Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Blood, Sweat and Tears

Two big training weekends and I want to debrief them.  Not specifics, but some generalities.  Important things.

I sometimes say that a perfect training day is indicated by blood, sweat and tears.

I don't get the concept of not sweating in a physical art.  Doesn't matter what the art is-- martial arts or climbing or dance or horseback riding or tiddleywinks.  If you don't sweat, what exactly are you doing?  Feel free to disagree, but I think an absence of sweat means it's not a physical skill.

Blood.  This is a game of edges.  Physical edges, mental edges, emotional edges.  Physically, you're a skinbag of meat and (mostly nasty) liquids.  Life is a contact sport, and if you never get your skinbag moving fast and coming in contact with the things of the world, whatever your doing doesn't look or feel like living to me.  And that goes ten times for anything you want to call a martial art or martial sport or combatives or self-defense.  If you play so deep in your comfort zone that you never leak, you might be doing origami or tiddleywinks or low-level interpretive dance. Don't destroy yourself-- you can make your muscles stronger than your joints or create forces in a second that will ruin your physicality or your partner's forever-- but training only happens on the edge.

Lastly tears.  Fighting, especially survival fighting, is a mental and emotional skill far more than a physical skill.  You can live your martial fantasies and pretend it doesn't apply to you, but everyone has emotional edges.  Play tough guy all you want, but until you see the baby's head roll away, or watch someone trying to hold their stomach inside their skin, or feel the barrel of a shotgun in your mouth, you can't know how you will react.  Until you have been shattered and get back up, you cannot know if that is inside you, no matter what you tell yourself.

The last two weekends involved some intense stuff.  Part of scenario training is judiciously pushing buttons, creating a scenario that feels real and pushes someone right to the emotional edge.  Good scenario planning has a lot in common with sadism.  Except it is set up to power through.  To find or create the strength.  So, yeah, I'm a bastard.  Actually used a student's real daughter as a prop...and got to see a slender, untrained, retired lady throw a fifth degree blackbelt across the room and pull a soccer kick to his head just in time. And her tears were pouring down.  And that didn't stop her. Not. One. Damn. Bit.

Two perfect training weekends.  Blood sweat and tears.  Some of the students did some very deep work on themselves.  Everyone had fun.  I think every e-mail so far has said something like, "I'm still processing..."  Very, very good.


ccahua said...

Sneezing is my new fajin. Thanks for that, Rory.
Now if I only can stop hurting when i sneeze.
Thanks for that too :-)

Jake said...


I don't disagree, but...

Sweat bores me. Well, bore might not be the right word. I think sweat gets fetishized in some martial art and physical subcultures. Good training will usually make you sweat, but sweat is not indicative of good training. I've seen (and done) some really stupid/useless things that made me sweat a lot. They were still stupid/useless.

Blood can be indicative that you really pushed the envelope, but it can also be indicative that you tore it. Same thing with tears. I've seen too many instructors who take pride in breaking their students, thinking (or at least, claiming) that they were making them stronger. Really, they were just breaking them.

I know you know these lines, but I think paying attention to them is really important. Playing on the edge is great, but falling off it sucks.

Rory said...

Valid points, Jake.
ccahua- Gezundheit!