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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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The Art of Picking Locks - Thoughts on Teaching Martial Arts

I recall the following experience from the time I was studying music at university;
I was experimenting, before class, with a particular effects pedal for my guitar that I absolutely loved. The lecturer walked in 5 minutes late, while I was still playing around. He didn’t say ‘hi’ or ‘good morning’. What he did say was “yeah, cause that’s the sound we all want… turn that shit off and let’s do something useful. Start with this tune – 1, 2, 3, 4…”

In one short sentence, he managed to embarrass me in front of the class, mock my creativity and hurt my confidence. He moved on to the tune instantaneously and thereby eliminated any chance I had to reply or comment.
The rest of that rehearsal was torture. This was over ten years ago, and it still stings when I think about it! So why bring it up now?

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