Monday, September 02, 2013

Nobody Is Wrong Here

Spent a fantastic weekend at Water and Steel. A lot of moments for me.  Learning, thoughts.  Good people.  The instructors-- Professor Trigg and Kelly Worden were the headliners. Alex Corper was a blast and Randy King is an up-and-comer who is going to change the martial arts world from an unexpected angle.  There were other classes I missed-- sorry, guys, but someone had to run into town for gin and you know we couldn't trust the Edmonton crew with that kind of responsibility.

Lots of differences between the instructors, and that's what I wanted to talk about.

Got to play with Kelly Sunday morning.  He was teaching single stick as it relates to empty hands and he was kind enough to play with me between the lessons.  Almost everything he did was different and sometimes contrary to the way I teach and think.  Pattern, timing and rhythm.  He gives them as a platform to build from, I treat them as an addiction and distraction to be avoided.  Kelly could take the concept of timing and tie it three dimensionally, not just to rhythm but to pitch, and that gives you an entire extra dimension in which to manipulate the opponent.

We teach differently.  We think differently.  And both ways work.

As different as the paths of learning, the movement in students isn't that different.  Some differences. For instance Kelly likes a little more distance than I do and his preferred point of action is in the limbs and mine tends to be in the core.  But the essence-- the NSI guys can strike, throw, lock, grapple and incorporate weapons.  It's all integrated.  The faster things come, the more they adapt. And everyone is having fun.  When people giggle when they get hit, you have a good school.

I only got two sessions with Leonard Trigg and didn't get to cross hands.  I'm usually resistant to calling people (and very resistant to being called) master or professor or sifu. (Less resistant to sensei, since I came up in those systems and early habits are harder to break).  But Trigg is one of those guys that you look at and get a feeling that a name isn't enough.  You feel that there should be a title.

Quiet, incredibly self-efacing.  Soft spoken enough that everyone goes silent when he talks.  And tough.  Moves flawlessly, hits hard.  The professor taught a sequence in steps.  Within that sequence were offense, defense, shutdowns, target preps and transitions.  Everyone got it. No child left behind.  And I saw several people spontaneously using pieces of the sequence later in more random play.

I learned very little about Professor Trigg's thought process.  Two shy people tend not to make deep conversations on the first meeting.  But his teaching method was very different from mine.  And it worked.

People get tribal, and I have to watch for this in myself.  Water and Steel was an opportunity to see a whole bunch of excellent things that were different.  Challenge myself.  I do believe I'm working on a superior training methodology (in this place and time and for my purposes and definition of best, etc*.)  If I saw something better I'd be doing that.  But it's good to get a solid reminder is that there is no 'one right way' that there are a million ways to be excellent and to create excellent students.  And a lot of those methods will be better for many people than my methods.

That's what diversity is all about.

Kelly, Professor Trigg-- Thank you.  It was a genuine pleasure.

* That might be a blog post tomorrow.

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