Training So Hard Angels Would Cry

JDK circa 2003


Overheard at a training hall recently: "I remember how tough training was when we were young. We used to do pushups on broken glass!!!" 

The part about broken glass is my clickbait addition. But the hyperbole of how tough training 'used to be' typically continues until the weak and infirmed are totally chafed from such a group. 

Tough physical training is of course beneficial for any combat fighter. It toughens your body for encounters. Allows you to withstand the rigours of training. And maximises your potential. However, anyone knows to achieve that high level of physical ability such training has to be introduced gradually, and needs to be sustained through recovery periods and off seasons.   

I say tough physical training is beneficial, but tough training doesn't make you a better martial artist. Of course I don't deny it complements any solid martial art training and endeavour. But if you weren't in a good martial arts program, no amount of tough training is going to make you understand martial arts any better. For e.g., if you were doing Taebo and running on broken glass ... this wouldn't make for much progress, if any at all. 

In fact, why hold sentimentally to the 'hard knocks' way of training? Have you not really received enough understanding or grasped concepts of what a martial art attempts to accomplish? Frankly, I'm here to reduce risk and injury to my person and to protect my loved ones. To take 'encounters' in the dojo to be applied as an analogy for other interactions in my life. To become more skilled using less effort! That is the goal, isn't it?

A friend of mine, Sifu Gawain Siu was talking a few years ago about the exclusivity in martial arts. Within a few months of joining, members drop off. Every year, people lose their commitment for training. Promotion after promotion keeps whittling numbers down. Then comes the huge event horizon where one approaches your black belt grading and you discover only a few of your original group are left standing with you. 

Anyone in left this position would be hyper aware there's an accompanying thought process legitimising your decreasing circle. That the perseverance, and the remaining few who eventually arrive there reflects the best of what your group has to offer.

Or does it really reflect survivorship bias

The best of martial arts is not magic. There's no mystical force. No tricks. You take good physical concepts and combative tactics, and use them to maximise the student practitioners under you. Your student practitioner approaches their maximum ability with the training provided. Over time, that maximum ability expands incrementally with good nurturing training. 

It's time for martial artists to think of the demands of life in the 21st century. You know people in your community would gain from your martial arts training. And you need to rethink who deserves your time. In short, that response should be ... 

... everyone.  

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