Muay Thai, Jiu-jitsu, and Some Dude with a Stick?

martial arts instructorsIf you walk through the main Gym you might notice two pictures of Asian gentlemen gracing the walls. These two men who have shaped modern combat sports, introduced and popularized their respective arts in North America. Two guys who are still teaching and come to Minnesota every year: Ajarn Chai and Dan Inosanto. Most of the gym is familiar with Muay Thai but if you walk through that same room late on a Tuesday or Thursday you might see some silly looking dudes swinging sticks around and brandishing plastic knives or playing patty cake really fast.

You might say to yourself, what are these clowns doing? That’s not fighting. You’re right. It’s drilling. Not all fights happen in a ring. Some happen to soldiers, some to police officers, and some to everyday people like you and I. Sometimes there are knives, bats, rocks, teeth, bike locks, screwdrivers and any ridiculous or terrible thing you might imagine involved. Jab, Cross, leg kick or a double leg tackle might not be the right solution to a knife wielding psycho. You might need different tools, you might need evasive foot work and quick accurate hands to gain control, you might need to access and use something around you as a weapon.

“If I Can Do You Can Do” -Ajarn Chai

Kali teaches these skill sets and it teaches them through repetitive drilling in which attack, defense and counter attack flow seamlessly into each other. These drills often begin being very scripted and then become free flowing. Two old sword fighters might look at a guy with big pads on his hands hitting other pads over and over and say, “That’s not fighting.” Then they would presumably stab each other with their long pointy swords.
But, But, but this sounds a lot like that kung fu crap that doesn’t work! It’s important to understand that these techniques are currently used by a large percentage of military people in modern day. Yet they have also shaped historical warfare. Filipinos killed Ferdinand Magellan and eventually made up most of a Spanish Galleon’s fighters. Later these techniques were used in WWII to fight off the Japanese. If your still worried about its functionality the dog brothers have explored this in detail, check out their videos or ask your local Kali instructor: Greg Nelson.

“Knowledge Comes From Your Instructors Wisdom Comes From Within” – Guro Dan

One of the key reasons to train FMA (Filipino martial arts) are they attributes they develop. They stress footwork, hand speed, coordination, precision and creativeness in a way that will positively improve your other arts. If you want to functionalize it buy some hockey gear and a few ice packs. It might even save your life.

Plateaus and breaking your Routine

DSC_6847At some point you will get good, it’s going to happen if you put in the time. The problem is once that happens you might find you stop getting better. You might find you’re bored with your training. So what can you do to keep advancing? Avoid some simple mistakes.

Have you been training with the same partner during and after class (yes you should be training outside of class).  I’ve seen a lot of great training partners who get comfortable with each other and they stop pushing each other. They do what they always do and thus they repeat the same mistakes, focus too much on their shared strengths and not enough on their weaknesses. The fact is if you and your training partner never work clinch you will always suck at clinch, if they let you skip your conditioning you will never get as strong. Simple Solution, train with more people…if you’re dedicated and hardworking you will find that people who are better than you will be happy to work with you.

Set new goals and research new drills. You’ve been doing pyramids for two years like a metronome and your conditioning is awesome, but could you be faster? How’s your foot work and head movement? It’s easy to work what you’ve been working, it’s easy to work what your good at. Set new training goals. WRITE THEM DOWN.

Go to a seminar. Believe it or not martial arts masters are real and they have real knowledge to share and you should probably go get some of that sweet, sweet brain nectar. Heck they don’t even have to be a master, just another person with a different skill set who has made different discoveries than you about martial arts might send you in a new direction towards improvement.

Get a new set of eyes. Your training partners are so used to seeing you they will miss the obvious and you see yourself through some pretty screwed up rose colored classes. Ask someone you respect to watch and give you feedback and work on it right away.

Even if you’re a black belt you will fall into routines, you will be limited by your comfort zone, limited by your own knowledge. To break your routines and progress you need to be creative, seek new information and methods, set clear goals, be disciplined and work hard.

Coaches Corner: Keep Training – Keep Growing

IMG_3136Why are you training? The answer varies, but whatever the answer you are going to face some challenges to your training: injury, loss of interest, new job, new family, and anxiety. Whatever the reason there is one thing that you must never do….stop training. When you stop training the habits, the strength, technique, timing, and confidence are all going to fade away. You will start finding more reasons not to come in and soon martial arts will be something you did once upon a time.

Even if you can only get into the Academy once per week – do it! If you keep training, you keep growing. If you keep training you will find more time to train. If you keep training you will get better. If you stop training you will lose everything you gained. If you stop training you may never start again.

How do you keep training so that you don’t wash out and lose all the hard work you’ve put into your art?

When things are tough just make sure you get to the gym once a week no matter what.

Make yourself accountable, tell your training partner you will see them next class. Tell your wife you will be in because you’re getting fat. Post on Facebook that you will be in…people will expect to see you. You will feel guilty if you don’t show up.

But you’re bored and your favorite training partner stopped showing up? It’s time for you to shake things up and set some new goals and focus on new areas of the art…how’s your boxing? Sword fighting? Spider guard? It’s time to watch some inspirational masters on YouTube and try some new things. Go to a new class with a new coach…they will teach the same material differently and this will result in startling epiphanies. Sometimes if you look at things from multiple angles you understand them better….go figure. You might even go to a seminar, heck you might try a different art and the instructor might share an insight that changes fundamentally the way you think about combat sports and the martial arts.
But I’m tired and too busy…just stop thinking that way. One thing is certain; once you are in the Academy crushing the pads or trying to choke someone you will not be tired and the stress from being busy will fade away. You will go home mentally energized and sleep better than if you had flopped your tired butt on the couch.

The truth is your training will have peaks and valleys. That’s okay, but if you stop you probably never start again. Objects at rest tend to stay at rest, keep your momentum! Keep moving!