Monday, June 6, 2016

Abject Exercise

This may seem like an odd title, well... that's because it is. I was thinking the other day of some odd, off the cuff sayings I've heard over the years.  A few of them that come to mind are:

Anyone over 40 who still does martial arts actually practices "Kung-Old-fool"

karate, ha?  Bet you can't stop a bullet!

Having said these obviously pithy but silly sayings, lets look at my title:

"Abject Exercise"

Two seemingly in-congruent words, but they can best describe an adults self consciousness while practicing the martial arts.  Yes, the arts are for self confidence, self defense and even, in some cases, philosophical and spiritual training; but where did the word "abject" come in?
Usually from the meaning and connotation of something that is extremely destitute or embarrassingly bad.  This kind of describes the self image of your average neophyte.  It is odd to the outsider to wear the traditional do-gi (Gi  for short) and practice some of these odd customs.  It is also awkward to attempt to follow the stretches, kicks and punches of a person who is a seasoned practitioner of said martial arts.

One of my Senseis from many years ago would do some traditional Shotokan kicking drills in a forward stance for about 50 feet up and down the mat. These drills consisted of a front kick, round house kick and back kick, landing in the forward stance, then start over again.  He would always comment how visitors thought it was totally awesome to see these dynamic kicks. The were usually enthusiastic about starting.  It was quite another matter after the enthusiasm wore off and muscles were sore.

The new student does not understand the time involved to train to the level of the people they had seen!

The type of learning in the martial arts would best be described by psychologists as observational learning. In short, we see, we do.  Observational learning has four elements:

  • Attention
  • Memory
  • Imitation
  • Motivation

I will attempt to keep my thoughts on these four elements short, so for the sake of brevity here is a synopsis:
  1. Attention:  We must pay attention.  We tend to listen to a person who is proficient, or has the influence to be in charge.
  2. Memory: If we pay attention, we should retain (knowledge).  A good instructor is able to break things down to a great degree.
  3. Imitation:  This is what gets us in trouble.  Some are naturally uncoordinated and it may take time for the brain to connect with the body.  Other times our pride of "What will people think?" gets us in trouble because we don't want to fail or look silly on the mat. 

Mostly the grown ups here

      4.  Motivation:  Why did we sign up for class?  THIS is where I want to be in my   subject matter.    Lets face the facts.  There is something humbling about jumping around in colored pajamas and yelling KIAH!  but it is the goal we must keep in mind!
Goals are important.  Experts tell us to write down and set goals.  First short term goals to reach the achievable long term goals.  If you have started your "Abject exercise" routine don't give up! remember your goals!!

Your Brother in Christ
And  Senpai in Karate 

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