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Mindful Training

One thing to watch out for in your training is repetition without awareness. The more mindful you can make each movement of your training the better. Mindful in this case doesn’t mean up in your word brain. But rather, avoid doing lots of repetitions of something just for the sake of doing repetitions.

Years ago a friend of mine was instructing a class on knife defenses. Students in class were taking the knife away from the ‘bad guy’ then when the technique was over just handing the knife back to their training partner without any ‘zanshin‘ awareness. No one was ready if their training partner took the knife and immediately attacked again. No one was ready if a nearby ‘bad guy’ suddenly attacked them from the side. The technique was ‘over’ and they had shut off their awareness.

To fix the issue, my friend told all the students not to hand the knife back, but to throw it on the ground. The idea was a solid one, but in practice it turned into students immediately tossing their training knives on the floor at the end of a technique. There was no sense of awareness at the end. No readiness to use the knife if needed before tossing it. No awareness of who else might be around in the direction of where the knife was thrown. It degenerated almost right away into an automatic reaction. The technique was over, so toss the knife. Many students had missed the point. It is less important if a student hands the knife back, tosses it on the floor, or tucks it into their belt as long as there is good zanshin awareness and the ability to change their response if the situation demands it.

Watch for similar times in your own training. Keep your training mindful. Once you are familiar with the core movement in a technique, be sure to add plenty of drills that force you to make decisions, drills that highlight any time you get too automatic and no longer fit the current situation.

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