How do you start your training in martial arts? What should you train first? Second? What follows what? How do you separate and break down all of the skills and techniques a person needs to develop in order to master the martial arts? That’s a tough one…
I’ll give it a shot here: I think the progression of moving from long to close range fighting works well. We train kickboxing before wrestling because the motions are bigger, easier to learn, and less uncomfortable for a beginner than having somebody on top of you on your first day. Beginners need space to work, space to think, space to breath. They need time to acclimate themselves to tough and uncomfortable training methods. Somebody who walks in off the street to learn needs some hand-holding in the beginning.
You can throw them off the deep end early only if you have the type of person who is comfortable with it. You could take a middle-aged executive and have him spar or train hardcore, but it may not fit with his lifestyle or capabilities. A woman may come in for training because she wants to feel stronger, empowered. This may result from terrible experiences in their lives, possibly assault or abuse. We have to be sensitive to these experiences while also pushing the student towards their individual truth. We train stand up before grappling because we are on our feet for most of our lives, this is where the fight (or the match) usually begins.
As the student gets more comfortable with themselves and their training, it’s time to have them get closer both physically and emotionally to what makes most people cringe: physical intimacy (no, I don’t mean that). We like to keep our problems and our opponents at a safe distance (that’s why it called fight or flight). Sooner or later we all come to the understanding that we need to be at ease in all the uncomfortable places and situations.
Here is the basic breakdown of the way we would like to train, but cannot always:
- one full year of kickboxing – Muay Thai, Boxing, Jun Fan Kickboxing
- one full year of trapping- Kali, Wing Chun
- one full year of grappling- Jui Jitsu, Freestyle Wrestling, Greco, Sambo, Shootwrestling