In some of the previous posts I was discussing the importance of having a good progression in place when teaching/training in any combative activity. Of course, from the perspective of efficient learning experience and skill acquisition it is easy to grasp. Here, my goal is to expound a little bit on our understanding of any particular stage on the progression line.
It seems to be common understanding that one’s aim is to get across and get to the end destination (whatever that may be) as quickly as possible, right? You know, get to that black belt, certificate of completion, instructorship… Well, I beg to differ! I mean, if the said piece of memorabilia is what brought you to training into first place and the actual thing that that will bring you some sense of fulfillment, then yeah. By the way, if so, this blog may not have too much to offer in that case.
On the other hand, if your thing is to gain some considerable level of skill/expertise, i.e. the true ability to perform in the real time in their chosen field, you might want to take it slow. You see, another common attitude is to admire the people with great breadth in their knowledge. Sure, every once in a while you’ll notice that in some areas that knowledge is somewhat think or shallow, but hey, they know so much! In the modern day and age, with the wealth of information available at your fingertips, there is just no more real appreciation for depth in any domain of human experience.
The way I see it, the right question is not “how do I finish this level as quickly as possible?”, but rather “how do I stay at this level as long as possible and get something useful out of it?” Again, if this sounds counter intuitive, the key words in the previous paragraph are ability to perform in the real time!
So, let’s take a look at it this way… If you were asked to name one combative activity, be it sport of not, where you consistently see the practitioners able to put their skill on the line and test it against the resisting opponent, which one would it be? I guess many of my readers would be inclined to point to MMA or similar activities, maybe krav maga and similar “reality based” methods (although those are disputable in this regard, but it’s another subject for another time). However, if we simply look for the longest continual output, we basically come down to two such approaches – boxing and wrestling. Both have been around for hundred(s) of years in the format that requires the participants to incessantly perform in the real time in the given field.
And what is the common denominator for both of those? To start with, they do not boast the breadth of the technical base as the foundation of their effectiveness. And consequently, their practitioners spend all the effort on going into minute details of the techniques they have on disposal. Thus, every single exponent usually demonstrates much deeper understanding and better command over the tools they work with.
|...or a punch, for that matter|
With all of the above in mind, it should not be strange that these two disciplines form integral part of the modern MMA, along with a couple other methods that pretty much follow the same guidelines of depth over breadth – BJJ and Thai boxing.
To wrap up, regardless of the martial art or system you are involved with, don’t be in a hurry to get to the next thing/belt/rank or to amass new techniques for the sake of “knowing” more of them. Instead, focus on getting the best possible grip of the material you are working on right now, because it will give you the upper hand later, whether you’re going to learn new techniques of not.