Make it your own.
That was the overarching concept behind two of my favorite sessions at the USA Martial Arts Hall of Fame this year.
Martial arts instructors tend to do teach in a relatively similar fashion. The moves may be different, but generally, they begin with a certain set of movements, then gradually increase the difficulty by adding in body movement or more techniques.
The attendees, for the most part, tend to lose the individual techniques as soon as they move on to the next combination. I would guess that most people lose the techniques they were taught within a few days, maybe a week.
Maybe I’m just forgetful, but I can’t tell you the exact techniques I’ve learned at almost any seminar because we didn’t practice them repeatedly during the session, and I probably didn’t work it enough at home.
However, martial artists should look for what Eddy Parker and Geoff Meed were showing in Indianapolis. The techniques themselves don’t matter.
Find what works for you, and use it.
Mr. Eddy Parker teaches kung fu in Peoria. Starting his training under his uncle when he was 5, the 40-year-old has more than three decades of experience. Because he’s based in Peoria, I’ve been able to get to know him fairly well over the past several years. A stand-up comedian/shoe salesman/security guard, he has a broad range of experience in life.
One statement he made that resonated with me was to make what he was showing my own.
I’m not going to be an expert in hung gar kung fu any time soon.
However, I know enough about karate to recognize similar movement patterns.
For instance, one of his self-defense techniques looked an awful lot like a kihon. Instead of doing Mr. Parker’s prescribed set of techniques, I switched it up and added some karate flair to it.
“Everybody look over here,” he shouted.
And he asked me to show my technique. He loved it.
Geoff Meed, an actor-turned-school owner, expressed the same philosophy.
Borrowing techniques from his kempo experience, such as “vengeful dragon” – which he said he thought was a bizarre name – he first told us to “follow the script,” so to speak, when it came to performing the movements.
After each person in the group had a go at it, he encouraged us to make it our own and try to be more realistic.
These were both excellent sessions with fantastic martial artists.
Next time you go to a seminar, pick out what you like and what you don’t like. Use your art as a basis to see if those techniques would work in your style. If not, drop it. If so, then figure out how to optimize it for you and your art.