Old programs or new programs, where do I miss out?
The other day I was having a conversation with a student. He pointed out: “Some days I don't feel like learning new material, but would prefer to practice the earlier student programs. Despite that, on those days, I have remained on the advanced side of the class to learn the new material because I fear that if I miss out, then I won't be keeping up to date with the advanced programs.”
When you are not just showing up for classes, but analyze your progress, when you initiate connecting the dots and start to see the “big picture”, many of us begin to question how much time and effort we spend on which part of our training.
In January I wrote a related blog post titled “Five forms of training that enable you to achieve your goals”.
Whichever program we work on, we are sometimes frustrated that thus far "it" doesn't work, that it even feels complicated. We may not yet see its importance within the framework of the martial art. It might not make much sense to us. Any program takes time to show its effects in our performance. Many parts of the curriculum are amazing functional strength building and movement potential building workout routines. But just like going to the gym to build muscles, to get fit, to lose weight, to gain muscle mass, it all takes time and patience plus the right training tools. And of course a knowledgeable, skilled trainer, instructor, … Sifu.
You also have to take into account that you might not realize the interaction between the building blocks of the syllabus. Either way, you need an instructor who knows what he/she is doing. Someone who is actively keeping the program outline alive. Someone who understands how you learn, guides you as to what to train and is a good teacher.
Here are a few ideas to help you train a wider bandwidth of programs. What have members of our school been doing?
1. During group-meets of like-minded training partners outside of regular classes, many of the varying participants over the past years requested to work on very specific, often earlier programs. Typically, one member is in charge of the little group.
2. Quite a few also meet outside of group classes with one selected training partner at a time, to work on different programs.
3. In regular group classes I put advanced practitioners in charge, 20 minutes or longer at a time, to work with beginners or intermediate students in their programs. Learning through teaching. Plus, one doesn’t miss the advanced programs, when training and teaching only selected and time-limited class segments.
4. I often recommend enthusiastic trainees to start their own meet-up on days and times selected by them. Then they can determine the program they want the small group to work on.
5. Whatever programs I teach, train in, work on, I often include variations of earlier programs, to make myself see and continue to test, even question the evolving connections between the programs.
The extremely helpful point I discovered eventually in my own teaching career is, that by working on advanced programs, we begin to understand earlier programs sooner better, even if we don't train them for a while. This of course requires the continuous analysis of one’s training and progress. It also entails a critical approach to begin to visualize the connections between learning, training and teaching methodology of the technical programs.