Thursday, March 12, 2009


A post by Littlefair: Practice, practice, practice... has a great piece of advice:
When I feel myself drifting off during lessons I like to focus using this idea of always checking form and movement, getting feedback from my body and knowing that I'm staying on the path.
Like many people, once I have achieved basic competence in a skill, and can do it "without thinking", my mind tends to wander off as I go through the motions. I may even feel a little bored ...

But what martial arts has taught me is that this is usually the first plateau in learning. Looking back, I struggled to get to this point, and am relieved to have gotten even this far. Perhaps I am a little drained from the effort, and need time to consolidate.

Looking forward there are many more challenges to come. Littlefair's tip is one way to open up the training and to start exploring sensitivity, details and principles.

Nowadays, with a busy life, going through the same routines that I have followed for years is less frustrating and often somewhat comforting (like slipping on a comfortable old pair of gloves). But it is also exciting, because I no longer take my competence for granted, and know that with a bit of creativity I can exploit my familiarity as a starting point for a fresh climb into further learning and understanding.


Littlefair said...

Bingo! Great precision Dan, and thanks for the mention.

Wish I could pop by your dojo to train...


Dan Prager said...


"Wish I could pop into your dojo to train..."

Well, it's only 17,000 km away, so by all means! ;-)

Sue C said...

This post (and Littlefair's post) go amazing well with your two posts on breakfalling for me. I'm a student karateka and we pay lip service to breakfalling really. We do very little throwing - but it only takes one bad fall to break something, even on mats! Even when we do practice breakfalling, when I'm actually being thrown I still instinctively revert to putting my arm out like the skateboarder! So I expect practice, practice,practice is what is needed to retrain my instincts!

Dan Prager said...

Hi Sue

Thanks for stopping by and sharing your experience - one that I suspect is quite common, but not regularly admitted.

If you have not already, you might well discuss your safety concern with your instructor, and ask about his or her assessment of the actual level of risk, and whether changes or supplements to your practice are advisable for safety reasons.

In my experience an intensive period of practicing appropriate breakfalling drills, while easing into progressively more impactful throws -- all under expert supervision -- will do the trick. However, there is definite individual variation in how long it takes!

Your comment also raises the important broader issue of safety issues in general, in particular when training in corners of one's art which are "non-core". Hard contact sparring and weapons training are other areas that spring to mind ...