The value of attending workshops

Recently, we had the pleasure to host Coach Rodney King over here in CMD Bangsar to lead a few workshops and it is always a pleasure to watch him in his element. The fascination we hold over celebrity chefs, all foul mouthed yet holding brilliant command over his brow-sweating team of equally talented chefs in steaming hot kitchens or cheering for athletes and specialists in their zone, doing what they do best is not amiss in this episode. I would propose that Rodney is truly in his element when he is on the mats, delivering the information in simple, clear and transferable form to those in attendance. Honing his skills to suit any audience, be it a group of civilians from a multinational corporation or a squad of elite, battle-ready soldiers his ability to hold their attention and teach, refine and improve the individual is quite an impressive feat to observe.

What makes attending workshops and seminars so important to us as advocates and practitioners of the martial arts?

The recent workshop can be considered an Operating System upgrade. A new adjustments and technique innovations were introduced. Again, nothing in the CMD Program is made up for solely aesthetic value rather it is carefully considered and integrated after rigorous testing in the crucible and proving grounds we know as sparring.

When you are at the regular classes, do you have a dependence on the trainer to provide you with the latest and greatest information available today? I hope not. It will be an impossible task for any trainer, no matter how experienced or good they are at coaching everything.

They are good at what they are good at. They are good at imparting the information to you. They are also good at spotting errors, providing remedial action and providing further coaching to help bridge what you already know and link them together. Often leaving you with the, “why didn’t I think of that?” moment of delight. In the world of boxing, some trainers will be good at playing a counter-punching game and infuse every movement towards that objective of counter punching. All the footwork and movement will be strategically trained to improve and enhance this specific aspect of the game. In other areas the trainer can only relate what they have been previously taught and share in their own experience. Will this be sufficient to help you a beginner or intermediate practitioner to improve? Yes, but there are always limits. These limits will be amplified if you had a different boxing style and was more aggressive. What then? The best solution would be to find a more experienced trainer who specialised in your specific area of interest. Just as you wouldn’t go to a hair stylist to remove a tooth you find the best person to provide you with the best insights to improve your skills. Sparring 2018

In both the CMD boxing and jiu jitsu arenas there are things that are new, I daresay even at the cutting edge of innovation and improvement. I rarely see any other group doing what we do and within a few months or sometimes in a year or so, they catch on and imitate. I have observed this phenomenon first hand and it has even taken place right in my own backyard. This is why Boxing and Jiu Jitsu instruction on YouTube is so popular. Free information at your fingertips and you binge watch with ambitious dreams.

How do you keep an edge on what happens around you? What would be the best way to stay abreast of the latest innovations and developments? For me as the regional trainer, I need to be coached too. The ancient Greek philosophers recognised this and left us with qui docet discit translated as he who teaches learns. This can be interpreted in a few ways but generally understood as the best way to learn something is to teach it. As I enjoy learning about boxing and jiu jitsu, I found myself teaching it in order to learn it through these much needed workshops.  Followed by practice drills, I make all the errors, correct the errors, refine the movements in isolation, then integrate it into my overall game under the watchful eye of Coach Rodney makes learning a lot more effective. Repeat this as often as possible and this is how you build a game.

Over as many years as I have been training in martial arts (I started back in 1978) I have attended regular classes in addition to workshops and seminars. This is especially true during my time training karate where the workshops were an opportunity to meet the other senior coaches to pick their brains but also to socialise with other members who shared the same interest in learning karate. Workshops, seminars and training camps are not fight preparation camps and you would be mistaken if you viewed them as such. They are not the arenas to compete with other people in attendance as that is not their intention, rather they serve as platforms to exchange ideas, meet similarly minded people and train with other coaches who are not your regular trainers so that you can learn from them and share your experiences. These are the large gatherings that present the opportunity to meet up with new and old friends for the all important social element because not all is gloom and doom in the martial arts. I often learn as much through informal conversations with other members and trainers. Not surprisingly many have experience in other martial arts and share their insights and experiences too. I always learn something from everyone I meet at these workshops.

Typically the format of the yearly workshops followed this structure:

  • Local workshop with the regional highest ranking instructor
  • Regional workshop with several regional clubs sometimes meeting up for an inter-club friendly competition
  • National seminars with the National Chief Instructor or International Head Instructor for the organisation.

At the National seminars it would be common to see over 150-300 participants in one gathering! Everyone would be excited to meet and train with the Chief Instructor, loads of photos taken, books and gi’s were autographed. Sporting heroes and national champions were tracked down and more photos were taken in the ubiquitous fighting poses. These can be as often as one workshop every 3 months and a regional every 6 months and a National every year.

Rodney King 2018

So when I have the opportunity to train with my Coach I jump at the opportunity and take notes on how he leads the class, how he delivers the class content, what he looks at and how he provides corrective coaching tips as much as the main “meat and potatoes” content of each session. I got to where I am today in no lesser terms due to his guidance and instruction. I think if you take the next opportunity to train with this man you will also leave with loads of new ways to improve your overall experience with CMD Boxing and Monkey Jits. After all, it’s not everyday you get to meet with the founder of a martial art system.

In servitude and openness,
Vince Choo