Early on in my fighting I got a great piece of advice that has stuck with me. I think I don’t go a month without saying it; You can’t win practice. There’s no trophy for getting victories in sparring. If you are faster than someone in drills there is no glory. You get nothing from spending your practice as competition. Practice is for learning, for experimenting. It’s for practice. Winning and losing should not play into your mind…but it will. You’ll want to race, you’ll want to try tried and true methods, even if they aren’t what you need to work, to save your pride.
The beauty of not being able to win practice is, you can’t lose either. As long as you show up, you haven’t lost. The best workout is the one you do, to quote Mr. Swole himself, Duncan McCallum. That is true for any type of practice, so as long as you got out there, congratulate yourself…but as long as you’re there, might as well do it right no? Cause who wants to waste their fucking time. So put the pride aside, especially when you spar. Focus the whole time on whatever you’re working on.
Let’s say you’re drilling footwork. You could just race through to get it done. Or you could slow it down focus on muscle movements and stop every few steps and check to see if your form is right. You could get defensive when someone corrects you and tell them you know what you’re doing. Or you could swallow your pride, listen to them and see if you can find the correction they want you to do. You could reach to get the furthest distance or the fast steps possible. Or you could push yourself, only as far as you can do it perfect, and when you fail step back. You could let your pride take over and show off…or you could realize that the really impressive feet is mastering the technique for display later.
Drills though are really not what this is focused on. Sparring is the big killer. Far too often people get into sparring with no plan on what they are working. When you are an absolute beginner just trying to learn how to not get your ass kicked, this may(I stress MAY) be ok, but when you can hold your own even a little it’s time to stop trying to win. There may be a technique you’re trying out and you should spend the whole practice trying to set it up. See how it flows with other moves; what follows after it. Learn the set up and see where your form breaks. Maybe it’s new gear or a new guard. That’s the thing to focus on. Your footwork, your grip, your feints, your breathing, hell even your swagger, are all things that require deliberate focus and work. The time to do that is in practice, where fucking up is ok. Spend your time wisely. Don’t attempt to beat your opponent. Attempt to learn how to fight. And then when it’s time to, beat the ever living shit out of everyone.
See you in the lists.