Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Desired "product"

First, sorry for the long hiatus. Don't know if I'm going to be able and do this as often as I would like in the mid-term future, so you better cherish what you get :-)

As you know, if you have been tracking my last few posts, that is, one of my constant inquires that permeates all other aspect of training is the search for the ways to improve the training process and methodology. However, thing cannot be really improved if one has no idea of what the desired outcome is, so let me address this issue here.

Quite often, when discussing the training systems in combat arts, it is taken more or less for granted that the criteria for success is the effective and efficient application of the said system in pressure testing and ultimately a real life altercation. While there is nothing wrong essentially with such view, there seems to be an omission in the sense that the focus is somehow shifted, i.e. what is often forgotten is that the effectiveness of a system is always demonstrated (expressed, if you so prefer) by its practitioner. So with that in mind, whet would be the essential qualities you would like to develop in your trainees? Bear in mind, I am not asking about the character and physical traits you like to see in the potential students when the come for the first time - no, what do you hope to achieve with them after they undergo some training with you?

So, what we are dealing with here is the matter of having an end goal in mind, and then diagnosing the particular needs in each student, aiming to reach the overarching goal. Without further ado, I will get to the point - if we are trying to prepare someone to deal with the ever changing demands of a combative equation, probably the most valuable quality to look for is adaptability. Yeah, some of you might point out (and rightfully so) that it would also be a valuable characteristic of a fighting system itself, but honestly, the two go hand in hand, and personally I believe it is more important to have/cultivate adaptability as a personal trait, and have the training methodology and system of tools and tactics support it.

It would be hard to say this more succinctly than my friend Jon Escudero of LSAI did, so I will simply quote him: "My goal is to let the system run silently in the background. The student does what he does because it supports his intent and goal, not because it is obligated by the system".

That said, we can now approach the issue of how to develop that attribute in a practitioner. I believe there are two closely related avenues to follow in pursuing the goal:
1. weaponizing the body;
2. dynamizing the structure

When it comes to the former, weaponizing the body (sorry, but the term was already out there, and I just could not come up with a better one), it would entail awakening the student's awareness of the potential of using various body parts to achieve certain effect in combat, plus working to maximize that potential.
No, not like that!
Naturally, various fighting systems have different takes on what are the worthy considerations in this regard and how far to go in developing any of those perceived assets. Possibly the prevailing problem here is that the schools of thought tend to revolve around the particular body parts and techniques per se, instead of looking at the bigger picture and identifying how some of any of those tools fit the individual person training in the system. Therefore, we end up having grappling systems, striking systems etc, while it may be more productive to think of grappling/striking options. 

Like pointed, whatever the arsenal it cannot be put to any effective use without some sort of delivery structure, and since we are discussing close combat, it means the biomechanical structure of an exponent. Again, the term "good/proper/correct structure" has become almost overused, and it resulted in the focus being on the trainee looked at in know the "keep your head like this, your arms like that etc." approach. It then leads to having an image of THE correct structure in our head. But since our main concern is fighting another person (or more of them), they have to be taken into account. Without going into microscopic detail and countless examples, it suffices to say that one's structure (ideally) has to facilitate dealing with the force coming from the opposition as well as our own force production. See, it now looks more like a movie, not a still image!

To achieve that, our idea of structure should be of a dynamic and moving interrelation of all elements at hand, in any particular situation. It definitely should not be perceived as some "ideal" position... Namely, it most often actually means ideological, almost carved in stone, and how that helps adaptability?