Change – deciding to change

stages of change

I was a bit stuck with my martial arts training but was enjoying sessions with various instructors I’d come across from the United Goju Forum and subsequent United Goju Seminars. I was traveling around the country to train or bringing instructors to Birmingham and making improvements as a result. I was sick of only making minuscule advances and for want of a better phrase, needed input. My eyes had been opened and I wanted more. It seemed that an awful lot of the ‘training roads’ were pointing towards Steve Morris.

On the back of the aborted Karate Underground Seminar I arranged a session with Morris in Birmingham, which followed the one at Shikon early 2007. I invited everyone in the association I was involved in, expecting people to be as enthused as I was, but no. I only received one reply, saying he was unable to come, although he’d like to. To be fair it’s quite a journey from Weymouth to Birmingham.

I had been reading Morris for a while and learning from the dvds I’d bought, but that first session introduced a lot while promising much more. I was surprised though that no-one had been interested enough to attend. Okay you would probably have to put up with hearing that the karate method was crap, but here was a chance of a way into substantial improvement. You only have to see one dvd, or read one article from Morris or receive one recommendation about him to see that here was a chance to improve significantly. But having your martial world completely rocked is probably not the top of the list for many happy with the status quo.

At the time one of the attendees, with a karate background, said “there’s no going back”, and of course he was right. I am from a scientific background, and the scientific process involves change, if it did not we would still be basing medical treatment on the four humours! I am asked how I reconcile the Morris Method approach with Karate. For me it’s easy, I treat it like science.  The scientific process embraces change, science replaces the obsolete with cutting edge, as one theory or model passes the next rules until it is usurped by a better option. This often isn’t the case in martial arts.

So for us line up kihon is long gone, because this and associated practise has very limited validity, now I use what we do at Primal or similar that I or others in the club devise. Often Kihon is referred to as basics, which is what it is, whereas we practise the fundamentals, this in itself is a step forward and is one small change for the better. If we embrace the status quo that’s all we can ever get…….

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6 thoughts on “Change – deciding to change

  1. You were the reason I left my old mcdojo and I can honestly say it was the best decision I ever made.
    The decision you made to change yours and the clubs focus has probably been one of the wisest moves you’ve ever made and is why I know I made the right choice.
    I’ve always thought you were a good teacher but the sheer enthusiasm and fire from training with SM has made you even better. The principles and the scientific breakdown has helped me gain a better understanding in what and why I do things and it’s also clearly evident that you have developed into a better fighter also.
    But this doesn’t mean I want to sleep with you though 😉

  2. Hi Jon,

    I am following the Morris Method for some time now, and in the process stumbled upon your blog here. I mainly have a karate background which led me to question the trainings methods a couple of years ago – then I found Steve’s website.

    On Steve’s blog you mentioned that you did your PhD research in bypassing the “verbal brain” in motor learning and found that it works.

    I have 2 questions:

    Would it be possible to provide me with some links to this topic – couldn’t really find any in a quick google search.

    Lately I did some sessions in an effort to up punching and kicking power using Steve’s method. In my role as assistant instructor I find it very hard if not impossible to make some people vocalise their efforts.
    I have the idea that some people – especially middle-aged and older ones-their social conditioning prevents them from simply letting go. My take on this is that they perceive karate as a “tidy” way of training where outward form is very important. But really, the lack of vocalisation in otherwise very motivated people does worry me. Any ideas who do get “decent” people to vocalise?

    Greetings from Germany

    Boris

  3. Onwards and upwards…

    People always go on about some karateka doing the same lesson every week for ten years and, therefore, not progressing. It seems to me that the more you challenge something that you think you know, making it work under different conditions, the more you come to understand it and trust it. If you test the same thing against the air week in, week out, how can you have faith in it against someone who really means you harm. There is no substitute for proper practical practice with training partners of different sizes and shapes who will tell you when it doesn’t hurt, what you can do to make it more effective and then squeals when it’s working.

    Too many people want to stay within their comfort zone and rely on what works for them. Most of these people are already big and strong so they can utilise those strengths and that is their prerogative. But I need to make it work for someone who isn’t either of those things against someone who is.

    What I like about Steve Morris is that he is continually reviewing and improving – not because he wants to please the world, but for the approval of the hardest of task masters, himself. If he says something won’t work, you know that he knows because he’s put in many hours testing the theory and if he finds a new piece of information for the puzzle, he will go back and test it again.

    Im not fit enough to train with him regularly and sometimes I need things translated into Barbiespeak to be able to understand the concept but going to his seminar that day was a turning point for my karate.

    And I love that progression graphic! Thinking back over the times I’ve changed course in life as well as karate, I went through all those phases but I think you need to have the courage to make the change as well. I know so many people who have got stuck at the ‘contemplation’ stage because they just weren’t brave enough to step out into the unknown.

  4. It’s great that you found someone in Mr. Morris to help you achieve new levels of success and understanding. For me one of those people was Bill Hayes, who comes to train with us annually. No matter how good we are, that outside perspective always helps with growth.

  5. Chris – thanks, I think you’re right, of course and oddly enough I don’t want to sleep with you either!

    Boris B – thanks for reading. I will write up a post addressing you’re questions, but in the mean time if you search for ‘Implicit Motor Learning’ or ‘Analogy Learning’ and Rich Masters (he was my original PhD supervisor) you may find something

    KB – ‘comfort zone’ is just that, change always requires some form of discomfort

    Matt – yes discovering Steve Morris has been great and has lead to new understanding, no question about it. Thanks for your comment.

  6. Pingback: How to bark…. « EPIC martial arts Blog

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