Thursday, December 29, 2016

When pressed - do less to achieve more

It’s the end of the year, so accordingly, many people do some sort of “accounting”, i.e. trying to figure out and calculate what they have accomplished in the past one year, and where to move on next. This “next” phase can be then planned in the form of New Year’s resolutions, goal setting etc. Now, this post isn’t exactly about that, but could be related, just bear with me.

The single biggest thing that happened in my life this year (actually, a month ago) and presents the major challenge to my training is that I have become daddy again! All those who are parents can testify to the unique sense of pleasure that parenthood provides, but the unique amount of time consummation it means as well. Naturally, there are other periodical, or constant, challenges that people have to face and conquer if they want to train. Depending on your situation, it need not necessarily bring any particular changes to your training regimen, but more often than not it does. So, how do we deal with it? One option is to quit training altogether for a while and come back to it later (or not). We will not be considering that avenue here, though. 

Efficiency is the key here
Another approach, and the one I go for, is spend less time training in a group setting (be it a commercial gym, club, an informal garage group, or whatever), and attempt to maintain the solo training volume (working on your physical fitness is a perennial favorite here). However, with such constellation we need to make sure our focus is on the absolute fundamental necessities, in order to maintain the level of technical fluency and related applicability as much as possible. Therefore, do you best to identify the underlying foundations, pillars of your fighting system, which makes everything else possible, and then ensure that this segment of your training is addressed properly. Everything else can be relegated to the “if I get the time” category. Those fundamentals must be worked on whenever you have time, and however much or little of it is available.

To be (vaguely) specific, in standup and weapon combative systems it would mean topics such as footwork, distance control, mechanics of basic techniques; in BJJ and similar styles it would mean position control, escapes, ground movements, mechanics of basic submissions…you get the idea. 

Advanced techniques are the fundamentals done well!
The legendary wrestler Dan Gable has been quoted saying “If it’s important - do it every day, if it’s not – don’t do it at all”. It is a fairly straightforward and simple guideline, and if your involvement with martial arts has some notion of career span as pertinent, Gable’s advice is as good as it gets. On the other hand, if you see yourself as a “lifer” in this endeavor, then you may need some kind of relief periodically, to avoid repetitive injuries, burnout etc.

Of course, the above takes precedence if your motives for training martial arts have to do with actual functional fighting ability. But if you are into it for fun, recreational purposes, cultural study, aesthetics or else – then you should probably choose and emphasize the aspects of training that help you stay with your training through the challenging period, whatever the obstacles may be.

In the end, or going back to the beginning of today’s babbling session, should you manage to identify and choose your training focus right, it will be somewhat easier to keep at it. As the result, the goals you had set are more probable to be achieved and resolutions to be realized. 

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