Ability-Ranked Sparring

Now that Valkyrie has been around for a while, we are starting to see a few things in our method that don’t scale as well as we might of thought. Mostly these are the result of making assumptions. When you start small and grow, you get used to the easy pace of new fighters coming in and getting assimilated into the gestalt of things. When you start to get lots of new people showing up, with different expectations, skill levels, and background things can get confusing. Sparring is one of those areas where things can get weird, and not safe for people. We’ve had a hiccup or two around this recently, and it spurred some good conversation. It also got me thinking about some of my ideas for ranking systems. Generally I’m not a fan of ranking. The problem I’ve found in most martial arts is that the skills learned…

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Self Defense Classes

Next week marks a big new step in martial arts training for me. Valkyrie will be teaching our first ever self defense classes, as a four-class series. I’ve resisted teaching self-defense for years. It’s what I taught when I started teaching martial arts, but the more I learned, the more I leaned away from teaching it. I had some good reasons. The primary reason was that I never felt I could devote the teaching time necessary to teach usable skills. I’ve always felt an urgency about teaching self-defense. What if the student needed to use the newly learned skills on their way home from class? Could I teach them enough to survive in one class? The self-defense market was my secondary reason for not teaching. The market is made up of buyers and sellers, and between the two of them self-defense has become defined as a product…a thing you can…

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Heavy to Light

It can get a little confusing for students when I lay out the prescription for the day’s class. I’ll explain what’s behind that. The first thing I talk about is what phase we are in. We have four phases that we move through: Power, Strength, Endurance and Mobility. Power is about explosive speed. Strength is where we build our muscles. Endurance is where we work on keeping our strength up for a longer period of time. The Mobility phase is where we take all that strength and learn to preserve it through our whole range of motion. We also take a short recovery phase, as well as the odd single day recovery, where we just give our bodies a chance to catch up. The type of exercise we do is determined by what phase we are in. The intensity of the exercise will vary from class to class. We have…

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A lesson in exercise and mood.

Photo Courtesy John Chan I haven’t been to class for a week, and I’m feeling low. Somehow, it didn’t occur to me until an hour or two ago to connect the two. I had good reasons for the hiatus – schooling commitments, lack of sleep from an overly busy week, plus having a cold. I couldn’t make it to our usual Saturday workout, and when Monday’s class came around it seemed like a smarter idea to stay home and go to bed early. Apparently, I was wrong. The last two days I’ve been able to feel myself slipping into old patterns – feeling generally tired, over-sensitive and unmotivated. This was particularly problematic today, which I was supposed to spend catching up on all the things I haven’t had time to do, particularly starting to arrange my practicum for next year. Instead, I’ve spent most of the in that tired, guilty…

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Fighter 2.0

Now it’s time to get better. For better or for worse, today, you are the fighter you have made yourself into. It’s time to get better. Or else maybe consider taking up cello, or calligraphy or something. To improve, you need to understand precisely where you are now. The most common flaw in fighters is the flaw of assuming what you are doing is just fine, and that your development is great. When I say assume, what I mean is that there is a tendency to evaluate yourself based only on your feelings and perceptions. If I have two fighters spar for a few moments, and then individually ask them how they did, it’s not uncommon that their impression of their own performance will be wildly out of line with the touches that I took note of. Winners think they lost, and losers think they only ceded a few touches.…

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Working with Assessments

Finished the first draft of our assessments over the weekend, and applied it to myself, Squeak and She-Hulk. We track thirty-six points of improvement, split over four categories. Each point is rated on a scale from 0-10, for a score range from 0-360. We consider a zero student to a be an average person with no interest or motivation, having their very first physical art class ever. A three-sixty student would be someone at the beginning level of being able to compete on a professional level in MMA, swordwork (if such a thing existed) and having the perfect fitness and mindset to go with that skill development. For professionals, we have a different scale. So running myself through the assessment, being assessed by my co-conspirators, the results were not unexpected. Harsh, but not unexpected. My martial skills reflect someone who has been training a very long time, but is not…

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