Monday, December 25, 2017

Deep and Wide

I just finished reading "The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F@ck" by Mark Manson.  Highly recommended as a great series of practical tips for focusing on what matters most to you (and learning to let go of the rest).  Something in the book really resonated with me - it reminded me of a powerful conversation on the stunning beach in Pranburi, Thailand at the Peaceful Warrior Camp last year.

Guro Claes Johansson of KDM, a super martial artist and a super person,  was telling us to "go deep" in our training, sharing insights he has gained from decades of training with some of the world`s finest martial artists.  He advised us to wring every drop of understanding from every single technique we experience.  He advised us, very rightfully, to take plenty of time to dissect each technique and study it from every possible point of view, considering the origin and context of the elements, including the cultural and social influences as well as just the physiological aspects.  During the camp we explored in great detail the fundamental movements and where they came from, slowly working up to combinations and variations.  We built a strong understanding that we could continue to explore for years to come.  I am looking forward to sharing this research and going even deeper at the 2018 camp.

Often, too often, we are in a hurry to see and try as many techniques from as many styles and systems as possible.  With barely the briefest of explanations we dive right in, tails wagging, and try to do whatever we can - eager to quickly move on to the next and the next and so on.  We don`t invest the time needed to truly understand what we see and experience.  As a result, we fail to translate the concepts to other movements we know, which as FMA practitioners should be automatic.  Our attention span is short, and growing shorter, and we sometimes lack the patience to really OWN a technique and commit it to memory.

Mark Manson argues that "more is not always better", reminding us of the paradox of choice.  Too many choices bombard us with doubt and indecision, creating a type of "analysis paralysis" that makes every choice seem wrong.  Faced with an overwhelming amount of options, we end up being unable to choose any of them.  It is very much like staring at a comprehensive food menu and being unable to decide even a soup or salad or beverage.  Time passes while the waiter stands by impatiently... Suffice to say, there is value in simplicity.

Some students are wide in their training, too.  They have spent 6 months or a year in a handful of different martial arts, never really committing to a path or settling into a long-term training regimen in any of them.  This "Jack of all trades; master of none" approach ultimately robs the student of achieving a deep frame of reference by which to compare and contrast.  They end up learning a handful of techniques, but never developing any solid foundation as a martial artist.  This is not a recipe for developing mastery.  Youtube, while giving us access to seemingly limitless global content,  provides only a very superficial glimpse of the techniques, and generally without the context for correct application.  Youtube is a great tool, but I suggest using it carefully.

Wide is good, sure, but deep is better.  Go Deep.

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