Brian Kagen pick: “Articles/Essays” by Mark Chiappetta

“What is “reality” when it comes to training? Does “reality” mean that each encounter on the mat has a true life and death outcome? Not in my training. My instructor is normally terse but he has shared one piece of advice that I rehash in my mind regularly. Paraphrasing, he said something to the effect, “…at your level, both you and I are responsible for maintaining a martial sense on the mat. It’s my job to create the proper atmosphere that demands and fosters constant awareness with an appropriate level of intensity and it is your job to make use of this. For example, what this could mean is that you must not take for granted that a hand is just a hand. A hand can be a knife. It can be a broken bottle or a club or a foot or a chair. Visualization of this type will help build martial awareness……” What am I getting at? That in class, nobody pulls out a live blade and tries to cut me. Does this make my training any less “real”? If I am training properly (which I don’t always do because it’s very difficult) then NO I don’t believe that it does.

It’s very common for people to put their teachers up on a pedestal but let’s face it, they are all human beings first. They are imperfect as we are and the only thing that separates us from them is that they have taken to the path ahead of us enough to be able to show us the way. So, is it possible for them to be up there on the mat demonstrating a technique and to have an unexpected opening? I don’t see why not. After all, as well as being teachers, they are also still students. I personally spend ZERO time looking for suki while I’m up taking ukemi for my teacher. The fact of the matter is that there is absolutely ZERO time to do anything else but blend with him.”

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