Interesting conversation this morning after training. I was talking to Legacy Academy Instructor Steve Payne about how the classical beautiful techniques that we love to see whether its Karate or Silat or Wing Chun, and how this is much like classical music. It’s the foundation of great technique. Many of the best MMA fighters have a background in this type of training. It’s tight and clean and how you want it to be. The other end is the improvisory end where everything is in flow. This is the jazz end of the spectrum. It’s looks less tight, less pretty though when things do come off, they come off in incredible ways.
Our aim in 4D is to train like the classical with an emphasis on quality technique but always then to improvise around this in a jazz way and find things in flow. That’s why we’ve developed lots of combat games and scoring games so you don’t only know how to do something in a way that’s pleasing both to look at and to practice but most importantly you know how to use it, and where to find it in the flow. You’ve got real evidence of your skill against opposition.
Combatively, learning to improvise is most important. Many classical musicians though superb musicians can’t improvise as that’s not what they practice however many jazz musicians are capable players in the classical idiom though often not to the same level as those who only do that. In music both approaches are great and have their strengths. However in combat you need to be able to improvise. As they say in the U.S. ‘ Shit’s happening ‘ you have to know how to deal with it.
The way to get to that skill level where you please both parts of your being is getting your repetitions in. Doing the same stuff over and over again. However, if you just train techniques against a compliant opponent then you’re not really learning it. it’s great fun but you won’t have it when or if you need it. It’s like looking for your sheet music in a fight, it doesn’t work. You need both approaches. A good start point is to have rigorous training partners who wont let you do weak or ineffective techniques and who will counter you if you do.
They can then at the next level counter what you do. This can be prescribed beforehand but it gets you thinking deeper. The history of classical music is replete with examples of stern masters who throw things at the student or strike them with any object to hand. Your training partner doesn’t have to go that far, but it helps if they keep you honest.
First; the gold standard. Know firstly how to do it so there is no counter or that if you are countering then there is no re-counter. This is the gold standard. I remember doing a competition against Tadayuki Maeda who was all Japan champion in my Karate days. I could definitely have countered his front kicks, if I saw them. I rarely did. That’s why in 4D now we go on and on about non telegraphic delivery. We don’t talk about it as a concept. We train it and make you achieve certain stats. That way you know you know it. This is the place to start.
Secondly, focus is important in training. Think of it like doing a zen garden. You’’re always trying to do it right. You never achieve it but the act of focus on the small things plays huge dividends. Boris Becker the tennis champion and coach said the other day – this point wasn’t won on the day on centre court but two months ago when you were doing your 500th repetition as good as the first one. I know that attitude sounds a bit mental but the secret is to find the joy in getting it right. All the time. Like the zen garden this is unachievable but it’s fun trying. Wonder oh wonder when you train this way you just get better.
Find the joy in this don’t see it as a pedantic anal retentive zealot doing a joyless task. Have fun. Your body learns better when it’s joyful. The interesting thing about training with this mindset is that learning one thing you sort of learn everything. Now you’re aware, feeling every slight change of balance or finding where the leverage point is and getting it every time. The carry over to other areas is huge. You can often tell great musicians by how they play the simplest of things, even scales. There’s music in every note. You just have to find it.