Reading another thread I was struck by the idea of acquiring "martial"
effectiveness. This is my effort at sketching out the way I believe effectiveness is essentially developed. I don't think we can exactly train to be
effective so much as train toward
it, if that makes sense. I use my examples not because I think they make me particularly effective or that others could stand to benefit, but because my experiences are the only things I have to draw from. Please think of them as purely for the sake of conversation.
I consider "martial" effectiveness to be the product of a person's physical self-awareness (i.e. mind-body) and situational awareness. Of course effectiveness will also be dependant on relative abilities of the parties involved. At the current stage of my
life I train with the idea of being able to handle the "average" person physically (which, somewhat ironically, means contending with him physically as little as possible). However, I rely on my situational awareness to keep myself and my family safe much more so than my physical awareness. So this is my paradigm. Of course it's mine in that I set the goals and generate the approach, but it's also an attempt at reflecting the objective reality around me...to some degree at least. It's important to respect the fact this doesn't ever reflect the whole of reality, any incongruent part of which I could conceivably stumble into. In this sense, I'm playing an odds game.
To whatever degree I would be physically effective would be based largely on what kind of physical practices I've had in my life. My current state of ability was informed by the one preceding it, which was itself informed by the one preceding it, and so on.
I grew up idolizing Hulk Hogan, Coco Beware, and JYD, so from age 8 to 12 or so, I "practiced" something that might be called acrobatic wrestling. This was where I first began to seriously think about how not to get hurt by all those kids around my age who were sometimes 20+ lbs. heavier than me. As the smallest I was the best "uke." This was valuable "training." I had to be mindful of my head during pile-drivers, and I learned something about the dangers of hyper-extention. We wrestled in the woods around where I grew up, so invariably I got pinned on tree roots and rocks: more valuable lessons.
I wrestled like this less and less the older I got, and while my friends have usually been physically inclined, I wouldn't say I got much physical practice of this nature again until I started training in Aikido (which I trained in seriously for about 2 or 3 years). This is where I really got the idea of how important it is to find people who are better than you. Also, not only better, but different. It was interesting to me to see how different people feel. Two sempai (who were both far more effective than me) would do some movements slightly different. This gave me a chance to compare...to sort of bounce my attention around until I settled into something that seemed to fit me; something that worked a little better.
That was a decade ago. In that decade I've trained in brief fits (got to taste a very little bit of Shodokan: it was delicious
), played a little no-pads tackle football, and as a full-back in soccer I have been able to bang bodies with strikers and midfielders on game days. This is how I "continually" (It's not actually continual
) check my ability to negotiate physical potency, by acting physically in a "free-form" environment. To play around. In both the dojos I got to experience, there was a strong element of "playing around." Always within the confines of the training paradigm, but my fondest memories are of sitting down in seiza and trying to close the holes in some movement (ostensibly: waza), or of getting my ass handed to me by a couple very talented nidans (one of which I vividly remember reminding me that this was randori and I could feel free to execute a techinque any time now).
Now, I've spent most of this post describing my experience (this can be read as "lack of-") with physical efficacy, but I would like to open the idea up to whatever people can think of regarding "martial" effectiveness, which I take to include not having to actually touch your potential atatcker, let alone knocking him out in one shomenate. How do your experiences inform your approach toward being "martially" effective? How does it affect your training presently and where do you see your training going? How do you approach the psychological aspects of a "martial" situation? Etc.?