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Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How Do You Know?

I shared this story at a seminar over the weekend. One of the participants had apparently been experimenting with a different way of throwing knee strikes, and asked me what I thought. 

Boxing class at Sityodtong, many years ago. Coach Lyle looks at the class and says "So, who here thinks they can hit hard?"

Silence. Because Admiral Ackbar is inside all of our heads.

Coach Lyle looks skeptical. "Come on. Seriously. No one in here thinks they can hit hard?"

I finally put my hand up, as do a couple of other people. I partly just want to know where this is going.

Coach Lyle looks at me. "You think you can hit hard?"

"Sure Coach."

"Why? How do you know?"

"Huh?"

"You ever knock someone out? Stop them? Hit them so hard they just quit in the middle of a round? Break someone's rib?"

"No."

"Then why the hell do you think you can hit hard?"

I shared the story for a reason. The seminar participant (good guy, very sincere) had never really tried using this knee in a dynamic environment. He hadn't knocked anyone out with it, or stopped someone. He had no way of measuring how effective it was.

This happens a lot in the martial arts. People come up with ideas about how something will work, but there's no testing. This is, again, one of the great strengths of combat sport. If you have a move that you think "works" (for whatever value you define working as), you'll have an opportunity to test it out. If it doesn't work, you'll find out.

There are other ways to test things of course: sparring, scenario training, results from students...I started trying catalog all this a while back. I need to get back to that project.

But you need some kind of method, or else it's just guess work and theory.

And, as the great Yogi Berra reminds us

"In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is."

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