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12.31.2005

Supplemental Training "The Absolutely Unscientific Bio-Cognitive-Experiential (BCE) Model"

We warmed up with some pummeling and proceeded into some rolling. I tried some different, largely unoriginal, things to set-up taking the back:
  • Arm drag to either closed or hooks inside guard
  • Reverse arm bar to straight armbar, unhook leg and sit laterally to armbar side
  • Hooks inside, under hook thigh and start transition to X guard, partner's arms splay wide as he "sprawls" to keep base, duck out to opposite side from thigh
The second key that I concentrated on was staying "dynamic" in any position that was not "full". I still notice that I like to (arrogantly) hangout in positions that are not very useful, relying on experience and athleticism to save me. These are the times when people score advantages or points and there are enough of those situations in the flow of grappling without me giving them away.
I've been thinking about the collective experience of training and have sketched out what I call the Bio-Cognitive-Experiential (BCE) Model, a hypothesis of how three primary factors coalesce into a function of overall ability.
Bio
Physical AttributesThe first factor is the sum of physical attributes (see "Jeet Kune Do: Its Concepts and Philosophies (Jeet Kune Do)" (Paul Vunak)) essentially all the athletic qualities we idolize in any sports figure. Being a gifted athlete can make up for a lot of very poor technical skills and knowledge in a competitive arena. However its usefulness is limited. First athleticism peaks based on uncontrollable factors such as age and injuries. Next athleticism while an extraordinary and necessary tool in the competitive arsenal can limit technical learning. For example, smaller jiu-jitsu players are often much more sophisticated than their larger training comrades. Super-heavyweight boxers are not known for their crisp punches or exceptional footwork, certainly not when compared with a flyweight of equal level.
Cognitive
Knowledge / 'Wisdom'"Youth is wasted on the young" is a keen aphorism. As we gain more life experience we typically develop a greater understanding of ourselves and others. Remember how you behaved at 5 years of age? 10? 15? 20? 25? Ancient cultures often went to learned elders for their wisdom, and I think that we still develop wisdom by aging and experience. A maturity developed doing one task or job can be translated and reinterpreted in another. Many people come to the martial arts after years of doing something else because they were not ready developmentally to start training. Such is the transition from TMA to MMA. Experience and learning tell us the functional superiority of one over the other. As long as we continue to observe and learn throughout our lives, this cognitive maturity will never peak, even if the slope is considerably different from person to person. You can train hard recklessly or intelligently, the younger generation leaning toward recklessness in increased sparring, refusing to tap, or training injured more often than their more conservative elder generation all of whom got there by surviving a (typically brief) reckless period.
Experiential
Technical Development & AbilityInitially combative martial arts training has a steep climb in ability that with time levels off. This is a convincing illusion, the leaps and bounds made initially are converted to crawling, in what appears to be reverse development. Worse, peaks and troughs of technical mastery and embarrassment muddy the waters. Learning is never smooth, things come in, they rattle around, some stay, some go away, and the cycle repeats. The emotionally immature (see Cognitive above) quit after the initial rush of improvement dampens. The rest take this perceived diminishment and push through, refining and polishing striving for a material goal (beating the instructor, a black belt, etc.) and by doing so create an imaginary ceiling. A lucky few realize that it's about the journey not the destination (an excellent documentary on missing this point entirely is "The Smashing Machine - The Life and Times of Extreme Fighter Mark Kerr" (John Hyams (II))) for us training is a joy, there is always more to learn, ways to develop, and new challenges as a student, teacher, or competitor.
Interestingly our TMA roots understood this well, in the Japanese martial arts (the legend goes) one never washes the belt and there were traditionally four colors: white, green, brown, and black. Training outside the young student would fall in his white belt due to strikes or throws or whatever and the grass would stain it green. As the grass was worn away the dirt would stain it brown, and as the belt became filthier it became black. The black belt, called shodan which translates as "first grade", was now able to learn the system in earnest, the previous material being considered largely conditioning exercises (a speculative aside: most Western martial artists who transmitted the martial arts to the US had barely gotten their blackbelts before returning to the States...hmmmm). As the black belt student wasn't falling down as much anymore his belt was not continually stained and began to fray (probably due to the clutching hands of the lower belts he beat mercilessly) revealing the white layers beneath, symbolically the realization that no matter our fearsome martial prowess we are all still students capable of learning, processing, and creating lifetimes more of information.

So what good is the highly unscientific BCE model? It's an artificial construct so perhaps none at all. But perhaps we can use it to assess ourselves as students, coaches, or fighters. At what points do we see ourselves on the curves of the BCE Model and what can we do about it. If you have a missing physical attribute what can you do to improve it? What can you take from your personal life experience and plug into a context of martial arts and often times vice versa? Where are you technically and why? What can be done about a technical valley and how can you "surf" a technical wave? Furthermore you can use this model to assess an opponent to create a game plan taking advantage of both their strengths and weaknesses. Essentially you can use it as observational framework or as a basis for your own competitive martial arts model.

1 comment:

Joker said...

An interesting reinterpretation of martial arts as journey vs. destination is Tom Callos' Ultimate Black Belt Test.