Thursday, February 25, 2016

I used to do a little, but a little wouldn't do it, so a little got more and more

A conversation I had with Anna Valdiserri from God's Bastard Blog got me thinking and sparked this week's post.

The conversation went something like this...
Sadly there are plenty of people in the world that won't listen to a guy like Marc (MacYoung) because he is not an elite level BJJ champion. If a Gracie said the same thing word for word it would be gold.
There are equally as many RBSD guys that train in self defense maybe like once a month that totally ignore solid info from an elite champion because they are from a sport art. If Marc said it however it would be gold.

Randy King ranted about it

Plus check out that sexy ass T-Shirt

Which brings me to the topic of this weeks post - How often do you train?

Before we dive deeper into that question let me ask you ask you some other questions to set a baseline.

Why do you train?
If you train simply for the pleasure of it, then the amount you train is irrelevant.
Let me state there is absolutely nothing wrong with that.  Train when you feel like it because it is fun.

If you train in martial arts of any kind you can watch the UFC with buddies that don't train and know a little more than them.  You can tell them all about your Jits or Muay Thai.  Your stand up game and your grappling.

If you are a self defense / RBSD guy you can give your opinion about military and law enforcement tactics on the Internet :)

I literally just wrote if you want to train just for the fun of it there is absolutely nothing wrong with that, then I spent the next paragraphs ripping on those guys.

I can kid because I am also both of those guys.  And those last two pictures make a good point regardless of your position on firearms or the police.

Ultimately, you and you alone, are responsible for your own safety.

Ok back on point why do you train?

If you train simply for the pleasure of it, then the amount you train is irrelevant.

If you want so see a steady increase in your skills, clearly more and consistent training is required.

If you are preparing for a competition it stands to reason that you will need to add even more training specific to the event.

If you are training because your life depends on it, how much training do you think you need?

If  you are training in personal protection, then by definition aren't you training because your life may depend on it?

Yes, but personal protection is multifaceted.  Good personal protection places physical skills as a last line of defense.  Things like avoidance, escape and evade, awareness, boundary setting, communication and deescalation have a much greater effect on protecting yourself.  These things actually don't take much training and can be applied / practiced every day.

So with all of that in place, who is left that needs to practice the physical skills of personal protection on a higher basis?

People who have a:
  • High risk life style
  • High risk profession
If you have a high risk life style the time you would allot to training might be better served getting out of the life.  Whatever life that is.

If you chose not to, or can't, if you have a high risk profession, or you just really want to get good at the physical aspects of personal protection,  how often  / how much do you train?

Is going to a weekend seminar enough?
I know there is high end training that runs a couple thousand dollars for a weekend.  No matter how good that training is, are those skills going to be available to you under stress a year later?

How often to you train?

What is ideal?
Most would argue 2 to 3 times a week
The standard for most Judo schools is to measure time in grade for promotion as two two hour classes per week minimum.

Jigoro Kano suggested that one should train in Judo every day.

Ok Kasey, so how much should I train?
I have found that I am too biased to answer that question.  I love training, you could argue that I am addicted to training.

So asking me that is like asking a crack addict how much crack should some one do
All of the crack!!!

The other side of the spectrum is the idea that if you can't make it to the Dojo at least twice a week you are wasting your time.

Any Judo (anything you wish to get better at) is better than no Judo.

To answer how much should I train, you have to take a serious look at your life.
Grab a piece of paper, or use a spreed sheet.
Days of the week across the top
Hours of the day from wake to sleep down the side

Here is a small portion of what I use as an example

Block out the things that absolutely have to be done at certain times on certain days.  Crazy things like work, school, pick up your kids from day care, sleep, etc.  Those are fixed points in time to you, can't be moved, can't be changed.  Everything else is fair game.
The blocks that are open give you an idea of how much time you actually have.

How bad do you want it?

A conversation I had this winter -
 - Hey man you are off tonight are you coming to the Dojo?

 - I was thinking about it, but the Wild are on

- They have these things called DVR's, you could come to training and then watch the hockey game        when you get home.

- Yeah we will see

That guy did not come to the Dojo.  Now months later I bet he doesn't even remember the score of the game.  Months later I know I am better now than I was then.

Map out a time management matrix.  Free up time to train.  Find balance.  I doesn't do you any good to be at training 5 times a week and become truly formidable against any threat, only to be murdered in your sleep by your spouse because you left her / him to deal with all the adulting (you know like raising your kids, cooking, cleaning, laundry, what not) 5 times a week.

I think 2- 3 times a week will have a great impact on your training and is not unreasonable (especially if you have a high risk profession).  Sit down with your significant other and explain what your goals are, why they are important to you and the entire family and how much time is needed to achieve those goals.

Wine, chocolate and a foot rub might help this conversation as well

Ok so you really want to train, you have mapped out your time but when you can train and when training is available don't line up very often, or at all.  Now what?

Any Judo is better than no Judo

Go to training when you can.  When you are there maximize your training.

  • Bring a note book to class and take active notes during breaks and immediately after.
  • Every phone has a pretty high quality video camera these days.  Check with the instructor first, if it is cool film the instruction and film yourself.
  • Active participation visualization.  McClure Sensei used to say life is short.  You only get so many training opportunities, only so many reps, so you have to make the most of them.  Don't just wait for your turn to do the technique.  If it is your job to attack, practice attacking as perfectly and as intently as you can.  When your partner deals with your attack practice ukemi (falling, receiving their response) as if your life depended on it.
  • Volunteer to be demonstrated on.  I have learned many things being a sucker for punishment Uke, that I never would have if I just watched a demonstration of the technique or drill.  Feeling is believing.

When you can't go to training, train yourself.

This can be very fun.
This can be very productive.
However, you want to take steps to prevent ingraining bad habits.

I would suggest going to as much training as you can to get a solid idea of how to work the skills you are trying to gain / improve before you attempt to replicate that training on your own.

Bad habits creep in easier than you might think.  A story I use to make this point comes from when I was cross training in Goju Ryu Karate back in college.  There was a kata we were working on, a portion of which was a kick followed by a punch.  When I would throw that punch I noticed that my wrist was "broken".  Meaning my arm was pointed at the target but my knuckles were pointed at the ground.  If you are at a Karate school and you see this in the senior students or the Instructors you are at a bad school.  It is a clear sign that they never hit anything.  Because if you hit anything like that with any power at all you would break your hand and or wrist.

I knew better than that, and I only did it when we worked this kata.  Days later I was driving, I noticed that when I pushed down on the accelarator my hand broke on the steering wheel the same way.

You see around this time, one of the Batman movies that had recently come out featured a Bat-mobile that had a accelerator handle almost like a Jet Fighter.  So when I would push on the gas with my foot I would pretend to use that lever with my hand.  Every single time I pushed on the gas.  Well guess what?  Pushing on the gas is a lot like the foot position of a front kick.  I had accidentally developed a neurological pathway to making that gesture with my hand every time I moved my foot that way.

If I can ingrain bad habits pretending to be Batman when I drive, it is safe to assume that anyone can ingrain bad habits training themselves.

I'm not saying not to self train, I'm just saying be careful and check for unintended consequences.

Self training, especially for self defense, what should you train?

Part of the conversation I had with Anna that sparked this blog was about her take on the last blog. She was kind enough to share it, and this is what she wrote about it...

I LOVE this, and not just because there's so much handsome in it.
What helps with self-defence? People seem to forget so much that people may start at different levels.
For someone who is completely paralyzed by the thought of touching another person, BJJ may help with self-defence. For someone who was raised not to say "no", ever, learning to tell telemarketers to fuck off may help with self-defence. For someone who has the posture of a wilted flower, freakin' flamenco can help with self-defence, because it makes you stand up straight.
One of the ladies we saw when we were up in Scotland with Rory couldn't get me to stop walking towards her because she couldn't say no to me. Highly intimidating me. In the middle of a class, in a safe space. She just couldn't do it.

Self training allows you to build  / customize your own method.  What works best for you.  In order to do that you need building blocks.

Rory Miller defines building blocks as the sets of basic skills you need to be competent.
Some examples include:

Counter assault
Neck manipulation (strangles and breaks)
Ground Skills

Rory has a much more in depth list, but I feel these skill sets are the core.  Personally, that is one of the reasons I really enjoy training Jujitsu is because it covers those building blocks.

For self training to have the most bang for the buck it has to develop the fundamentals that make the building blocks work.

For example if you want to work on takedowns as a building block of your self defense method, you will need to understand what fundamental physical motions make takedowns possible.  Then develop training that improves your ability to perform those physical motions.

Remember earlier when I wrote you can help maximize your training time by using your phone to video it?  I thought I'd put my money where my mouth is and have my oldest daughter film an example of what I am talking about.

You want to keep this training as simple and basic as possible.  Like a pianist working the scales.  Very basic, however, that mastery of the basic is what allows the concert pianist to have the freedom to express himself freely with great skill.  As opposed to some chump just hitting keys and trying to call it jazz.

When you can't go to training, train yourself...unless you can find buddies to train with.
Form a play group.  Find like minded people that also have free time when you have free time and beat the crap out of each other.  Like Rob in the video.

How much should you train?
Easy answer -
If you are training for fun as much as you want
If you have a more serious need as much as you can.

I used to do a little, but a little wouldn't do it, so a little got more and more.
Just kept trying to get a little better, a little better than before.

Just a little better than before
The original intent of Budo was to kill with one stroke.  In times of peace it is easy to lose that intensity.  So focus on killing who you were yesterday.

Because if you are not training to kill who you were yesterday, know that somewhere someone is training to kill who you are today

Train hard, Train smart, Be safe
Train as much as you can.

Winners find a way to win

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