Training v Teaching

Did you hear about the two Raisins that were training in Martial Arts?
One said to the other “So, tell me, how currant are you?”

Yawn – sorry – very bad joke, but one I made up myself and you’re more than welcome to use it – tee hee.

The message is simple though.
Just ‘How Current’ is your martial arts training?
How up to date are you with the latest training methodologies, the latest techniques, the latest learning strategies, the latest understanding of threats and enemies or the latest training concepts?

I guess, if you’re a student, one way you could find out would be to ask your instructor.
But then, how current is your instructor?
When was the last time they sought instruction?
When was the last time they trained in anything outside of their own garage?

I only have to look at friends of mine like Mark Fry, who is a professional MMA fighter, and training in one of the best camps in the UK, to see just how dated my own grappling game is.
As a simple example, years ago, it was assumed that, laying on your back with your opponent in your guard, was a dominant position to take control of the ground fight. The early UFC contests demonstrated this successfully time and time again.
But things move on and styles and arts evolve to develop answers and counters to threats, so now, most people recognise that, a good ground fighter will still destroy you with punches and elbows even when he’s in your guard.

As an instructor, the only way I can ensure I teach the very latest and the most current techniques to my students is to ensure I am training and continuing to seek high level tuition as much as I possibly can.
I’ve always said that, the more you teach, the more you should train, and if I’m brutally honest, given the choice between teaching and training I would choose training every time.

There’s an old fable that goes:-

The student asks his sensei, “If I train with you every day, how long will it take me to become a Master?”
The Sensei replies, “Probably 10 years”.
The student, unhappy with this length of time thinks for a moment and then responds, “What if I was to train with you twice a day, every day?”
To which the Sensei replies, “Ah, in that case, about 20 years”.
The lesson of this story is that, when you have one eye fixed on the end goal you only have one eye left to watch the path you are treading.

So, any students who contact me with the opening gambit of “How do I get to be an instructor in your system”, worries me deeply.

Why the rush to be the instructor?
Why the urgency to be able to teach?
It’s like passing your driving test and immediately wanting to teach others how to power around our road network, instead of wanting to enjoy the driving experience and grow as a skilled driver yourself first.

It was the Training element that got me into Martial Arts in the first place, I never approached it with the attitude that “I wanted to teach”. And so, teaching, whilst I love it to my core and I find very little more pleasurable than passing on my own experience to students who are keen to learn and eager to commit, I still gain more enjoyment and fulfilment from learning and training and growing in my own martial arts journey.

As an instructor, it’s also my responsibility to go out and seek the latest concepts in whatever art or discipline I teach, and then bring that back to my own students.
Not only would it be bad practice of me NOT to do this, it would also show a lazy and un-enthused attitude to teaching martial arts in my humble opinion.

After all, if Guro Dan Inosanto, without question one of the worlds most inspiring, knowledgeable and experienced martial artists, can still find the passion and the ‘students attitude’ to continue to learn under other amazing greats such as Jean Jacques Machado, then I’m pretty sure there’s plenty left for all of us to learn. 
I say all this, because, I have started to become one of those instructors.
Not that I have stopped training, because that would be a lie. I continue to receive the absolute best instruction from the amazing Guro Terry Barnett and I continue to advance in other arts such as Judo, but compared to my level and quantity of training of years gone by, I recognise I am not pushing this enough to sustain the amount of teaching I am doing.
Nor to continue to assume I am at a level commensurate with travelling the world to teach seminars.

I’ve said before, the term “World Class” gets banded around far too liberally these days, and I see very few who are really at that level and striving to maintain it.

So, if I am to critique anyone, then it is myself who must receive this review first and as a result, this is why I am changing things with my CSP business.
Short term, the loyal and dedicated students will unfortunately have to lose out in order for me to free up more time to pursue my own journey and growth.
Longer term, those who take the journey with me and stick around long enough, will get the full benefit of this expansion.

So I leave you with this thought…

The next time you train, ask yourself, when was the last time your instructor trained, and more importantly, when did they last grow and progress their art? – This is what I expect all of my students to ask me!!

Are you listening to your music on cassette or an Ipod and why would you knowingly purchase this out of date media when, sat right next to it on the same shelf, you can buy the latest, most current, version?

To understand why I have written this article, I would point you to the announcement I have just made to change the CSP classes and outline how I intend to run CSP Martial Arts and Self Defence instruction in the coming months.

As always, thanks for reading

Stay Safe and Have Fun

Al x

One comment

  1. Al,

    Great article…inspiring & instructive!

    All good wishes,


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