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Life's lessons take manyshapes and forms, and truth is revealed in ways that are at times beautifully poetic, and at times painfully direct. No matter what form it takes, however, once recognized truth is undeniable. A martial artist is ultimately a seeker of truth, beginning with explorations and experimentations on technique -- what works, what doesn't what is proper, what isn't -- and progressing through debates about application -- what techniques are effective in which situation -- then moving into a search for the principles that guide decisions made on the mat, in the streets, and ultimately, in life -- courtesy, loyalty, respect, honor, integrity, self control. This blog is dedicated to the search for truth through the martial arts, embracing the belief that excellence is attained through the dynamic balance of the physical, the mental, and the spiritual aspects of our training, and the expression of the lessons we learn through the lives we lead.

I try to adhere to a particular set of principles that guide my training:

Consistency -- pretty self explanatory, this simply means that training should be done on a regular basis, emphasizing long term goals instead of immediate results.

Repetition -- it's not enough to successfully execute a technique once. The body becomes accustomed to movement by doing it over and over again, working and developing the muscles and structures involved in that
movement, until the movements can be executed properly without hesitation, without strain, and without the interference of too much conscious thought.

Intensity -- Focus on the technique or the exercise, dedicate all of your attention to the activity, and all of your commitment to performing it correctly as well.

Diversity -- Train a variety techniques, use several exercises to work the same muscles, and attack the same targets from varying angles and with each of your weapons. Combine Diversity with Consistency, Repetition, and Intensity for optimal results.

Pushing Limitations -- Find the edges of your skills, abilities, and tolerances, and struggle beyond them, one step at a time.

Identifying and Defeating Weaknesses -- Be self-aware. Watch yourself in the mirror, accept feedback from your peers and your seniors alike and make every effort to understand how and why something may be perceived as a weakness. Be diligent in correcting errors and weaknesses as they become apparent.

Establish and Maintain Solid Foundations and Strong Basics -- Be consistent about attending to your basics. A simple witik, thrown properly from a strong foundation, will be more effective than fancy spinning
and jumping techniques thrown wildly and without control. Practice proper stances, balance, breathing, and conditioning. Consciously chamber and rechamber your techniques during practice, so that you can complete them unconsciously during a match or on the streets. Practice proper form and solid technique under the guidance of your instructor and in the safety of the school, so that you can execute them with confidence when they are truly needed.

Views: 45

Comment by Francis Serrano on March 30, 2010 at 2:57am
Man your teacher must be awesome
Comment by terry joven on May 7, 2010 at 2:46pm
I think isolation drills work very well as long as you add them back into the original defense later and able to complete the movemnt at full speed against heavy pressure!
Comment by Travis Day on May 7, 2010 at 2:59pm
I believe that isolation drills definitely have their place in any long term athletic endeavor. As for the original post, well done. Some of these principles can be lost during training when we focus too much on just physical aspects of our lifestyle. Good idea to get them written down.
Comment by Joe Virata on May 7, 2010 at 3:59pm
I also believe in the value of isolation drills. Any technique can be broken down into it's component parts, and each part can be isolated, practiced, and sharpened. However, smooth transitions from one part of the technique into the next are also important. Practice connecting one part to the next as well, otherwise you can weaken your flow.
Comment by terry joven on May 7, 2010 at 4:09pm
By the way great blog!
Comment by Joe Virata on May 19, 2010 at 3:48pm
Strengths and weaknesses are defined by context, and I think any serious training has to be goal driven.

You've got to have a strong sense of why you're involved in the martial arts so you can develop goals and objectives that match your purpose. If you don’t know why you are training, there is no way to develop your maximum potential for growth. You’ve got to know why, or you’ll never be able to develop meaningful goals and measure you’re progress toward them.

If you’re training for tournament sparring, know the rules and regulations you’ll be competing under – what is legal, what is not? Understand the judging and scoring systems and pay particular attention to how a judge might view a match. If you are point sparring, learn how to score quickly and effectively, and keep your opponent from scoring against you. Train to manage distance, set the pace, and work within the confines of a ring and the constraints of a round. Emphasize speed in your training, and sharpen those techniques and combinations that allow you to score consistently and efficiently.

If you’re training for health and conditioning, understand how the body works in general and how your body works in particular. Pay attention to limitations of stamina, skill, flexibility, and strength. Attend to balance and breathing. Monitor your heart rate and the speed of your recovery after exertion. Watch your diet, and be consistent about when and how often you work out. Set measurable objectives and track your progress in attaining them.

If you’re training for practical application and self-defense, train in a manner that anticipates the situations you may face outside the training spaces. Wear the type of clothing you might wear in the streets. Create scenarios you may encounter, then assess all your options in each scenario and PRACTICE EACH OF THEM RELENTLESSLY! Learn effective striking points, pressure points, locks, bars, and disarms, and practice them in a variety of applications and angles. Practice armed and unarmed scenarios. Train on a heavy bag to develop power and on a speed bag or double ended ball to develop speed and coordination. Develop your most effective weapons (sticks, knives, fists, feet, elbows, knees, bottles, table legs, pool cues) and become aware of the most effective way YOU can use each of them. Learn to fight from a full range of distances – corto, medya, and largo. Do a lot of sparring. Be open to learning new techniques, but emphasize those that are effective for you. Do a lot of sparring. Learn to fight dirty, and be opportunistic when an exposure is presented. Do a lot of sparring. Learn how to hit, and how to be hit. Accept the reality of chaos, and the chaos of reality. Do a lot of sparring.

Don’t expect to be able to apply your skills and knowledge effectively in the streets if you have been training only for health and conditioning. Don’t expect to be able to win tournaments if you have been training exclusively for self defense. Though different approaches to training may apply to a variety of scenarios, cross application is not automatic and training may not necessarily be applied effectively under different conditions.

Set goals in relation to your purpose and make decisions according to the goals you’ve set. Grow in purposeful and meaningful directions.
Comment by Joe Virata on May 19, 2010 at 9:10pm
Ray - Thanks for your words of support, bro. I'm glad you're finding something useful in what I've written.

Ron - It sounds like you've lived and trained hard, and have come to a place where you're really respecting and valuing that triangle of fighting, healing and spirituality. I agree with you that we need to embrace all three to take our understanding of our art to its fullest potential. The old timers understood this more completely than most of us ever will because of the struggles they endured on a daily basis (I made the mistake of making a bad joke to one of the old manongs in Delano back in the late 70s - he beat the crap out of me with a rolled up magazine, then told me to think about what he could have done with a blade). They "played" with each other, but they played for keeps when shown a threat or disrespect from anyone else.
Much respect to you, brother Ron - I hope we can talk story over a couple of beers one of these days.
Comment by Michael Cardenas on July 8, 2010 at 11:26am
I just ran across this blog and must say that it is truly amazing how a blog can inspire one to ponder their own training and teaching methods. Great original post Mr. Virata, Master Ron, your question regarding how much attention we should put into practicing our weaknesses is a good one. I imagine that the answer to this question would have a lot to do with the experience, mindset, and physical ability of the practitioner. For Example, for someone just starting out in any particular martial art, just about all of their fundamental techniques could be considered weak, at least until they work on them long enough to begin to distinguish things that they can do well with those techniques that they don’t do very well based primarily on lack of knowledge or physical ability. Perhaps guidance from their instructor can better determine which techniques make up the core of the system that should be practiced over others, thus determining where to spend their attention. I for one first consider my age and the limitations of my physical abilities as I train. For example I never have been able to, nor do I ever intend to attempt a crescent kick to an attackers head. Extreme flexibility has never been a strong suite of mine and although kicks above the waist may be considered a weakness of mine I at least have the proper mindset to examine the situation and come up with alternative offensive and defensive plans to compensate for situations where such kicks would be warranted (thus experience of the practitioner). I believe there is definitely a balance between either practicing your weaknesses our building upon your strengths. It is sometimes easier to find your weaknesses and then make the excuse that it is not worth concentrating on without spending enough time to find out if it is truly a weakness or simply wrong body positioning that makes the application of the technique difficult. Man, so many thoughts going through my head that I can’t even articulate what I want to convey…perhaps this subject would be better discussed over a beer and some BBQ. Great post….
Comment by Joe Virata on July 14, 2010 at 4:27pm
@ Michael - I love your example of the Crescent Kick. Training provides us with options, but experience and maturity guide the decisions we make about how to choose and when to use those options. Being self-aware is extremely important, especially in determining whether a "weakness" comes from physical limitations or from poor technique. Many fighters concentrate on the strike, without attending to the stance, the footwork, the body position, etc. and rob themselves of speed and power. A good instructor, or a good training partner can provide the insight into finding ways to improve our play.
Comment by Francis Serrano on July 25, 2010 at 1:40am
This is a good blog Mr. Virata... I for one like to keep in my mind especially when I train is what am I training for. Just like you Joe, if this is for a tournament then we train for the tournament. I for one believe that a tournament can never duplicate real life scenarios, no matter how much you want to "pretend" it to be a close to a real thing, So with that mindset, I train myself and my guys thinking this is a competition and not a life and death situation.

I also believe that the true power of the strike is not on the arm but in the entire body, if you can train where the whole body is in tune as one fighting weapon then the more "SERIOUS" fighter you'll become...

Just my two cents...


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