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Old 12-16-2009, 12:53 PM   #69
Josh Lerner
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Location: Renton, WA
Join Date: Oct 2005
Posts: 80
Re: YouTube: Internal strength demo...

Thought I would post something as someone who has gone from doing "internal" arts (aikido, taijiquan) for decades to doing MMA. It may not have been the smartest decision in terms of injuries, considering I'm starting a competitive combative sport at the age of 40, and since joining an MMA gym I am now always nursing at least some minor problem somewhere, but I'm having more fun than I have in many years.

My experience is probably very similar to everyone else's who has shifted their training after a long-term investment in various arts, though in a sense the opposite of Dan's, since he started as a fighter and I started as a martial "artist" who was preoccupied with internal training. I've never been in a real fight in my life, and haven't done any sparring aside from some limited sparring in my old aikido dojo back in the 80's, so the ego-battering and failure that I'm dealing with now have more to do with just learning to deal with resistive opponents who don't really care what kind of training I've had in the past or what subtle skills I can demonstrate on them in a very restricted setting. It's made me appreciate how delicate of a balance is required for kata- or waza-based training: it's great for learning motor skills and for some aspects of ma-ai and timing, but it's way too easy to start assuming that the power you feel (during what is essentially a role-playing excercise) is real.

I have spent the last three years practicing the basic Aunkai excercises fairly intensively, which helped to prepare my body to withstand the demands of grappling and kickboxing to a pretty significant degree, but I'm finding that the power I can generate is actually not much of an issue yet, in the sense that I don't get much of an opportunity to test it out. I've been more preoccupied with dealing with all the other technical, perceptual and psychological variables that I'm not used to, so it feels like it's going to be a little while longer until I start being able to effectively integrate IS with MMA. Plus, I'm actually really enjoying the technical side of boxing, muay thai and grappling, so it's been fun to put aside everything I would normally do and learn something that is so different from what I'm used to. It's one thing to say that the technical stuff is meaningless if you have IS, but I've noticed that the guys who say that generally have years and years of technical or fighting experience already, so it's all become completely internalized. For now, it really feels like the technical side is a missing piece that I need to spend a few years on, just as I've spent the last few years rewiring things with shiko, tenchijin, etc. I'm not too worried about having to re-rewire things later; I've done it so many times in the last fifteen years I just expect it now. So at least I don't have any anxiety about having to relearn things.

But it feels like a natural progression, and I can feel how things will start to coalesce once I'm more comfortable in this new setting. It's started happening a little bit, enough for me to recognize the truth of Rob's 80% rule above, though maintaining 20% is a little generous in my case when the severe fatigue sets in. Granted, I'm going pretty slowly at the MMA gym, getting my feet wet bit by bit to avoid injuries that are any more severe than strained muscles, so that's a variable in how quickly the IS will come into play. But looking at things long-term, I'm perfectly happy to start off slower, for a number of reasons.
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