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deltabluesman's picture
What have you changed?

How has your martial arts training changed over the years?  What aspects of your training have varied the most?  Anything you do now that might surprise others? 

This is just an invitation to share your thoughts.  The idea to start this thread struck me while reading the discussion on the evolution of Shotokan kihon.  Here are some things that changed for me...  

1.  I used to believe that the only worthwhile way to train was for self-protection.  Training was only good insofar as it made you better at fighting for your life.  My views have changed slightly.  I now think that the most pragmatic system will be interesting, fun, and enjoyable as well . . . if training is fun people are more likely to stick with it.  A pragmatic fighting method is one that you can train for a lifetime.  Also, training is meant to make your life better, not to make it worse.   

2.  I used to be really dogmatic about styles and technique.  Now I hate dogmatism and prefer creativity.   

3.  I have a lot less faith in my ability to tell whether a technique is going to work purely by looking at it or watching it.  I have sometimes had great success using “worthless” techniques that do not look like they would be effective.  

4.  On the flip side, I have discarded a lot of techniques that other people seem to love.  I used to train guillotine and triangle chokes all the time.  Now I use them only enough to know how to defend against them.  Another thing:  I used to train mostly closed-fist striking.  Now I dislike it (unless I am wearing gloves).  I prefer open hand or elbow strikes wherever possible.

5.  I approach technique in a totally different way now.  I used to think of technique as something that you mastered before you started working with a partner.  Now I think that you work with a partner to see how to improve your technique.  

6.  I used to think drilling was something you did only to warm up for your sparring.  Now I think that drilling at varying levels of resistance is just as (if not more) important than sparring.  You need both to get better.  

7.  I used to be a perfectionist.  Now I am a good-enoughist.  I would rather consistently train solid technique than infrequently train perfect technique.  Part of this is motivated by the realization that most teachers do not agree on what constitutes a perfect technique.  On a related level, I also measure techniques not by their look, but by their effectiveness.

8.  I used to really care about telegraphing my jabs, strikes, and takedowns.  Now I barely even think about it.  When I am sparring, I worry a lot more about timing.  When I am working preemptive strikes, I worry a lot more about knockout power.  (This one seems to spur some major disagreement with my training partners though.)  

Just a few off the top of my head...

rafanapa's picture

1)      I used to be very stern in class, bowing deeply and Oss-ing like my life depended on it. Now I will cheerfully take the mick out of my teachers. I’m wary of people who demand hero worship, and always tell people not to mistake irreverence for disrespect.

2)      I know the difference between good pain and bad pain. If something gives me bad pain, I don’t do it. If I’m told that doing the thing that gives me bad pain is essential and I can’t work around it, I leave.

3)      If someone tells me something, I don’t believe it blindly, but try it myself. If it doesn’t work for me, I ask why not. Usually they explain what I’m doing wrong. Sometimes they can’t.

4)      I can still do head kicks, but I don’t worry about them too much.

5)      I’m very careful doing punches full force, to protect my elbows. I do ura-tsuki or tate-tsuki where possible, even when I’m told to do gyaku-tsuki.

6)      I used to do no sports other than in the dojo. Now I do loads of weights, yoga, and other supplementary training, and I find it directly improves my martial arts training.

miket's picture

I think those are both good starts. 1.  After 25 years, I trust my own judgement 2.  I have abandoned allegiance to all stylism for a more purely 'pragmatic' approach to combatives.  I'm not afraid to beg borrow or steal from other systems to plug percceived holes in my knowledge base.  I no longer believe there are things that someohown 'don't' mix, so long as they are TRAINED to mix.  I'm also no longer as willing as I once was to be part of someone else's little hierarchical. systemic pyramid at the exclusion of participating in other systems, training, and knowledge.  I now have multiple teachers where once I had 'one'. 3.  I have experienced a total reversal as far as my belief in the usefulness of 'inherited' forms and patterns.  I now see patterns as having a primarily 'curricular purpose', as well as an attribute / 'muscle memory' purpose, as well as being a BEGINNING training device in lieu of something that experienced trainees should be spending a lot of time with.  I use a much more 'jiu-jitsu' based approach to teaching than a karate approach:  in other words, a lot more 'alive' free training, where the trainee builds through multiple levels of 'progressive resistance', but toward what is ultimately 'free action deployment', at least so far as that goal can be experienced safely in training. 4.  I have totally reshaped my understanding of what a 'real' fightis, and accordingly, what elements I believe are effective and important to train in. 5.  I am now WAY more focused on the human similarities between copmbative systems than on their differences.  When I study other systems, I prefer to look now as much at their training methods as the specific physical tactics.

6.  I am no longer as certain as I once was about 'absolute' answers to human combatives.  In fact, I 'd extend that to say that, like most beginners, I used to beleive is a 'one size fits all' answer-- I now believe there isn't one.  I am a big believer in what I call 'combative context' (.e. the specific fight you are trining for) as being the primary driver that should shape effective training.  I have enough journals, notebooks and the like that I look back at now which contain drills, thoughts, and even conclusions that I no longer believe, and several hat I now find to be preposterous.  Some things I used to think were preposterous I now find to be effective.  So, I'd like to think I've matrured across this period.    Good question.  smiley

Zach Zinn
Zach Zinn's picture

I take myself less seriously in some ways, I try to think more about what my students want, need, and are looking for - rather than just satisfying my own ideas of how they should be.

I try to think more about long term health and safety, for myself and my students. I think I started this right in the nick of time.

That's about it, i've been lucky enough to have some great training, so while I don't just regurgitate what I learned, I have quite a bit of confidence in it, there are places where I take it a different direction than my teacher, but for the most part I haven't had any big revelations or confidence shifts about what "works" in a long time.  Maybe that's a bad sign, I don't know..personally I don't think what "works" is very complicated at all, the hard part is getting your head straight so you are actually working on what you think you are.

deltabluesman's picture

A lot of great posts so far . . . thanks for sharing.  I find myself in agreement with pretty much everything that has been said.