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Perth Martial Arts News (91)

Technical Difficulties, Curricular Conundrums and Adaptive Learning

The following is a true story, one that happened to a good friend.

He is, as we say in Australia, a Unit. With a capital ‘U’. He is mid-thirties, around 6’0 and 95kgs, with hardly any body fat. In addition to being very fit and strong, he also had a military career spanning close to two decades and has been involved in self-defence and the martial arts for most of that time. He has been in situation where he had to put those skills to the test, and has done so successfully. Simply put, he is not a dude you want to mess with.

His career often involves travel. During one of his moves to another part of the country, he sought another Krav Maga school to keep up his training (and sanity – those of you who train regularly know what I’m talking about). He trained there for the better part of 6 months, and then went for his first grading. Despite surviving all of the scenarios and dropping one opponent after the other, he failed his test and was told he needs to stay on as a white belt. The reason was that his technique was different to what the school teaches. Apparently, his blocking technique was not effective… despite all evidence to the contrary.

Was the school right to fail him for not learning their way of doing things, or was it their oversight for failing someone who has demonstrated to have clear self-defence capabilities?

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Fight or Fright, Pt. 2

You have finished warming up and have put all of your protective gear on. You’ve spent the last 5 minutes mentally preparing yourself for what’s about to happen. ‘It’s all good’, you tell yourself. ‘I am the star here. Everyone is here to make me look good and I’m going to kick butt’. You feel sharp. You feel ready. You feel excited.

The bell goes, and within seconds your partner hits with you with a hard, clean shot.

Things go downhill fast from there. Your adrenaline takes over. Your combinations don’t seem to have an effect, you can’t seem to land any clean shots and you start getting frustrated.

The next round, though with a different partner, feels much the same.

Has this ever happened to you? If the answer is 'yes', then read on.

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Fight or Fright, pt. 1

Sparring.

For some, this word brings excitement, anticipation and fun.
For others, it brings fear, trepidation and that familiar feeling of an empty pit in the bottom of your stomach and a dry mouth.

Both are normal, and we all get some days of one and some days of the other, depending on our experience, how we feel on the day, who we are sparring with, etc.

I’d like to invite you to think of the aggregate, or the overall theme of how you feel about sparring. Which one of the above two responses seems more prominent - anticipation or fear?

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Being a Good Training Partner, Pt. 2 - Roles, Mirrors and Comfort

Previous I discussed two points that relate to being a good training partner in the dojo. You can read about it here. Those two points related to what to do and what you need in order to do it. I also wrote quite a bit about some of the many funny, weird and wonderful faces you will meet at the dojo. You can read about them here.

I’d like to recap the example I used in the previous article, as it conveys a pretty strong message message:

The instructor just finished demonstrating a particular drill, and asks you to find a partner. Everyone in class is quickly paired up while you are still looking around trying to find someone who is on their own, and quickly notice gazes being averted when you try to make eye contact. You eventually manage to corner someone and now have a partner!

Or

The instructor just finished demonstrating a particular drill, and asks you to find a partner. Before you get a chance to look around, 3 people approach you. They are all smiling and when you pair up with the nearest one, the other two smile and say ‘how about next round?’

Which one happens to you more often?

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Being a Good Training Partner, Pt. 1 - Roadmaps and Tools

Did you ever read one of those ‘make your own ending’ books? I used to love them as a kid. I also love video games where the story unfolds and changes based on the decisions you make. Think of your training journey, and consider the following two ‘endings’:

The instructor just finished demonstrating a particular drill, and asks you to find a partner. Everyone in class is quickly paired up while you are still looking around trying to find someone who is on their own, and quickly notice gazes being averted when you try to make eye contact. You eventually manage to corner someone and now have a partner!

Or

The instructor just finished demonstrating a particular drill, and asks you to find a partner. Before you get a chance to look around, 3 people approach you. They are all smiling and when you pair up with the nearest one, the other two smile and say ‘how about next round?’

Which one do you find happens to you more often?

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3 Hilariously Sad Stories of Effort and Reward

I’ve had a few conversations recently with fellow school owners and martial artists about certification and rank, and about participation, talent and effort.

Especially in light of the recent inspirational Krav Maga and BJJ gradings that took place at CAIA I feel that it’s important to explain what those things mean to me as a martial artist and teacher.

Criteria for grading changes from style to style, instructor to instructor, school to school. And so it should. That being said, I have been, and continue to be, openly critical of things I see in the martial arts world that I feel ultimately hurt the industry and the art.

Chief among those things is the focus on the acquisition of qualifications or awards over skill. This is not directed at anyone in particular, but rather my own assessment of things I have seen and experienced.

Is it bad to have many certificates and qualifications? Of course not!
Is it wrong to celebrate your achievements? The opposite is true – you must celebrate your achievements.

This becomes a problem, however, when there isn’t a clear understanding of how effort comes into the equation. Here are 3 bizzare, funny and, I think, sad stories that illustrate this.

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'Woof Woof' - Tales of Intent, Confidence, Ego and Dog Poop

Gershon Ben Keren recently published a fantastic article about reading and masking intent in martial arts and self-defence. You can read it here.

It illustrated beautifully the importance of being able to mask one’s own intent while reading an opponent’s intent (or that of a potential attacker) as key to successful attack and defence. Everyone who has engaged in combat sports is familiar with the concept of telegraphing, both physically and otherwise.

We can conclude from this that intent plays a key role in success in the martial arts. Intent is what allows you to predict and avoid attacks, as well as land your own. But this does not relate only to physical movements.

Let’s take a detour and look at confidence, machismo, honour and respect. As the old saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Martial arts teach us confidence, honour and respect when done in the right environment, but can also come with a certain amount of machismo, or ‘fake honour’. Conflict over perceived insults or disrespect can arise, when intent is not well understood.

So how do we get better at reading intent?

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Economic Theory and Your Training, Pt. 2 - Lessons From Behavioural Finance

In my previous article, I discussed some examples of economic models that can be used to optimise one’s martial arts training.

The connection seems obvious in a way; Many of the highest ranking martial arts experts I have trained with are also savvy, successful business people and entrepreneurs. After all, martial arts theory has been used by business people the world over for many centuries. Books such as Sun Tzu’s The Art of War and Musashi’s Book of Five Rings are considered timeless classics on warfare, but also as guides to corporate strategy and business management. Indeed many of the famous Samurai were not only warriors, but also statesmen who served in an advisory capacity beyond that of a hired sword or bodyguard. 

If martial arts theory can be applied to business, why can’t the opposite be true?

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Economic Theory and Your Training, Pt. 1 - There May Be Something Here...

There is an old adage in martial arts:

“Those who have attained mastery of an art will reveal it in their every action”

While I certainly don’t consider myself a master - what is ‘mastery’, anyways? You can find some thoughts on that here - I do train a lot and have had the privilege of training with some of the finest practitioners in the world. More importantly, I have an overactive imagination and an extremely curious and analytical mind, which is both a blessing and a curse. The result of this is that I hardly ever sleep because my brain doesn’t stop turning. And this means I spend most nights up thinking about random things, which inevitably end up circling back to martial arts. And being obsessed with training, to me everything circles back to martial arts. Martial arts are the way that I relate to everything in my life – my relationships, my career, my community, my views and thoughts, as well as many random other things. If you are the same, you may find this interesting…



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Venn Diagrams and Martial Arts: Tradition, Sport and Self Defence

A topic that has been coming up in conversation and discussion over and over again over the past few weeks has been the differences between combat sports, self-defence and martial arts.

To the average person with no martial arts experience, they are often overlapping, perhaps even interchangeable. Indeed, most martial arts schools advertise all three regardless of the style they teach.

But are they exactly the same? If they are not, do they overlap and to what extent? Or are they totally different, or even mutually exclusive, modes of training?

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