Training Diary: Week 3

Two sessions this week. Only cycled to one of them. Feeling a little tired – not sure if this is exposure to grappling tiredness or just because I have been working on my feet for most of the week.

After first session with sparse turnout, started to wonder whether there was any detriment to not training with many others and no other beginners. A bigger turnout in the second session washed that speculation away somewhat. It seems like (at least psychologically) a mix is the best. It’s great to train with senior students but it can be often frustrating if they have not yet learnt how to teach.

It seems to be that a martial arts student can sometimes becomes something of a nagging pedant long before they become an effective teacher. There is also the tendency to try and teach different lessons than the instructor is teaching, which is fine but often hard for the beginner to take in so many voices. When you are able to assimilate competing ideas on top of your base that can often be so useful in your education but as a beginner it’s often bewildering and frankly annoying. In this situation often both the instructor and the student want to focus on what the instructor is talking about and only the senior student is trying to force their own agenda. I guess it is often a conflict of who gets to learn – the student learning technique or the senior student learning through trial and error how to teach. I have been through this process myself and have probably been a nag at some points. However, I do like to think I have come through this stage somewhat as I know how important it is to support as well as instruct (no-one reacts well to the sort of uptight snippy feedback so many wannabe assistant instructors throw out) and have recently found myself holding back on advice at a recent competition for this very reason. It’s definitely good to assess a situation and want to give advice but whether you actually give it is another matter.

Training with other people closer to me in skill level in the other lesson showed the other side of the coin. It can be more fun, more forgiving, less frustrating but at times confusing and in partner-work the blind leading the blind.

In the second session, I got cramp whilst grappling in both legs whilst rolling. Annoyingly, this was once after the other. My first reaction is that I didn’t cycle to the lesson so maybe I missed the more thorough warm up I am used to. The warm up is not terribly long and advances to repeated explosive movements quite quickly. In both positions, my leg was bent past ninety degrees and bearing weight in the way that never happens in Taekwondo, I did manage to hit a sweep whilst rolling which I remember seeing in a book, so it does seem to bolster the opinion that in grappling, just copying what you have seen elsewhere can work – at least at the level where your experienced opponents are being semi-compliant.

A short discussion at the end of one session gave me a sort of insight. One of the students there said that Hapkido did not seem to be a full martial art and was more an add-on art to Taekwondo. He added that most Taekwondo instructors also teach Hapkido. I guess all kinds of martial arts students pick up wrong ideas about arts they don’t know much about, which further emphasises the need to get out there and see as much of the martial arts world as you can. I disagreed but the instructor seemed to hold the same erroneous position so I didn’t labour the point. One might as well suggest that Jujitsu is an add on to Karate and that most instructors teach both. Whilst it might be true in a minority of cases, it’s not widespread. The art have cross-pollinated and whilst there are similarities, only a very few instructors will actually teach both to the higher levels as opposed to teaching one and teaching the merest basics of the other. In any case, having researched and visited most of the Taekwondo schools in Vancouver, I can say for sure that it’s not even true in the area, let alone the wider world. I wonder if other views to be challenged will occur in the future. I already politely fended off a sine wave criticism (which is not to say that I defended it wholeheartedly because it is flawed, but only to say what I liked about my style). It seems at the moment that no-one more than Taekwondo students have to justify their style (the student I was talking to was a ninjutsu black belt by the way) even as elements creep in to the highest levels of MMA as a way to misguide the directness of MMA-level Muay Thai.

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