Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Developing Social Qualities 2: Cooperation

To develop your martial arts skills, you will need more than willingness and instruction:
You need training partners.
There are -- at least -- three good reasons for this:
  1. You need someone to execute the techniques on you so that you can feel how they work.
  2. You need someone to execute the techniques on so that you can learn and refine them.
  3. You need practice executing the techniques on lots of different people, so that you can make them work on anyone regardless of shape, size, strength or speed.
What is more, your training partners need you for the same reasons. So learning a martial art is a shared enterprise, and requires cooperation.

Assailants, Opponents and Training Partners
A person who attacks you with the intent of causing you harm is an assailant. To survive you will need awareness, presence of mind, physical conditioning and self-defence skills.

A person who is trying to defeat you in a competition is an opponent. To win you will need competitive spirit, knowledge of the rules of the game, and relevant skills and physical conditioning.

A person who is paired with you in a class is a training partner. To learn and develop you will need to work cooperatively (and also apply your patience, perception and intelligence) to get the most out of any class.

Working effectively with training partners will help you build the skills and qualities needed to face opponents and to survive attack.

Becoming a Great Training Partner

Want to get better at martial arts? Become a great receiver of techniques Then the best martial artists will want to practice with -- or demonstrate on! -- you and you will feel how the techniques should be done. You will learn by osmosis.

Being a great receiver means giving the appropriate degree of resistance or energy to allow your partner to execute the technique that the two of you are practicing as well as (s)he can. This will vary depending on the experience and skill of your partner. For example: If a beginner is trying to throw you, you will need to guide her into placing you into the correct position to be thrown. Do that with a black-belt and she will be insulted!

Working as a Team of Two
You can think of your and your training partner as a team of two, working together to make the technique work as well as possible, and figuring out all the details that make it work. Once you have the basic idea of the technique you can try little variations to see what effect they have, and how the technique can work against particular resistances or under varied circumstances.

Remember: Your training partner is not your opponent. Your partner will often play the role of an opponent or assailant -- as will you for your partner -- but you are both on the same side.

Your real opponents are ignorance and ineptitude. Your instructor can provide guidance, but it is up to you and your "team" to do the hard work.

By working constructively with partners with different personalities and levels of experience you will obtain many benefits, and become increasingly adept at the art of cooperation.