I was reading a fascinating book about skill development called “The Talent Code,” which delves deeply into the psychology and physiology that helps people to do this effectively. One of the most interesting chapters talks about the difference between the teaching styles of a soccer coach vs. a music teacher. The author claims that an effective soccer coach sits back and stays silient, allowing players to learn through open play, giving feedback in between sessions of play. Meanwhile, the effective music teacher interjects and instructs frequently to produce the specific results that constitute good playing. I believe this is only half the story. (more…)
Last week, I wrote about why martial artists should do strength training. One of the reasons was injury prevention by surrounding your joints, spine, etc with muscle for support. It can also help by preventing a worse injury, as I discovered while training at the summer camp last weekend. One of my training partners accidentally pushed my locked shoulder beyond its range of motion while rolling out of the prone subject control position in which I was being held (the arm was supposed to slip out during the roll). Fortunately, the extra muscle support I had from strength training meant that it only caused a minor muscle pull rather than causing joint damage, for which I was relieved. I was still injured, nonetheless, so I had to carefully consider how to proceed. (more…)
Many years ago, I came to believe that strength training was detrimental to being a good martial artist, or at least for the type of self-defense oriented training I do, that relies on technique in order to overcome bigger, stronger attackers. The reasoning I had in my mind was that putting too much emphasis on improving strength meant that you would be more inclined to rely on that strength to perform techniques. Honestly speaking, that was really just an excuse, as I didn’t particularly enjoy strength training. I still don’t, but I now realize it’s an important form of exercise that should be a part of every martial artist’s training regimen.
There are many benefits to strength training for martial artists, a few of which might surprise you. (more…)
Being a teenager is different than it was for me 20 years ago. This always becomes apparent to me when I talk with teenagers who are my relatives, who train with me at our dojo, or even my 15-year-old Little Sister (I’m a Big Sister volunteer mentor.) Technology has advanced leaps and bounds. The way we work, entertain ourselves, communicate and live is completely different. But one thing remains the same when it comes to being a teen; it means you’re old enough to think coherently and independently, but not necessarily experienced enough to recognize your personal biases and how it shapes the way you think, act and make choices. Getting out of your teen years doesn’t mean you get past this, but as you live through more years you get more opportunities to see the patterns of your choices in action and therefore more chances to see how your biases influence you. As such, I’ve compiled a list of things I would tell modern teenagers, if they genuinely wanted my advice based on my experience and personal perspective.
This past week, I travelled to Chicago where I had the privilege of teaching and training at the National Women’s Martial Arts Federation‘s annual “Special Training Camp.” This event is similar to the one that a sister organization, PAWMA (Pacific Association of Women Martial Artists), offers annually, which I taught and trained at in Oregon last fall. It was an incredible experience that was fun, interesting and educational, but also supportive and inspiring. (Photo below shows the training area, capable of handling 8 classes running simultaneously.)
Over a lifetime, we learn a lot of different skills, some are practical, like typing, cooking, and car maintenance, ones that we expect to use on an ongoing basis throughout our lives. Others are ones that we simply enjoy with minimal “practical” value beyond the way they make us feel, like visual arts, performance arts, or various sports like golf or tennis.
Whatever the skill, we only have so much time to dedicate to our various pursuits. As such, we sometimes settle for what we consider an “acceptable” level of skill to get by. When we reach this point, we either consider ourselves to be good enough at the skill that we’ll be able to call upon it when needed. Many people do this for skills such as bike riding or swimming. Or we’re happy enough to continue enjoying the activity at that level without feeling the need to stretch ourselves to keep improving our ability. This is often the case with inter-sports like softball or sports that people only occasionally enjoy like golf or skiing. We don’t necessarily want to increase our level of ability to perform at more competitive levels. We just want to be good enough to be able to do them enjoyably in a certain context. (more…)
In modern Western society, we’re taught from a young age to set goals for ourselves and to work toward them until they’re achieved. You see this in our schools, in which there is more value placed on the marks students earned than on what they have actually learned and retained. We focus on this in sports in which the results of games or matches are what receive praise or denigration. The problem with this goal-oriented focus is that it doesn’t necessarily give you better results, and it makes the entire experience less engaging and fun. This can be especially true in one’s training in the martial arts.
Sooner or later, everyone who takes up a martial art over a long period of time will come up against some sort of mental block. They’ll come across some technique that they understand logically, and there is no physical impediment to doing it, but for some reason or another can’t seem to make their body do the technique in question. It can be incredibly frustrating, especially if the technique is seemingly simple and the majority of people have no trouble at all doing it. This feeling is exacerbated the longer the block exists, so it’s important not to sweep them under the carpet and avoid them. (more…)
My father once said this to me and it still rings true. My father had originally wanted a son when my sister was born, but he enjoyed raising a daughter so much that by the time my mother was pregnant with me, he wanted a second one. He got the best of both worlds. He got me.
I had always been a bit of a tomboy, but when I started doing physical activities as a child, my mother wanted to put me into dance. Soccer, was also introduced to my life as a summer activity. As a young child, I didn’t really know what I wanted or what was expected of me in my involvement in these activities. I just thought they were things I was supposed to do, like school. I was never all that great in either, nor did I have a fantastic time with them. I never really felt like I fit into those activities, but I kept doing them until I turned 12. (more…)
It’s hard to know what a young child would enjoy as a physical activity. If you’re lucky, he or she may have expressed a fascination with something they have seen on TV or through their family and friends, but more often than not, parents have to go through a period of trial and error to find the right fit. Here are few tips for finding the right activity:
- Talk to your child. If your child is younger, introduce a few different options that you think they might enjoy through video. YouTube can be handy for this. Ask them what they think. If your child is older, encourage them to actively take part in the decision-making process letting them choose for themselves from activities you can afford and are location friendly for you.
- Start small. If a school or program has the option to do a trial class, give it a shot and see how it goes. If your child is young, it’s a good idea to be there with them to help ease separation anxiety if the teacher allows it. If there is no trial class, try to start them off with a shorter term commitment. If all goes well, you can go for longer terms.