Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Logic: The Universal Language


One of the things that makes Martial Blade Concepts unique is its teaching methodology and the emphasis on creating a logical learning progression that emphasizes both repetition and a deeper understanding of critical skills. This emphasis also makes MBC’s certified instructors true teachers, not just skilled practitioners.
The effectiveness of the current MBC teaching method really hit home to me recently when I taught a two-day seminar in Friedrichshafen, Germany. Of the 40+ students in that seminar, none were native English speakers. And although the seminar host explained to all participants that strong English-language skills were required to participate, the levels of English fluency among the students varied greatly.

Interestingly, the martial arts skill levels of the participants were also spread across a broad spectrum. Sure, we had some very experienced practitioners and even a few instructors who had a strong enough martial arts foundation to watch, analyze, and replicate just about any technique or movement they saw. However, we also had a fair number of participants who had never done any self-defense or martial arts training before—ever.
During my introduction, I asked my host, MBC Study Group Leader Horst-Dieter Stadler, to explain in German that I would do my best to speak slowly and clearly so everyone could understand the material. If at any time I went too fast or they got lost, they were free to stop the process so we could take the time to translate the instruction.

As the seminar progressed and the participants developed a solid feel for MBC’s critical skills, it was clear that they also had a clear understanding of the concepts and principles that powered those skills. When I introduced new material, per the MBC teaching methodology, I always related it to the previous material and tried to build as much “common ground” as possible. This logical approach and the constant reinforcement and refinement it provides really resonated with the seminar students. Within the first few hours of the first day, virtually all of them were “thinking ahead” and making all the right connections before I had the chance to explain them. When I showed a “new” technique or application, I could clearly see the light bulbs and hear the comments mentally connecting its mechanics to the material they had already learned.
Logic had become our universal language. 

One of the frustrating things about the martial arts is that there is a tremendous obsession with focusing on minute differences in technique. Sometimes that’s valid because small details can certainly have a profound effect on the mechanical function and effectiveness of a technique. However, in many cases, it’s a stylistic difference that doesn’t provide any clear function and isn’t backed by any clear reasoning. If a student understands “why” he should do something a specific way and that reasoning is backed by sound logic, he has clear performance goals. He also has a ready-made basis for evaluating and troubleshooting his own performance as he trains. Instead of mimicry, he has the benefit of a thorough educational process that includes visual, kinesthetic, and—within the limits of the common language available—auditory learning.
People often ask me which self-defense system they should study. Perhaps the most accurate answer is “the one taught by the instructor who knows how to teach and really explains why you’re doing what you’re doing.” That's one of the primary goals of all my teaching and it sets the standard for all MBC instructors. It's also why some very talented practitioners of MBC may never become instructors of the system.

Those who can, do. Those who can teach, teach logically.

Stay safe,
Mike

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