Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Take it slow

It isn’t really a novelty by any means that the need to do some training at real time speed and with increased pressure has becoming emphasized more and more over the past few years, in the martial art circles. As the matter of fact, yours truly had already written about it. Yet, in the Russian Martial Art circles, particularly various Systema styles and schools, this approach is relatively fresh, and some practitioners have even suddenly started dismissing the slow paced training altogether. Well, to fix something it does not simply suffice doing the opposite thing.

Of course there is a time and place for the slow training! When one tries to figure out which approach to training is better, it can only be done in relation to the function and the desired outcome of the training session(s). That said, let us make an important distinction here…

Just like many other activities that entail performance of a complex set of motor actions (not to mention the tactical aspect), the training process essentially boils down to two segments:
1.     Learning
2.     Practicing

The former category is impossible without the heavy engagement of the cognitive apparatus, i.e. the process is highly analytical, hence requiring time to be done properly. If at issue is a completely new skill, unrelated to the previously acquired ones, in this phase the practitioner may end up a training session without even breaking sweat, but feeling certain mental saturation instead. 

As we all know, learning a skill properly from the get go is important because the mistakes are much harder to correct if already “ingrained”, which only reiterates the necessity for the slow and methodical approach at the learning stage.

However, I feel it is very important to not dwell in the slow stage for too long. Namely, a number of people may enjoy staying there longer because it enables the sense of accomplishment to really sink in, but down the line it just delays the frustration that only seems to escalate once you try to things in the “real time” and under pressure – all of a sudden the skill you thought you had mastered seems inadequate again. It is only natural and requires simply practicing it now, under these new conditions, but no… Quite a lot of practitioners (and sadly, their coaches/instructors) will resort back to the slow practice, believing that it will somehow magically “translate” into performance under in different circumstances. I am sorry to break it to you, but it does not work that way.
Duke it out!
In the Filipino martial arts there is a saying that “slow is smooth, smooth is fast” but the later part is only true if actually done fast. The bottom line is, both slow and fast approaches have their place in training, ideally, in a way that would enable them to complement each other and thus improve the overall results.

Naturally, there is a process in bringing things up to speed, including the methods of reducing the number of factors to deal with in training, many kinds of drills, gradual increase in resistance and speed etc, and this is the time to sweat it out. Those, nevertheless, are not the subject of this post, and some have been touched upon already in this blog, some others will be in the future. Just make sure to keep the goal in mind while enjoying the process.

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