In my last article I talked about how different people learn, and also about how both instructors and students should be aware of this to further improve their performance.
I want you to go through the following exercise in your head:
Imagine you’d spend your 20 years training in a martial art with the belief that you’d be able to defend yourself, but have never tested it out under extreme or real conditions or outside of your dojo. Imagine you would then have someone challenge you to try it on a fully resisting opponent, one whom you don’t know and does not respect you and your martial art. You try it, and it doesn’t work. Not even close – you get your butt kicked thoroughly.
Alternatively - imagine you’d been training to compete in a tournament, and have been beating everyone in your class easily. You arrive to the tournament and your opponent, someone who is less experienced than you, beats you comprehensively in no time at all.
Are you on the path to mediocracy or excellence?
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?
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?