This was a fun interview and I can’t think John Correia and Active Self Protection enough for the opportunity to share with them some of my views on training.
In review, I would have liked to have articulated a little more clearly about the value of competitive training in aspects of self-defense. I hit it a little as I expressed about the “dimmer switch.”
Here is the motivational difficulties with self-defense training. We spend hours, weeks, months and years preparing for the “potential.” Ideally, if we are training and “practicing” correctly we resolve conflicts way before they transgress into a physical altercation. It’s when our awareness and/ choices “fail” that we have to resort to our physical abilities.
Unfortunately, for most of us it is in our nature to only work on what is necessary. Over time as we get better at resolving conflict without physical interactions, we tend to focus less on maintaining our physical skills. The “battle” with Martial Arts training in general is that most people get involved because of an immediate need. Once that need has been fulfilled, it is very difficult to stay motivated to continue training. Thus, the reason the belt ranking process can be important. It helps the Martial Artist to set small achievable goals toward greater skills. It works as both a measurement of improvement and a motivator for continued growth.
Competitive Martial Arts is another valuable motivator as it allows the participant to focus on a short term goal while at the same time preparing for an actual challenge. I can appreciate that there are many more “known” aspects of the competitive challenge and that there is a sense of “safety” established. However, there are still risks and tests that must be vanquished. Preparing for the risks and tests are the motivators that push the Martial Artist to new levels of improvement. Honing skills and being physically prepared to execute moves, as well as, withstand levels of physical punishment are part of the training regimen. Obviously the more important the event, the better prepared you will need to be. All Fitness Levels: Spiritual, Perceptual, Emotional, Mental and Physical must be addressed and prepared.
Challenging against an adversary wanting to defeat you is an important experience that prepares you for the “real” thing. Regardless of the levels of control, contending with the “Attitudes” around. in and on you- push you to become stronger and more prepared. Without a doubt, the more intense the competition the more you will need to rise to the challenge and be prepared. Growing, improving, then accepting and tackling greater challenges is what we all hope to gain from our Martial Arts experience.
These greater challenges can be uniquely experienced through Competitive Martial Arts. Attempting to compete on the mat against people you always train with has limitations. Having to contend with someone you are less familiar with and have no emotional connection to, can give you greater insights; to yourself, your abilities and your skills.
If you are looking to take your Martial Arts to a greater level, I would seriously consider experiencing a competitive event. No, competition doesn’t have to become your single focus. However, allowing for the experience a few times can as stated previously, be such an important opportunity for greater achievements. Giving you greater understanding of what you will need to do in a “REAL” encounter.