I have no idea where that phrase came from, by the way. It just popped back into my head while I was trying to think of a clever title for this post.
This post may ramble a bit. I know, you're shocked. My posts usually only ramble on days that end in "y".
Dan John had an interesting video blog in which he posits that, if your goal is fat loss, it may be better do something that you are really bad at than something you are really good at. He lays out the whole logic there, but the short version is something like this: you work harder at the things you suck at, ergo, you burn more calories. If you're doing some you are good at, you're more efficient, and therefore, get less of a caloric expenditure.
Reading that, and thinking about some recent reading of Rory Miller's work got me thinking, however, that this idea applies to self-defense training as well. And that this is one of the big problems with martial art for self-defense.
Self-defense, by and large, is about being in situations that suck, trying to do something you suck at. The bad guy will do his best to put you in a situation that favors him, not you, which means you'll be fighting in a way that is awkward and uncomfortable. When you first start doing most martial arts, you feel this way. Even now, I notice it. If I start trying to do something that is way outside my usual parameters, it gets harder. I work more, sweat more, get less efficient...more like I'd probably be during an assault. Not quite, because no martial art situation I've ever been in has quite been an assault (the worst rounds I've ever had were still not predatory violence, even if they did suck).
Of course, the dilemma about training is that the more you do something, the better/more efficient you get at it. Which means you need to either up the stakes, which works for a while, but eventually veers into sport (if you're lucky) or fantasy land (if you're not). Either way, it's off the track of self-defense.
Also, you don't want your students to always suck. If nothing else, constantly sucking isn't fun, and people will stop coming back.
But if you are teaching self-defense, it seems imperative to me that you spend as much time as you reasonably can being uncomfortable. Inside and outside of training. This probably ties into breaking your paradigms too. There is nothing that makes me feel like an uncoordinated buffoon quite as much as trying to do the rumba...
I'm sure this is all going somewhere. Until then, it's a fun ride.