falseness in training

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Utahblaine, Feb 24, 2019.

  1. Utahblaine

    Utahblaine White Belt

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    Hey there. I am a martial artist of 12 + years in my 20's with almost 9 of years being some degree of teaching.

    I have recently retired from teaching as I have decided to move on and enter into new fields. Being a new dad is one of them.

    I'm seeking a new take on things that have been weighing very heavy on my mind. let me begin.

    The last two years were very tough for me even though some good things were happening. I tested and received my Third Degree Black in our system and 6 months later was given the official title of Sensei As well. This Title in my Dojo held only for long term teachers who have proven themselves worthy of high regard among our circle schools.

    This time was hard however, because I was really beginning to question my abilities and the methods that were used to build them.


    We practice a known type of american karate with the addition of a number of different disciplines. It is it's own mixed "style".

    We focus hard on memorizing long, scripted, and often very complicated "self-Defense" Techniques, and many forms or Kata. I became a top performer in what I now call Regurgitating. I feel as though I don't have what I would call Ad lib skills or real time Sparing/combat skills. This was an area rarely discussed or practiced. When this topic was touched on or we would "train" it, we would do about three or four rounds lasting about 30 seconds at best. Enough time for one punch or kick to be thrown.

    Me being a younger man, I liked to push my self and others too. When I could I would have my students spar safely but effort and focus as well. I felt that The ability to experience being tired and/ adrenaline while making decisions and movements was important.

    As time passed while teaching there and the standards for what it took for our students to pass their "tests" lowered or my opinion and knowledge of the subject grew, I became more and more disconnected and even disgusted with my school and myself. The amount of students that "earned their Black Belts without having any actual ability or ever having shown any real effort in any areas was killing me. I began to see this falseness even more in my self.

    I was good at coming up with ideas for drills, for workouts, for marketing, for all kinds of things. I liked to problem solve and come up with solutions. Realism is something that for me, is a must have. That's why I could see certain problems. I tried hard not to shy away from the truth no matter how hard, or disappointing it was. I'ts what helped me be a good teacher.

    This is where problems grew. I started asking tough questions related to training and our school philosophy. Questions like what if this happens or what if my attacker doesn't react like the techniques says he will? What about adrenaline? what about mental and physical toughness? what about reaction time or what about Cadio and breathing. I was told That I was just to young and naive.

    When the subject of kata was brought to my teachers my attention. I asked the mother of all questions. Why? What is the point? I was given a few shallow and cookie cutter answers like, kata is meant to help you practice without a partner, to train your memory, to improve fluidity of motion, to visualize the techniques. I personally know more ways that kata can be beneficial but neither these answered or my own were ever given out. I had to dig and interview my teacher to get them. I would ask my this question once. " Could it be said that the time spent practicing Kata and other things be better spent training something else?" My answer was yes!!!! There are so many ways to do all that was said about kata and mre with different methods.When I stated how I felt, I was told that I just didn't understand the system.

    The long thought out and trial and error based conclusion is that we were practicing not for Self-Defense like we advertised, or for the betterment of the students and not to be the "best of the best" like our school chant said but, to preserve the traditions of old and to sell memberships. We did things the same without innovation or consideration of changing times. The world is changing and we were literally training by the same scripts from a select few figure heads from the recent past. Having said this to my direct teacher who I love and respect, I was told " sometimes we have to practice what (Anounamous) said because obviously he knew better then we do, so we have to practice blindly without knowing why". That statement hit me harder then any and the effect it had on me still lasts. It is by definition the meaning of the word cult.

    I was later informed how my perception was that Martial Arts is all about "violence" and that my movies for training were wrong. I don't think this at all. There are far too many good things that MA teaches and I do not over look them. Respect, perseverance, humility, confidence, health Etc.. are all framed exampled in my school. They just were never used to their full potential or at really. Heightening ability and overcoming challenges is what I would argue is what creates confidence in students and with the encouragement of a leader or teacher, the effect can be ten fold more. Violence however is a factor. It's real it's push upon us all the time. I feel that a student should know that and be able to handle it or you cant say that you teach "self-Defense" or combat. Understanding of the nature of violence is impalpable for a "Black Belt".

    To me failure can be the biggest teacher and motivator if used correctly by a gracious but real teacher. Failure wast an option as I was reminded at every fake test. It wast not do to us not excepting failure but the opposite. Failure meant that a student was more like to quit and stop paying. This meant that no matter how lazy, n focused, disrespectful or unknowlegible of the material a student was, we were to find a way to pass them. I could not do it any more.

    I even wrote to the owner and master instructor of the school and told him in detail and with with respectful words how I was feeling and asked for something to ease my mind. I didn't receive it. Instead I heard excuses for why we do things the way we do. Nothing got better, but my disappointment hit a new level.

    I still love martial arts but I cant hold back my anger to my personal experience with it. Don't get me wrong, there was also a great deal of good things I and many gained from their time there. The leaders just seam to refuse the to evolve, to innovate, change.

    I may be young but I have been told that I am an old soul, I love history, I love philosophy, but I also love the realness and rawness of what exists in martial arts. I earn for change and innovation in myself and my training.

    The last question I'll mention is one I ask my self. Would this school be one that you would take your doughtier to? My answer would have to be no. My personal View what the best school type for training is one where we hold certain valuers and respect of a tradition dojo with the realism and tested methods of a Combat Gym. They are neither.

    I feel as though I am mostly fake as a teacher and as a artist myself. I feel that I should wash my hands and move on to better things.

    What do your think? Please give me your respectful opinions. Any info would be appreciated.
     
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  2. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    A concept I really like is timing vs technique.

    Where timing is at least as important as having technique and where technique has to reflect that real time application.





    Mat Thornton and the concept of aliveness.


    And some concepts about mental toughness.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2019
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  3. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    So first of all, congratulations on becoming a father!

    As for the rest of it, I think you're mostly right. You wrote a lot, so I'm just going to address parts of it that I think are important.

    Combat realism is absolutely important...if it's important for you. For a lot of people they don't care about it, but if they're not teaching it then they should be upfront about it and discuss the other benefits of their school. From what you wrote, combat realism is not being addressed...live sparring is necessary, and without that you can't understand the timing involved with a fight, or the pressure of someone trying to attack you while you're trying to perform a technique. If that's not being done, and the school claims to help for self-defense, it's doing a disservice to the people involved. Someone might end up in a fight overly confident, and then end up in the hospital as a result. (That could happen even if you train effectively, but IMO the confidence tends to be less because you see that your stuff can fail).

    As for the 'self-defense' techniques, my original style had those as well. They rely on someone reacting a specific way to get to the next part. The way I was taught was both memorizing the techniques, and after a certain level, experimenting with it to figure out your style, and to fully understand the material. Also, trying to implement the techniques on someone in live sparring. If you don't challenge it, you can't possibly know that X way is the best way. It sounds to me like your school only does the first third of it, memorizing the techniques. This is concerning for a lot of ways that you seem to have figured out.

    Now where I disagree with you. The first is what you consider a black belt. I agree with you on what you consider a black belt should need, but disagree that the school should uphold that. A black belt means something different depending on the school and style, in some places it'll take 15 years to earn it, and in others it can be earned in a year. If I asked everyone to take the 13ish years it took me to earn black belt, a lot of people would quit out of frustration.

    The second is on kata. Kata have a lot of uses, and whether or not it's more effective to spend time practicing kata or do other drills is debatable (literally. If you search on this site for something like 'is kata necessary', you'll probably find 50 different multi-page debates on the topic, with no resolution). Just because a school spends a lot of time on kata doesn't mean that it's not effective. The concern comes when they do that in place of other drills that kata doesn't address, like cardio or sparring.

    Overall, from what you've written of the school, it sounds like it's not a good fit for you. You sound like you want to know how to use what they've taught you, and it doesn't sound like the school teaches that. Which isn't an issue, so long as everyone going there knows they won't learn it. I would never complain about going to a pottery class and not learning how to win a fight, but no one there is expecting to learn that. What you choose to do from here on is on you, and leaving/acknowledging a need can be difficult, but it's up to you if that's what you need for your own training purposes.
     
  4. hoshin1600

    hoshin1600 Senior Master

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    @Utahblaine
    welcome to the club man.
    your not alone in your disillusionment. i could have written that same post some 30 years ago when that was exactly what i was feeling. everything you feel is spot on, follow it , trust in it but dont give up the martial arts. your experience is only about that one style or school and i would advise you to search out what your heart tells you is right. however a word of warning what you want can be scary and there is a tendency to fall right back into another school with the same falseness because its safe and familiar.
    push on my friend.
     
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  5. wanderingstudent

    wanderingstudent Yellow Belt

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    I've experienced a similar situation. Yes, press on; this gives you something to measure against. Better to spend 15 years looking for the right teacher, than 5 years training with the wrong one. Oh, and don't be too hard on yourself, you don't know what you don't know.
     
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  6. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    @wanderingstudent makes a great point. After you have taken some time to process your feelings and have at least audited some other schools, maybe you will find what you are doing now is not so bad after all.
     
  7. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    I think your taking it rather to seriously, really over the top reaction!, they are running a business that needs punters , if punters dont want to be kicked very hard( or at all) and want belts with out merit then that what the customer wants , no customers no dojo.

    yes just move on, find somewhere with a sports/ combat outlet and go and do that, easy peasy
     
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  8. Martial D

    Martial D Senior Master

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    Go train MMA for one year. With that context you could teach a more grounded/combat-centric version of what you do. No training is truly wasted.
     
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  9. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    A lot going on in this OP. A few thoughts, in no particular order, from it...

    It's easy to get into the training and not think about these things for a while. It's also possible this mattered less to you then than it does now. That kind of training can be a lot of fun, and just the accomplishment of learning the kata and techniques can be worth the training time, regardless of whether they are of use in a fight or not (some folks actively train just for the fun of it).

    It's also possible the folks teaching this way don't see a problem with it. It's my experience that low-resistance training can actually develop skills to useful levels, but it's not reliable and the participants often have an inflated expectation. And sometimes, they're just tied to the way they were trained - the tradition of it.

    For the purposes you named for kata, there are definitely other ways to get those things. But the fact that there are other ways doesn't mean kata isn't a good tool for those things. I can work up a sweat doing kata (and the kata I use are easier and shorter than most kata I've seen), or with something else. I can get loosened up before class with kata, or with something else. I can work on fluid movement with kata, or with something else. I can work on repeating key movements to ingrain them with kata, or with something else. To me, one of the cool things about kata is that one tool can fill several uses, so I can actually get several students on the same drill (a kata) and have each one working on something entirely different (balance, smooth transitions, connection to the ground, etc.). Of course, I can also - when appropriate - pull a specific exercise that does a better job for one of those specific purposes.

    EDIT: To clarify for the OP, since you've likely not seen my prior discussions of kata - I'm not a fan of kata-heavy training, though I know some folks really like it. I prefer to have a small handful of kata to work with when needed.
     
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  10. Flying Crane

    Flying Crane Sr. Grandmaster

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    Hi Utahblaine,

    I understand your frustrations, as I have also spent some years training in a method that I would describe in a similar fashion.

    I would not say that it is false training however. I see it a bit differently, because no matter how much you may find it dysfunctional, there are folks who find that it works well for them.

    So instead I tend to describe it as a method that is a poor match for you; you would be better off doing something else instead, that is a better match for you.

    As for the forms/kata, I do believe that there are forms that were simply poorly designed. Not all forms were created equally. Some forms are a waste of time, but I would never describe forms practice as being a waste of time IF you are practicing forms that were well designed, and if they were taught to you well and you understand them properly. That being said, some people do not like forms no matter what, and those people ought to train in a system that does not use forms. This goes back to what I said about finding a system that is a good match for you.

    By the way, I sent you a private message.
     
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  11. Utahblaine

    Utahblaine White Belt

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    If that's so, then what is the point of teaching martial arts as a business at all?

    If your student's don't want to learn Martial arts in it's true form, then they shouldn't sign up for it. Also, if a "teacher" feels this way they should coach a sport and not pretend to teach a dicipline.

    Martial arts has way more value that can't be quantified by the amount made by selling memberships.
    If that's one's main goal, then they're in the wrong busniness. It'seems imoral to me. It's making a joke out of something that could be used to change people lives. It's taking the power away from the activity to impact people.
    It gives MA a bad name in the community.


    No disrespect intended. It's just something I feel very passionate about.
     
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  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    I'm not big on imposing my standards upon others doing their thing (unless they want to train with me, then we need a meeting of minds).

    If someone wants to study martial arts because it's fun, there's literally no good reason they shouldn't. And there's no good reason someone shouldn't be teaching those folks. By the way, at that point, it is a sport (and more or less is for all of us, from a functional perspective, if trained with vigor). You're imposing your own view of what martial arts "should" be, and that's fine for your own training. But other folks get to determine that for themselves. The whole idea that learning or teaching MA for sport, fitness, or fun is immoral is just ridiculous to me.
     
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  13. JR 137

    JR 137 Senior Master

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    Everyone’s got their reasons for training. And those reasons change over time. My first stint in karate was when I was 18-25. I wanted to be a badass. I was right out of high school where I wrestled from 3rd grade through high school. I played a few years of football towards the end too. Actually, I was already badass; I wanted to be even more badass :) The exercise, camaraderie, etc. were an added bonus. I trained bare knuckle and competed in some knockdown and point fighting tournaments (along with kata). The competition wasn’t my goal, but it was an added bonus to gauge my badassness.

    My current stint started at a few months shy of 39; I’ll be 43 in June. I missed training every single day during my 15 year hiatus. Been there, done that with badassness. My reasons for returning were quite different. I love training and everything associated with it. I needed stress reduction, exercise, a mental and physical challenge (MA is both at the same time), and just to get away from my wife, kids and work to get some piece of mind a few hours a week. Karate fits all of that. The style I’m training now is very similar to what I was doing previously; the former organization was started by two guys who left my current organization.

    I don’t care about being able to fight. I already know how to. What I’m training is effective IMO, but that effectiveness is on me and me alone. I could go through the motions like some people at the dojo seem to do and not get much more than exercise out of it, but I don’t. And the people who do go through the motions aren’t any better nor worse off than I am. What they do doesn’t effect my training in any way. And I don’t effect theirs. And they’re good people. People I enjoy being around. When we spar I know who wants to go hard and who’s there for the exercise and I adjust to that.

    If people want to do Fight Club type stuff or zero contact, or anything in between, it’s all good. I don’t make the rules. And I don’t want to either. I’m sure people on Bullshido would be fine with closing the organization I’m in if they were put in charge of determining what’s allowed and what isn’t.

    And everyone’s got their reasons for teaching. Some want to earn a living, some want to be absurdly rich, and some just want to teach because they love it. Others get in the unfortunate position of having to cater to a type of clientele to keep the doors open and/or food on their table. The way I look at it, all of them have got to do what they’ve got to do. I don’t make the rules and I don’t want to.

    If a place isn’t for you (not just you personally), find a place that is. There’s plenty of variety in the MA. There’s something out there for everyone if you look in the right places.
     
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  14. Yokozuna514

    Yokozuna514 Purple Belt

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    First of all, welcome to the boards, Utahblaine. I can tell by your post that you feel that you have been wronged and feel strongly about it. Although you have spent a lot of time and energy in a place that you feel no longer meets your needs, the positive outlook is that you are beginning to understand what DOES appeal to you and you are not afraid to be honest with yourself about why you want a change. This is a good first step in finding a new home for you to put your energies toward. Try not to dwell too much on the negative aspects of your experience. What is done is done so take the information you have and use it to evaluate potential schools. It should help you find something that is better suited to you.

    If you are looking for a place that you can take your daughter to as well as train yourself, make sure you check out both classes to observe the instructors and how they deal with their students. Ask a lot of questions and take a look around to see if there is a good array of low, medium and advanced practitioners that attend the classes (for adults). Try a free class and ask them how long they have been training and why they enjoy the school. If the answers appeal to you, try it out for a short period.

    I get the feeling that the lessons you have learned in your old school will not be forgotten and that the next school will be better suited for you long term. Good luck.
     
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  15. Utahblaine

    Utahblaine White Belt

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    Thanks for the advice and posativity. It is still a hard pill to swallow, that I spent so much time doing something that now I can see or feel is promoting some things that I internally disagree with. I'll learn to let go. It is still fresh I'm my mind. My training and school largly defined who I am currently and now I need to restart and reform a bit.

    Thanks so much for the kind words.
     
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  16. Yokozuna514

    Yokozuna514 Purple Belt

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    How do you know what you do not know ? We are all human and from the timeline you mentioned, you started at a very young age. Hopefully, some of the skills you have worked on will be transferrable to your new school but if they don't, so be it. We should all have a 'white belt' mentality as an approach to learning something new so if your prior training makes you seem like you are ahead of the curve, so much the better.
     
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  17. gpseymour

    gpseymour MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Well said.

    And @Utahblaine, good luck with your search. You now know what you want, which greatly increases your chance of recognizing if this time. That’s something you gained from your training.
     
  18. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Yeah. It has happened to a few of us.
     
  19. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    I did not hear that at all. I heard the passion for TMA. Nothing more.
     
  20. dvcochran

    dvcochran Senior Master

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    Man, I think we are twins. I am going to send you something if I can figure how to send an attachment.
     
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