Teaching, Training and Martial Arts

Much of the work and study in the inner works has expanded my consciousness and has really impacted my relationships with my students.  Surprisingly, I've found teaching as a portal to activate certain individuals - to some degree.... to keep them open minded at the very least .  Cycling energy and learning off each other is very fulfilling process: I learn to become a better teacher daily - never holding back knowledge and to be a getter guide for my students.


The environment where I mostly teach is at Tae Kwon Do gym: where  I've been able to teach in their weapons class - teaching Eskirma (known as Kali/Arnis in North America) to a new audience.


From personal experience, I have found many TKD clubs are under a form of hive mind mentality conforming to a system.  Many still believe that a black belt has much merit - and many times don't look at the precision and accuracy of the individual; they are instead mesmerized by the belt around their waist. The art itself is quite powerful when dealing punching and kicking; and anyone who wants to learn how to punch and kick powerfully; Tae Kwon do is a great art to learn.  (I'm speaking from experience as I was once a student of the system)


I do find it challenging in a sense where I have to consistently relay information into something they can innerstand.  What's more, I have to be able to walk the walk, and show them with precision and accuracy where they might be weak at certain spots: I have to consistently break certain habits and linear thinking -  many are too focused in rote learning and  do not take into consideration other solutions - which blinds their vision to see other openings.

However, as Sifu Bruce Lee one said "Boards don't hit back," many of the 3-step sparring techniques have no practical application to a real life situation.


The Art of Tae Kwon  (Tae =Foot, Kwon = Puch DO = Art)  = 3 step sparring - Pre-conceived Strikes


The Art of Eskrima - Balintawak: (geared towards speed and reaction training; random strikes)


Kata's and Pompse; are actually a form of mediation. The movements and patterns are designed for proper stance and footwork; but at the end of the day, its not really useful for sparring.  I remember sparring for the first time and I always wondered why it was important to learn katas and stances - now that I look back it was purely for ranking and of course part of Commerce; where schools would charge x-amount for belt.


The other side of the spectrum there is of course MMA - mixed martial arts.  Which in my mind shouldn't even be promoted as an art; more along the lines of mixed martial sport.  The reason being the art portion has been taken away, and the spiritual and philosophical side of the martial arts has been replaced with pure aggression and domination.  That's not to say that all MMA fighters are not martial artists; in fact I truly respect the amount of skill and training that is required to be in top top shape - however, what I am conveying is that it doesn't represent the entire martial arts community -the term martial arts is both for martial - the combat aspect, but it also an ART.   Many choose to partake in martial arts for different reason - to develop certain skills sets, through mind, body and spirit. 


The hive mind has a tendancy to waterdown knowlege and practice;to the point where the fluidity and technique are far from the original form.  This is of course the reason why many just purchase a black belt just for the sake of having one.  It has turned into a comodity; rather than a sign of acquired skill.  A Tae Kwon Do or Karate black belt really doesn't mean much nowadays. On the other hand, a black belt in Jiu Jitsu (especially in Brazilian) being relatively new to the commercial scene still holds standing.  (not that ranks mean much anyway...its all about the skill of the individual that matters, but in regards to BJJ, it tends to be the case where skill and rank still closely match).


In terms of Eskrima, having learned most of it through "garage training" - I really didn't know they taught the "style" which I learned.  I guess you can say I was taught the old fashion way - Master ----> apprentice kind of training.  I had a very personal one on one relationship with my mentor and instructor and consider him family.  Much to my suprise I learned the that art I was teaching did start to get commercial exposure, and of course the quality of the training watered down...  The instructors who carried the torch for some reason did not train the student with the finer details and tid bits; mostly in regards to breathing, accuracy, speed and relaxation. In my humble opinion, one shouldn't teach until they develop some form of skill, and moreoever should not teach something that they do not really comprehend; I am personally pretty good with sticks and certain weapons, but I am not qualified to teach BJJ....simply because that's not my area of skill. 


Guru - "Persona"



Novice Trainer:



Adept Trainer:

Withholding knowledge is also another aspect of non-progression.  Instead of properly training the student and making sure they develop to his/her potential, some teachers stagnate their student's growth by purposely holding back - mainly for financial gain and profit, or due to ego; not wanting to student to surpass their level of skill.  This of course it not entirely the fault of the teacher; the monetary environment sets the tone, - they teach not out of love for the art; but for money - and this of course leads to the fear of losing a student or the fear that a student may one day surpass their level.


*I've also found the same kind of mentality when I first tried to interact within the New Age circles; hoping to find awake people.  It was pretty cool at first speaking on broad topics, but at the same time I met many Gatekeepers.  I remember at one point I met one of these gatekeepers - he said he knew it all, so he stopped searching and was purposely trying to block seekers' paths towards growth and activation.  


I learned early on the gift of having a true teacher.  Many teachers in the past would leave me drained and tired at the end of a training session; many times just wanting to leave the training area; holding my head up high for hanging in there.  Whenever I would meet a real teacher; a wise one, I would train, but come out of the session with intrigue, "how do I get better? Have to start eating better now....have to start training my body not just my skill..." I would literally go home asking myself how improve" not in a manner where I was beating myself up; more as a method of cultivation and introspection - which is of course healthy in regards to the learning process.

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Comment by sa1ty on August 19, 2011 at 10:31pm


You bring up very good points, but in the end i don't think i could train without competition. I trained muay thai and mma for almost five years and never competed, then late last year i took my first fight. It was one of the best experiences i have ever had. Not just the fight but the whole week leading up to it and the months after. 




i got to travel to Vancouver i got to meet a tone of different people and hang out with them, and then in the end i got to fight my opponent. The fear and anxiety you receive before the fight is awful but the feeling you got after the fight is well worth it.


Also the training before the fight improves you so much, regular training does not get you nearly as good as fight training. After every fight you become a much better fighter, not just that but its almost like everything in life is easier. I can now handle situations much better, almost nothing makes me nervous, and best of all i am a much more confident person.


I am going to continue to compete because i feel like i can really evolve as a person using fighting, but you are absolutely right there is allot of people out there fighting and using it in the wrong way. I have been to allot of gyms and there is fighters out there that don't take it easy on beginners, guys with massive egos and coaches that are genuinely malicious.


Also competing keeps me away from drugs and alcohol. If it wasn't for mma i would be a regular 9 to 5 person that gets wasted on weekends.

Comment by Jon Vincent on August 13, 2011 at 11:13am

@sa1ty: great points. I was trying to convey the difference between Art and sheer combat.


I wasn't dogging MMA in terms of skill: scientifically approaching combat and learning what works: "What other practice can you hone your skill and actually test it in a real fight. Not only that but you learn so much about yourself when you compete in that ring / cage." 


You're right. Which is why I prefer calling it a sport - I respect all MMA fighters for their ability to step into a ring and fight.  There's not question there.  


*I'm not saying don't go out and not yourself - its a way to test our fighting ability. 

(I actually enjoying training BJJ, Muy Thai and MMA as well to learn more about techniques - roll around a bit and get some feed back)


However, real Art becomes non-competitive, and to have less ego - the whole concept of art is to have no ego, you're connecting yourself to the source and sharing it with others.  Martial Arts is supposed to lead you towards that - eventually to take away EGO and desire to compete.


On the whole, in looking at MMA and the ways its represented - I don't think anyone can deny when you watch a UFC match or any MMA match, many are ego driven - its violent and brutal (hence the pursuit of belts and trash talking etc...) (heck in my mind is probably all for show, and the fighters are probably friends in the background who knows...) nonetheless that's how its being presented overall.


On the smaller scale, I'm sure that you've had great experience with MMA.  You said it yourself you'd learned a lot about yourself - but you see you even finding this site,  you're MMA experience is a platform of finding yourself - since you are awake and are aware of that.  But how many people like you are using MMA for that reason. And at the highest levels, what kind of mentality does MMA produce?  


The philosophy behind MMA and the martial arts is not the same. 

The highest pursuit of MMA is to get take down/knockout your opponent - to hurt him and win the match -  become a champion.


The highest pursuit of martial "arts" is to know yourself, and educate yourself on all aspects of life, you take away the ego - not enhancing pride or sheer combat.


Its like comparing a Shoalin monk and a MMA fighter. Both know how to fight, but one is in pursuit of something more than just the physical and the mental.   

Comment by sa1ty on August 12, 2011 at 8:17pm

It is interesting how people continue to dog mma and say that its not a real martial art, but in my experience its one of the only true martial arts. What other practice can you hone your skill and actually test it in a real fight. Not only that but you learn so much about yourself when you compete in that ring / cage. Also the gym mentality is so unique, there is no belt system, there is no hive mentality. A beginner can walk into the gym and train with a seasoned professional fighter, and the fighter will help you out and train with you. Almost no other sport allows that, you cant go to a tennis club and train with the pros your first day, and the best part of the mma gym is the fact that were all practically self trained. It is a group of guys and girls from different martial arts backgrounds (whether its a judo person, or a wrestler, muay thai practitioner etc.)  that have the same interest, they join the gym and share ideas and techniques. For the most part everyone is treated equal and all opinion are respected whether its a beginner or a seasoned fighter.


Comment by nima on July 25, 2011 at 5:38pm
Thanks for the post! There are a lot of hive schools out there.  Escrima and kali remind me of jason bourne with a newspaper..The gong fu I am affiliated with utilizes a lot of internal work (conditioning,meditation, intention, internal reference points and movement, accupuncture, stance work, and of course.. applications).  A lot of these "old school" chinese martial arts "instructors" still do it the old way with small places (if not just the park, or a garage), progression at your pace (usually pretty slow), no belt system.  A good "school" will have ways to progress you in "mind, body, and soul".  The form is your understudy and should usually be followed very meticulously, as you "cross more hands", the "form" has to do with your body, their body timing and  movement (timing, structure, form).  The form is nothing without "shen" (spirit), it is difficult to maintain the shen without enough "jing" ("essence").  Maintain and build (store) jing (through diet, breathing exercises, chi gong, etc.  The mind guides "chi" (energy).  When these are combined with the "forms", the forms can be utilized for the minute movements and intentions that they were designed for.  The principles of the movement become the efficiency rather than the actual movements themselves.
Comment by Nona9on on July 23, 2011 at 8:57am
great post! my experience in MA has been ( thankfully ) a very positive one since I began. Though there are countless McDojos out there, ( around here ) maybe 100 for ever 1 pure MA training center, its usually the non descript low key place that turns out to be best as oppose to the flashy business type ones with trophies all over and rediculous signage. You're very right about how anyone can go buy a black belt, open a business, call it whatever they want really and begin taking unsuspecting peoples money..usually parents. Interesting point about hte gatekeepers too, I never really came across that term or that kind of individual, good post, keep them coming ! - wholeness


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