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Moderation and Training – Mutual Prosperity in Martial Arts and Beyond

Posted 03-06-2008 at 03:24 PM by

Anyone who has read any of my posts or blogs knows that I embrace a pretty wide range of Martial Styles/Systems and training practices. However, above and beyond all that I make it a point to train in not only an effective manner but in a safe manner.

Let me say it now: I love training in the Martial Arts. If I had the ability to do it, I would try to do it full time. I’ve been able to jump back into regular training for the past 10 months now, and I always look forward to those hours I spend in the gym, at the dojo and on the mat. Recently, I’ve stepped up the intensity of my training in hopes to raise the upper limit of my ability. As such, after the last few weeks I’ve come to the conclusion; I need to take a night off.

You’ve heard the saying “Listen to your body.” Well, at this moment, my wrists, elbows, my left shoulder and all the muscles in my legs, back and neck are talking to me right now. Yeah, I could definitely use a night off. Eventually I will be conditioned well enough to endure the same amount of higher intensity training without the same amounts of physical consequences I’m experiencing now (barring any serious or chronic issues). But as much as I want to push through this, I know it will serve me better if I don’t at this moment in time.

Many times we (as humans) put ourselves in situations completely removed of moderation. Not to be cliché, but the saying “Moderation in all things…” holds its own merit. Now it obviously isn’t universally correct (a moderate amount of genocide is still simply genocide and not okay), but when filtered through contemporary logic and experience is proves true more often than not. Unfortunately, such concepts aren’t too popular with most in this modern, flippant, microwave, “live big, lose big” society. Such attitudes tend to be quite pervasive in all aspects of our lives and we hardly ever notice it.

I recall reading the book Kodokan Judo by, Jigoro Kano. In it he expounds upon the underlying philosophies of Judo. Kano created Judo with not only the goal of offering a universally accepted and practiced Japanese Martial Art, but also as a way to develop, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. In the hopes of creating an art that would be typified by the exercise of “maximum efficiency” in its techniques, he would hope that philosophy would carry over into its practitioner’s daily life. Eventually, the practitioner would reach a state of “mutual prosperity” with all things in their life.

As an example, Kano sighted sleeping habits in his book. He states that most fall into one of two categories: Those that oversleep versus those that willingly don’t sleep enough. In this you have two polar opposites that end up with similar consequences. With those that oversleep, while being well rested, they aren’t able to exert themselves for log periods or time and are usually slothful and tend to procrastinate. As a result, their martial training and things within their personal life suffer. They don’t develop in an efficient manner because they are not available enough to do so. In the other case, the person is trying too hard to squeeze action out of every moment of the day that they refuse to sleep. Whether they stay up doing work, playing video games, talking, or training, they willingly put themselves in a position where they don’t afford themselves enough sleep. In that situation the person soon finds they are at a point where they cannot act or train effectively due to the fact that they simply lack the amount of rest needed to maintain.

In one case you have someone who doesn’t want to do much of anything, so they don’t get enough done. In the other you have someone who desperately wants to do everything, and after a while the things they should focus on begin to suffer because they cannot be done properly. In both cases, neither lives a life that is displays “maximum efficiency.” It is only after finding the middle ground (the “sweet spot”) where one is rested well enough to do all the things required of them effectively, that one is able to casually pursue the realistically available recreations of their life. Simple, isn’t it?

As holistically spiritual and sounding like a despising “TMA” as that might seem, this principle still holds true in modern martial arts and in MMA. The “Tap” protocol was implemented by Kano as a direct result of this philosophy. In it, the practitioner must perform their techniques with the proper amount of skill and forcefulness to develop their abilities. However, it is up to the Uke (receiver of the technique) to signal that it is being done effectively enough. This is signified by tapping out when it becomes obvious that they cannot escape from the finishing hold. This allows the Tori (person performing the technique) to diligently pursue the technique without forcefully injuring the Uke. This is staple to all modern submission grappling, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and MMA.

Tapping does not solely mean “I give up.” Rather it is a very informal way of saying, “Your technique is good. Please allow me to continue training with you.” In the recognition of that, the person doing the technique will let go and the two practitioners will continue to randori (spar) in a mutually prosperous state.

As intensely as we would like to live our life, love, fighting and training, there is no shame in “tapping out” for a moment, getting your bearings and taking a rest. In the end we can do one of three things:

1) Don’t do anything at all, and face the consequences.
2) Try to do everything and end up doing everything poorly as a result.
3) Do what you can and actually be able to do it to your fullest ability.
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