Monday, November 28, 2016

Step by step toward progress

There is a trend I have noticed in the circles that train in some of those modern, eclectic, informal martial arts and combative systems. I mean, a negative one, which interestingly enough, is stemming from a positive one. Let's go in reverse - the positive trend is to include some form of sparring early on in one's training path. I am also a firm believer that alive practice against resisting partner/opponent should be introduced as early as possible. However, this striving needs to be realized very gradually and incrementally. And that is where the negative trend pops out...

In a lot of schools there is a tendency to go too far too quickly. This something that has been long present in some boxing gyms, where the raw beginners are put to spar full speed and power with more experienced trainees. Quite often it is "explained" as a rite of passage, testing one's heart/clout/guts or whatever you call that intangible quality. There are BJJ gyms that, unfortunately, do the same thing, looking for gameness in their trainees. Some will say "heart can't be taught".

And they are wrong! Obviously, there are people who have a very string inner drive from the get go, and they are persistent (or stubborn) enough to to push through those early stages in order to actually learn something later. That said, those who give up entirely or seek other place to train are usually not cowards, but simply do not want to waste their time and money when they wish to learn something. Those instructors that like to "test the will" of their students forget that Daniel in the Karate Kid was not paying for his lessons.

Besides, they are doing their system a disservice. Namely, when you teach a beginner some technique or maneuver, and then pit them too early against a much more experienced opponent, or too complex situation, a few things happen: 1. the student cannot make the moves work in those circumstances, and thus 2. comes to the conclusion that the technique itself is useless, or 3. they themselves are useless, or 4. the entire system is useless.

Like I said, facing resistance in training is a key component if you are looking to actually use your training for fighting, but the principal factor here is progressive resistance. There just has to be some sort of step by step approach in introducing the elements that will make the training more demanding and challenging, but to the right point, not going to far. 

Essentially, the instructors have to be aware of where their trainees are when it comes to how much you can pressure them. And then set the drills and sparring practices accordingly. It can mean adding speed, allowing more techniques to work with/against, introducing bigger and stronger partners etc. 
In any case, the fundamental thing is to it in a sequential manner, one at the time, in order to allow the trainee some degree of success in applying their hitherto acquired knowledge and/or skill. 

We could liken this whole process to climbing a mountain. when facing a cliff some people will go for it with everything they've got until they get to the top (or die trying). But, on the other hand, it does not mean that those looking for an easier way, or decide to carve the stairs in the mountain, are to be considered failures or lacking heart.

It is therefore completely fine to expect to find a ready path to the top, if the mountain had been climbed before, as long as you are aware that you still need to do the legwork. And if so, getting to the top will still be a worthy endeavor.

If you are looking for a lift though...that's another story altogether. 

No comments: