I’m setting the scene, so bear with me.
I’ve got real martial art genius. I’ve fought, subdued and destroyed innumerable opponents. There’s no one left who’s willing to stand up to me. No one left who knows better than I do. I’m King of the Hill, and Top of the Heap. And for whatever reason – I now need to train personnel up into an elite fighting force ASAP.
I’m now left scratching my head. My opponents to date have been experts, and many in fact have had similar training to myself. But I beat them just because I’ve applied a special set of skills or knowledge to out gun and out move each and every one of them. To train up personnel into an elite fighting force, I’ve got to teach them the same yet different. Meaning, get all of them up to scratch and then make them more effective as fighters.
My group of trainees are a bunch of stunned mullets. Some of them have got some fairly decent skills. Then again some are absolute losers. I tried to talk to them about some higher level skills they would need and they had this blank look in their eyes. In the end, I decided to go with some of the regular kata and body conditioning. No need to rock the boat at this stage.
I’ve split the group into several smaller training sections. Some of the more cluey trainees can do more, and specialise faster. I’ve also made sure to train the dumber fighters in some of the basics – you know, how to strike, how to block, how to tie their loin cloths. Then I’m letting some of the more advanced trainees help these dumbos figure out how to increase their striking power.
Thank goodness for these advanced students. If not for them, I’d be murdering the whole lot of these whingers. During my class with the advanced students, I’ve tossed pattern work for more dynamic drills between two or more partners. This allows me to talk about what is important during an encounter, rather than focus on Idiots 101.
Some of my assistant instructors are trying to teach the beginners too many things. This particular move can strike. It can take down. It can escape. The beginners are on the verge of a topknot meltdown. No, no, no. I need them to show fast improvement … so they need to be able to simple attack smoothly, cover against opponent’s strikes, take control of the opponent, destroy, and takedown. Attack, Control, Destroy, and Takedown. I like that.
Some of the beginners are wanting to work more on forms. Are they kidding me? They’re just starting to get a grip on how they should be progressing – and I don’t need to stop their progress to talk about forms.
My advanced students are doing great. They’re coming on board with the new objectives, and they’re keeping it together. Some of them are still confused between the many techniques and the existing skills they have. Just the other day one of them wanted to prove to his mates how he could pull this cart with his 金玉 (Jap. kinyoku read ‘testicles’)! Crickey. So I’m focusing them bit-by-bit on the new skills I want them to hone and improve. Their other skills can be worked on in their private time, but the ones I want them to have as their top-of-mind are the ones I want to train and pressure test them on.
I’ve told my assistant instructors to use the patterns to help them figure out how to manage the grunts. We’ve started to talk about specific training issues associated with sections or phrases in the forms. The pattern sets as a mnemonic device are working fine for the entire training program – so I’m really happy with this direction.
I don’t have martial genius. I’ve not fought with a multitude of 17th century martial arts exponents or samurai. And like my friend Dan Djurdevic, my “forays” into pattern design and creation have been “conservative.”
What I do believe however is that people have gotten pattern interpretation ass backwards. For instance, here is a technique and here are 75 possible variations we can do with that one technique. Mind you, don’t forget I was an expert before I came up with this book. Meaning, I could have broken your face *before* I sat back to dream about all other ways I could rearrange your looks. So if you’re attempting to learn martial arts like the way I plan to teach you, you might not turn out exactly the same way. In fact, when I started training, I was mercilessly drilled on a few techniques over and over again in an oppressive, closed mouth, and authoritarian regime.
In martial arts as in life, less is more. Streamline what you want to achieve and gain expertise in that first. Then apply that expertise to all other aspects so you’ll learn as an advanced student – not trying to pick up each individual skill as a clueless overwhelmed beginner.