology.

Basically, whatever the technical contents of your style/system, it can be approached in various ways during the training process, but essentially any of those approaches boils down to striving for one of two possible goals – effectiveness and efficiency. Please keep in mind that we are talking a continuum here, not an mutually exclusive either/or paradigm here.

What is considered effective (or functional) depends on the desired goal and outcome of your training, but if we limit ourselves here to the combative equation, it means disposing of the threat as quickly as possible, while keeping ourselves as unscathed as possible (and that may include the legal aftermath and other pertinent circumstances). From that perspective, this segment of one’s training focuses on the OTHER – in other words, a potential observer/witness should note what happened to the bad guy. You are training in order to fight them, not to be one, right?
Working on the other
Efficiency, on the other hand, has to do with the effects of the trainees’ actions on themselves, and may take any of the number of possible criteria into account (energy expenditure; time expenditure; exposure to the possibility of injury, be it self inflicted or courtesy of the opponent/enemy; etc). The bottom line, however, is that in this portion of one’s training the concern is with the SELF, and it has nothing to do with the meditation, spiritual uplifting and similar stuff. Again, from the perspective of the above mentioned observer, a high level of efficiency in the good guy makes his action look effortless. 

Working on the self

In some respects, the distinction of training for effectiveness and efficiency may resemble the dichotomy of self-preservation/self-perfection, that is popular in some circles. Actually, to a degree they do imply same things, but it is worth noting that the term self-preservation may be taken as synonymous with efficiency when relating to training in a manner that preserves one’s body from accumulated problems when training only for the effectiveness. So, we see that depending on the level of training we are analyzing, same terms could be applied to different things and vice versa.

Now, it is probably common sense that a well designed methodology should encompass both avenues in training (but funny how easy it is for may people to lose sight of that), and making sure they are supportive of each other. That said, in my experience the attempt to stress both facets at the same time does not seem to yield best results. Instead, the “pendulum” model is probably more appropriate – alternating the cycles of heavily emphasized effectiveness training with those of heavily emphasized efficiency approach. On top of that, when going back to the previous segment, it should be taken to the higher level in training.

Something like this 
Sure, there is always the question of the duration of each block/cycle, but I am afraid nobody can give you an exact response… Some answers are just best found on your own, pay attention to what you do and what kind of results do you achieve. Do not be afraid to try new things, tweak old ones, discard those that are unproductive (but be realistic and not jump to conclusions).

Remember, any kind of training is a process, not a product, so handle it accordingly!