Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Training vs. Practice

By Andrew Ewing –

So, another New Year is just a few weeks away, and for some we’ve already decided on our choice of New Year’s Resolution. What does this upcoming year’s resolution have to do with PSP; well I’m hoping you’ll all set a resolution this year to make commitments to performance improvements in PSP for yourselves. To accomplish these performance improvements I’ll help by providing you with ideas to get started.

First, understand the difference between Training vs. Practice. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “Training” and “Practice” as:

Training –
a. (noun) the act, process, or method of one that trains

b. (noun) the skill, knowledge, or experience acquired by one that trains

Practice –
a. (verb) to perform or work at repeatedly so as to become proficient

b. (noun) the condition of being proficient through systematic exercise

Training is the act and way through Physical and/or Mental means of acquiring knowledge and experiences while you’re in class, while practice is taking the knowledge you gained in class and putting it into practice repetitively to become proficient. Understanding, but more so acting on the differences between Training and Practice are the keys to improving your skills and abilities in PSP.

Many go to a Martial Art schools expecting the Instructor to turn them into the Ultimate Martial Artist highly skilled in self-defense, they train the techniques do a couple of drills, leaving class with the feeling they can take on the world and are now indestructible, only to be extremely disappointed when they encounter a situation where they’re unable to defend themselves with what they trained in class. The student thinks their training has failed them, eventually quitting, looking for that next quick fix by hopping from school to school. Why do some seem to fail when it comes to Martial Arts, while other Shine?

I often hear Martial Artists in class say: “I have the knowledge, and I know how it should be, but I’m unable to consistently translate the knowledge to action.”

I believe to consistently translate the knowledge to action; you need to start by training good form, which in part also focuses on developing good muscle patterns (muscle memory). Bad Muscle patterns severely impair performance. After learning good form while training with a good instructor, you can then repeatedly practice what you learned to ingrain good muscle patterns. Being trained doesn’t mean you are proficient, you still need practice. Have you ever heard the saying that practice makes perfect?

Performance definitely improves from training, but performance exponentially improves with practice.

Neither is more important than the other, and both must be done in order to improve overall performance.

Don’t strive to be just a trained PSP martial artist, strive to be a trained and practiced PSP martial artist.

Generalized, you already know what is needed to make performance gains for PSP, but due to family, friends, work, life, you haven’t been able to find time to get that much needed practice in, well for the PSP Martial Artist I’m hoping you’ll use this upcoming year to set a resolution to drastically improving your PSP performance, and to help, I’ve provided you with ideas to make practice part of your everyday life.

  1. Incremental Practice – Take an idea, principle, or technique you learned in training and perform repetitions incrementally throughout the day. I find that increments of 15min work best, but smaller increments work as well, you should just add more of them to make up for the smaller increments of time. Take even one minute training increments if you need to, between phone calls, after bathroom breaks, during lunch, just before sleeping or just after waking, the idea here is to not be shy where you practice, just take any moment you can find throughout the day to practice, by the end of the day it will add up.

  2. Early Morning Practice – This requires determination, possibly some missed sleep, but if you start going to bed early by 10 min and add an additional 10 min for 6 consecutive nights, you should be able to wake an hour early by the 7th day to get a minimum of a 30 min practice session in.

  3. Skip that TV show or Video Game – Take advantage of new technology; start recording (DVRing) TV shows or watching them on-line at a later time, and spend that time practicing. By recording them earlier, you can even fast forward through commercials saving yourself even more time.

  4. Include the family and loved ones – If you’re dating, married, or have children, include them in your practice time, ask them to stand in as your practice partner. Take them to a park, or backyard and practice as they lounge or play. Not only will you be getting much needed practice time in but you’ll be bonding.

  5. Pack your Lunch – If you’re a Student or Work Professional, pack you lunch and spend the time before you eat to adding some practice time in.

These are just 5 way to improving your performance; the point is if you want to make serious improvements in PSP or for that matter any Martial Arts, you need to Train in Class with your instructors, and then Practice what you learned to become proficient by avoiding excuses and by making the time. Before you know it you’ll be advancing by leaps and bound and you’ll become one of the few students that shine.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Instructor Series: Attributes of Pencak Silat Pertempuran

On the topic of techniques, some people get confused about the purpose of the curriculum of pencak silat Pertempuran. They THINK that the curriculum is THE application. However, as I tell people, the point of the curriculum is attribute development. So what does that mean?

Well, no matter what system of martial art you study, YOU will always be an integral part of it. You cannot escape the fact that YOU are the primary component. As a result, I can only guide your application of pencak silat, I cannot dictate it. Therefore, the best use of my teaching then, is to give you the skills to find yourself in it.

WHAT I teach are the tools and the ideas. WHO you are determines the EXPRESSION of PSP.

I cannot dictate your expression. I can guide it. I can mold your expression into something that more closely resembles pencak silat, BUT it is entirely on YOU to figure out how to actually EXPRESS it.

It is not plug and play. Perhaps there is a way for arts to do that but what I'm teaching is a matrix for understanding relationship. It's so much broader than applications that are plug and play.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Instructor Series: Pencak Silat and Ego

Let go of your ego.
As you practice martial arts, and for those of us practicing pencak silat, there are several things you may end up seeing or doing yourself. Some of them are very subtle but they rear their heads regularly. I've seen them in myself from time to time and more obviously in people I've taught.

Things you might ask yourself or actually say:
1. "That doesn't feel comfortable to me. I think I'll do it this way." Yet, admittedly you are training with a teacher bc you have much to learn. And usually this is done shortly after you learn something for the first time—not after repetitive study.

2. "I wouldn't do that in the street..." Again, admittedly you are training with a teacher bc you have much to learn. Perhaps the take away isn't the technique, but the principle. Additionally, there aren't too many absolutes about what will and what won't work. It's all situational and all relational.

Things you might actually do:
3. When someone you are teaching brings up a great question you may not admit that you don't have all the answers and that you may have to ask someone else or even just explore solutions together.

4. If you get hit, instead of accepting the challenge to improve through training or asking what you could have done differently, you get angry or frustrated

5. Thinking: "This is really simple. I'm too advanced for this stuff." Or "Can't we do something other than this simple stuff?" 

6. Defend your training blindly when critiqued. Even critique that is done in a negative spirit can sometimes yield value. Be willing to just look.

7. If you ever stop putting yourself out there for others to evaluate, ask yourself "why?" It could be that you're trying to protect yourself.

8. Blame others, including your teachers for your lack of growth and development. That's pure crap. You need to own your path.

I'm sure there are others. Certainly there are more obvious ones than these, but I've seen these in myself and others over the past 20 or so years of training and they can be very subtle.

Just a quick note to think about.

Would love to expand this if you feel like contributing.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Instructor Series: Pencak Silat Pertempuran Ambidextrous?

We had a long conversation last night about pencak silat, training in basics, universal Truth, intuitive versus intentional learning paths, and various other tangential topics. It was really good.

I wish at those times that I had something to capture the conversation because there were many, many kernels in it that have taken me many years to learn and a good portion of which directly relate to why Pencak Silat Pertempuran is structured the way it is. Plus, it's the type of thing that can never be repeated because it's based on relationship to the people asking the questions and their responses of understanding or confusion.

In any case, understanding some of these major ideas will aid you as you study the system in knowing what the next steps are.

That said, here is one of the ideas in summary fashion:

PSP is NOT ambidextrous.
So why do you practice things on the left and right sides respectively? For one primary reason and a few lesser ones.
1. It is a system, intended to be available to all those who want to study it. Which is to say, that it is not strictly limited to right handed practitioners or left handed practitioners. Because of this, both need to be taught.
2. And that is because I teach everyone as though someday they will also teach.
3. Teaching both left and right sides demonstrates more clearly the principle of relationship and how changing that relationship changes the outcomes.
4. In a pinch you may HAVE to use your weak hand or leg to perform something—recognizing that it would be better on the "strong side."
5. Not all things performed on the "strong side" are actually strongest on that side. There are kicks that or strikes that you likely perform better with one side than the other and until you try it, you won't know which they are.

For purposes of combat it is of more value to be great on one side than to be average on both sides. You can pick the side.