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Thread: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

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    Default Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Please read my latest blog, and then let's discuss here on this thread:

    http://jamieseabrook.blogspot.com/


    It's a controversial topic, but I enjoy opening up a can of worms.
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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    The "what if" stage is essential for beginners.
    Sean

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    I believe it is, but must be approached at a stage where the student has a grasp of the basic technique in the ideal phase. For instance: the current IKCA curriculum that I am studying is set up so that the student must first demonstrate proficiency with the base technique in the ideal phase. Once the test is passed, the student is introduced to "what ifs" at the next belt level for the previous belt levels techniques. So, there is structure and focus on the ideal phase, yet beginners are taught and encouraged to explore "what ifs". I feel this is as imperitive as learning to "borrow" or "graft" in developing spontaneity. After all, grafting is in fact dealing with a "what if" isn't it.

    Great post and topic Mr. Seabrook!
    "It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence." Charles A. Beard

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Quote Originally Posted by KenpoChanger View Post
    The "what if" stage is essential for beginners.
    Sean
    Could you elaborate on why you think this is the case? And, could you give me your definition of the "what-if" stage? What is problematic about beginners only learning techniques in the ideal phase? Please be as specific as possible.
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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Celtic_Crippler View Post
    I believe it is, but must be approached at a stage where the student has a grasp of the basic technique in the ideal phase.

    Great post and topic Mr. Seabrook!
    Hi CC,

    Good post.

    But I noticed that you used the word "student" (singular). In a class size of say 15-20, or larger yet, perhaps even 20-35, it will be very difficult to get all students fully "grasping" the ideal phase technique. Some are naturally better learners than others (not to mention, some students come to class more regularly than others). SO, my question is: why not focus on mastery of the ideal phase techniques, and by doing so, seeing how easy is to graft into another ideal phase technique should something go wrong initially.

    Why spend all of this time "what-iffing" a specific technique to beginners when it often raises doubts in a student's confidence about the techniques? Afterall, they gain, at least in my opinion, their true confidence when slapping on the gear against opponents when sparring continuous, especially the more and more they do it.
    I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me.
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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    The "What If" becomes a crutch for those who do or will not get something. Sometimes because they do not want to do the work to understand, or sometimes because have not been taught the proper method, and sometimes just because they can not comprehend the concepts in that technique.

    There used to be an IKKA Belt Chart where the beginners were defined as Yellow and Orange belts. Do these students really need to confuse issues by trying to assimilate too much information. Quite often as instructors we try and give our students too much information, because we no longer remember what the learning curve was like when we were at that level.
    Last edited by Rob Broad; 03-16-2007 at 05:33 PM.
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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    VERY good subject Jamie.

    I agree with you 110%!!! The "What if" stage is important, but it must come at the correct time. IF a student cannot understand the exact details of the what I like to call the "What IS" stage (the ideal tech...under class-room circumstances) then messing around with the "what if" area will not benefit them like it would if they had gotten the solid grounding down consistently.

    I believe that if students get into the what if too early in their development it will be counter productive to them learning the systems CORE curriculum.

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    I think the what if should come after belt testing, ie. orange belt learn orange base move and some what if from yellow.

    Slowly work this in. At first just a few. At about purple, blue, green, If they stay then introduce alot more.

    But I say stagger it

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Great topic! I concur with your assessment that the "what if" principle can be detrimental to the new student. When they have the dear in the headlights look just doing techniques, the last thing they need is their brain scrambled with the "what if" scenario.

    I agree with others that the what if can be introduced slowly, over time as the student begins the understand the concept of what they're being taught through the SD technique.

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Great topic!

    I'll jump on the bandwagon. I also agree that introducing too many variables early on can get in the way and slow down the learning process, especially in a group setting. Heck, I still struggle with being shown a variation on a base tech before I get one approach down. Once I get a tech (or form or set) down one way, I enjoy learning variations, what-ifs, etc. but if I start playing with those too soon I get all messed up. I started trying to learn Long 3 from my instructor and Mr. Planas' tape at the same time and I got too confused between the slight variations, especially the transitions and isolations. I had to get comfortable with one way, and then go learn the other. Now I can pretty much go with one or the other (though I do have my preference).

    Also, especially for beginners, there is just so much to learn, so much going on that I think it is important to help them focus on the vital information and not confuse the issue too much with all of that "other stuff". Plenty of time for that down the road.

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Great points in your web log, Jamie. I agree that teaching beginners this way is counterproductive.

    Looking at 'what ifs' should mostly be an upper belt activity, in my opinion. With lower belts, I try to make my "what ifs" revolve around the actual technique and keep them short, i.e., "What if you miss this strike and his arm is here and he does this? That's what this check is here for." This isn't actually a 'what if' because I'm not changing the technique, but it helps students think about what they're doing and understand why they're doing it.

    It's not a bad thing to introduce lower belts to the concept of 'what ifs' so that they understand the larger picture of the curriculum, but I think their time is better spent working on the core techniques.

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    what-ifs are a natural part of any learning process. i feel that rather than immediately squelching the student's question, it is better to show how the technique can actually prevent the what-ifs from becoming possible.

    this boosts the student's confidence in the viability of the technique and strengthens the value of posture, checking, angles and positioning, maneuvers, stances, etc...

    i'll also show 'down-level' grafting, when appropriate, to flow from the new technique to one they've already learned. when 'up-level' grafting is required, i may be more inclined to defer the question as something they will eventually learn.

    this is the basis for differentiating "Even-if" from "What-if". Even-if prevents much of the need for what if. but, even if a change is required, you move within the system, within familiar patterns.

    "in the beginner's mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert's mind there are few" - Shunryu Suzuki
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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Personally, I think it is very much a detriment to progression.

    As the student begins to learn the combinations of basics that make up our prescribed self-defense techniques, they should focus on the prescribed actions and prescribed re-actions. There is so much to learn through the first four or five years of training, I think that introducing the What-if, will prevent proper internalization of that foundation material.

    If 'What-ifs' are introduced before a student has a grasp on the foundation material, we may find that the student memorizes alternative versions of the technique, rather than incorporating a spontaneous response an unanticipated stimulus.

    Isn't the purpose of the What If stage to respond naturally to something unexpected? Often, I think the "What-If" ends up being just Version A, Version B, and Version C - and not a 'What if' at all.



    At a recent seminar, I heard an instructor say that 'Lone Kimono' is "less good kenpo". This is the first technique on our Orange Belt chart. It was so described because it is essentially a one-handed-technique. This instructor said that very early in a students progression, he liked to introduce 'Parting Wings' (4 on our Purple Belt Chart) because it demonstrated a two-handed-technique. Further, he said, in Kenpo, we attempt to do as much as possible at one time; three-things at once, with a kick (Unfurling Crane - 2 on 3rd Brown Chart). He said he'd kick you with both legs, except he needs to one on which to stand.

    From this instructors words, and my thoughts about his words, I believe the student needs to progress through using one weapon, two weapons, and three weapons successfully, and thoughtfully before we introduce using those multiple weapons spontaneously.

    So, in my opinion, 'What-Ifs' should not be introduced at least until Brown Belt, and perhaps even higher.


    Every rule has an exception - I think as instructors, the pre-fix to the what if could be the 'Add-a-Move'. This was a clever examination on the prescribed techniques. At the completion of the prescribed technique, is the practitioner in a position to add a move to what was done. Is their body in a position that will allow another strike, or have they positioned themselves with no weapons?

    I don't see this 'add-a-move' as a what if, really. Maybe it is a short peice of the Equation Formula, but with beginners and intermediate students, I wouldn't even get into that. Just 'add-a-move'.

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    rather than add-a-move, how about "Add a Catalyst"?

    oh, and by the way, Jamie, excellent blogger and good topic for discussion!

    pete
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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Quote Originally Posted by pete View Post
    rather than add-a-move, how about "Add a Catalyst"?
    I have never heard the term 'catalyst' in relation to American Kenpo. I looked Mr. Hale's kenpo journal, and the term is not listed there.

    So, I know not what you are meaning to say.

    I think 'add - a - move' is sufficient instruction for even the most beginner student to understand. At the completion of the prescribed technique, is the student able to execute another strike with hand, foot, knee, elbow or head?

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    I think that it is important for the beginners to understand that the techniques are in the "ideal phase". You need to explain that the techniques are just teaching you how to merge the alphabet of motion into words, and then so on.

    I also think that it is good to show how one technique will work for more than the one application. lets take Delayed Sword for instance. the technique is designed off of a right grab on your left shoulder. This also works against a right roundhouse punce.. will it work on a left strait or a right strait. sure, with some minor adjustments.

    I think that if you over whelm a student with the what if's than they can get discouraged but if you do it in small doses as they progress, along with some drills along the same lines it will help to develope the spontainous stage a little quicker than if you constantly train in the ideal phase and constiantly train within the static motion of the ideal phase..

    in my training, espcially after the seminar with Mr. Whitson, I have been looking for how to counter when some one is doing the techniques on me. but this is just my little way of looking at things in my baby stages of my martial arts training.

    sorry about the spelling, im not verry good when it comes to that.
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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seabrook View Post
    Could you elaborate on why you think this is the case? And, could you give me your definition of the "what-if" stage? What is problematic about beginners only learning techniques in the ideal phase? Please be as specific as possible.
    "what if" you need to actualy use this stuff the moment you walk out the door. Ideal phase is not going to help.
    Sean

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Quote Originally Posted by jdinca View Post
    Great topic! I concur with your assessment that the "what if" principle can be detrimental to the new student. When they have the dear in the headlights look just doing techniques, the last thing they need is their brain scrambled with the "what if" scenario.

    I agree with others that the what if can be introduced slowly, over time as the student begins the understand the concept of what they're being taught through the SD technique.
    You need to "what if "after the first move. You have to be in the now right now.
    Sean

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Quote Originally Posted by michaeledward View Post
    Personally, I think it is very much a detriment to progression.

    As the student begins to learn the combinations of basics that make up our prescribed self-defense techniques, they should focus on the prescribed actions and prescribed re-actions. There is so much to learn through the first four or five years of training, I think that introducing the What-if, will prevent proper internalization of that foundation material.

    If 'What-ifs' are introduced before a student has a grasp on the foundation material, we may find that the student memorizes alternative versions of the technique, rather than incorporating a spontaneous response an unanticipated stimulus.

    Isn't the purpose of the What If stage to respond naturally to something unexpected? Often, I think the "What-If" ends up being just Version A, Version B, and Version C - and not a 'What if' at all.



    At a recent seminar, I heard an instructor say that 'Lone Kimono' is "less good kenpo". This is the first technique on our Orange Belt chart. It was so described because it is essentially a one-handed-technique. This instructor said that very early in a students progression, he liked to introduce 'Parting Wings' (4 on our Purple Belt Chart) because it demonstrated a two-handed-technique. Further, he said, in Kenpo, we attempt to do as much as possible at one time; three-things at once, with a kick (Unfurling Crane - 2 on 3rd Brown Chart). He said he'd kick you with both legs, except he needs to one on which to stand.

    From this instructors words, and my thoughts about his words, I believe the student needs to progress through using one weapon, two weapons, and three weapons successfully, and thoughtfully before we introduce using those multiple weapons spontaneously.

    So, in my opinion, 'What-Ifs' should not be introduced at least until Brown Belt, and perhaps even higher.


    Every rule has an exception - I think as instructors, the pre-fix to the what if could be the 'Add-a-Move'. This was a clever examination on the prescribed techniques. At the completion of the prescribed technique, is the practitioner in a position to add a move to what was done. Is their body in a position that will allow another strike, or have they positioned themselves with no weapons?

    I don't see this 'add-a-move' as a what if, really. Maybe it is a short peice of the Equation Formula, but with beginners and intermediate students, I wouldn't even get into that. Just 'add-a-move'.
    So we don't learn to fight until brown belt?

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    Default Re: Is the what-if stage detrimental to beginners?

    Quote Originally Posted by KenpoChanger View Post
    So we don't learn to fight until brown belt?
    At 42 years old, I don't think I have been in a fight for over 30 years. ... well there was that one time with my younger brother .... but ...

    I have been studying American Kenpo for more than 6 years now, with zero fights. I have paid thousands of dollars for general mat time, private lessons, uniforms, equipment and weapons. If, by some freak of probabilities, I got into a fight tomorrow, I hope that I am now skilled enough to end the fight in a matter of seconds.

    On that equation (time and cost of practice vs time in actual martial combat), the practice of martial arts in this day and age, rarely can balance out. Yet, I continue to study.

    Reasonably, I must be getting something more from my study than simply the 'learning to fight' you posit. Else, why continue with the time and cost? But, maybe that is just me.

    So, who here is looking for fights?



    And, as a direct answer to your question. Yes. We do not learn to fight until brown belt. Until then, we are learning how to move.

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