Weapons play

I’ve been spending more time on empty hand Kuntao Silat training and practice and have stepped back my weapons practice.  This day I added a few minutes with our toys.

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Video – Kali Silat at Black Lightning Martial Arts

Another Kali Silat self defense video clip from Rick Vargas & Joe Cueva

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NLP & Martial Arts

 

 

In the literature and studies of self improvement you’ll find the concept of Neuro Linguistic Programming, that’s a mouthful, so it’s commonly referred to as NLP.  NLP is a recent branch of applied psychology, and has high profile proponents in the field of self help.

Originally used in psycho therapy, its concepts and tools found their way into business,and personal development.  Car salesmen were using NLP principals to increase their sales, people in sports and various fields were using it’s concepts to improve their performance.

So what is it?  The words themselves bear extended definitions as well as simplification; Neuro refers to the brain and its relation with mind and body.  Linguistic refers to language and communication systems, how we communicate with ourselves and others. Programming refers to patterns and change.  It’s a process for establishing patterns and making changes that improve our condition.

How can martial artists and use of NLP work together?  Without going into a comprehensive study of NLP, it’s still important to cover a couple of things, one is the Four Pillars of NLP.   They are:

 

  • Outcomes
  • Sensory Acuity
  • Behavioral Flexibility
  • Rapport  

 

Another important element I’ll mention is called “Modeling.”

For Instructors.

Instructors can benefit from understanding what a student’s goals are (outcomes), how students learn (sensory acuity), adaptability to help the students achieve their goals (behavioral flexibility) and, in order to communicate effectively, rapport.

Can instructors do their work without these pillars?  Sure, and they have for a long time using traditional methods.  NLP is a relatively new science, and it offers the potential not only for significant change, but of accelerating the process of change over the older methods.

Traditional instruction methods often rely on a one way street of pitching and catching; I throw material at you and it’s up to you to catch it or not.  NLP invites a partnership between instructor and student, an effective giving AND receiving. There are a myriad of constantly evolving tools that can be used for this, all driven by individual outcomes. This method is more properly called coaching.

A friend and instructor, Neil Ehrlich, a few years ago set up a martial arts school with a few unique concepts going on, and one of them was that we, the instructors, were now “coaches,” not Sensei, Shihan, Sifu, or Grand Master.  “Coach Neil, Coach Jimi, Coach Rick…” We coached to help each student succeed in achieving their goals.  For some it was competitive, others combative, others defense, others just recreational and fitness.

This coaching method of instruction is different from traditional instruction where there is only one way to teach, only one type of student, and only one outcome; the glory of my martial art, or myself.

Using NLP for martial arts instruction doesn’t lend itself well to an en masse approach with an easily followed instructor’s manual.  It’s been said before and bears repeating, not every skilled practitioner is a skilled instructor, they may know the material, but not the effective teaching of the material.

For Students.

On the student side, the individual can facilitate and accelerate the process of learning using NLP.

The Four Pillars apply:

  • Outcomes. Having a goal, knowing the Outcome you expect, and having a driving vision of it.
  • Sensory Acuity.  Receiving, storing, and applying of information important to your goals/outcomes.
  • Behavioral Flexibility. The ability to re-route, to take detours if necessary, on the way to your goals.  If something isn’t working in an appropriate time frame, change might be in order.
  • Rapport.  This is important. An easy definition is “friendliness” or “getting along.”  A deeper definition is: understanding, understanding others, and understanding yourself. It is also about trust and connection.  In a teacher student relationship, it is hard for a student to learn from a teacher they don’t like, or thinks aren’t liked by.  Why?  There isn’t sufficient trust.  If the instructor or coach cannot elicit trust from you, or you can’t give it to that person, move on.  The point here is to learn, to improve, efficiently and speedily, and lack of trust is an obstacle to that.  That’s right, you don’t have to automatically trust every karate/kung fu/martial arts school owner in the world.  Trust is earned, given, and shared.

Modeling.

Another helpful NLP technique is called “modeling.” It’s not quite imitation, it’s more applying from observation the successful behaviors, strategies, and practices, of someone’s exceptional performance.

This modeling is used as a higher starting point to achieving your own excellence.  Modeling acknowledges that we recognize a level of performance excellence or success we want, and we start our own process as close to that as possible, not from zero.  Modeling is a powerful tool in accelerating skill development and performance on the way to your outcome/goals.

As instructors or students, I hope you’ll consider exploring NLP and how it can bring you greater and speedier success in your personal and martial arts development.

Coach Rick

Coach Rick

 

 

 

Solo Martial Art Training

You can’t always train at the gym. 

Training in a state of the art gym or dojo is a great thing.  There you’ll likely have space, time, equipment, partners at different levels, and coaching.  But not being able to get to one for whatever reason (money, responsibilities, time, distance) should not stop you from training and even making progress on your own, at home.

If you don’t have a lot of stuff you can do calisthenics and bodyweight exercises (pushups situps, pull-ups, etc.) anywhere.  There’s your cardio and strength straining.

You can shadow box in front of your shadow or a mirror.  When you do, do several rounds, start slow and easy, and progressively add realism and intensity.  I consider this a really important part of martial training; rehearsing your moves with intent and energy will bring them up with intent and energy.  Practice at three speeds:  1. slow and mechanical, 2. Half speed and smoothly flowing, 3. Twitchy, super fast or “red line” speed.

Hit something regularly, a punching bag, a makiwara, a makeshift Item you can hang or post to practice both intentional hitting, and casual hitting, I mean hitting without preparation, no stance, no telegraph. Why?  Because you may not always be in a position to do a perfect hit, but should do a hit anyway.

Visualize the techniques and try them with your eyes closed (in a safe space of course).  Practice from different positions, standing, sitting, lying down.  Try to train both under duress, when tired from cardio and strength, and when very relaxed.

 Rest.Training under too much continual stress may burn you out, and actually make the practice less beneficial.

Train and practice under less than optimal conditions.  I wear glasses.   I train with and without glasses.  A shooting instructor brought this home when he asked; if in the middle of the night I hear a break in at home and a rush to the bedroom door, can I just grab my gun, point, and shoot to 15 feet in the dark  without bothering to look for my glasses?  I can now, thanks to dry fire practice and taking off the prescriptions at the range.  Sometimes, I may be sluggish from a cold/flu and medication.  Yes, I’ve looked to see how effective I am in those conditions, what I can and can’t do, and how fast.

Research other methods beyond what you are taught at the local school.  Some places just teach one thing, say Mesopotamian Kung Fu, that doesn’t mean you can’t train Jiu Jitsu for yourself on your own time, or a spin kick, or a particular kata.  Who are you doing this for, the school/instructor, or yourself and your family?

Speaking of family, is there someone that might help you out A LITTLE BIT at home,  If they’re not training for themselves they probably won’t want to be your training partner, but “help me work out this  move for 5 minutes” might be feasible.  Don’t hurt or aggravate them, and they might help you again.

I tell my students over and over, that they are taught in the gym but learn at home, and that everything is homework.  This is what makes a martial art yours, and part of your lifestyle not just a “class” you take.