Sunday, September 12, 2010

Quote from Mariusz...

Last night Mariusz said:
"...he said it was difficult. It might take twenty-five years and then your martial art would suddenly achieve a new level. I can't help but think that if something takes twenty-five years you are probably getting it despite the training, not because of the training."


Tiff said...

Sayoc Kali Tuhon Tom Kier once said to our seminar group, "People ask us why we train this way for thirty years even when we never have to use our skills. Well, we understand that we train for thirty years so we can survive that thirty seconds of hell . . . and live for another thirty years."

Master Plan said...

Doesn't seem a very time efficient approach to things.

I always liked an answer I'd heard to that question (in effect "why do you do martial arts" (extended to "for so many many years when you know you won't need them")) which went: I like to observe the changes they bring in me over time.

Not my answer by the way, but one that stuck.

Also I'm never sure that years of training has a relationship to success in unexpected violent confrontations, or at least not a linear type relationship.

Anonymous said...

Part of me (a snarky part) wants to agree, but on second and third thought, I'm thinking Practice makes Perfect, Rome wasn't built in a day, and Learn by Doing.

One amazing class or teacher can open up new worlds for you, but you don't develop the muscle memory or save-your-ass reflexes from a couple of hotshot 'OMGWOW' demonstrations, either.

Mike H. said...

Taking 25 years to learn a martial arts skill is like taking a week to compute tomorrow's weather forecast.

Anonymous said...

How long did it take Michelangelo to reach the peak of his artistry?

Anonymous said...

I get your conceit, Rory. Martial arts are often ineffective on a practical level. As an aikidoist, my practice depends on a co-operative and connected uke. That's not fighting--it moves my understanding of real physical violence further from me, not closer.

That said, I think this post misses the point of studying a martial art for twenty five years. What if it's not for fighting, but for learning how to think about fighting?

You write eloquently that a dojo is a fake space, and this is true. All learning environments are, and there are good reasons to think deeply over a long period of time about the nature of conflict. Your book is one of them!

Technique has limited practical benefit in a real fight. But do you think you could be consistently thoughtful about your practical experiences without years of experience in a dojo, isolating and iterating specific aspects of conflict in a safe, low-stakes, rule-bound context where all this arbitrary form and abstraction from reality (ideally, not always) draws the mind out and allows it to draw comparisons, be critical and playful?

Anonymous said...

I've just stopped training with people for this exact reason, I do other stuff.mainly sailing and archery..and it would be retarded to say something like that in these sports.especially some time as a sailor you have to go out on a sea or an learn your stuff and then BOOM your on your own..same as boxers I guess

zzrzinn said...

There are certain things that people seem to acquire after many years of good training...does that make them useless?

I mean if they are training for immediately applicable self defense, that's one thing..obviously something that takes 25 years to learn has no practical benefit outside the art.

Still, as an art thing there is nothing wrong with that, I train partially for the art part. I just want the skills to be able audit what is purely art, and what is function for bad situations, and hopefully how to make that work.

Also is this issue: most people that i've met who are truly impressive in martial arts aren't doing a bunch of different techniques, they are doing the same stuff, but the guy with the "25" year version may have some serious mojo that other peopel don't when he does it, he is just doing the "advanced" version of the same stuff.

There are faster ways I think to learn than what happens in many arts, but I don't see that this makes long term acquired skills less valuable, does it? Seems like it just comes down to what we want to learn, and being clear on that- as Mac's earlier comment mentioned.

Rory said...

Here's the thing, and you guys weren't there for the whole conversation-
If someone says that there is another level where, say, everything becomes natural and spontaneous but it takes 25 years of repetition to get there, I have to challenge that.
Sailing came up- far more complex than combatives with two chaos systems (wind and ocean) plus a person or multiple people (depending on the boat) reacting with rigid and flexible systems...and they get spontaneous really quickly. You read the wind, read the water.

If it takes 25 years to get spontaneous and it happens without direct teaching I have to consider two things:
1) It happens without direct teaching because the person has NO IDEA how to teach it and
2) The training gets in the way, as often happens when the teacher has no idea how to teach.

So, yeah, it resonates with me. If there is a level in your martial arts that magically appears after some ungodly number of training hours, I think you can take entire credit for that. It looks like you got there despite the best efforts of the training to hold you back. You rock.

zzrzinn said...

Ah, the fact that is was about being spontaneous changes everything, that should be a goal from the very start..I totally get it now.

Good food for though about taking credit for our own training..

Good or bad, the entity called "martial arts" isn't seperate from the people who practice it.

Viro said...

I think it would take 25 years of training to do something naturally in a fight that you would never do otherwise.

'Next Level' Martial Artist: "I'm going to do a three-step, inverted mongolian-backfist; followed by a tainted-adder to his right knee at the D5 nerve cluster; move to a position of advantage and then apply my specialized variation of the Kirk Judo Chop to his C-7 vertabrae.

If he has a knife I will immediately straight-blast him. Move inside (he'll never expect that); side-step; elbow him in the left-shoulder at the D5 nerve cluster and then pivot out while performing my specialized varation of the kote-gaeshi."

Untrained fighter: "I'm going to punch him in the face until he stops trying to hurt me.

If he has a knife. I'm going to friggin' run for my life."

Tiff said...

In the previous post, Mac contributed that, "The heart of the matter is self-knowledge and confidence, the brain of the matter is forethought and the body of the matter is training and experience. To simplify the latter, ask yourself what you are training for: combat (kill in one move; anyone can learn it in 5 minutes, no belt required), self-defense (practice running and first aid), sport (dueling) (many years of technical skill necessary and, in practices such as MMA, the ability to take a great deal of pain and damage and keep going), art (a year or two of developing recognitions and reflexes), health or philosophy (a lifetime)."

I think this offers insight into this discussion as well. I'm reminded that martial arts is a passion, a dedication -- not just a hobby. It's neither simply something one does, nor is it what one is. Training is merely a learning process, and no matter what your goal (see Mac's quote), refinement and time correlate. The better you want to be (at whatever), the more focus you dedicate, and the more time doing so requires.

I don't think long-term training is indicative of a poor teacher or half-hearted student. Why, then, would a monk devote his life to enlightenment, or a samurai to bushido? Why were such things a way of life? Poor instruction? Money? Habit/tradition? I think not.

It's not difficult to kill someone, and as Mac pointed out, very little training is required. As it was mentioned in a long-ago post, it is not the will to win, but the will to prepare to win.

I routinely remind my little students, "Practice doesn't make perfect. PERFECT practice makes perfect." I think this applies here, also.

Mike H. said...
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Mike H. said...
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