The importance of the process in martial arts training

13 Nov

Often labelled a “hater” for making comments on obstacles inherent in martial arts training, I have often responded that I have no inherent bias. It is not WHAT you do, it is HOW you do it!

I can tell you without any doubt, I am CERTAIN of it; Chinese martial arts have a great depth of martial arts techniques and strategies.

I can tell you without any doubt, I am CERTAIN of it; Chinese martial arts can be used effectively in real fights against those trained in other traditions.

Finally, I can also tell you, without any doubt, that fighting skill does not come from only doing stationary basics, line basics and forms. Again, it is not so much WHAT you train as HOW you train it. Leading to my frequent re-posting of my now famous blog “Guidelines for Functional Training”.

But today’s blog is inspired by more recent observations. This Saturday we were training the “advanced students” here. As with most things in the martial arts, there is quite some irony here. My “advanced students” are those who have done what most would consider “kickboxing”. They have learned to shadow box, to work partner drills with gloves, to hit bags and kick shields.

In my “advanced class” they do stationary “basics”; wheeling body and “basic” fists. They do the various footwork pattern walkings. They do the techniques with walking. These are the things most beginners start off with in most “traditional” schools.

I am teaching them these things because while they APPEAR “basic” they actually contain many important, foundational elements. Often, and I increasingly believe this as time passes, they were not in application meant to appear just as they do in these practices. Rather they are there to teach vectors, how to produce force. They contain elements to reinforce things such as core use, waist power, angles, etc. They have hidden within them what might even be considered “advanced strategies”.

Teaching all these things last Saturday, I noted how few people I know who actually teach their students in this manner. I will not (can not?) say they do not know these things, but I can definitely say that people learning these kinds of drills are not learning them in this manner. Thus, yet again, it is not WHAT they are practicing. It is HOW they are practicing.

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