Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Drill Post #17: Taking Notes

An important part of martial art education for many people is taking notes. Arguably the most famous notes are those that comprise Bruce Lee's "The Tao of Jeet Kune Do," although he did not write them for public consumption or arrange the very problematic form they ended up published in. But more about that another time. The point is that people in most creative endeavors write notes as a way of remembering important points or sources of information as well as working through problem solving.

Note taking at the Inosanto Academy was particularly important because so much information was covered during any given session. Ironically, there was a senior student that used to conduct some classes back in the '80s, and when he saw students taking notes, he would snidely ask "Are you going to bring your notes to a fight?" Well, no, but neither are you going to warm up, stretch out or wear boxing gloves, dimwit, we thought. It was also an ironic stance on his part because the two biggest note takers I know of are Bruce Lee and Dan Inosanto.

Bruce Lee warned his students to avoid being either "physically bound" (i.e. able to fight hard and endure, but without being able to analyze what you do so you can progress past just being tough) or "intellectually bound" (i.e. being able to understand the theories but not getting your feet wet with training to see what you can actually do).

Notes are one of the ways to keep from being "physically bound."

Yes, in the moment of need, you just have to deal with it without mentally long-winded analysis, but to get to the point where you can be functionally spontaneous you have to do a lot of conscious non-spontaneous thinking, if you really want to be an efficient well-rounded fighter.

Here is the way I organized my notes. The date of an entry can be interesting just to look back at when you encountered certain kinds of training, but past that, I always noted whether something was either a technique (e.g. a jab), a drill (e.g. a random flow of strikes at a defender), or a principle. If it was a principle, I noted whether it was a technical principle (e.g. turn your waist into the strike, hand moves before the foot), a drilling principle (e.g. when delivering a flow of training strikes to the trainee, make sure that the flow is smooth and non-stop unless deliberately breaking rhythm), or a fighting principle (e.g. if the opponent steps inside your fighting measure as he chambers, then stop-hit).

As I have written before, I do feel that 90% of the training should be neither completely pre-set or anything goes, but rather where choices and responses have to made and with controlled or no contact.

Run your knowledge through the suggested organization above and see if that's helpful. You may also want to emphasize what techniques, principles or drills are most important to you.