As with any training method, sometimes if it can be hard to understand how certain movements or skills apply to your individual situation, particularly how their fit into the system you train. This can become a very real problem if you are an athlete preparing for competition or are looking to achieve a specific goal within a set timeframe. The reality is that we have limited time to train so understanding why we are training what we train is very important.
In some Martial Arts, trust for progress is placed on the age or athenticity of the tradition. People will assume that, because something has been around for 1000 years it must be useful to have survived for that long. This is sometimes true of course, mainly for very small, select groups of students, but in general this verification for the merit of a training system is flawed. The presence of ‘Inner Door’ training in most legitimate traditional systems points to the fact that for the majority, trust place solely on the age of a method can be misplaced. Statistically, you are probably not getting ‘the goods’.
Instead, I like to leave ‘trust’ out of the equation and talk about progression and measuring progression on an individual case basis. This is easy when working with an Individual athlete or Martial Artist One to One, but it is also the approach for people learning MartialBody basics online. One should feel and test their progress regularly as I explain in the foundations courses.
A question posted to the facebook community, that is the inspiration for this post, was related to how to fit MartialBody training into your main practice, in this case Judo. In this post I will look at how one can approach MartialBody Basics and how MartialBody training in general should be viewed to get the most out of the training methods.
Mb is a training protocol, not a style.
Firstly, and most importantly we must think of MartialBody as a supplementary training protocol, much like any other well-designed training protocol. It is not a style of martial art or a replacement for anyones core practice. The aim is rarely direct skill acquisition or technical improvement when we are looking at supplementary training methods. These things are left for your Martial Arts teachers and coaches and it would be unwise to believe that MartialBody will increase specific technical skills.
Think, for instance, of a classical strength & conditioning program, a cardiovascular protocol or any other supplementary training method designed to augment the main method. They certainly aren’t making the MMA fighters tactical approach better, their kicking technique more refined, or their fight rhythm and timing more precise, so why do so many athletes use these protocols?
Simply put the goal of such training is not a direct improvement in individual fighting techniques. Instead it is the building of certain qualities that can drive and fuel the technical methods. The fighter may want more strength, stamina, speed, etc and training for these qualities directly and deliberately will be a faster route than to rely on developing them as a side effect of the technical skill work. You can think of MartialBody in the same terms, it is there to supplement your main study and, in our case, increase 6 key attributes that will augment and fuel your technical method or art.
Creating the ‘MartialBody’, with all 6 attributes developed and in use, can be likened to upgrading a racing drivers car. The driver is still required to express their skill, the car itself is not a replacement for their method of winning the race, it is simply giving them a better tool to use. The Ultimate goal is for you to hardly even notice that the attributes are present when you are performing your method or competing. Think of the boxer for instance, does the morning running map into the boxing match in a way that the boxer will have to think about? No, but it does map in a tangential way, in the form of increased endurance. Our 6 attributes will arise in a similar way.
Fitting the movements.
The martial arts are full of varied and unusual movements. From the spinning kicks of the capoerista to the perfected posture of the kenjutsu-ka. But one thing they all have in common is that they are expressions of human mind and movement. With this in mind, we can look at how to optimise our ability to move, act, react, use our mass and mind so as to fuel this human movement, specifically in the Martial Arts.
A common mistake would be to try to precisely map MartialBody motions onto precise techniques where they seem to fit. Because in some of the techniques we train for ‘power’ along the major planes of motion, some of the movements may seem to map directly onto those found in your style. This is fine, but if it becomes the focus it misses the majority of the benefit found in MartialBody training, which is the engraining of general body skills that will fit into ALL of your techniques.
It is easy to get lost in the minutia of how this movement fits to that technique etc. But again, lets think of how the Deadlift helps the MMA fighter, we could say that it maps onto some wrestling movements, but that misses the biggest benefit of the method. The main benefit is in general strength and power, not in the like for like motions (which in a fight may never happen!)
So how should we approach MartialBody methods? Well as mentioned above we are trying to ‘improve the race car’ so that the driver has a better tool to win the race. In fact, here I can use another racing driver analogy that helps to highlight the usefulness of seemingly unrelated training.
Think of the formula 1 driver, as some of you may be aware, these guys are extremely fit individuals. They need to be very fit to cope with the extreme forces and pressures of the racing environment. They will use supplementary training that doesn’t relate to the process of driving the car at all in order to build the qualities they need to be able to perform when race day comes. How could we say the many hours of cardio, the strength training, the cycling and all of the other things these guys do Map onto the techniques used to drive the car? We can’t, but the qualities and attributes they build do!
So, coming back to the example of MartialBody we can similarly say that, over time, committed training in HeavyBody will make your body/methods feel more heavy to your opponent. Your strikes will progressively land with more weight, your pressure in grappling will become greater, your ability to root will increase. These qualities arise from dedicated training in the attribute of ‘Heavyness’ and will be an upgrade to the more standard body methods.
Equally, committed training in SpiralBody will make your movements less linear and have greater complexity. You will be hard wiring the quality of spiral motion so that even seemingly linear movements have a deeply bound spiral in them. If you were to ‘try’ to move this way in a sparring environment however, you would ultimately lose the engagement as the mind is too preoccupied. Instead, we create the quality in the body all the time, from dedicated solo and partner training.
MartialBody foundations are focused on the most basic techniques to begin to build a body expressing the 6 attributes. If you train with the view that you are (slowly) changing/upgrading your body you will begin to notice, generally from your training partners, that your techniques seem more effective.
Of course, the crux of this entire approach is that you MUST train, quite a lot. You would not expect to build good biceps simply by learning the information of how to do a bicep curl. Similarly, intellectualizing and understanding MartialBody Foundations will not build the Attributes, you have to dedicate your time to training them.