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Author Topic: Should Martial Artists Train Moves They Mastered  (Read 2044 times)
Cranewings
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« on: June 11, 2011, 10:01:25 PM »

From another thread:

I'd rather have it than not but like anything else it's up to the individual as to how much of your training is devoted to it.

Actually, I'd kind of like to talk about this point because its kind of an interesting point.

For example, I used to spar with this 430 pound boxer / tkd guy who moved like a 270 pound guy. He got on the topic of judo one day, "I'm not going to worry about this crap because I don't need it to throw someone and no one can throw me that I can't counter by punching them in the face." We thought it was a dangerous philosophy, but there wasn't really anyone around who could show him he was wrong.

On the other hand, I run into people all the time who just pound the same crap to death. On certain topics, I'm probably WAY over trained. Some of the people I train with are worse. At what point, exactly, should you quit practicing the same thing? Kali people all the time are doing the same 6 and 8 count drills. MMA guys just hit the pads with the same 5 punches over and over. I'd get it if you thought it was cardio, but as martial arts training I don't see the point.

My fiancee is a professional musician. She's pretty exact about how she practices because she doesn't like to waste time with it when she'd rather be doing something else, so she believes her practicing is very efficient. Her music instructor told her, "once you have mastered something, there is no point in continuing to practice it other than to occasionally dust it off." It was a bit of an eye opening comment to me as in my martial arts upbringing, I feel like I wasted so much time practicing the same thing over and over.

In a way, it goes hand in hand with something Crafty Dog said at a seminar I went to, "the fastest way to improve is to work the thing you are worst at." You wouldn't have time for that if your were beating something you mastered into the ground.

So where do you draw the line on practicing? I'd guess it would be to practice it until you mastered it and then drop it for the next thing. How do you know when you mastered something? When you are as good as your own teacher? When you can do it sparing?

Crane Wings:

That is a very interesting question.  May I ask that you start a thread dedicated to it?

Crafty Dog

PS:  The quote of which you are thinking is "The fastest progress comes from working the weakest link."

So here is the short questions:

Should martial artists train moves they mastered?

When should a martial artist believe they have mastered a move?

What if someone has mastered the move to the limit of their physical ability? Is the "side kick" mastered if the martial artist can only kick waist high, even if it is a great kick?
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barna284
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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2011, 06:47:17 AM »

This is a very interesting question indeed. Most instructors would tell you that it's really important to focus on the basics rather than trying to obtain new "moves" all the time. For the most part, I agree. As a relative newbie (less than three years training FMA), I know my strikes and footwork could be improved vastly, even though I can usually hit people and don't trip over when sparring. Seeing other people fight and seeing the "holes" in my fighting make me feel that there is still room for improvement.

On the other hand, Guro Crafty's quote is also enlightening. The truth is, training new things is uncomfortable because of the initial clumsiness. I'm quite green on the subject of Siniwali, and even doing freeform "distance sparring" with two sticks is awkward for me. In terms of comfort, it's much less stressful for me to fine-tune my male triangle footwork or my horizontal backhand than to try and get both my hands to move harmoniously.

I think in the end it depends on how one wants to develop one's fighting game. Basics need to be mastered and there is no way around that, but at some point it becomes a question of, shall we say, economics. Namely, what sort of result we get from the time invested. Here sparring is a useful metric.

   

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bigdog
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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2011, 08:24:03 AM »

I think the answer to this might depend on the individual's mission.  Martial artists might need to learn many new things, so they can then teach their students or to progress to the next belt.  Those interested primarily in self defense might want to "own" a dozen or so techniques.  This is the approach taken by Kelly McCann and others in self defense (or "self offense" as KM calls it).  And in DBMA, while there are numerous techniques, the importance of consistence across curriculum can not be discounted... which means that we can "own" many techniques due to their similar attributes.  
« Last Edit: June 13, 2011, 09:31:18 AM by bigdog » Logged
Cranewings
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« Reply #3 on: June 13, 2011, 09:59:09 AM »

This is a very interesting question indeed. Most instructors would tell you that it's really important to focus on the basics rather than trying to obtain new "moves" all the time. For the most part, I agree. As a relative newbie (less than three years training FMA), I know my strikes and footwork could be improved vastly, even though I can usually hit people and don't trip over when sparring. Seeing other people fight and seeing the "holes" in my fighting make me feel that there is still room for improvement.

Sure - for me that's the nail on the head. Recently while I had a hurt shoulder and couldn't lift or spar, I started going to a traditional Japanese karate school that didn't allow sparing besides open hand tag and no touch. They were very, very specific about basics. I think I did the same stomp kick 1000 times a night there. The toes had to be a certain way. The knee had to come up pass a certain angle. These people had practiced it for years and they looked great, and they thought they had mastered it.

But to watch them, I knew they couldn't hit anyone with it. The chamber took WAY too long, they lunge into it, and all of them drop their hands which were too low to start with. It was a totally useless technique the way they mastered it, even the head teachers, but they will never know. Sparing is the only way to get to the truth of some of this stuff.

Quote
On the other hand, Guro Crafty's quote is also enlightening. The truth is, training new things is uncomfortable because of the initial clumsiness. I'm quite green on the subject of Siniwali, and even doing freeform "distance sparring" with two sticks is awkward for me. In terms of comfort, it's much less stressful for me to fine-tune my male triangle footwork or my horizontal backhand than to try and get both my hands to move harmoniously.

I think getting both to move harmoniously is hard for all most everyone (;

Quote
I think in the end it depends on how one wants to develop one's fighting game. Basics need to be mastered and there is no way around that, but at some point it becomes a question of, shall we say, economics. Namely, what sort of result we get from the time invested. Here sparring is a useful metric.

Right right. What makes MMA and mixed traditional arts so good is that, in my opinion, only takes half as long to get to an 8 on the 10 scale of skill than it takes to get to a 10. A lot of people try to be so good with the one thing they do that they can beat even people that specialize in their own area. That's the whole point of most competitions. But what if you just don't play the game with people that specialize. In my own sparing, I use snap kicks a LOT against MMA and Muay Thai people because most of them don't know what they are. When I spar with TKD people, there isn't much of a point because they are too good at them, but my middling boxing and wrestling ability wins out there. Its strange to know that the specialists of anything will look at a cross trained fighter's technique as terrible even though the cross trained guy usually wins.
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Cranewings
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« Reply #4 on: June 13, 2011, 10:03:35 AM »

I think the answer to this might depend on the individual's mission.  Martial artists might need to learn many new things, so they can then teach their students or to progress to the next belt.  Those interested primarily in self defense might want to "own" a dozen or so techniques.  This is the approach taken by Kelly McCann and others in self defense (or "self offense" as KM calls it).  And in DBMA, while there are numerous techniques, the importance of consistence across curriculum can not be discounted... which means that we can "own" many techniques due to their similar attributes.  

Huh. I never thought about that. I've always spent a lot of time just practicing because very little of what I do has anything to do with the rest of it - I just have to find a place for it all in me. I've been to about 5 or so Crafty seminars (years ago) and I always thought that the material was not only easier to understand than the kali / silat I was used to, but it helped give me an idea for things to do with what I already knew.
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bigdog
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« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2011, 10:10:13 AM »

I had trained elsewhere for three or four years before I saw a Guro Crafty seminar.  I was hooked on DBMA, not just the mindset, by the first break in the seminar.  I learned more about application of all the techniques I knew in two hours than I had in all the time I spent in martial arts.  I still train in the school where I started, but my training took on a whole new purpose when I trained with the Crafty one for the first time. 
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G M
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« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2011, 10:15:32 AM »

I spent years as a kid training in a pretty traditional Shotokan dojo. I did kata well and sparred even better. When I took those skills I was pretty happy with to real fights against streetfighters, I wasn't so happy. I'm reminded of a quote from a police trainer who asked "You may be a great martial artist, but can you fight?".

Techniques are a component of fighting, just as marksmanship is a component of gunfighting. Having a great striking technique is like being able to shoot a ragged hole in a target on the range. An important skill, but that alone will not allow you to win in a real fight, unless you are lucky.
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Cranewings
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« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2011, 11:53:23 AM »

I spent years as a kid training in a pretty traditional Shotokan dojo. I did kata well and sparred even better. When I took those skills I was pretty happy with to real fights against streetfighters, I wasn't so happy. I'm reminded of a quote from a police trainer who asked "You may be a great martial artist, but can you fight?".

Techniques are a component of fighting, just as marksmanship is a component of gunfighting. Having a great striking technique is like being able to shoot a ragged hole in a target on the range. An important skill, but that alone will not allow you to win in a real fight, unless you are lucky.

So what was missing from your sparring that you had to add? I'm sure whatever it was is something most people are missing.
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G M
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« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2011, 12:09:03 PM »

The chaos of a real fight as well as the real impact of delivering and taking hits. One can practice pretty looking kicks into the air for decades in a dojo and still not know how to deliver an effective kick in a real fight.
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Cranewings
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« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2011, 01:23:56 PM »

GM, I hear ya. In the class I take we do a lot of impact conditioning, kicking and punching one another. I drop at least once a week from a leg kick. I think taking all that impact has helped me respond more honestly and calmly when I spar. There are still limitations though. For example, the other day when I was sparing I got tapped out by a guy who did a double leg on me and then got a mount. While it was happening, I did like 5 downward elbows on his neck and then grabbed his trachea, not hard at all of course, because those sorts of things can't be.

Who's right? I'm happy with how I did because I think if it was real, I would have won. I don't know the guy, but I'm sure he thinks he won because he tapped me out. Impact can teach a lot but its the little things that kill - biting, grabbing necks and eyes, breaking fingers - but it is hard to show that kind of stuff in a sparing match in a way that gets the other person to understand what happened, unless they understand intellectually outside of the match already.

Even with a lot of impact, I'm not sure how to get the chaos of a real fight in sparing, or even organized fighting, because everyone knows you aren't really going to rip out an eye or break a finger, so people take chances with really, really dangerous moves, like tying up both hands with a wrestling take down. I think a lot of people on here have been in a lot of real fights, but I haven't, because I'm too good at talking my way out of them and I'm not a cop that's forced to fight with people.

I can train myself pretty well because I can mock go for an eye or a neck or mock bite, but I don't know that I would really do those things because I've never done those things, and really fighting isn't a natural thing for me. On top of that, doing those moves in sparing without hurting the person fails to educate them, so the community doesn't improve either.
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G M
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« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2011, 03:06:09 PM »

GM, I hear ya. In the class I take we do a lot of impact conditioning, kicking and punching one another. I drop at least once a week from a leg kick. I think taking all that impact has helped me respond more honestly and calmly when I spar. There are still limitations though. For example, the other day when I was sparing I got tapped out by a guy who did a double leg on me and then got a mount. While it was happening, I did like 5 downward elbows on his neck and then grabbed his trachea, not hard at all of course, because those sorts of things can't be.

To a degree, this is still valid training because there are potential opponents you might face who are drugged, mentally ill or so goal oriented that they shrug off things that drop most people in their tracks. Adrenalin does wonders in preventing you from recognizing injury in the midst of real world fights.

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G M
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« Reply #11 on: June 13, 2011, 03:09:50 PM »

Even with a lot of impact, I'm not sure how to get the chaos of a real fight in sparing, or even organized fighting, because everyone knows you aren't really going to rip out an eye or break a finger, so people take chances with really, really dangerous moves, like tying up both hands with a wrestling take down. I think a lot of people on here have been in a lot of real fights, but I haven't, because I'm too good at talking my way out of them and I'm not a cop that's forced to fight with people.

And there is nothing wrong with that. Avoidance is the reasonable and responsible strategy for someone not required by their duty to engage in violence.
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peregrine
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« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2011, 02:07:46 AM »

ren ma
mushin

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Cranewings
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« Reply #13 on: June 14, 2011, 12:59:24 PM »

GM, good points, thanks.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #14 on: June 14, 2011, 03:40:01 PM »

No time at the moment for a substantial post on this interesting question, but for this moment a few random thoughts seriatim:

1) In the first series, you may notice that when Top Dog finishes teaching a segment he says (working from memory here) "Work it, AND MOVE ON" (emphasis added).

2) There is a difference between practice to deepen mastery and repetition of mediocrity.

3) My sense of things is that the search for deeper mastery calls for a certain understanding of real time application and a certain relaxed focus awareness while practicing that allows one to notice increasingly subtle details.

4) There is such a thing as the point of diminishing returns.  A lifetime does not suffice, so why go past the point of diminishing returns? The fastest progress comes from working the weakest link.  If you have improved a link to where it is no longer your weakest, not only is your entire chain stronger now, but by definition you should be moving on to what is now your new weakest link.  There is such a thing as overtraining and creating some sort of high repetition irritations, and these can sometimes become chronic.  Know when to move on , , , and when to come back to it to keep the level that one has achieved.


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bigdog
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« Reply #15 on: June 14, 2011, 06:01:22 PM »

Some additional points and clarifications stemming from Guro's post:

1. I did not mean to suggest that you should not learn more techniques.  You may find others that work for you when you deepen your study.  To find those, it is necessary to study widely. 

2.  That said, there are limits that you can set.  I am not a high kicker.  This makes the study of TKD unnecessary for me.

3.  A musician friend of mine says (and he may take it from elsewhere): Practice doesn't make perfect.  Perfect practice makes perfect. 

Also, GM's point about mastering the fine of verbal deescalation is an excellent one.
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G M
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« Reply #16 on: June 14, 2011, 06:21:40 PM »

From the world of "Gun-fu", the ideal according to at least one school is 5 to 10 minutes a day doing "dry practice". Meaning practicing core skills like presenting a handgun from concealment, trigger control, malfunction clearances. "Trigger control" is a perishable skill, and your brain, at least part of it doesn't differentiate between live fire and dry fire while maintaining and honing this skill set.

As pointed out before, the idea is "Perfect practice makes perfect" while "Crappy practice makes you a crap-master". So if you are not doing your practice correctly, you are ingraining bad habits.
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Cranewings
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« Reply #17 on: June 14, 2011, 07:39:41 PM »

I don't have much of substance to add. Good stuff though. Thank you.
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Guide Dog
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« Reply #18 on: June 16, 2011, 01:41:03 AM »

I'm not a fan of the word "mastery" or "master". To me it seems to indicate an area in which one has achieved perfection. I don't really believe in perfection as an obtainable state in any endeavor. I'm not trying to be difficult or suggest this thread is linguistically invalid (it's a very worthwhile question), the word "mastery" just doesn't work for me. As I often tell the high school students to whom I teach writing, "Perfection is boring." I much prefer the word "expert" over the word "master".

There have already been some great points made in this thread. As far as what and what should not be daily practice, I believe in annual phases. My daily training looks different when I am closer to a Gathering than when I am getting ready to go to a multi-day seminar in some of the systems I teach. I do several empty handed forms on a mostly daily basis of the mushin or mediative aspects. My practice looks different after having children, and I imagine it will change again when my kids are a little older.

My main instructor says that you have to adjust your training every five to ten years. I like that. As for what I practice daily, it depends on the season and what events are coming up in my annual training calendar.
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Dr. Bryan Stoops, Ed.D.
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http://stoops-martial-arts-academy.com/
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Bambi
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« Reply #19 on: June 16, 2011, 11:01:52 AM »

A concept found in japanese martial arts that seems relevent to the discussion at hand is shu ha ri :

http://www.advdojo.org/shuhari.html
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #20 on: June 19, 2011, 07:57:02 AM »

Thank you for that articulate expression of a particular approach.

Personally, as a teacher my preference is for a different order.  I prefer to first communicate the understanding, with the idea that by connecting with the student's animal intelligence that subsequent training will be more effective.

I do appreciate the point about the kata as a storage system for knowledge; indeed I often make a similar point about what is sometimes derisively called "dead pattern" training in the FMA.  That said my sense of things is that DPs are more useful for people with some level of "the fighter's understanding".
« Last Edit: June 19, 2011, 07:59:36 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Bambi
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« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2011, 09:06:03 AM »

Thank you for that articulate expression of a particular approach.

Just to clarify: I'm not the author, too many big words in that article for me  cheesy

Interesting that people dislike the term master (as do I). Its used to describe a stage in the learning progression of the FMA that I train in:

Learn the acquisition of fundamental motor skills.
Practise repetition, to integrate the skills into memory, muscle, balance and nervous system.
Master perform the movements and techniques with good form to maximise their effectiveness and minimise your vulnerability.
Functionalise learn to apply them in practice, with appropriate speed and intensity and against resistance or under pressure.
Maintain periodical review of the skills to ensure they remain functional.

I guess the point of this thread is that people tend to get caught in a loop around the practice/master stages if they have no method with which to functionalise the skill.

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peregrine
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« Reply #22 on: June 23, 2011, 06:07:15 PM »

I'm not a fan of the word "mastery" or "master". To me it seems to indicate an area in which one has achieved perfection. I don't really believe in perfection as an obtainable state in any endeavor. I'm not trying to be difficult or suggest this thread is linguistically invalid (it's a very worthwhile question), the word "mastery" just doesn't work for me. As I often tell the high school students to whom I teach writing, "Perfection is boring." I much prefer the word "expert" over the word "master".

There have already been some great points made in this thread. As far as what and what should not be daily practice, I believe in annual phases. My daily training looks different when I am closer to a Gathering than when I am getting ready to go to a multi-day seminar in some of the systems I teach. I do several empty handed forms on a mostly daily basis of the mushin or mediative aspects. My practice looks different after having children, and I imagine it will change again when my kids are a little older.

My main instructor says that you have to adjust your training every five to ten years. I like that. As for what I practice daily, it depends on the season and what events are coming up in my annual training calendar.

Strangely, I feel the opposite. Preferring the word mastery over expert/expertise. Seeking mastery vs expertise. Hope all is well with you Stoops. Woof. KahunaDog.
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