Updated: Mar 2, 2020
Two of the biggest questions and concerns from anyone considering training in any martial art:
1. How realistic or useful will this training be outside the dojo?
2. I hurt myself inside/outside the dojo - should I stop and come back once I'm healed?
I consider these two questions linked because they draw directly to the core of why we train martial arts, as opposed to simply doing fitness or playing a sport.
The way you train in the dojo should mimic the way you would or could use those skills in the real world, but remember that in the real world, there are no rubber knives, plastic guns, smiling attackers, and soft mats. The real life training, or Kumitachi no Keiko, that's done in dojos (regardless of the discipline) is meant to FIRST prepare you mentally. The physical aspect is to help you master 1, 2, maybe 3 techniques that you can always go to when necessary. It's just like Bruce Lee said, "I do not fear the [person] who has trained 1,000 kick once, but the [person] who has trained 1 kick 1,000 times."
Our dojo's goal focuses on three levels: Kihon (basics), Musubi (timing/distance), and Kumitachi (combatives). One way of experiencing this, is based on the level of resistance applied during technique work. At the Kihon level, we're learning left from right, hand placement, and how to move without falling over. This is where we generally find ourselves at 10-30% resistance; enough that it doesn't feel like a mannequin, but not enough to be prohibitively frustrating.
At the Musubi level, we're adding some more resistance (maybe 35-60%), but we're really focused on managing distance and timing (think: avoid the leg sweep Johnny). Blending, parrying (instead of hard blocks that damage joints and bones over time - think fencing), and consistent movement (slow is smooth, smooth is fast) are the name of the game here.
At the Kumitachi level, we're now starting to experiment with higher levels of resistance (this is where techniques can become frustrating until you learn how to manage Kuzushi, the taking/exchanging of balance with your partner). Without at least a fundamental understanding of Kihon and Musubi in a technique, Kumitachi training is just going to feel like a brawl and often leads to the overuse of muscles and eventually strain/injuries.
So what are the simple answers to questions #1 and #2?
#1: VERY. However, what you bring to the mat is what you take from the mat, so train accordingly (no matter what discipline or where you study)
#2: NEVER. Once you stop, the habit is no longer there, and something less meaningful will take its place (there will always be an excuse not to train).
So the bottom line question is, how well does your dojo support these two questions and how do you intend to maintain your discipline long term?
See you on the mat,
P.S. As always, everything in these posts is for public consumption, to be incorporated or dismissed based on your choice.
P.P.S. Don't forget to register for our Grand Re-Opening Seminar in September with Shihans Peter and Penny Bernath - CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.
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