Be Careful what you Wish for

I remember complaining to my Instructor, many moons ago, about not enough leg stretches at the beginning of classes.  I can tell that made him angry and he made sure I got what was coming to me. However, it went horribly wrong because I thought I would never ever be able to stretch again!   The stretches took the life out of me that day.  When it was time to start kicking, I had nothing left in those legs of mine. 

The old days were like that; nobody would stop and explain to you 'this is why you do this' and 'this is why you do not do that' because the training was generally based on discipline and faith and you never questioned your Teacher.  It would've been better if my Teacher perhaps could've explained to me, 'too much stretching – not a good way to warm up'.  Instead of telling me, he punished me with ridiculous stretches which only caused pain.  That was his way of getting his point across and punishing me for breaching the discipline and faith code.  Although the old methods taught you many interesting things, more often than not, there was a price to be paid, usually with injuries because you had to find out the hard way; on the upside, it actually made you a better person.

Today, if you ask the Instructor a question, you will get an answer, usually the right one with no fear of reprisals.  How lucky the young people are today!  The moral of the story, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR!

Mumbo Jumbo

Which is easier to remember?  A list of words written in random order, 'morning, just, to, it, find, car, off, the, John, drove , to, was, day, is, in, car, easier, find, work, got, his' or the same words in a sentence, 'John got up in the morning and drove his car to work just to find out it was his day off'?  It's obvious the sentence is going to be much easier.  So why is that easier?  Without meaning, to recall the words listed randomly, one would need to have a photographic memory. 

Particularly in BJJ where the moves are so many and varied, it's makes much sense when you put them into some array so people can better understand and recall them.  This is because the links, between techniques, make it easy to remember which is particularly important in BJJ because of the huge number of techniques.  Remember the blog about the 'flow'? 

As a martial artist and Instructor, I can see the value in this for both students and myself.   The world is becoming much more complex with more things to remember so we need a system which can simplify situations.  It looks like the martial arts are doing that already.

Stop Wasting Your Time

Time is something we haven't really got much of.  Every minute counts if you value your life.  If it was for sale you would most likely invest all you can, but that's not going to happen.  How horrible it is to see people wasting what time they already have.

I particularly see this in the martial arts where people lose focus in their training.  The little distractions seem to take over their life until they realise how much precious time they've wasted.  Once gone, you can't get it back. I look at a day to see what I can do and achieve.  This is not just about my training but the things that need to be done.  I also like to take some aside to have a cup of coffee with my son and daughter at one of those trendy coffee shops so I can have a good chat with them, away from computers and Foxtel.

Right now, I'm writing this blog.  I just got out of bed and I am getting ready to do a workout with the weights and kettlebells.  After that, I will get ready to go to work, starting at 3pm.  Basically, I have the day mapped out in my head and I will follow it through.  When it comes to my martial arts training, I have the whole week mapped out and I just make sure the little distractions, which may seem attractive at the time, do not get in the way.  I find people, who don't do the martial arts can be distractions but I overcome that by looking after No. 1.  By the way, this blog was written yesterday but I had technical difficulties so I had to wait till today to post it.  More time wasted!

Ship, Shore, Island

Here's an interesting game for the young ones who need a break from the usual martial arts routine.  The problem with kids is their minds wondering off during  class; this game should address any boredom and get their minds back on track.  The game goes like this; you nominate one part of the room, ‘shore’, the other side, ‘island’ and somewhere in the middle, ‘ship’.  Basically, the idea is for the kids to run to the nominated side of the room by the Instructor calling out either ship, shore or island, and do it in such a way to trick them.  Whoever takes a wrong turn, or is slow off the mark, gets taken out of the game.  You start off slowly to get used to it and there are no early disappointments.  As the game goes on and the students start to really wise up, the Instructor has to try all sort of things to outwit them so only one person is remaining who is then declared the winner.  There are lots of ways to make the game become difficult which is only limited by the Instructor's imagination.

 Now the really interesting part for grown-ups about this game is how easy it is to get a response from the kids by just calling out one word.  They learn to respond to each word and do what is required from them to do.  This is not new; the police have been using key commands such as ‘drop, tap and rack’ to clear out any stoppages from their firearm, Karate Instructors count out aloud to make things happen, Kickboxing Coaches use key words such as ‘jab’, ‘right cross’, ‘left hook’ for their students. Master Grappler John Will uses this method with the military and BJJ seminars. 

This process is quite effective and simplifies the training without having to repeat long  winded or complicated instructions.  After being trained, dogs and other animals also respond similarly to those one word commands.  If it works for animals then think of the possibilities with humans!

Light at the End of the Tunnel

Ask a beginner to write 100 words about a punch and the response may be, ‘what did I do wrong?’  It's cruel when all they can get is about 20 words.  Ask the same thing, 6 months later, and you may get 200 words.  A Black Belt might give you a thousand words and a Master Instructor will submit a thesis.

 So a punch is not just a punch, an armbar is not just an armbar, in the anatomical sense.  To a beginner a technique is just made of simple steps.  To an experienced person, the technique is intricate with underlying steps and principles. 

A BJJ student trying out Karate recently commented the training can get repetitive (this was only an observation comparative to his BJJ training).  However, repetition is about deep understanding of the techniques and striving for perfection.  Martial arts is not a theme park where you hop off one ride and get on another; it's the perserverance which will unfold the underlying steps and princicples of what you practice.

People often use the metaphor, ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ meaning to be patient because you're almost at the end of whatever it is you're trying to get to.   In the martial arts sense that could also mean there is hope for every student because there is light at the end of the tunnel for everyone who perseveres.  For most students the light at end of the tunnel is a Black Belt.  A dedicated Black Belt will always seek another tunnel because it really is the journey, not the destination.