Sunday, September 2, 2012

Try Not To Think About It

I've started teaching again and it makes me so happy.  Working in the jail is good, the inmates are fascinating to me, but I'm a teacher at heart.  And a student, too.

We've re-started the women-only class now that my time at the academy is finished. Today we worked defenses against chokes, both standing and on the ground. Additonally we talked about the whens and why's of eye contact.

But what's really on my mind right now is some of the questions I received from a student and in particular how she asked them.  Okay, I'll be frank, I can't remember her exact questions.  But the gist of it is something we hear frequently:  "You're teaching me this, but what if he does that?  Or that? Or that?"  Occasionally this line of questioning devolves into the "27 ninjas" scenario...what if 27 ninjas come at me all at once?  What do I do then?

Now this woman was NOT giving me one of those scenarios, and her questions were completely valid.  But she was asking us in a sort of shy and uncomfortable way that tells me she doesn't yet believe she can pull this stuff off. Not that there's anything wrong with that. 

The truth is there are experienced trainees who have have beaten off an attack successfully and those who have failed.  There are people who have never trained a day in their life who have beaten off an attack successfully and those who have failed.

What we're doing in class is merely working to improve our chances.  That probably is a real bummer to hear, but it's true.  No matter how much you train, there are no guarantees you will succeed.  Anyone has the potential to lose when attacked.  But here's the awesome news.  You might be "anyone".  But your attacker might be "anyone", too.  Isn't that lovely?  I think it is. 

So here's what you do in class.  When you are new to training, don't try to master all the "what if" scenarios.  That comes bit by bit as you continue to train.  Absolutely ask "what if" questions if its something that's bugging you or if you've faced a particular situation in the past or expect to in the future.  But don't get eaten up with all the minutia of each possibility, you'll drive yourself nuts.  

Allow yourself time to work on the basics and to master what makes them effective.  Things like driving with your feet and transferring your weight to put the power of your whole body into a strike.  Engaging with aggression while maintaining control.  Staying loose instead of tightening up & moving like Frankenstein's monster (we all do it sometimes).  And one of the most important, yet most difficult: learning to keep a clear head under pressure.  These concepts apply regardless of the technique you're performing.

If you can get your body to grasp all these concepts they will serve you well no matter if an attacker does "this" or "that".   As you put the concepts into play through repetition of training, and you work them into a growing number of techniques, your confidence will grow along with your chances of success.

Thanks to everyone who came out today, we'll be working one person's choke from behind "what if" on the first Saturday of October.  Come train with us!

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