Thursday, April 17, 2014

Dimmer Switch

I think it has to be done.

A new training step has to be designed that sits between forms/drills/applications/patterns ..... And free sparring in traditional martial arts.

Something that happens before push hands or san shou or any of the other interim pieces already invented to bridge the gap between 'what' and 'when'.

Something to help grapplers and throwers learn faster, keep their partners safer, and from big folks relying on muscle to make things work ...

Something for strikers to help them to notice escalations in speed and power and how to control their level of force.

A dimmer switch if you like, that spans the gap between on and off, 1 and 99, rigid and limp noodle, mindless inattention and mindless flailing.

This idea has come up before, for instance talking with Jake about teaching Muay Thai sparring (I'm not sure if I can find the link, but it had to do with using your 'adult voice' on his blog) ... And then again this morning with my Japanese sword teacher who also teaches Aikido and Jiu Jitsu.

We were actually talking about San Shou as it is taught in my Bagua system ... and I said something to the effect of ...."Well yes, but you learn fastest when your partner can give you good questions to answer".

We both laughed, both at how obvious the comment was, and how hard it is to teach people how to BE this person.

Just like it's mentally very hard to choose to stand in the slowest line at the check out .... on purpose, or pull into the slowest lane of traffic ... on purpose ... It is really really hard to not try to win, to dominate .... OR alternatively, become it's dim witted opposite and become sloppy and unengaged.

ON or OFF seem to be the default settings.

We need to teach people how to be great training partners BEFORE they do partner practices. They need to learn how to calibrate to the person they are working with, how to give just enough structure or resistance for the other to learn something, but not too much as to make what they are learning ridiculous. A form of an audio and/or kinesthetic conversation with both parties learning how to push and pull, touch and grab, resist and unbalance, at modulated speeds, accelerating, decelerating, at varying powers and intensities .... with feedback.

Folks should learn how to give tactile or visual clues as to the right options for their partner to try at that moment, and how to throw believable spanners into the works to help one's partner improvise ...

I think the random flow training format would work here .... just need to make up some ways to do it empty hand ....

Basically learning how to Wait ... Listen .... Judge .... See ......

I am not averse to some help .....


Jim said...

One tool might be Rory's one-step.

But it's really hard to teach someone to be a good training partner, and that's what I think you're aiming at. It's easy to tell someone "go spar" and let 'em rock and roll. Of course, if they don't have the tools, they won't be very successful. And that's why you see so many people doing partnered drills as mere rote exercises with little resistance or real energy in them. (Deliberately avoiding the word "aliveness" or "life" because that ends up derailing so many conversations on this issue.) Thinking about it -- it's almost akin to a version of the prisoner's dilemma. If we fight our instinct to do what's best for us -- we can both grow. But we both have to put aside our desire to win, to show how good we are, or to simply do what's good for us before we can get there.

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

It rather comes back to what was discussed De Bonos concept of Po to break out from the Yes No model that we have as a staple.
We certainly find it easier to get people to respond when we are pushing and pulling, but when one then puts the people back together they fall back in to old habits, or try to push each other but can't.
I keep coming back to needing to work with people more experienced and knowledgeable. In the old Japanese Ryu the strong adherence that that in a drill or exercise the giver or teacher role was taken by the more experienced person, ideally the seniors or the teacher, as they had the import job of asking the right questions.
This harder to do in small groups or when one has a lot of people at the same level and there are not enough seniors to go round, though mixing people helps as all have different skills in different places.
It also come down to the "WHy" of people being there. Wanting to ask the better questions is not something that a lot of people want. They want the easier Yes/No right/wrong, on/Off situations that culture generally supports and endorses

Mac said...

The key, I think, is to teach/provide an environment for people to think, feel AND act in a unified manner, with the emphasis on whatever art/goal the student has signed up for. As such, traditional MA usually starts with physical training, a period of rational brain development where the student has time (usually through repetition) to evaluate and incorporate the techniques into (muscle) memory. Then the training moves to the emotional (brain) level, where the student is challenged (in some styles, thumped on A LOT) until they can get past "misemotion" (Fred King, Mo Duk Pai Kung Fu) and use their martial memory to move/fight/win in a purposeful (but not yet thoughtful) way. The next stage is training the survival brain through ego 'destruction.' (A realization that you are the
265th fastest gun in the west). The last phase, and the longest, is the 'spiritual' phase where the student, first, learns to tap the survival brain's massive energy and single focus ability, but in a controlled and thoughtful way, totally appropriate to the needs of the situation. Then, the student will 'cross the barrier' and become the Master, and be, think, feel and act from the '4th Brain' with the ability to project their intention, to expand their "dynamic sphere" far out into space and time.

Can all four phases be taught/learned at the same time?

Jake said...

Is this the post you were thinking of?

I'm not familiar enough with "random flow" training to know how it might help here. Sounds like it could.

I've experimented with a bunch of stuff: slow motion working. Isolation sparring. Some of it helps, sometimes, but sometimes, the disconnect is between the ears.

I'd be open to using some students as guinea pigs...

The European Historical Combat Guild said...

I think one has to teach all four, or how ever many one decides are the important elements in the "concept package" of the art, at the same time. Though of course, the application and grasp of them will vary student to student and some will be stronger than others etc. in different places and more open to development and acquisition. The linear approach that we often see is often in place to make the "teaching" easier for the teacher or to make the teacher more important/necessary, not easier for the Student. See Rory's recent blog on easy learning and easy teaching.
People often think of learning in linear curves, though we try to use the analogy of a spiral, where one comes back to certain areas again and again but at an increasingly higher level. Though where they come in on those will be different depending on all the factors that a person brings in to their process.
The more I teach, over 20 years full time now, the more I come to see that it is about cutting away the BS that we all bring to the experience, of learning and skill acquisition, Young kids learn fast and effectively as they don't have the BS, and the more we find ways to get the adult back to that state the better they do.