I am a school teacher by day and a martial artist by night. The other day I was working at my desk as another teacher had a small group of students in my classroom. She had pulled them aside because they were struggling with math and needed extra help. The students were all working on the same problems from their math books. The teacher asked them to share out the answer. She got 8 different answers from her 8 different students. None of them gave her the right answer, so she proceeds to break down the problem and teach them the steps to solving the math problem. Halfway through her explanation one of the students asks if he can work ahead because all of the current problems are too easy…..Think about it, none of them were able to give the teacher the right answer. The teacher tells him no because he got all of his problems wrong, which means they are not too easy for him. The student proceeds to argue about how amazing his math skills are, dispute the obvious evidence, he could benefit from learning a few things. This is a great example of an ego getting in the way and preventing him from learning. Instead as a student, no matter what you are trying to learn, open-mindedness will get you a significantly higher rate of success.
That technique doesn’t work….on the street
There are many times I am working on a technique, and I like to share my training videos, just to get a comment that what I am working on would never work in a “real” street fight. There is any number of responses to that comment, but before going into the responses that comment is a classic indicator the person has a closed mind and their ego is speaking. When you are first learning a technique most people will make decisions about the technique within the first 30 seconds. That decision is heavily influenced by how fast a person can grasp the concept of the technique. If after being shown the technique a person is immediately claiming it will “never” work they are speaking from ego and ignorance. If instead, they tried setting that ego aside and learn the technique first, the applications of the technique will become much more clear. Keep in mind martial arts techniques are like pieces to a much more complex puzzle. One-piece by itself will never give you a clear image of the overall picture. Here are a few reasons to consider keeping an open mind.
Why learn a technique that doesn’t work for you? If you plan on being, or currently are, a martial arts instructor learning techniques could be beneficial for your future students. Different body types and personality types can influence how appealing a technique can be. For example, Master Pinto is shorter than me. Master Pinto loves using head butts. He gets lower than his opponent and rises up to execute a very effective head butt. I, on the other hand, am 6 feet tall. It’s rare for me to find someone taller than me. Due to my height, it is awkward to get lower than an opponent to execute a rising head butt. I still learned the technique, and strive to understand the application of this technique. One day I may have a shorter student whom this technique will be a perfect match.
Expect the Unexpected
No matter how hard we train and try, age catches up with us all. You won’t always be young and strong. As you age you will lose speed, strength, and reaction time. Your body will change in ways you could never hope to imagine. A technique that doesn’t suit you now may be better for you in the future. Softness can replace strength. Learning how to flow, use your opponent’s momentum against them, the efficiency of your movements will be super handy as you age. Even the “soft” skills of meditation, concentration, and having a peaceful mind will one day be the most important lessons of your life. We don’t always appreciate the lessons we learn at the moment. Sometimes it takes years before the light turns on and we understand what our teachers were trying to tell us.
Of course, time doesn’t always need to thump us on the head. You might find yourself in a situation you never expected even while you are young and fearless. Take the head butt example from earlier. I am tall, so I don’t run across opponents who are bigger than me very often. That doesn’t mean it never happens. There is a good chance I will one day face an opponent who towers over me, then a head butt might be a perfect solution.
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With all the exciting things happening this year, we would love to share this amazing training with our community to help inspire a love for martial arts. You can help support these programs by following and sharing our various social media pages. There is a Facebook Page, Instagram Account, and YouTube Channel dedicated to Ironside Medieval Combat. Check out these pages, share them, talk about them, and together we can make Martial Arts an inspiration for generations yet to come.