Monday, 27 September 2010

Don't just sit it!

As I'm sat here, skipping Kempo class, I feel...well, relaxed. I need a night off to crack this cold I have and hopefully I'll be back on form soon and training with gusto. I need to as the only way to learn a martial art is by doing it. Learning the key principle behind techniques is useful but it's in no way a replacement for doing it.

Knowing that martial arts training techniques are governed by principles such as "changing a small force into a larger one", "applying rotational motion", "transmit more force by adding momentum" are pretty fundamental when studying a martial art. Put another way, using some principles of physics and knowledge of the human anatomy including vital points can go a long way but it just can't replace feeling it.

I often read the mantras spun out by teachers about this principle or that and I understand it. They are often well put and I have no problem grasping the base idea of how to move a person in a certain way or how to immobilise a joint because of this or that physiological principle but really the only way to learn and appreciate is to do it. This means feeling your opponent and sensing where the right spot is to plant a fulcrum, or move them to the floor. Don't be mistaken though, this is in no way magical or mystical. It's sheer hard work and perspiration. Trying the technique on others (lots of others), and experimenting in a dynamic way is the only way to true mastery of a technique. I say this not as a master but a student who keeps trying.

I once made, what I thought, was a compliment to a super skilled, guitar-playing friend of mine saying, "Wow, you're really talented! You've got a gift!". Instead of delight, though, he replied in a level voice that it wasn't down to talent but sheer hard work; trial and error and hours and hours of practice. You can understand how to read music and how it's supposed to work but without hearing it, playing it, practising it, it's just theory!

Don't let your martial arts become a theoretical past-time... feel it!


Sue C said...

Excellent post Chris! There are just no short cuts in this game - blood, sweat and tears are required!

Michele said...

This was exactly what I needed to read this morning! Thanks. :)

Littlefair said...

Always a pleasure...!

jc said...

good words... very true.... i know when someone asks me as a visual artist how many hours it takes me to produce a specific painting--and it took five hours--i really feel the answer should be: "my whole life..."