Protocol in Training Venues

A brief info blog while I put some finishing touches on Situational Awareness and You: Part II.

I wanted to share an experience with those of you who train in martial art. A while back, I wrote a blog titled Are You Training, or Fighting. This blog was directed toward people who have a tendency to treat every (or most) training sessions as a fight. In like manner (relative to fitness), TNation recently posted a great article from Mark Rippetoe regarding knowing the difference between training and exercising. I appreciated his words, and between that article and some of my own opinions and experiences, it seemed to me that the universe was saying Write something about training perspective.

My Experience
I was teaching an impromptu class at a martial art school in the Midwest US last month. I’ve known the owner of this school for over a decade, and have trained with him at various locations around the country. I happened to be in town, so he asked me to take an hour with his students. Ultimately, it was good times had by all, but there was this thing that happened.

This Thing
I began teaching a technique involving a knife to the throat. I had an excellent uke (training partner) who had no real clue what I was about to do. The technique came off without a hitch. After demonstrating the technique a few ways, and giving a generic set-up for how this particular knife-to-the-throat situation could occur, I had the group brake up for practice.

One of the students, who apparently has many years of experience in martial arts and as a law enforcement professional, took it upon himself to list his résumé to me while showing me how the technique I had just demonstrated was flawed. That’s not gonna work, If you’re in that position, he’s better than you, etc. He managed to squeeze in his 40 years of experience in every martial art under the son, and the fact the he’s stabbed people. He had all kinds of recommendations about what should be done. So, I entertained him and told him to show me. He ended up creating a different circumstance than what I had presented, and turned the technique into a reality-based training scenario, complete with talking to the knife-wielding attacker to distract him.

Having had many years of really bad training in law enforcement, I had a perspective on where he was coming from. What I know though, is that reality-based training is bogus, and it is so for the very reason that any situation can yield countless variations of potentialities, and you can never train realistically enough to cover all of them, most of them, or even a small percentage of them. The purpose of this post, though, isn’t to detail these aspects of training methodology, but to highlight that there are differences in methodology, and if you’re not the one instructing, it may be best to just be a student.

So, what’s your point?
Firstly, regardless of what is being trained, it’s really not good protocol to correct someone in the middle of their teaching, especially when you haven’t determined their perspective or taken a moment to consider the method. In the case of my thing, the resident expert was thinking inside his own training environment and not seeing what I was doing for what it was (which was actually explained to the class and to him again): a generic set-up to introduce the group to the mechanics of the technique, period.

Secondly, having some level of respect for someone who is sharing knowledge or experience is tantamount. It’s really just a douschebag thing to do to correct someone like that, especially if you’re wrong.

Finally, as a suggestion to those who may be that guy or gal who sees something in a training session with which they don’t agree, ask yourself a few questions before making an ass out of yourself. Do I have a complete understanding of what it is I’m being shown? Is there anything inherently unsafe or dangerous about what’s being taught? Is the audience or group I’m training with receiving value from what’s being shown, and will my input help the situation, or confuse it? Is it socially acceptable to interrupt?

All of these questions and more are good things to consider prior to addressing an instructor and placing yourself and him or her in an embarrassing situation. In the case of my situation, I had a majority of white belts with less than a year of training. The “professional” who interrupted me, I found out later, had very little experience in Aikido, which is believable. He actually would have benefitted more from just listening and participating instead of trying to piss on the tree, because there were some key fundamentals involved with the technique (and variations) that I showed. So perhaps the most important lesson here, which I should also heed, goes back to what my late father told me decades ago: You learn more when your mouth isn’t moving.

I appreciate any comments on this blog, and HIGHLY ENCOURAGE you to click on the Follow+ symbol to get announcements of future blog posts. Aikiology gets better every month, thanks to readers like you, and is currently being read daily in 22 countries representing 15 languages.


About Nathaniel Ryan

Nathaniel has been a martial artist since 1983. He has matched his training experience in real-world environments since 1997. Nathaniel is on the constant pursuit of refining technique and tactics for real world environments.
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1 Response to Protocol in Training Venues

  1. reedone816 says:

    yup, there are some people who likes to bring scenario and ask the teacher to solved it. if we could solved it, next times they will bring another stiffer scenario, that would continue to infinity.
    usually this type of person in my experience is not interested to learn our system, it seems they just want us to fail, and like you write, piss in our failure.
    we used to ignore this kind of “don’t-want-to-learn-like-everybody-else-student”, and concentrate on the student that willing to learn.
    but if regular student sometimes bring some scenario it is ok though.
    and yes, the so called modern hard style practitioner, they are so used to “visible technique”, they sometimes would fail to understand that what we teach are a mere example, to show the “visible” meaning of the principality/philosophy of a technique, there are many examples for each principality, they are not bound with a certain kind of movement.

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