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How effective a FMA practioner  as far as (  combat is concerned ) can one hope to become with little teaching, much practice and the watching of others via video,  and sparring with different size indivduals?

Notice I said little teaching, not any teaching. I tend to come from the school of thought that most learning comes from self llearning.  Miyamato Musashi's " The Book of Five Rings"  teaches this to some extent. All of the things I've learned and retained I've learned on my own through little teaching and lots of repetititon. I don't get to train with my instructor as much as I would like but I do train with him. However, I tire of the endless katas at times as I feel they bring little value to my over all  combative skills.

I have a mook jong to assist me with sensitivity training and to help me work on my form. I try an train with different size individuals to help me  figure out what works and doesn't work for my body type. (I'm a big guy but slimming down daily) Plus I also watch alot of training dvds.


So that 's my question. Also what has been anyone else personal journey here in regards to training?

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I think it was Arnold Palmer who said "Practice does not make perfect...perfect practice makes perfect".  Repetition is essential to learning new skills...actually learning.  But, it is important to have oversight by a good instructor because they will make minor corrections to your technique during repetitive practice.  Going off on your own with only minimal instruction and practicing over and over again a flawed technique will do far more harm than good.  This is something we see in students who get the bulk of their information from seminars and videos.  You should be careful about your presumption that you know a technique well enough to go off on your own and practice.  Our students attend class once or twice a week and are expected to practice in the interim.  I find this too long a period of time as often I have to spend a good deal of class time reviewing what they have practiced and making corrections that are almost ingrained in their bodies.  Reading and watching training videos are good supplements but remember, Musashi wrote the Book of Five Rings at the end of his life.  He was also an extraordinary martial artist with exceptional ability to learn and grow on his own.  His was a life of almost monastic discipline within a culture quite different from our modern world.  While we may learn from the writings of such a master, we are best served to seek out a great teacher in person and spend as much time as possible with them to absorb as much of what they have to offer as possible.  Virtually everyone I have admired in my career has had that same experience; namely, they sought out great masters and spent enormous amounts of time with them to learn their art.  This insatiable thirst is something I have seen in every single great martial artist I know.  I think it is something to emulate; find within yourself.  They are also humble about their understanding of their art.  Remember, we students are ignorant of our own deficiencies and blind to our own failures.  No amount of self reflection and solo training can reveal to us what we are incapable of seeing.  It is like trying to see the back of your own head.  You need the regular illumination and reflection a good teacher can provide to bring your bad habits and incorrect technique into the light.

Good luck in your training.


Guro Lawrence.... another great reply to a post.....


Yeah... what you said. LOL. Great reply. Well thought out and truly my feelings on it. Much respect.

Henry Paz

Thanks for the reply, very well thought out.  For the record, I have no problems whatsoever with my instructors, I just want to make that clear.  Past experience, as I have attended seminars here and there as well as have attended several martial arts schools, I have encountered some good friends as well as other questionable if not interesting characters.

That was a Great reply Guro Lawrence. You hit the nail right on the head. I’m just adding a little to what you just said. That was a completely different time. And the training methods were a lot more strict and stringent. Also it’s not like Musashi just picked up a sword and knew how to use it he had training. And it was formal training at that. There are conflicting stories about his 1st dual. The Tanji Hokin Hikki say’s he was 16 years old in 1599 which agrees time wise with his 1st dual. So that also means he had at least 9 years of formal training if he started at training at age 7. I have been around Martial Arts for going on 40 years, and have met many great trainer and martial artists. Some have gone on to found their own systems or styles and the one common denominator was they all had intense formal training. Then that’s when they started going to other schools or styles to fill in the gaps. Videos are fun to watch and yes you might be able to pick up some techniques, if you have a good grasp of the principles of what makes things work.  But there is no substitute to the touching of hands or weapons of someone who has mastered his art. It might look the same but does it feel the same?    

In a perfect world, seeking out a competent instructor who would guide you and help you develop your potential in any field is ideal. 

However, I sympathize with Mr. Felton in that what if there are no competent instructors who are close enough to you?  In this case, books, dvds, and seminars is a way to go while meeting with an instructor as much as possible in order to supplement the informal training.

In terms of instructors, I prefer several points of view.  In dealing with several teachers, systems, organizations, etc, having several voices keeps the teacher more honest.  To my dismay, I have found that certain aspects of systems would be kept from you in order to have a competitive edge over the student.  I have found that human nature being what they are, teachers will have their students, some prize students, high school friends, relatives, and so on that they will favor.  I do not travel hundreds of miles to learn just so that I would be treated much like a step child.  How often have I heard, "I'll teach you if I like you."  As with Mr. Felton.  I would take matters into my own hands in that no one would be invested into your own training and learning as much as yourself.


Good for you!  I agree many voices are great to have.  I tell my students I was lucky to have a wide range of people teaching me.  The way I see it they are all different lights illuminating the art and by illuminating from multiple angles, the object is fully revealed to the student.  I think there are seven signatures on my graduate certificate including some of those you are studying with now.  Good for you recognizing the value of many lights.  Keep up the hard work and let me know when you are in town.



Manong, I should be able to make it to the seminar at Manteca tomorrow.  I can only stay for a few hours as I have made prior commitments.  Hopefully, I can learn from you again.  I've been so busy at work that it has been months since I have done any meaningful training.  So stoked up, finally some practice and learning!!!!! yeah!!!!!!!!!!  See you manong.

On a further note, I want to emphasize, I do not mean any disrespect, merely another point of view.  For every comments you've made on the forums, I strongly believe that you are correct. It just so happens that my situation is different and far from ideal that I have to improvise.  Oh man, Eskrima training tomorrow, hell yeah!!!!!!

to expand upon Lawtence Motta's statement, video is but 1/3 of the requires constant instruction if a teach simply lets a student "flounder/self learn" in my opinion they are a lazy teacher, live variable pressures are also a requirement. The wooden dummy is great * I am an EBMAS technition and a private student of GM Latosa* but that is for fine tuning structure/angles not beating on typically. Without live pressure how can you train your body for the variables of facing another.......chaos therory is required !!!!!


Dear Christoper Fellon,

   I had read your story, And I came to a certain conclusion, based on my personal opinions, or ideas that you want to prove that what you’re doing is right and also to prove it to others as well. And you just wanted an approval from us or not. With due respect. Then I suggest just do it. Every individual is unique and it differs from one another. What may work for you doesn’t work for us. And what work for us doesn’t work for you. So try to be the best in you and I also agree in your concept of fighting different weights .or sizes… for in a street fight you seldom pick out your opponent. Faith in yourself  and work hard.
Yours truly,

Manong, thank you again for your insights.  Your words are very supportive and for that I am truly grateful.  I have long given up on convincing others that what I am doing is right and I do not wish nor seek the approval of others.  I merely offered a perspective and in no way means to disrespect anybody.  The truth is that I am wrong often enough and like any human being makes mistakes.

I have long accepted myself for who I am for better or worse and no longer care about the approval of others, and I no longer care about their disapproval as well.  I am my own man.  I merely offered a point of view not seeking approval.  Whether others agree or not, that's up to them.

I strongly agree that feedback from a qualified source is invaluable, echoing Guro Motta's comment about having to correct students whom I only see once a week.  I'll play devil's advocate, though, and say it is possible to develop some skill on ones own.  First, you have to have a goal clearly in mind, both overall and immediate.  Long-term, what are you trying to achieve?  At some point you have to step out of your bubble.  You might find a training partner; getting hit is a lesson, and even someone with less training can be a teacher in this regard (be sure to check your ego at the door!)  In terms of what you are practicing in the moment, you need to pay attention to your form and quality of practice. Bruce Lee said something to the effect that one perfect punch teaches more than a lot of sloppy ones.  Granted, you have to throw a lot of punches to learn how to do one perfectly, but that is paying attention, not just to the physical aspect, but to your own mind as you practice.  Something to consider, especially if you are trying to learn on your own, is it's better to master one simple thing than to risk compounding errors by trying to do complicated routines.  An anecdote from my own experience, some years ago (around 1988) I had a student come in for an introductory Kenpo class.  He was a big 15 year old, clearly street-wise, as indicated by the scars on his arms.  I showed him how to do a basic front snap kick.  He came in a week later and I was astonished - he had a seriously powerful kick!  I asked what he'd been doing, and his response was he'd gone to the park every day and thrown that kick for hours against a tree.  He must have done thousands of kicks in that one week, and when he came back, it felt like he could kick that tree down!  I never saw him again, and perhaps that was the only thing he ever learned, but I guarantee if he ever hits anyone with that kick, it will be effective.  Who else trained like that?  Mas Oyama comes to mind.  He would go up into the mountains and pick a pine tree and hit it with punches until the tree was dead.  Only then would he come back down.  While Oyama was already a dedicated martial artist, there are many who train for years who never "wood-shed" like that.  They may know a lot of stuff, but sometimes less is more.  We only have so much time to train, and doing too many things can dilute what we get from that time.  Again quoting Bruce Lee (more or less), the goal is daily decrease, not increase.  In other words, eliminating wasteful motion and bad habits rather than piling more information on top of a weak base.  This is where having a teacher is important, to help us see those things we might not have the understanding to find on our own.  As beginners we are in search of knowledge, but with experience we find success in polishing little details.  Finally, even world-class athletes have trainers, because in the search for excellence, they know that two heads are better than just one.


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