Reminiscent of Natalia’s article, “What Are You Training For?“, take a look at these two videos:
I really like these two demos. Not only because they portray talented martial artists who are able to engage with control and intensity, but because they represent two opposite ends of a spectrum. I like to call that that spectrum, skill acquisition vs skill application.
Kata, forms, and body-mechanics exercises, are great for developing and honing one’s movements. Especially for unfamiliar movements, slowness, sensitivity, and repetition is crucial. This is the same whether practicing with a cooperative training partner, or practicing solo. You can also study strategies and sequences within kata, historical “case studies” if you will, to expand your repertoire.
On the other hand, one can be fight-ready with very few techniques, by practicing with aliveness and spontaneity, and developing a fighter’s mentality. In other words, by “sparring”. But sparring too much can also be a distraction if that’s all you do. Having a narrow range of skills is like having a few “one-trick-ponies”. How far will that get you, knowing that any smart opponent will hit your weakest skill set first?
On that note, here are some veteran UFC fighters, testing their abilities for the first time in the US Marine Corps Martial Arts Program. The UFC fighters are the ones with the coloured helmets. (Scroll to the beginning if you want to watch the entire clip.)
You can only get good at what you train for… so, what are you training for?