Why Does It Take So Long to Learn the Martial Arts?


imagineThe bully charges out of the alley and tosses a whole, darned trash can at you! Do you ask him to take that garbage can back because you’re only on your ninth Karate lesson and haven’t reached the deflecting the garbage can lesson? Or do you ask him go away because, here it comes, you forgot to pay your dues at the local dojo?

There is a point to all this silliness, why do the martial arts take so long to learn? You can teach a guy to fly a jet, get in a dogfight and get shot down, spend time in a concentration camp, get released and run for political office, and become a senator, and retire, in the time it takes to learn some systems of the martial arts. I heard of one system that it takes seventeen years to get to Black Belt in!

Some people will make the excuse that you’re learning more than self defense. You’re solving martial mysteries and its all about the lifestyle and you need to invest in your old age, you know? But you’re still lying under that trash can and the guy is pulling out a knife, and no matter how many lessons you’ve taken, you have to do something!

One of the old sayings that I heard, long time ago, is garbage in, garbage out. The sad fact of the matter is that if something is hard to put into your head, then it might not be easily accessed and used. Maybe it would be appropriate to find an art that is as easily absorbed as track, or boxing.

It is true that the Martial Arts are not a sport, they are an art, but they can still be learned easily and quickly. They just have to be taught not by one mystical technique after another, but rather by understanding concepts behind them. Those endless techniques that you memorize, to be truthful, are random data, and, often as not, they don’t really relate to one another.

That is a problem, to be sure, even if you learn a thousand techniques, you might not have enough data to be able to make sense out of the whole thing until you reach one thousand and one. And, let’s face it, a hundred years is to long to become competent. And then go to heaven.

The solution is that the martial arts must be taught on a conceptual basis. Instead of having a fellow memorize endless strings of tricks, have him learn the rather simple principles behind those tricks. Have him learn conceptually and he’s suddenly going to be able to figure out those thousand techniques without any need for endless memorization.

Give him an acorn and throw in the watering pot, that’s what I believe, and then watch the oak shoot upwards. Most martial artists, and I don’t mean to be mean in this observation, are lost in the limbs of the trees. The real way to teach, however, is to show the guy the principles, then have use those principles, and, faster than a rabbit on steroids, you’ve got yourself a fast and competent martial artist.

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