FIT TO FIGHT

Let’s start with a quote from Ro­man Em­peror Mar­cus Aure­lius: “How ridicu­lous and strange to be sur­prised at any­thing which hap­pens in life!”

Black Belt - - CONTENTS - BY MARK HAT­MAKER

Is your train­ing ster­ile or in­fected? If you don’t know, you’d bet­ter make this piece the first one you read in this is­sue be­cause it holds the key to mak­ing all your mar­tial arts work­outs more pro­duc­tive.

These words are culled from Med­i­ta­tions, a se­ries of loose but con­nected notes he wrote to him­self while strug­gling to stay the course as he con­ducted a long mil­i­tary cam­paign against Ger­man in­vaders who’d pen­e­trated into Italy.

In con­text, Aure­lius’ notes cover both the mun­dane (court mat­ters and hu­man in­ter­ac­tions) and the crush­ing ( bat­tles). Yes, the bat­tle­field of the sec­ond cen­tury in­volved sig­nif­i­cantly more hard­ship than we en­counter to­day. Nev­er­the­less, those 13 words of wis­dom are as valu­able now as they were when he wrote them be­cause they can shape the way we ap­proach self-pro­tec­tion — pro­vided we al­low his prag­ma­tism to di­rect our course where it may be lack­ing.

MORE OF­TEN than not, when we en­gage in real-world drilling, it takes place in ster­ile con­di­tions. In other words, it’s con­ducted in­side a dojo at a pre­ar­ranged time. For most of us, it’s hard to get around this por­tion of drilling steril­ity, and that’s OK. What’s worse, though, is that we of­ten see steril­ity in­trude into other as­pects of our drilling that are most def­i­nitely un­der our con­trol. If any por­tion of the short list pre­sented be­low is a part of your rou­tine, well, then, your drills just might be a bit ster­ile.

• You know the tech­nique you’re de­fend­ing against at least 80 per­cent of the time.

• You have a pre­s­e­lected or as­signed de­fen­sive move at least 80 per­cent of the time.

• You train in a gym at least 80 per­cent of the time.

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