Sunday, November 29, 2015

Bad Ass Babe Project

There are ups and downs to practicing karate with your wife. The upside is that you get to share a wonderful past time together and the downside is that it can be frustrating to have a person you outweigh by almost 80 pounds put you on your ass. In truth, she's also my student, and I've used her as kind of a guinea pig when it comes to training methodology. She had no martial arts training at all when we started this little experiment together, and really she's the reason I ever got back into studying karate. My opinion of traditional karate hasn't changed very much, but my opinion on whether you need a "qualified instructor" definitely has, so we decided to take it as a challenge and see what happens.

Over the years, I've used her to hone my teaching ability by figuring out the best way to try and transmit the techniques and concepts that I've been discovering in the kata. While everyone is different, it's very, very challenging to teach a woman who has had absolutely no exposure to this type of physical endeavor. Many boys at least have the experience of rough housing with other boys or their siblings and she's had neither. My rule has been that if a drill or exercise doesn't help her get better, or if she isn't able to apply a technique on me than I throw it out and look for something better. Techniques need to work on someone bigger, stronger and more skilled, otherwise, what's the point.

I've taken a different direction in our training recently by throwing out everything that is rigidly scripted. I group attacks with sections of kata, since many kata movements can be used for several different types of themed attacks, but I leave her to use her own judgment in how to use those movements. Sometimes her maneuvers work and sometimes they don't, but I leave room for her natural reactions and intuition. I've been taking this slow and working on each part of the kata individually.

The result so far has been very rapid improvement in both understanding and application. She's also enjoying it a lot more, because it makes our training sessions more of a game than just rote memorization. Infighting has become much more of a challenge for myself because her ability to adapt and find the weak points has become more natural leaving myself to adapt even faster.

I'm calling this new training experiment the Bad Ass Babe Project or BAB, and I'm going to use this as kind of a training journal for her.

So far, I may have created a monster.