On Self "Training" In Martial Arts

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by Rat, Feb 24, 2020.

  1. Rat

    Rat Master Black Belt

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    This should be fun, prefrace for this: training is in quotations as i dislike calling it such. To "train" in martial arts by its literal definition all you need to do is any activity to aid your fighting skills.

    Right, now to start my rambling on the subject.


    So to begin with, i dont fully comprehend why it gets so much flak, somone generally does self study either alongside lessons or in lieu of them because they cant find anyone to teach them it. The obvious limitation is what material you are refering to when you self study. And if you can access any sparring partners and equipment.

    Pending what is taught, would also matter as some skills are obviously easier to pick up and retain, some others arent.

    Tieing back into the first statment, the only issues i see with it is: Quality and quality of material you are using. Both of which can vary in a school.

    This is a fairly short rambling as there really isnt much to write on the matter. Self study has its place and isnt a choice for some people. ie, like HEMA, the martial art could only exist in treatises therefor you need to disect the sources to learn it, and have to learn it from a book.


    If anyone else has any sort of rambelings on the subject, i forgot to cover diffrent sorts of media, but i dont think that has much of a place. As you should use it alongside doing it if you intend to learn any skills in this regard. That should fill in some blanks, and use (if possible) muiltiple diffrent kinds (of media).

    Addendum: I dont really know how to fit this in after writing but: Goals also matter to its usefulness, if your goal is just self defence, you dont have to fight proffesional boxers in a ring or combat athletes, just the average person. (now if the average person where you live is one of them, you probbly could learn from one of them :p) In a similar way if you just want to loose weight and stay healthy you dont have to run a marathon, or get into bodybuilding, powerlifting etc.
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2020
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  2. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Look. I don't like it. But then I think martial arts should be trained a particular way or it is very unlikely to work.

    What I don't understand is the "So long as they are having fun" crowd having an issue because it goes against the arguments that defend their own arts.

    Ultimately the test of a martial artist is if he can fight and win against other people in some context. And you can't really do that on your own.

    The whole jam about training with resistance.

    Now of course this also means if you train under a guy who hasn't fought anyone in a system who hasn't fought anyone then you are probably achieving about the same result as training your self. Which is you just don't know if you are getting any good.
     
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  3. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    you cant learn to fight with out fighting, how much actual fighting v tip tap sparing is a topic for debate, but you need someone to try and hit you at the very least,

    can you make your chances of surviving a fight greater with out taking lessions YES anything you do to increse your fitness is going to help any training you do either by yourself or under instruction that doesnt increase your fitness is of dubious use to you.

    if your walking around confident you can bench 300 LB run a seven min mile and catch fles out of the air, you can quite possibly get yourself out of most situations

    if your spending your time watching you tube vids and trying to apply second hand instruction to yourself then NO
     
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  4. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    If you want to learn how to fight, you have to fight. Self training doesn't include opportunity, angle, timing.
     
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  5. Rat

    Rat Master Black Belt

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    I do agree with said statment, all you need to do to spar, is find somone to spar with, or practice on.

    Personally speaking the abre minimum i think you need to do self study, is something to take information from and a person to practice on. and maybe some form of target like a heavy bag or pads, preferably a reactive one. We could dispute how much time sparring should be done to targets as well.


    i also agree with some other points there, above covers the other replies (at least in part) as well.
     
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  6. Rat

    Rat Master Black Belt

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    i will dispute with the latter part and state, if you have a sparring partner you can do all that.


    To be fair, we could make the argument you arent really self training. You are closer to running a study group for dicovery into fighting if you get more than 2 people show up, or gather a group of people together to do it.
     
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  7. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    but why self study, with all its pitfalls, when for a tenner you can get actual real time instruction and correction and some sparing thrown in ?

    im currently self studing playing the banjo, its hard work, following you tube and practising at the same time, theres not a banjo instructer in 50 miles, so thats all ive got
     
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  8. Rat

    Rat Master Black Belt

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    As stated, not always a option for some people. for a variety of reasons. plus there is no gurantee said instruction could be worth the money you are paying for it.
     
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  9. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    well that rather depends who your sparing partner is
     
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  10. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    its always worth a tenner, if you cant afford that a week then go every month, if your living in the middle of nowhere, then perhaps there a viable reason,
     
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  11. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    There are three things you do not get when training by yourself:
    1. Advice from the instructor about what you should be working on to grow
    2. Feedback from the instructor on your technique
    3. Feedback from your sparring partners as to what works and what doesn't
    Curriculum is important. Some schools have a rotating curriculum, some have a set curriculum based on your level and experience. Some schools have a class where everyone trains together and breaks into small groups. Others have a more open gym approach, where coaches will give you advice on what to work on based on where you are and what your goals are.

    There's so much to learn in martial arts, that you can't get it all at once. If you try by yourself without direction, you may try and do too much at a time, may focus needlessly on specific things that hold you back, or you may try things you're not ready for because you haven't mastered the pre-requisites. For example, you may try and learn all the submissions in BJJ and not get a good idea of how any of them work. You may spend months trying to get a faster and faster jab (at the expense of all other techniques and fundamentals). Or maybe you're trying to do jump spinning kicks before you've mastered the basic kicks. Direction is important so you can grow at the optimal pace.

    There's also things you may not even think of, which are integral to an art. For example, boxing is relatively simple. You've got a handful of punches. Maybe you train those punches diligently, but you're not working on footwork and distance control, or weaving in slips and rolls into your combinations. You may be able to get good technique on a heavy bag, but applying it to a person requires more than just knowing how to throw out your fist.

    Feedback is important. Going along with the theme above - you don't know what you don't know. When a student performs even the most basic of our forms, in the very first step (turn to the left and down block), there are over 25 different details I'm looking for. For a beginner, I only care about maybe 3 of them. But as you get higher and higher in belt, there are 25 different details, from the orientation of your feet, the specific position you chamber your block in, the timing of your turn, your breathing...lots of different things. How many of those things are you going to pick out for yourself?

    There are so many mistakes that people make when they train, even when they follow an instructor. And even when the instructor encourages their progress, there's still a long way to go to perfect techniques. And so far I'm just talking about a simple technique, used in a form. I haven't even gotten to using the technique in a more applicable manner.

    An instructor can watch you do your techniques and provide feedback. We can figure out:
    • How to make your movements more efficient
    • What bad habits you have and how to break them
    • How to take a technique from the technical demonstration level to the application level
    • How to use your technique while not opening yourself up for a counter
    If you don't know the counters, you're not going to make it work. If you try a technique and fail, it doesn't mean the technique is bad - just means you need to learn how to make it work. (I'm gonna use your first post ever as an example, when you said that the hook punch is bad because you can hurt your hand. It's not that hook punches are bad, you just didn't have feedback from an instructor on how to do a proper one).

    Sparring is another key point. And I don't mean just sparring against untrained folk. You need to spar with 3 types of people:
    1. Those that are better than you, so you can learn from them
    2. Those that are worse from you, so that you can practice on them
    3. Those that are even to you, so that you can push yourself to compete
    If you're never sparring, you are never training your skills. If you only ever spar against people that are equal to you, then you also miss out on a lot. If you're all untrained, then you never spar people better than you in order to improve. If you're all still at that untrained level, you never have anyone worse than you that you can drill your foundational techniques on.



    I believe I've linked this to you before, but this is a guy with wrestling experience, who tried to do what you want - learn in his basement, by sparring with a wrestling buddy. They basically wasted their time. He's since gone on to become a very successful fighter in BJJ, and become a very well-respected spokesman of the martial arts community on Youtube. But he had to go to a class to get there.

    I broke this sentence out of the last quote because I wanted to focus on it. First off, most people who self-train in lieu of taking classes due so understanding the limitation. Any posts on MartialTalk or Reddit I've seen where someone asks how much they can train without taking classes, the resounding answer is - you can't. If you absolutely cannot take classes, then you do what you can. Most of the advice is to work on conditioning - strength, cardio, and flexibility - rather than to work on technique. Because you won't get that technique otherwise.

    Then there's two other scenarios - the person who goes to class and self-trains between classes, and the student who has to take time off from classes (for reasons of schedule, pay, or locality) and who trains on his own.

    In the first case, that's just an example of doing homework. You're still getting feedback, it's just not constant. Say I go to class on Monday and Wednesday, and I practice at home Tuesday, Thursday, and Sunday. When I go to class on Monday, I get feedback on my technique. Maybe I learn that for my back kick to be more powerful, I need to lean over to thrust my hips out. So on Tuesday I practice doing the back kick while thrusting the hips out. Then I go back on Wednesday, and when I do my back kick I can find out my progress.

    If I was training on my own, without going to class, then I wouldn't have known to add in that detail to my back kick. And if I only trained in class, I'd have much less reps to work on it. Training at home amplifies what you do in class. If you practice 3 hours a week at home and go to class for 2 hours, it will really add up. But if you practice 10 hours a week and took 0 hours of class, your practice is going to be largely meaningless.

    In the second case, of the student who has to quit, they're not really improving. They're maintaining their skill at the level when they left. You don't have someone leave a school as a red belt, train at home for 3 years, and come back and be given a 2nd degree black belt. You see someone leave school as a red belt, train at home for 3 years, and come back and jump back into the red belt class.

    This varies from person to person. It's also not really relevant to the discussion. Like I said - if you're unitiated (which you are unitiated), you don't know what you don't know. Whether those details are easy for you to pick up or not, it doesn't matter that you won't pick them up if you don't know they exist.

    This is a reason to be vigilant and verify that your school is a good one, not an excuse to avoid taking classes entirely. Do your research when you join a school.
    • What are their credentials?
    • What are their accomplishments?
    • What do their students think of the school?
    • Do they do live sparring? (Sometimes you may need to ask this, as quite often live sparring happens when you're more advanced and have a better understanding of the foundations and the rules)
    • Post a link to their site on the appropriate martial arts subreddit (or the r/martialarts subreddit) and see what people who know the art think of the school.
    • Talk to the instructor and try to figure out how much of what they say is legit and how much is snake oil. If you're not sure, post a summary of the conversation on the appropriate subreddit
    When you select a school and you first start training, you should pretty much stick with that school. Some may say at least 6 months or a year, I say give it a year or two. Give yourself enough time to become proficient in what they teach. After that, if you've grown disillusioned with your school, then find a new one. Go back through the process I mentioned above. Except this time you'll have a better idea of what is martial arts and what is bullshido.

    I'll also say that unless there's something downright dangerous about the training at your current school, stay there until you can find a new school. Otherwise you'll stop training entirely.

    In conclusion, this is why I have been so adamant in my posts that you go to class and get training. I'm going to say it once more: you don't know what you don't know. For example, I'm thinking about starting BJJ classes soon. Even though I have a red belt in Hapkido, 3 years in wrestling, and I'm a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo, I'll be starting fresh there. I've watched a lot of Chewjitsu and other videos. I've asked questions on the forums. I've messed around with some of the ideas with my friends in my Hapkido class. But I would be willing to put money down that within the first month of taking BJJ, I'll have questions about subjects I didn't even know existed.

    You have to go to class if you want to grow. Plain and simple.
     
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  12. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    If that person is untrained, then your sparring is useless. If they don't know how to defend against the techniques you use, then you're not going to learn how to actually use them.

    Conversely, if you're doing a technique wrong, it's easy to just reject it as something that doesn't work. Where if you have a more experienced fighter pull that technique on you, or you had an instructor come by and say "this is why it isn't working, try that instead" it would work.
     
  13. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    @Rat one last thought. If this post is for you to actually figure out why you need to class, I'm really glad you made this post and I hope you can start your martial arts career.

    But if this post is just so you can argue that you're fine self-training, then I'll continue to hold out hope you'll take that first step back into class some day.
     
  14. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Blue Belt

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    Self training is fine, if you're an instructor with years of experience and know the 25 details of proper technique skribs spoke about, above. Then, you are able to self correct. But even then, some bad habits will creep in: A drifting hand, a lazy posture, a too-straight back leg, a too tense arm... Excellence will erode even for a 3rd or 4th degree black belt, without occasional review from a fellow practitioner - how much more so for an intermediate belt, much less a beginner!

    Maybe you can learn the alphabet and basic words from a book (as I did, Japanese), but not enough to learn context, voice inflection, conditional or imperative verb forms, nuances of meaning, telling a story with compound sentences, and so on. Thinking your self taught skills are decent, will make you look stupid. In a fight, such thinking will make you look stupid, and hurt.

    Training on your own is great, as a supplement to regular input from an expert. To rely on books and videos to learn something as complex and nuanced as a martial art is nonsense. Those tools can't see your strengths and weaknesses, your body style, understand your attitude and capabilities, provide encouragement, or smack your ribs if your elbow is out of position.

    But, if someone wants to entertain themselves, develop bad habits, delude themselves that they know MA, it's OK by me. Yes, they will learn something and maybe get in better condition, but, IMO, the cost in the negatives is way too high.
     
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  15. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    self training is better than nothing but only just. You may get some fitness though you'll never work yourself as hard as an instructor will push you. You can practice some moves but you're not going to get that good because you've got no one to make you better.

    If you spend a month self training and I spend a month going to classes I'm going to improve a lot more in that month.
     
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  16. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    If person A spends a year self-training and person B spends a month going to classes, then person B is going to improve a lot more.
     
  17. frank raud

    frank raud Master Black Belt

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    People have been studying HEMA long enough that there are study groups and schools in many location, just like most martial arts. I have a HEMA school in walking distance of my house, that also teaches Irish Stickfighting under a recognized master of the Antrim style.
     
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  18. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Self training is worse than no training for the same reason that SD seminars are oftentimes worse than no seminar. You're not actually learning anything useful, but you're telling yourself and/or being told you are, which gives you a false sense of confidence. That will easily be shattered in a fight against someone actually trained.
     
  19. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Look. You could test it. Do jujitsu for 6 months via you tube. Train with whoever, compete and see how you go.

    I mean a jujitsu competition isn't life or death.
     
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  20. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    Look let's be real here. This thread is you trying to justify why you don't train.

    If you don't want to go to a class that's your business and your choice which you're entitled to make. If you want to read books and articles and watch YouTube videos and copy them then fair enough go for it.

    But the fact is, you're not going to improve much you're not going to be able to apply it in a real life situation and by doing this you won't ever get beyond begginer standards.

    Now if you are fine with that then again fair enough good luck to you I wish you all the best you don't need to try and justify it. No one here is going to tell you that self training is amazing and you'll get brilliant from it because that'd be a lie. But it's your choice if that's what you want to do. Just don't get a false sense of security with it123
     
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