By Roger Phillips, Owner and Operator of Fight Focused Concepts
Bruce Lee is quoted as saying;
“Before I learned martial arts, a punch was just a punch and a kick was just a kick. When I studied martial arts, a punch was no longer just a punch and a kick was no longer just a kick. Now I understand martial arts, and a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.”
This quote is a quote from the perspective of a student attempting to reach the levels of mastery of his art.
The student is explaining the progression that he went through to reach the master level of being able to work at the subconscious level. He admits to a level of ignorance at the beginning where he did not understand that every different punch and every different kick actually has a time and a place. You notice that there was a time period in Bruce Lee’s study of the arts, where he actually had to break everything down to its component parts in order to progress to the next step of understanding at the mastery level. Once he understood all of the different punches and all of the different kicks, he could now apply them all, inside the correct context of the fight, at the subconscious level.
There is no understanding without the study!
You cannot progress from “before I learned” directly to “now I understand.”
I am an Instructor that will always be a student. I took the exact same path, along the exact same progression as Bruce Lee. As an Instructor that deals in matters of life and death, I see it as being my responsibility to instill “the understanding” in my students as quickly as I possibly can. That means that the study has to be focused, in-depth, and all-encompassing. I do not hold back information in order to extend out the necessary length of study, like so many other Instructors do. We (the student and I) jump into the deep end and work feverishly to reach the mastery level of understanding as quickly as we can……..but there can be no short cuts……there can be no watering down of the product……..there can be no skimming over of the necessary study material. It has to be set up in a manner where the Instructor is working just as hard to advance through the requisite study material as the extremely motivated student is.
The student should be working as hard as he can to reach “the understanding” and the Instructor should be doing everything he can to facilitate the reaching of that goal.
Any Instructor that does not do this needs to be looked at with a critical eye. Any Instructor that claims that you do not need to put in the requisite work, inside of the study, is lying to you.
There is no better way to learn than through direct experience. As a student, it is one thing to be told the best way to do something, but it is an entirely different level of understanding when you discover the best way to do something by putting in the work. Pressure testing your strategies, your tactics, and your techniques solidifies the understanding at a mastery level. Owning the understanding…….owning your very personal understanding is what the mastery levels are all about.
You simply cannot get there without putting in the work.