Posted On:7/06/2010 4:48am
Style: karate,MMA(between gyms)
Some of you will either really love this or really hate it. Whether i agree with him or not, i find his articles to be very well thought out.
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The Impermanence Of Victory!
On May 8, 2010, in CMD Performance Psychology, MA-Counter-Culture, Martial Arts-Life, by Rodney King
Just by chance the other night, while flipping through the TV channels, I came across a local mixed martial art competition that is held in Johannesburg. I knew one of the guys that was fighting. He had trained with us a few years back. In a subsequent interview when asked why he competes, he replied, “It’s about testing yourself. What is the point of training so hard and never seeing if your training is working?” With almost no exception I hear most competitive guys reply with the same reasoning.
Personally I have never had that desire to get into the ring and or cage to ‘test’ my skills (Although I did in my late teens because my coach pressured me into doing it + that what I thought you had to do). I have no desire to go out and look for a fight, when I can avoid one. While my feelings may differ from the status quo on competing in modern martial arts, I would never stand in the way of someone who wanted to compete. But because my views do differ to the mainstream thinking, I can to a degree act as Devil’s Advocate offering up an alternative view of training in modern martial arts that is currently and generally accepted. Readers don’t have to agree with my point of view, but I do feel someone needs to be talking about alternatives.
Furthermore I feel it is my duty as someone who has gone through the ‘hyper-competitive mindset’ to offer the thousands of people out there an alternative path to training dynamic, functional martial arts. One where they can have a ton of fun, but at the same time really enhance their performance, without being pressured into believing that unless they are competing the whole experience is pointless.
If there is an issue I have with the modern martial art competitive mindset, it is the presumption that the only way to really test one skills is if one is competing. That competing and winning is the only true measure of ones skills or the exclusive point of training modern martial arts to begin with. Again this gives the impression that for the thousands of people out there, including myself that either no longer compete or want to- that our training is pointless.
I would like to challenge this assumption, as not only narrow minded, irrational, but illusionary.
When someone says, “What is the point of training so hard and never seeing if your training is working?” it assumes that those they are competing against are ‘worthy’ of testing their skills against in the first place.
I hate to point out the obvious,
But what if the person you are matched up against is not that good to begin with? What if you just keep getting weak opponents?
What if your own game is not that good to begin with?
Did you really ‘test’ your skills in the first place?
These are only two counter arguments, that leave the statement “It’s about testing yourself.What is the point of training so hard and never seeing if your training is working?” in doubt.
Again I may sound like a broken record, but I doubt very much that competing in modern martial arts is simply about seeing if what was trained will work. This is just a surface reason. Just like any good captain of a ship knows, it is not the iceberg that is above the surface that’s the problem, but rather the mass that lies below.
The most obvious reason people compete in martial arts is to win, to beat the opponent and in doing so win some kind of recognition( Or title). Would someone compete if recognition was absent?
Recognition is public and for others to notice. Recognition and it’s subsequent cousin Titles, would be meaningless without their visibility, so one of the reasons a person seeks out a title and recognition in victory is so that others will notice them. Titles and recognition only exist as far as they are acknowledged by others, hence it is not unheard of to see martial art competitors way past their sell-by-dates- still trying to recapture the attention of their peers and or to re-awaken a fan base. It makes no sense for them to be still ‘testing’ their skill, other than if that is not the reason at all.
Seeking out a title, recognition, respect and notoriety is only a few of the many other reasons a person would seek to compete. The focus on external rewards, such as money, fame (or infamy), notoriety, acknowledgment by others, respect etc- seems to me at least to be the major driving force in the competitive mind- not the testing of skill. ‘Testing skill’ becomes a convenient excuse then to justify amongst other external rewards, the pursuit of competing for recognition and titles.
I pose this question.
If a competitive platform in modern martial arts did not exist, would people still want to practice modern martial arts or put another way, would the ability to test oneself no longer exist?
I don’t believe the answers to these questions are complex.
Those who are competing for external gratification would likely quit modern martial arts and find another competitive platform that would give them the external recognition they crave so desperately. Clearly by the statement, “It’s about testing yourself. What is the point of training so hard and never seeing if your training is working?” there is seemingly no other reason to practice modern martial arts other than competing, as this is the only real measure of success. Therefore why do it if competitive events no longer exist?
It is clearly absurd to assume that without competition, testing ones skills not longer exists in modern martial arts. More importantly and sadly so many of these guys who are competing don’t get to see the big picture of modern martial arts training. Clearly for anyone who really gets the path of modern martial arts, there is so much more to it than simply testing ones skills….in other words beating up another person in the name of sport.
Again I hate to point out the obvious, but a persons ability to have stepped into a competitive event and win in the first place, was directly due to all the hours they sparred against their team mates in the gym, the hours they put into training and the coaching they received. In a way one could say they won or lost even before they entered the ring or cage. They had already ‘tested’ their skills, if that’s what that are really looking for, way before they even entered the ring or cage. Yet clearly they don’t see it this way. This to me is the downside of the competitive path, it tends to create a very narrow vision of success.
Even Muhammad Ali, undoubtedly one of the greatest pugilists in history, recognized that the real test of his skill, happened before he even stepped into the ring,
“The fight is won or lost far away from the witnesses, behind the lines, in the gym, and out on the road, long before I dance under those lights.”
When pushed almost all competitive modern martial artists will proclaim that fighting in the gym, is not the same as fighting in the cage or ring. I am assuming the reasoning for this lies in the level of fear, anxiety, testosterone, anticipation, the unknown, and ‘can I step up and do this’ mindset associated around getting ready to compete in an event, with fans, coaches and team mates watching.
While these elements are also present in training in the gym with other people, I agree they are not likely always at the level one would experience in a competitive setting. So in another way a person is saying, taking all these elements into account, “will I be able to keep it together and not fall apart when competing on the night?”
If this is true then one could infer that without the intense adrenaline, the anxiety, fear, the risk of real injury and intense scrutiny from others during a competitive event- martial arts training no longer has a point for these kinds of people?
The reality is the idea of training for months to supposedly test ones skill in 15 minutes or less, is illusory. Illusory because everyone looses at some point. Some go on a winning streak and then end their careers loosing all the time. The champion of today is the loser of tomorrow. When Mipham Rinpoche, a Buddhist teacher, asked his father about what he thought of football (Soccer) he replied, “They’ve been winning and losing the same game for a hundred years.” So will it be for modern martial arts. The champions even from a few years ago have been forgotten, replaced with new ones of today.
If anything is real about performance, about testing ones skill, is that it is impermanent. whatever you are able to gather today in your martial art experience, will be lost soon enough. Even your ability to train will be lost as old age creeps in. This is not to say that there is a way to escape this reality (Like competing), but it helps us to stop being fooled into thinking that todays victory brings some kind of permanent reality.
As Mipham Rinpoche says, “Trying to manipulate the environment by promoting ourselves and hoping for others to fail is unpleasant and delusional. We are only as good as we are, and forcing another person down doesn’t make us any better. Competition is unstable. Even when we win, we have not really won. We always have to prove ourselves again.”
Clearly if we truly want to make progress in our martial art training or anything for that matter in our lives, “we cannot base our worth on succeeding or failing at one event.”
How many times would you then have to test yourself before you are convinced that your “training is working”?
Will you ever be satisfied with your results?
Simply because like it or not this kind of thinking promotes our very own samsara, the endless cycle of suffering. The reality is we are always winning and losing the same game, yet somehow expecting to make progress.
When we let go of the competitive state of mind in our martial art training- the need to constantly prove and outperform others- we are then able to open ourselves to possibilities in our martial art experience we had never imagined existed. One of those is training simply for its own sake, without the thought of gain or loss. “We realize that gain and loss is just an illusion—one that we’ve allowed to rule our lives. When we stop being baffled, surprised, or insulted by it, we will no longer experience the highs and lows that accompany gain and loss.”
When someone outperforms us, we don’t see it as “belittlement, but as an opportunity to relax into the outrageous possibility of not being attached to gain and loss.” (Mipham Rinpoche).
In this way martial arts training can help us to finally accept the impermanence of victory, of testing ones skill, and finally allowing us to simply enjoy the experience for what is.
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Discuss. Anyone here agree with his points or disagree?
I live with my parents while going to university. Can't compete in MMA or they will kick me out of the house. So maybe i liked this article because it rationalizes my current training situation to make me feel good. Or perhaps i like it because his points are valid.
What do you guys think?
Because i think he's funny.
it's all vanity
Posted On:7/06/2010 5:33am
Competition isn't an end, it's another of the means.
Posted On:7/06/2010 7:18am
I agree with not being overly competitive in training, because of the whole stagnation thing that ends up occuring. But having no competitive desire in fighting sports probably means you should go and play soccer instead.
"The hero and the coward both feel the same thing, but the hero projects his fear onto his opponent while the coward runs. 'Fear'. It's the same thing, but it's what you do with it that matters". - Cus D'Amato
Posted On:7/06/2010 11:12am
Maybe that brings us right back to whether we are training in a fighting sport or martial arts. Personally, I have no intention at age 59 to compete. Even when I was younger, I wrestled in high school, went to a few Judo tournaments and went to a few karate tournaments. The competetion thing was not high on my list. I had every intention of military service and eventual work in law enforcement. Wound up doing both and used my martial arts training frequently there. Is that competitiion? Not really, but it sure was nice going home at the end of the shift after dropping off the dirtballs at corrections. My two cents is that I do not push the competition angle at all. I have friends that compete and I enjoy watching them. But there are two distinctly different positions in MA/MMA.
Choked out by Gene Lebell
Posted On:7/06/2010 11:21am
Well, this has been said before, and as usual it leaves out a critical concept.
Jigoro Kano moved bujutsu into budo. He went about that a very specific way. Randori and Shiai were vital because how else would you have "combat." "Martial Arts" by their very nature are about combat. About facing "death." When you remove that, you really have nothing left of either world.
Its why Martial Sport will always trump Martial Art.
"Out of every hundred men, ten shouldn't even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back." -- Hericletus, circa 500 BC
5x5 is pretty nuts volume on a deadlift when you already have a high volume of training from MMA. I'd personally shoot more for 3x5. On the alternate day, you could try a hack deadlift instead, to place more emphasis on the quads and reduce tonnage for the sake of recovery. I'd remove the bench as well and stick with dips and chins for the sake of balance and application to combat sports (my experience has been the the pecs play less of a role compared to the triceps and shoulders), and if you want to keep that overhead press in, you need to either increase the volume of the chins or add another pull to compensate.
You're doing 5-10 extra sets of pushing vs pulling a week, so if you do more chins than dips during your training, you can attempt to even this out.
You're a scrapper, I like that."-Ronin69
Posted On:7/06/2010 11:24am
In class my master told us that win or loose doesn't matter. After class when he only trained the team, he told us that everything in this life is about winning. Go figure.
Posted On:7/06/2010 8:55pm
Yeah, what Emevas said.
Posted On:7/06/2010 9:04pm
How in the hell did my post end up here? I swore I posted it in MMAmickey's thread in the PT forum.
Posted On:7/07/2010 3:01am
Thanks dude I'll take it into account..
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