How To Progress in the Martial Arts By Jim Mullen

Instruction, Class, Practice
Practice, Instruction, Class
Class, Practice, Instruction

Instruction, Class, Practice

After many years in the Martial Arts I’ve found myself in every possible combination of these three activities. I’ve done every combination of any two, and I’ve only used one for long periods of time.

CLF Big Knife @plumpub.comWhat I Learned Was…

To my surprise I discovered that Practice, Instruction, Class are of equal importance. I thought for sure that, at least instruction would be more important than the other two, but not so.

And, that there is completely different information, skills and experiences in each, and that there is no overlap of that information.

For example: If I never, ever attended a single class, taking only private lessons and practicing, then I would never be exposed to the information, skills, and experiences that are only available in class.

Why is Martial Arts Organized this Way?

Well, it’s been done this way for 5,000 years, so there must be some good reasons, or by now it would have changed. I think some of the reasoning is:

That, through Practice I confront myself

Through Class I confront the way I am with others

Through Instruction I confront myself around mentors, authority, and new challenges.

What’s to be Gained Through Self Confrontation?

Everything! Literally; has been my experience. Almost every personal problem I have, was forced to the forefront by one of these activities.

Imagine I am in a sparring exercise and my “partner-role” allows my partner to execute a technique and win over and over again. So I grow increasingly uncomfortable with this submissive role and soon start being less cooperative. And, then escalate that, to sabotaging the exercise and my partner.

Now I’ve got a problem and that is a disadvantage; and it’s worse, if I don’t even know I’ve got a problem.

Sword play in Kung Fu

In confronting this problem, I’ll have to address the root cause of my uncomfortableness with the role I played in sparring.

If I don’t, I’d better practice more, because I’m going to be in a lot more fights that I could have just walked away from. I call these un-confronted things Blind Spots, because that’s how they function. I’m blind and reactionary when an opponent does anything that touches on the feelings associated with a Blind Spot. Rather than see the situation clearly, some of my input will be coming from within and can confuse or inhibit my ability to honestly see what’s going on.

I want to be rid of all blind spots, because they can really transfer an advantage to my opponent.

How this All Affects Speed of Growth and Learning

By doing all three, Instruction, Class and Practice, I can maximize my speed of training and progress.

Doing any combination of two establishes a speed of progress that is 2/3rds as fast as the maximum.

Doing any one establishes a speed of progress that is 1/3rd as fast as the maximum.

Choy Lai Fut @plumpub.comThere are so many great benefits available in Instruction, Practice and Class. In Class I like the camaraderie, honesty, respect and fun. Class has opened me to people that I never let in before.

Through Practice I’ve built up my level of confidence, learned that aloneness is not the same as loneliness. That Practice is an amazing tool for changing difficulty into mastery.

And, through Instruction I’ve learned humility, honoring, listening, following and I’ve got an awe for my what instructor has gone through to achieve his level of mastery.

In Spite of it All

The Martial Arts lifestyle has enriched my life on every level. I love it. It’s brought meaning and fulfillment to my daily experiences. And, I’ve learned beyond the shadow of a doubt, that doing any one, Instruction, Class or Practice is one million times better than doing nothing.

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