Want More? Give More!
I hear (a little too often) the phrase, “Sir, can we learn some more please?” (Or something to that effect.) And while I appreciate the student’s desire to learn more in some cases “more” is held at a higher value than “quality”. Our world of immediate gratification, video games and acceptance of mediocrity is filtering its way into martial art education. Is knowing 100 techniques, barely well enough to execute them in a controlled environment, better than having 5 lifesaving ones? Is stumbling through 10 patterns or katas better than performing 1 with near perfection, understanding the applications and benefits of each technique? For that matter, is knowing a little bit of many arts better than mastering one? This is not to bash any one or any school. This is about teaching our youth and re-teaching many adults what quality is all about. I think aiming for and working for perfection is of utmost importance in anything we attempt, but this article will concern itself exclusively with martial arts.
When a student asks me for more of something, I always have them show me some other material they should have been working on. If it’s obvious they haven’t practiced or it’s not to my satisfaction, I will send them back to finish up before giving them more. This may cost me a student or two as they scurry to different school who promises them “more” only to find they’re not satisfied there either. Somewhere along the line we have lost the desire to do “reps” and I mean a LOT of reps. Some say reps are boring. I believe it’s because they never did enough to feel or see the benefits. If they had, they would have to be stopped from doing them. The only thing that stops me from doing reps is time constraints. Therefore, I believe it’s not how long you’ve been training that denotes what rank you are. It is the amount of reps you have done in conjunction with minimum time requirements that will propel you to the next rank. For example, a 1st Dan may feel they’ve been training for 3 years and should be elevated to 2nd Dan, yet they have not put in nearly the training time during those years. Others may feel I have done the reps so I should be accelerated to the next rank without waiting the proper time needed to mature and grow as a person and mentor.
Some schools offer a “blend” of different arts. I have no problem with this. But the instructor who does this must not only be a Master in each art but a well-educated Master of organization and planning. Few are. I have been training Tae Kwon-Do for well over 30 years and still have so much to learn and to “rep.” Too often these instructors just throw various techniques from various arts (arts that they don’t even hold a 1st Dan in) together and begin teaching it to unsuspecting students or to those who want “more.”
If you want more, give more. Give more reps. Give more time. Give your instructor more respect by doing what he/she tells you exactly as told and do it more than anyone else. Yes, more is better as long as it is the “right” more.