Friday, 29 February 2008

Martial arts: check up and maintenace.

I’ve been getting fairly frustrated with my training recently. Inevitably after so many years the learning curve is going to flatten out. But I’ve often come away with the feeling that I’m actually getting worse. This may or may not be true but it isn’t a good feeling.

But last night I had a session where I felt as if I had progressed more in a half hour than I had in the previous three months.

One of my problems is that as a supposed ‘senior’, I tend to spend a lot of my training time teaching less experienced people. Doing so is a blessing in many ways because you don’t really get to understand something until you have to deconstruct it and explain it to someone else. But is has a downside too: If you don’t want to be the kind of bullying teacher who beats up on his students, you can end up with some bad habits. Like letting your opponents into openings so they can try moves out, or over-elaborating your moves so that you can demonstrate things, or breaking your flow to explain something.

Which are exactly the traps I seem to have fallen into. And it only took a half hour with my Sihing (elder brother) to point this out. Of course it’s going to take a lot longer to eradicate ingrained bad habits but at least I now know the cause of my frustrations.

It makes me quite realise how lucky I am to have found the school that I have: small private and old-skool with a high student retention rate. At most ‘McMartial Arts franchises’ I would long ago have been pushed out to teach my own students. But at our place, even though my own teacher (Sifu)is no longer around, with sixteen years training behind me, I still have maybe five or six Sihings who train regularly. And that keeps me (or gets me back) on course.

And it does make me wonder about all those ‘black belts’ that you will find running martial arts classes at just about every sports-hall in the country. If they are not regularly checked out and stretched by their seniors at best they are going stagnate, or worse, if they are not honest with themselves, develop some serious ego problems.

No comments: