Targets

Discussion in 'Other Martial Arts Articles' started by John Titchen, Mar 24, 2013.

  1. John Titchen

    John Titchen Active Member Moderator Supporter

    Targets seem to be the bane of anyone who works these days. Whatever line of work you’re in, I’d be surprised if you haven’t been set either a sales target, efficiency target or an energy saving target and so the list goes on.

    Targets have been around for a long time in the martial arts too. What are gradings, certificates and belts but targets for students to achieve – indications (in theory) of progress. There are a number of students who covet their belts and focus all their training towards them, students who love the gradings, students who covet belts but fear and dread gradings, and students who couldn’t care less about rank and just want to train. Isn’t the journey more important than the goal?


    What is the goal?

    If your goal is to become fitter or healthier, then the set targets of gradings can help you achieve that aim by pushing you harder. If your goal is to gain ‘a black belt’ then gradings and their targets are pretty essential in that you can’t achieve your goal in most systems without them (although you could just buy a belt). If your goal is to become imbued with self knowledge and self discipline there are possibly better ways of spending your time, but the targets set by your syllabus and the lengths you will have to go to achieve them will certainly improve your self discipline. If your goal is to become a zen warrior – you probably need to get out more.



    What if the goal is to become a better fighter or improve your ability to defend yourself?

    I have separated these two because to my mind they are distinct entities that can overlap. The psychological and physical training needs and goals of a person wishing to successfully fight in a ring or competition differ from those of someone wishing to successfully negate, survive and escape violence. Both actual events, when they occur place physical and mental demands on the individual, but the emotional, psychological and physical environment and consequences of each are very different. There are elements of training common to both, but there are also significant differences and this is where the goal becomes more important than the journey. If you aren’t fixed on where you are going, how can you select the best route and means of transport to get there?

    If you are training for a fighting competition then there are a number of targets that you will set for your physical techniques when determining your repertoire:

    competition appropriateness – there’s no point in you drilling an item that will get you disqualified.
    attack specific – the rules and previous fights mean that you know what is going to be coming your way, you can thus take steps to drill how to evade and counter combinations of these techniques.
    adrenaline tolerant - physical movements that your body can do using predominantly gross motor skills,
    initiative – keeping/gaining this until the round/fight is over
    speed – how fast can you execute a technique
    power – is the technique going to do what you want?
    redundancy – does the technique leave you with options if it doesn’t quite go to plan?
    transferable skills - when learning one thing helps develop something else you are doing,
    unbalancing - taking control of the other person's balance,
    multiplicity - learning individual things that can work against different attacks,
    multi range - being able to use your body to hit and escape no matter what position you find yourself in.

    In addition to this as a fighter you will have combat related targets such as your strength, stamina, weight, diet and conditioning.

    If we now look at the technical physical development targets you would set yourself for a self defence repertoire, we see overlaps but also clear differences:

    habitual acts of violence - training is focused on what are statistically the most likely attacks,
    adrenaline tolerant - physical movements that your body can do using predominantly gross motor skills,
    speed – how fast can you execute a technique
    power – is the technique going to do what you want?
    predictable response - the knowledge of how people think and talk and move,
    initiative - keeping/gaining this until the danger has gone,
    redundancy - knowing and training what to do if something doesn't work,
    low maintenance - easy to learn and easy to do without much practice,
    transferable skills - when learning one thing helps develop something else you are doing,
    unbalancing - taking control of the other person's balance,
    multiplicity - learning individual things that can work against different attacks,
    ballistic response - predominantly using striking as your physical means of escape if avoidance and verbal strategies fail,
    multi range - being able to use your body to hit and escape no matter what position you find yourself in,
    vital points - knowing the weakest points of the human body,
    non combative strategies – appropriately integrated speech, tone and body language and behaviour patterns (still a physical development target) to negate danger or distract,
    legally underpinned – appropriate responses that keep you and others safe, but reduce the likelihood of post event prosecution.

    Force on force threshold and pain management training is important for both competition and self defence training. If you haven’t experienced it you don’t know whether it will challenge or threaten you. Is pain management/conditioning on your list of targets?

    Compared with the competition fight in self defence your strength, stamina, weight and diet are less significant (that doesn't mean they are not significant or unimportant for your overall health or survival). A real encounter is not likely to last as long as a competition one. Although there would seem to be many similarities between the two sets of targets, the first target in each will separate the paths considerably.

    These are merely targets to help you chose what to train. You can then just pick some techniques to work with, but again – if you want to get the psychological benefits of realising improvement, you need to set yourself targets. How accurately can you hit? How much can you stretch? How much can you move the bag? How long can you sustain a high aerobic level? Sometimes I wonder whether the lack of clear goal setting by instructors and students is responsible for the high drop out rate in the martial arts. Without clear objectives and recognisable, understandable and achievable targets towards that objective how do we measure our success and gain mental satisfaction and confidence from our training?


    John Titchen
     
    Last edited: Mar 24, 2013
  2. bodyshot

    bodyshot Brown Belt Zanshin Karate

    I would like to think that I at least spend time doing most of those things and that I at least spend time thinking about the rest of them lols, I dont know though. Im not from a traditional school so we dont do line drills or Kata per say we spend time doing alot of live taining, sparring wrestleing, self dfense against knife and club atuff like that. And we talk about alot ofthe topics listed above, I guess I would say I see all those things takeing place at our school.
     
  3. Robert Sterling

    Robert Sterling New Member

    Good article. :)
     
  4. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    Very nice post, John. :)
     
  5. Hannibal

    Hannibal Angriest MAP resident.... Supporter

    Was going to type "eyeballs, throat and testicles"

    You can imagine my disappointment.....
     
  6. Rataca100

    Rataca100 Valued Member

    As you can imgaine my disapointment when i opened my "Invasion of France" folder in preperation.
     
    Van Zandt likes this.
  7. Van Zandt

    Van Zandt Mr. High Kick

    A training partner and I were discussing the subject of targets yesterday (inspired by jwt's post).

    We came to the agreement that traditional systems e.g. taekwondo are probably better off creating two pathways to black belt. It's not uncommon to have a mixed class filled with people who just want to fight, others who want to become grand masters, and still others who don't want to grade at all.

    For those who just want to fight a sport-based syllabus would fast track them to black belt, which would essentially be a passport to the advanced sparring divisions. I favour this route because it emphasises promotion based on ability rather than arbitrary time in grade and a few new katas. At the end of the day, if the student is never going to use patterns and does not like them, why bother?

    For those who enjoy the traditional side to training, they can do the full syllabus we have now. I suppose this could be called the technical route, as is done in judo.

    And for those who just enjoy coming to class without ambitions to be black belts or fighters, let them keep coming to class in a t-shirt and sweat pants.
     
    axelb likes this.

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