Dynamic Movement Of Infinite Possibilities Part V - Training
Jul 02, 2020
“Once you have sharpened your intellect to the point where you can see whatever in the world is true or not, where you can tell whatever is good or bad, and when you are experienced in various fields and are incapable of being fooled at all by people of the world, then your mind will become imbued with the knowledge and wisdom of the art of war.”
- Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings
In this blog post I want to finish up on movement but from a little different perspective and that is on training. This is the kind of stuff I get beat up on by instructors all of the time because it is the thing that they all want to know how to do better. I totally get it because it is the thing that separates out one’s skills in a life and death confrontation. I already spoke a bit about how we learn and how we perceive the world etc. but now I’m going to cover this from how I perceive it when I’m training. Now I want to point out these are just my thoughts on this stuff and what I know works for me but also for the people that I have trained over the years. Draw your own conclusions.
How I See the World With Regard to Martial Development
“A warrior is not a person that carries a gun. The biggest war you ever go through (in life) is right between your own ears. It’s in your mind. We’re all going through a war in our mind, and we have to callus our mind to fight that war and win that war.”
– David Goggins
For me the fight is the fight, it isn’t this or that, it isn’t about matching up against this style or that style but fighting, and the whole purpose of training is to develop the skill to win the battle period.
“Try to win from a distance by an advantage in sword length without knowing the principles of martial arts is something that people do because of the weakness of heart.”
- Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings
Me personally I do not understand people who train people to just survive I really don’t. To me as Musashi says is, “…the weakness of heart.” To me this way of thinking is bullshit. I mean victims of horrific crimes survive but I’m sure if they had another choice or felt they had the means of fighting back even unto death. It would be preferable than to walk around with the mental and spiritual scars. Remember, no matter what the justice system does to some perp, as a victim should you survive you always get a life sentence. Always!
While this may come as a surprise to some I don’t necessarily see things in just in black and white terms but rather in terms of recognizing whether a thing is, be it dangerous or not. Meaning if I perceive something to be a threat then I will act accordingly, however, I also understand that there are some gray areas in there which is why I try in my own training and that of others to help them simplify their choices rather than flood them with a bunch of information. Because until they build their situational awareness most of it is meaningless to them anyway.
“Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.”
- Mark Twain,
I see it all of the time, especially on YouTube where people present a number of different scenarios and they try to provide people with a solution to every problem. They mention the usual suspects, dealing with a knife, a gun etc., and then they pretty much parrot back basically the same techniques but never considering how they got there in the first place. To me, this lack of understanding is a serious deficiency in how many people train their minds for battle. You need to train as you would fight, go big or go home.
“A bullet from a gun does not make a distinction between practice and combat. You are training to be one and the same way in your life.”
- Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings
The thing is because the enemy gets a vote unless you train your body to the subconscious competence level of skill development there is no time to consciously respond with your body to all of the possible situations you have to rifle through based on their cookie-cutter solutions.
“Perception is strong and sight weak. In strategy it is important to see distant things as if they were close and to take a distanced view of close things.”
- Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings
When I train and I’ve covered this in different ways in the past I focus on trying to move in a way where I cut off whatever they’re going to do as soon as possible before they get started. You see if you already know you’re in the fight what are you waiting for? The key I believe is in focusing on learning to recognize not only danger but also recognize the precursors to danger by focusing on motion/movement or intention. You see while you can train to get faster and you can train to improve your reaction time at the end of the day there is still a limit to how fast you can react or move. The idea is by learning to recognize what things are soon enough you can then learn how to move sooner and get ahead of their movement. When I’m training this is something that I’m always focusing on when I’m doing coordination exercises. Where I’m focused on moving in a way where I get the jump on the bad guy so I can crush them from head to toe.
“From one thing, know ten thousand things.”
- Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings
In my last post, I discussed the process of how you structure the training and I want to reiterate that how you present it, in and of itself, “is” the training. I also discussed how training people or yourself to fight for their lives is a serious manner. Again nothing wrong with having fun when you train, and you should have fun. But you must train with the spirit as if their very lives depend on it as well as your own. So you need to learn to present information in all manner of seriousness and sobriety. For if your presentation of information is in the wrong fashion (i.e., improperly framed) you will destroy them even if they don’t know it. How you present the information will impact how well they learn so you need to learn to appreciate the importance of how you present information when teaching.
“A warrior has to believe, otherwise he cannot activate his intent positively.”
– Théun Mares
As a side note also remember when you teach you also hear yourself talk so teaching in and of itself is a form of self-talk eventually that self-talk becomes a belief and behavior. The point is when you teach you need to be very careful of the words that come out of your mouth otherwise you cannot focus your intent “positively”. I think more instructors screw themselves because they are not aware of this.
When you present something you need to frame it in the proper context whether for yourself or others so that people can follow along. Remember everyone has their own perceptions of the world so when you frame things the right way you're not only increasing their understanding but shaping the process of how they receive the information. Because they don't know and only know what you tell them it needs to be presented in as clear a manner as possible and consistent with everything else you teach them. You want to present things in a manner to prevent the possibility of contradicting yourself. You must also focus on the task at hand and remain within that task as you proceed, progressing, and building layer upon layer.
This also applies to and influences your own understanding and behavior so when you frame things you need to.
- Tell them what you're going to teach them and what the purpose of the skill is and how it relates to kicking that ass;
- Tell them what the outcome or expectation is at the end of the training;
- Then begin to teach them;
- Wash, rinse, repeat…
Of course, there are various ways and methods you can use to teach them but if you at some point don't frame the training in proper context it is meaningless I don't care how well developed a technique it is.
Remember, teaching is a skill every bit as much as knowing how to punch or a kick or execute a proper hip toss and has to be learned and worked at and refined like any other skill.
Ok and one more thing, when you teach you must not allow things to become pushed into the realm of magic. When I mean by that is presenting techniques or concepts as if they are conjured out of the ether of the universe. There are a million things we know and there are a million we don’t know, you need to strive to teach what you know, admit what you don’t know and provide as clear and concise explanations based on the science of how the known universe works and not through divination, reading entrails, and Voo Doo.
Again, whether you’re teaching others or yourself it is relatively the same process by which you learn. Ether in how you present information to others or to yourself.
Teaching "IS" Training
“When one has developed practical knowledge of all skills of the craft, eventually one can become a master carpenter oneself.”
- Miyamoto Musashi, A Book of Five Rings
If you’ve ever seen the movie “The Rookie” starring Dennis Quaid as Jimmy Morris the high school baseball coach who went on to play with the Devil Rays and the Dodgers. It’s about a Texas baseball coach makes the major league after agreeing to try out if his high school team made the playoffs. One of the more memorable scenes is when he’s out throwing some fastballs and there happens to be a pro baseball scout on hand. Where we get this exchange,
Dave Patterson [The Scout}: Jimmy, how fast were you throwing fifteen years ago?
Jimmy: Slow enough to where scouts stopped using the word "fast".
Dave Patterson: Seriously, how fast were you throwing?
Jimmy: I don't know... 85-86?
Dave Patterson: You just threw 98 miles an hour.
Dave Patterson: Twelve straight pitches, three radar guns. Same thing on all of 'em.
Jimmy: Look, Dave, there's no way...
Dave Patterson: Jimmy, I've been a scout for a long time, and the number one rule is, arms slow down when they get old. Now, if I call the office and tell 'em I got a guy here almost twice these kids' age, I'm gonna get laughed at. But, if I don't call in a 98-mile-an-hour fastball, I'm gonna get fired! I'm just saying there's a chance you might get a call on this.
Dave then turns to leave, then turns around and says,
Dave Patterson: You figure out what I saw out there today, you let me know.
He eventually tried out later on and made the majors. I could literally go on and on with examples like this. But the point is he’d been coaching baseball for so long and remained healthy that he dramatically improved his game to the point where he was playing in the majors at an age where most players are getting ready to hang it up. I’m not saying by teaching something over and over you’re going to be ready to jump into the UFC but what I am saying by teaching you have the method of training in a way to refine your craft. And after all isn’t that why you train in the first place?
We’ve all heard the old adage once taught twice learned. There is a tremendous amount of truth in that. Within the art of Warrior Flow, one of the features is the idea of making people who possess the ability (because not everyone has it sorry but that’s just a fact) and desire to teach, to train them to be able to teach as soon as possible. You see it stands to reason that if you are capable of teaching something and refine it and teach it well. In and of itself you are teaching yourself too.
Noted physicist, Dr. Richard Feynman, Ph.D., who like Einstein and his famous statement that “…if you can’t teach it to a child then you don’t know it”. Became a huge influence in showing people how to take complex concepts and simplify them so that people could understand them. I don’t ‘know about you but considering he was a quantum physicist I don’t think there are too many things more complex to explain than that. His ability to do this was so great that it’s been named the Feynman Technique.
To me, this is the epitome of what an instructor in anything should be able to do. So while you may have a vast knowledge of your subject it is the ability to simplify and present it in a way where it is transferrable, to me that is the hallmark of a good instructor. In addition, by simplifying it in your own words for others it forces you to develop a deeper understanding of whatever it is you do. This is one of the reasons in Warrior Flow I encourage people when they train on their own to from time to time, train as if you were going to teach it to someone else.
The first thing you’re going to notice is that you don’t know what you know as well as you think or it is not as clear in your mind as you think. To me, this is not only an exercise in training but also a great way towards developing a method to teach yourself. Clear thinking represents clear speaking and clear speaking represents the clear transference of the information. Additionally, this gives you a way to evaluate the effectiveness of how you are training because it allows you to logically think through the problem and go back and refine how you present it by clarifying it in your own mind. This in my view is the kind of thing and the kind of introspection you need to do if you are to refine and increase your skill.
The Feynman Technique for Martial Development
Since the root of this technique involves explaining the concept whether to someone else or to yourself, you could execute it in a number of ways – including literally grabbing a training partner and explaining to them what you’re learning or practicing. However, because you don’t always have willing partners at hand, here’s a simpler method that just involves you, the space between your ears, and your training dungeon. I’m presenting this as a method you can incorporate into your own training regimen as a way to enhance your development.
First: Think about the skill you want to develop and focus on that thing only. Hell, write it down if you have to (even though the technique is named after Feynman, it’s not limited solely to math and science). I like to start with something simple starting with thinking of what the end result or outcome I want to achieve. I then working backward thinking about what I need to do along the way in order to get to that place. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to always work backward but I’ve found as I slide back and forth between the future goal and what comes before that and before that and so on in the process. That it’s easier for me to ensure I don’t forget anything along the way but nothing says you can’t start from the beginning and work towards the end sequentially. But remember at this phase you’re in the gathering phase of collecting information and so you need to develop a process that keeps you focused and on track. Once you get the pieces to the puzzle as you figure out how they fit together. You will then teach it from beginning to end to yourself as if teaching to someone else if that makes sense.
Next: Explain and or demonstrate the concept or technique in your own words as if you were teaching it to someone else. I like to do this by actually walking through the technique as I say it. make notes or as in some cases, I know folks who record themselves teaching stuff so they can go back and look at how they present the information. Whatever works for you. Okay, this is where it starts to get tough because this is where you also have to pay very close attention to your speech and how and what you say. You need to listen to what you say and the words you use and focus on using plain, simple language. The Kings English is fine but also don’t use ten-dollar words and don’t use words that you really don’t know the meaning of just because you heard someone else use it. You’ll only embarrass yourself. Also, don’t limit your explanation to a single simple definition or a broad overview; challenge yourself to work through an example or two as well to ensure you can put the concept into action.
Next: Okay this is also the part where you discover where you suck at what you’re trying to explain but this is not a bad thing. This is where you get to work through how you want to teach the skill and how you demonstrate it but also, where there are gaps in your knowledge of how a thing works and where you may need to do a little more research. Remember this is about self-improvement and you can’t fix problems you don’t know about think of this as part of the discovery process. You always want to work on your greatest weakness or those things that are the most crucial first. Meaning what is it you need to be able to do versus what is nice to do. This is the level of introspection that many people shy away from and it is one of the main reasons they do not improve because they’re not honest with themselves. Listen you can lie to me and everyone else all you want, but don’t lie to yourself. So review your explanation and identify the areas where you know you don’t know something or where you feel your explanation is shaky. Once you’ve pinpointed them, go back to the beginning, your notes, or any examples you can find in order to shore up your understanding.
Next: Continue to look for ways to refine and polish how you present the information if there are any areas in your explanation where you can further simplify key terms or how you move as you demonstrate the skill, challenge yourself to find a different way to say and do it as if you were teaching someone who knows nothing about it in simpler terms. You also as you work on this focus on doing this as perfectly as possible as you refine it. while perfection is not possible because it is unknowable you will definitely find excellence along the way. The excellence you seek is to be able to crush the bag guys in the most ruthlessly efficient manner possible.
“Simplify and make no simpler”
“The only reason a warrior is alive is to fight, and the only reason a warrior fights is to win”
- Miyamoto Musashi, A Book if Five Rings
Below is a sample method of how to teach what I call “Loose Hitting” to a student. You can use this to practice developing this skill yourself by using the steps above. So you can practice developing the ability to explain, demonstrate, and teach this skill to enhance your own and develop this process of teaching for yourself and thus “fight to win.”
How to Teach Loose Hitting - When performing this you are trying to develop the proper Subtle Muscle Control and coordination in students to strike with their arm with as little effort by reducing as much unnecessary muscle tension as possible. They should strike to only use enough muscular control to lift and move the arm. The idea is to teach them to strike without “tensing up” as they throw their strikes well before they make contact, which is a common mistake in 99% percent of the fighting arts. Understand that Subtle Muscle Control is not the absence of using muscle but in the most efficient manner possible.
- First, have the student stand relaxed with their arms up in front of them and then have them begin to mimic the throwing motion as if they are throwing a baseball.
- Ensure they rotate the shoulders and hips in sync with each other. Have them alternate sides so that they develop this ability in each arm. You can even at a more advanced level use the weighted balls but use balls that weight nor more than four pounds. Once they have developed the basic motion move onto the heavy bag or fighting man dummy.
- Next, have the student stand relaxed with their arms in front of a heavy bag or Bob Fighting Man Dummy.
- Have the student bring their arms up and just as they did in the air have them turn their body in the same fashion keeping their arms relaxed rotating their body on each strike striking the target. You want their arm at first to remain relaxed and let the hand using a palm strike run into the bag or striking dummy. In essence, you want their hand to run into the bag as if the bag was in the way of their motion. Ensure they do not use force or attempt to strike with force otherwise, they will begin to tense up at the wrong moment.
- Once they have developed the ability to strike with their hand in this fashion you now want them to form a palm strike with more structure with their hand at the end of the strike. When striking in this manner the hand must remain relaxed and only upon impact with the bag “then” and only then do you want them to “form” the weapon. This will prevent them from creating any antagonistic muscle in their arms, which actually reduces striking power since it actually puts the breaks on your motion.
Start off slow and then gradually build in the speed and power into the strike. At first, their arms should feel heavy as they move them eventually they should feel the weight of their body down to their root as they turn and strike. This will develop cutting incredible power.
“Kill yourself in training so that you don’t die fighting.”
– Alistair Overeem
Hopefully, you get the idea of how this applies in all that you do and understand now where you focus your attention when moving with another person in your training. Again, at the end of the day, you need to train in a manner where they should be more worried about what you're going to do to them than the other way around. In my final installment on this, I’m going to get into a concept we in Warrior Flow call “Deconstruction”. Which is just that deconstructing a particular skill you want to learn from scratch in order to develop your own methods of training to a particular skill. More importantly, deconstruction is an essential part of modeling as well as the foundation to the process of the fifth concept within Warrior Flow we call “Creativity”.
“If you know the way broadly you will see it in everything.”
- Miyamoto Musashi