Some Principles For More Effective Training.

By Dennis Lawson
Published on Feb 27th, 2018

Focus on Fun – This principle is more important for adults than it is for children. Kids can have fun anywhere and doing almost anything. Adults are often so busy “working at the Art” they forget that they came to training because it’s fun and feels good. The old model of Chi Ku or “Eat Bitter” still has its place in training. However, it’s only by taking the time necessary to make pushing yourself out of your comfort zone a joy that you can revel in a higher level of intensity in your training.

Breathe, develop greater awareness – Often, we’re so busy pushing ourselves to learn new exercises or increase our fitness(es), we lose the joy of training “in the moment”. Remember, you can always slow down and simply enjoy the feeling of your body moving through space. As Mr. Parker said, “Slow moves develop good habits." 

Keep it Simple – You can always break any exercise down into its simpler components. Applying the KISS formula allows you to quickly learn even the most complex sequence of movements step by step. Another training method is to build a sequence of movements progressively. Start with the first movement, train it until you’re feeling comfortable, then, add the next, continuing with this process until you’ve internalized the new sequence of movements.  

Allow your movement to be awful – Turn off your “inner critic” long enough to allow yourself to stumble through a new movement or level of fitness. What’s the inner critic? That’s the part of our conscious mind that’s always analyzing, criticizing, and often, rejecting all the wonderful things surrounding us. We all know that voice, don’t we? Moving out of your comfort zone in any endeavor requires a period of discomfort – embrace it! This is essential when coming back to training from an illness or injury. Let go of judgement! Don’t compare yourself to others; or, even to yourself at an earlier age or better fitness level. At 62, it’s unrealistic for me to expect myself to perform as I did when I was 20 years old.

Emphasize Posture and Body Alignment – When training, your posture affects every component of your movement. Not convinced? Try this simple experiment. Allow your shoulders to lean forward slightly as you train an exercise. Soon, you’ll become aware of the strain on your shoulders and upper back. You’ll notice that you are less able to breathe deeply. Even a slight change in posture and body alignment can affect your overall performance. Remember, posture is the first principle of effective motion.

Elongate Circles and Round Off Corners – Human bodies move through 3 dimensional space in arcs – not straight lines. As we elongate our circular movements (arcs) we add angular momentum which increases the force of our strikes. By Rounding Off the Corners of our movements we maintain continuity from one movement to another.

Nora and I own a serving platter decorated with the phrase, “Dance Like No One is Watching”. This idea reinforces the importance of letting go of your inner critic (see above). This phrase can also remind you to apply the 3 Points of View in all of your training. Focus on your movement and fitness(es). Keep your “inner critic” out of your training. Interact effectively with your training partners. The critic has no place there, either. Expand your powers of observation to model excellence, wherever you find it, and train  your ability to observe the entire combat arena.

Finally, Keep Moving! We all have countless excuses for not training (work, kids, home repairs, etc.). Make moving and training in your Art a priority for your health and happiness. And, train for the love of it!

Filed under Philosophy and Opinion

Author Bio :: Dennis Lawson

Dennis Lawson has trained for 4 decades in Ed Parker's Kenpo. During his varied career, Mr. Lawson has been an IKKA Regional Director for Region #3, has acted as Master of Ceremonies for the International Karate Championships, and has published numerous articles in publications for the International Kenpo Karate Association, The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC), and Kenpo 2000.

Mr. Lawson has had the opportunity to study other Martial Arts and holds advanced rank in Aikido and Takemusu Aiki Budo. Dennis taught, competed in, and promoted events in the New Orleans area for 20 years. Among his list of favorite achievements is choreographing and performing Kenpo for the Dance Council of New Orleans. His academic background in psychology and love of music allow Dennis to offer a unique and entertaining approach to tailoring "the Art" to the individual. Dennis has taught seminars in Ireland, Jersey Channel Islands, The Netherlands, Portugal, and throughout the United States.

Dennis holds a Sixth Degree Black Belt in Ed Parker's Kenpo and was awarded the title “Professor” under the auspices of The Martial Arts Learning Community (TheMALC). Mr. Lawson was inducted into the International Black Belt Hall of Fame as Master Instructor of the Year for 2006.

Other Articles by Dennis Lawson

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