Take advantage of every opportunity to train with different partners
This weekend was the awesome Rick Faye seminar, hosted by MKG Detroit, MKG Cleveland, and Attributive Martial Arts. Rick is one of my favourite seminars because not only are his material and methodology great, but his attitude and people are well to my liking. Even when I was younger and could in theory could afford to be hard-headed, his message of using drills and games to build skill always resonated with me as both fun and sensible.
So with the friendliest and safe group in the family, it seemed I was still the only idiot running around trying to train with different partners. This puzzled me as seminars, especially with this particular group, are one of the best opportunities to train with different partners and experience their energy.
I’ve been off the seminar circuit for a while, so I had forgotten how clannish groups can be. There are some seminars where I understand that impulse, where more than half the group have a bad attitude or are just dangerous to work with. This was not one of those, so I started wondering if this is just habit, practicality, or other reasons we should be using martial arts to help expunge from ourselves.
The bulk of people ideal for wandering around may have students to worry about getting through the material. This can be a sacrifice that makes sense so more people are getting maximum enjoyment, but there should be a way to distribute that expertise so as people float through the crowd, it shouldn’t matter, someone can help them. Or perhaps just group all the absolute beginners together, as I get how constant change can further challenge their learning and degrade the experience.
Some people teach without being expert, at least in the particular art of the seminar. Good for them to come to learn something new. When they are afraid of looking bad to other people, I’m going to have to go ahead and call bullshit. In fact, if they were to learn with a true expert, they can then go back and look good in front of their students. Still calling bullshit on that one, but at least is fits their self-serving world view.
Then there’s always that one smelly guy right? I mean even at a seminar that’s a workout, the one that stinks before it even starts? Yeah, I get avoiding those people; hygiene is part of safety. But they should be outliers, not disrupting the norm.
Sometimes we’re brought enough out of our comfort zone by being in a new environment, new material thrown out at light speed, so the one thing we have some control over is working with a familiar face. Personally, I think it’s still worth overcoming that discomfort, particularly when it’s not a physically punishing art like wrestling or BJJ on cross-face or knee-on-belly day.
What I remember and still experience when I train with different partners, in addition to new energy, is a lot of good questions. You work with people who resist you differently, resist you altogether too much, people with jumpy, twitchy reactions (which while annoying, are actually kind of like reality). You end up examining why your technique doesn’t always work and how to improve it without going full blast, further fine tuning it.
Most of us won’t ever need to ‘use’ the stuff we learn, and many have no interest in sparring hard, particularly with the weapons. And so there’s an undeniable question or insecurity about our capabilities. Getting through the minor discomfort when you train with different partners is satisfying, and adds one more sliver of confidence so many seek in their martial arts training.