Organizing our first local training meet up for instructors and advanced students. What to work on?
So we’re trying to organize our first training meet up, and I noticed a couple things, which are the things I’m trying to fix:
- I don’t know that many people outside my own training lineage
- I don’t know what the other people’s training platforms are
By the way, friend of the show Kurt Cornwell of MKG Detroit is instrumental to expanding my world view, as he uses both his space and energy genuinely for the broader community while still doing his own thing.
As I came up with my initial idea, I realized that I was sort of assuming a group similar to myself, just at different levels and focus in their training. But nothing can be farther from the truth. There’s a lesson in there related to the election, I think…
I assumed that anyone who practices as a “well-rounded” martial artist does some level of: weapons & empty-hand drills; repetitions of technique/form; kickboxing sparring; fitness & conditioning; and grappling or ‘rolling’.
Turns out I’m wrong. Lots of people hardly do any of that, at least not in the way I imagine. And people do lots more.
Obviously I do what I think is right for me within my time and resource constraints, but to genuinely work with a broader community, we need to think more universally or elect to prioritize certain attributes to be more productive.
So the first thing that goes out the door is sparring, at least for an initial meet up. Worse than a beginner that goes too hard is someone advanced who goes too hard. It’s not that timing sparring is impossible to explain, it just takes time because the word can elicit an almost emotional or sacred response that can be difficult to overcome quickly. And there are those who don’t think it’s useful. They’re wrong. Dead wrong. But I get that it may not be what they want to do in a training meet up.
Technique is the easiest thing to train across styles because almost no one practices full speed until the movements are installed. But it’s also super boring for a training meet up—it’s more for a seminar or show & tell (maybe not a bad idea for later.)
Here’s a video of me talking about what I think we need:
So what’s left is drilling; let’s take an FMA umbrella. Either ‘live’, reaction-based drilling, or ‘by the numbers’ drilling but with a proper or more advanced feed. Again, I took for granted everyone has some similar platforms for what I’ll call sumbrada and hubad. Not necessarily. So what’s the commonality?
Any platform that can be taught to an experienced practitioner to get to live, even if basic, reps, within 10-15 minutes.
That means at most 1-2 new ‘moves’ but really a drilling context that has more than one choice of feed or response. This is the essential connective tissue between technique and fighting/sparring, and should be a possible common ground regardless of your training focus. I try to spend a lot of time here, because it’s the right blend of safety and skill building for me personally. And here is where the training meet up is useful. I don’t need too many different energies to drill technique/form. I need it for sparring and live drilling. If we throw out sparring for whatever reason, it’s the most productive thing to do.
In case you have some familiarity, here’s some examples off the top of my head: take down practice, survival drills, 4 gates drills, sumbrada, hubad, lock-counter-lock flow, balance/off balance games, focus mitt/thai pad drills, chi sao, clinch, trapping drills. Most can be ramped up to a sparring feel, but can also be ramped down with less complication than just ‘timing sparring—go.’
An unforgiving or foreign feed makes you re-evaluate your own technique and application. With no ‘instructor’ to proctor, it’s time to figure it out. Maybe the feed isn’t what you thought you agreed to, at a speed you’re not used to, so what are you going to do?
First of all, don’t be an asshole. Don’t smash them in the hand and say it’s because they’re forcing you to ‘do it for real’. Apologize that you’re not good enough to do it safely the way they’re feeding at the speed they’re feeding. Why? Because that happens to be the truth. The goal of drilling without armor is to learn gross motion without hurting your partner, so even if they’re ‘doing it wrong’ you’re also not good enough to handle it. Boom, situation diffused, let’s move on.
It’s ok to feed beyond your own level and push your partner, but communicate about it. Your partner is looking for advanced reps, so as long as they can return at a level appropriate for you, it’s okay to turn it up if they’re willing. In fact, it will make you more comfortable at least delivering faster than you’re used to.
Turn off your need to teach/lecture. If they are looking for advice, give it to them, but also respect that your partner is looking for reps not to teach, so don’t eat up all their time even if they’re willing.
Stop giving your resume. I get it, it’s embarrassing working on something you’re not great at, and you want people to know you’re good at something. They know and respect that. Focus on the task at hand or building a relationship, not on convincing someone about a skill you can’t currently show.
Write in or post a video of a training platform you use, and write if you’d like an invite to our training meet up!