It’s been a while since I posted a historical sort of blog. I’m quite busy at my other two jobs this week, but last weekend was excellent in several ways that deserve remembering.
At our Northwind Martial Arts workout Saturday afternoon two excellent things happened.
First, we were reminded that outdoor training is free advertising! Two of the neighborhood kids orbited our training space, asking questions. If they were a little older (I agree with Master Frankovich that as a general rule 13 is a good starting age for a weapons-based art, and I have seen examples at seminar of how useless it is to throw teaching time and effort at someone too young and distracted to absorb more information) I would have invited them to train with us. But there are three colleges in town, and hopefully the little bit of free press will lead to enough students to afford indoor space!
Logic Monkey performed an excellent feat while we trained in the Ssangsu Gyukgums. On Ssangsu Gyukgum Sa-Bon he tripped on uneven ground and fell onto his back during the turn. Without a noticeable pause, he performed the final 11-block and long-angle cut as if he were defending from an attacker coming down on him from above. This was an excellent victory for Logic Monkey, who has been working on his intensity and Mudo as a personal goal in training.
Why is this such a great victory? Krav Maga instructor Eyal Yanilov has explained repeatedly that there are three levels of training in Krav Maga (and other martial arts as well). At the beginner level, if something goes wrong, the practitioner pauses, excuses himself, and wants to start over. This doesn’t just reveal a lack of self-control, it demonstrates a lack of commitment. When the martial artist began the exercise, he didn’t commit to its success enough to drive forward over or through obstacles.
The second level Mr. Yanilov talks about is the fighter level. This is the level where the martial artist has developed enough self-control, when something goes wrong in a drill, that he keeps going forward without stopping. It’s a great improvement, and demonstrates the commitment to success that a martial artist needs. It’s a vital part of real applicable martial arts, because whether it’s a tournament, a sparring ring, or a mugging, there will be opponents who have their own plans, wills, and ideas. Those conflicting wills means that sometimes things will happen in an unexpected way, or our initial plans will be set back. In the ring I have taken the odd kick to the head (yes, it explains so much) and the only way to stay in the game was to shake off Ye Olde Axe-Kick To The Noggin and keep fighting.
What Logic Monkey demonstrated, however, was the third and highest level of Mudo, that of the warrior. The warrior is the artist who, when faced with an unexpected technique or angle, doesn’t just freeze, and doesn’t take the hit and keep bulling their way forward, they immediately adapt to the change, incorporate it into their drill, and make it seem like they planned it that way all along.
So when Logic Monkey hit the ground in Gyukgum, the combat-application portion of our training, his mind was fast enough and his focus strong enough that he changed the fight. I could almost see the imaginary Ninja of Doom cutting down at Logic Monkey’s head to finish him off, and saw Logic Monkey defend the blow, and then counter with a cut to the opponent’s gut and vulnerable leading leg. He inhabited his fight, and doing so, won a victory not just over the dire threat of imaginary enemies, but over his own weaknesses as well.
This brings me to one more benefit that I take from outdoor training. Haidong Gumdo is a battlefield style. We do not train for duels (fencing and Kendo specialize in that already), but our techniques trace their roots back to the battlefields of ancient Korea. That is why we have forms that roll over fallen corpses, cartwheel over obstacles, and spin away from unfavorable ground to gain space to fight. Actual ground, not flat dojang floors, causes us to maintain awareness of the ground beneath our feet, to monitor our surroundings, and as Logic Monkey so aptly demonstrated, it can focus our Mudo into unexpected ways.
Other perks this week:
Training outdoors at Range Martial Arts!
Dae Oon Ki Gong vs. Mosquitoes Attacking in Formation! (I chalk that up as a draw. They made me move. I made them perish.)
Training so hard my kaggum started to fall apart in my hands!
Learning SSGB 9.
Best of all: Learning that while I have 4 months to make all the material up to Cho Dan sparkle, my master is also going to want me to simultaneously learn all the Cho Dan material!!!
… no, seriously, that’s a perk! Logic Monkey pointed out that the fact that I view extra forms and training drills the way that eight year olds view candy as one of the reasons the Nerd Posse decided I should take up the master’s role.