"Everybody has a plan...until they get punched in the face." Mike Tyson
I was reminded strongly of that phrase yesterday.
I haven't done any sort of fighting since I did karate for a year at 9 years old.
With my friend and colleague, Professor Richard Bailey, running a seminar called 'Power Striking: The application of simple scientific principles to striking', with my interest in movement and sport,
I thought I would go along to see and experience some of it in action.
After a little intro to the basic boxing punches before we began, I was thrown straight into sparring!
Me against experienced martial artists!
It's amazing how quickly the threat of being whacked can make you forget everything you know.
In my case yesterday, my skills were in the earliest of embryonic stages. They were easy to forget.
But we know that often solid skills can also do this during competition.
You may have worked solidly in training doing drills to learn and hone new skills and only to have them abandon you in training.
How can we decrease the odds of this happening so that our hard-earned skills are available to us come game-time?
I agree with what Richard said yesterday:
"To get better at fighting, you have to actually fight."
Let's say we want to get better at throwing a jab.
More specifically, we want to get better at throwing jabs while fighting opponents.
So practising throwing jabs at live opponents is the best way to learn to throw better jabs.
A skill practised out of context has limited usefulness because you may struggle to activate it when the pressure of competition comes into the mix.
So, as with Richard's session yesterday, it's very useful to make the cornerstone of your practises as close to the activity that you want to improve as possible.
Richard has taught beginners to black belt level in as little as three months by making fight situations the main part of their training
instead of taking the traditional approach where the majority of sessions are spent performing drills before the end of the session (often less than a quarter of the whole) when learners spar.
If you want to get better at playing football, predominantly play football.
If you want to get better at golf, predominantly play golf.
If you want to get better at playing professional pool, predominantly play pool for money.
Make your practise as close to your competition as possible because if you're used to throwing punches with the threat of being punched in the face, it's a lot less likely your plan will go out of the window.
Arton "A little bloodied but better for it" Baleci
P.S. thanks to Combined Defensive Arts for being excellent hosts for a newbie.