How many times have you heard this? “Thats wrong! this is the correct way” it can be packaged up whatever way you like, in the end it comes down to an instructor stating that they know the way that it should be done and you are the student, so your role is to follow and mimic the moves exactly!
I often ask the question during seminars, or of new students that have a degree of experience, “why do you do the move that way”?
All too often the reply is, “because that’s the way my instructor taught me”. On the face of it this is not a problem, you may think to yourself maybe he will give me the answers later.
You put complete trust in your instructor and the Art that you have chosen to partake in, how many of us students and I include myself as a student, ask ourselves why we started the art we did? New students are what keeps any Martial Arts school running and they are attracted through the door in a great many ways, drawn to the mysticism of the arts.
There is absolutely no problem training in any art, just as long as you are aware of the reasons for your choice and the goals and direction that your chosen art follows. You may have chosen a traditional art which requires hours and hours of focus on one move, with an absolute dedication to the historical application of your moves, or maybe one that has a focus on spiritual understanding, traditional Chinese or Japanese weapons, street self-protection, the list goes on. What’s important is that your instructors are clear with regard to the arts application. The one thing you do not want is an art designed for the ancient battlefield trying to cope with the yob down the local Hostelry. All I am saying is be clear on the reasons for starting the art you choose, keep an open mind and always ask questions.
If we understand the reasons behind the teaching, it makes it easier to accept being told “that’s wrong, this is the correct way” when practicing a more traditional art. The essence of the art itself is the discipline and the self-control needed to emerge yourself completely in mastering the exact movement required. This type of practise is arguably the hardest of all especially in today’s environment of quick fix sensory input where students quickly become bored and want to move on to the next part of the technique. Being continually corrected on the smallest of detail soon tests the patience of the student.
The point with regard to the title of this Blog comes into question when the subject of the art is self-protection in today’s environment, especially if you have been told by your instructor that what he is teaching you is the answer to all the problems that you will ever encounter on the street today! I have heard instructors say “this is the way it happens, and this is what you have to do, if anyone says anything different then it’s just BS”! They are the complete authority on the subject and what they say is written in stone. We all have egos but this type of statement speaks volumes as to how large theirs are. Keeping a check on ourselves is maybe the hardest thing in the world, that’s when you need a balancing element to yourself and your teaching. One size does not fit all especially when it comes to protecting yourself. In any street encounter the one thing you can guarantee is that the violence and the moves required to survive have no set path. Those few techniques that you were told would fit suddenly abandon you and you find yourself in an unpredictable constantly changing situation, which you have to meet with spontaneous movement and a mental attitude that ensures your survival. Being manipulated and controlled within a set perimeter of techniques, without the room to alter or adapt might not be the best way to achieve this. Remember the statement by Bruce Lee “learn what is useful and discard the rest” how do we know what is useful and what should be discarded? Especially if we are constantly told that the way we are moving is wrong and this is the right way.
What do you think are the reasons that some instructors want to be so controlling? Is it a power thing or maybe insecurity?. Who knows, the important thing is to be aware of the potential problems. That way you can avoid being in a class where the above statement occurs and then find yourself in a situation that you are not equipped to deal with, both physically and mentally.
Arguably your mental skills should be better than your physical skills, you should first seek a path of peace and not war.
What should be gained from the above, is how lucky you are if you find an open secure instructor, one that encourages learning, not just from his own art but from others as well. Always be mindful of the reasons why instructors preach that what they do is better than everything else out there. None of us have all the answers and we can all help each other. The Martial Science University, headed by Dr R Chapel has the motto “integrity through excellence”, walking the path of integrity and honesty should go hand in hand with instructors values, especially when you are in the responsible position of teaching others a Martial Art that is designed to potentially one day save your students or one of their family member’s life.