When I demonstrate a technique, I do want you to perform it the way I do.

Last night we did wrestling, and explored some pinning movements from a couple of traditions.

I try to show the technique clearly, and then break it down visually and verbally so that people can have the most understanding before they try it for themselves.

What I can’t demonstrate is the feel of the technique. The integrity of the connection between my opponent and I.

When I go around and check on everyone’s application, I see a common error repeated. The physical expression of the error differs from student to student, and sometimes that needs to be addressed, but usually fixing the common error does the job.

I’ll look at the students trying to apply the technique, and I see that the crossing of the arm is at the wrong place, the wrist is at the wrong angle, or other things. When I go to correct this, I reach out to alter the students position, and boom. Tension. Arms like rocks, no pliability at all. Small actions, tons of force being applied.

When you lock up a ton of force, you lose the ability to read your partner, and yourself. The message of tension is all you can read, and it limits the technique to a game of greater or lesser force.

Usually this happens because a student is thinking of trying to re-create the physical look of the technique, and ignoring the function of the technique. When you try to apply a hold, forget what you think it’s supposed to look like and remember what it is supposed to do.

Break it down. I want the shoulder pushed down into the mat. I want the arm bent just so. I want pressure to be applied to the back of the opponents elbow, and then I want the structure I’ve created to move in order to create maximum pain, damage, or immobility to my opponent.

What you do to the opponent matters more than how you shape or hold yourself. If you are aware of all of the above, and the technique is still failing, then you look at your own structure and start to see where you are deviating from the example.

Start with listening to the opponent, and yourself. Once you understand what is happening, work on making a change.