Sunday, August 28, 2016

What's your type?

Since the previous post I have had some interesting learning opportunities and one of the best was a few days spent in training Skobar (more on skobar itself at a later date) with Dima Khakimov from St. Petersburg in Russia. While it was not my first time attending Dima’s seminars, this particular was organized differently so we had much more time to discuss all things martial and other subjects. One of those conversations touched upon a certain video, and that in turn raised a question within me.

How do you prevent good models of thinking and training from yielding bad results? It dovetails with something I wrote about before, but I would say on more of a meta-level of sorts. Namely, Dima mentioned an episode of a TV show he watched back home, in which one of the hosts is an experienced Thai and kickboxing coach asked to spar a bit with an instructor of a traditional style, white crane karate more specifically. Instead of telling about it, take a look for yourself, starting at 16:58, and see how it ends.

Again, the question that came up was how do we deal with stereotypes in martial arts? It is easy (and often correct) criticizing many of the traditional schools and systems for being dogmatic and hermetic in what they do, thus failing to grow with and adapt to the times. Yet, it is not an inclination endemic to the traditional styles. Do you remember the time when high kicks were deemed undoable and downright harmful for the kicker in MMA? And them Maurice Smith appeared… How about spinning backfists before Shonie Carter? Or spinning back kicks before GSP…you get the point.

While this certainly is not the case of dogmatic blindness, it certainly qualifies as stereotype. My readers know that to me the training methodology is more important than individual techniques practiced within a school, but it is possible that sometimes we don’t even consider putting certain techniques through whatever the adopted methodology, due to our stereotypical views of what will or won’t work in a fight. I guess it is the occurrence of semantic shift from “low percentage” to “impossible”. Yet, those two are not the same, are they? Plus, as good as the training methodology of most MMA schools is, some techniques are never practiced simply because they are banned in an MMA fight by the rules of such encounters.

Granted, there is a lot of moves and techniques in the traditional systems that cannot work against a resisting opponent THE WAY they are done in those schools – but, take those same techniques and train them THE WAY it is done in MMA and you might be surprised with the outcome. I experienced it first hand, too. Once I grappled an advanced aikido practitioner and basically toyed with him, so he gave me the rant about eye gouging and biting etc. We then went through another round, but with all those allowed for him. Again, the result was pretty much the same, as he had neither the attributes nor the understanding of fight dynamics (positioning, distance and so on) to apply those tools. On the other hand, in sparring other guys, experienced in modern sport training methods, there was more than one instance when I was able to take them by surprise because I used some of those “dirty” or “street” tactics.

So, where does it put us? I guess some moves will never be “high percentage”, but could come in handy in some of the more specific situations. Just like in the daily life, hammer and screwdriver are used frequently, but sometimes you just have to use the soldiering iron. This why the Pareto principle talks about 80/20 and not 100% solutions. Take those most reliable tactics and work on them most of the time, but do allocate some of the training time and effort to at least get acquainted with those “other” tools…

Who knows when they may come in handy?