Everybody learns something; typically everyday. Hence that old saying “learn something new everyday!” I certainly try to learn something new everyday; most days I am successful. But, what about something deeper than trivia? What about a skill set?
I bought my first guitar for 30$ out of some guys front yard when I was about 12. I mowed my neighbors yard during the summer and just so happened to have 30$ saved up. It was a Gibson Epiphone electric guitar, and it even came with a little amp. I own both to this day. I spent a great deal of time learning chords, finger placement, strum and picking patterns, how to read music, and so on. It has taken me years to get to get to where I am today; although I am sad to say that I am no Peter Phrampton, or B.B. King.
All of those years of practicing and I am still not perfect! I will learn a new song and play it for hours, slowly at first and naturally I will pick up speed until I play it like it should be done. But practicing in and of it self is not what improves my ability. It is the proper application of knowledge that improves my skill.
When I practice drawing my handgun, or hand to hand combat techniques I do not just go through the motions. As I perform each step of each technique I am criticizing and analyzing my actions to ensure that it is not just proper, but effective in what I am wishing to accomplish.
We can go through the motions until we are blue in the face, but without proper training methods in place, we are only getting better at a specific controlled action. In order to improve our skill set we have to eventually move beyond “practicing” and upgrade to “training”.
When we acquire a new skill and or technique, we need to practice and practice as a way to improve our techniques. Once we have established a firm hold on our new skill we can begin to incorporate it into our training.
Think of it like an instrument. We learn scales first, then music. We never stop practicing our scales though do we? Why? I mean if they are for beginners why do we keep practicing them? Scales are a fundamental part of music; the way it is written, played, and understood. Scales determine the key of the music, but, scales do not make music what it is. The critical aspects of scales are applied, but the best music is not made of a scale by itself.
How to draw is a note on the scale, how to align your sights is a note; how to strike is a note, and how to take a hit is yet another. You cannot win a fight by knowing how to hit. You may be the best striker west of the Mississippi, but with no other skills you are likely to have your proverbial clock cleaned.
Practicing is an absolutely critical component to any effective self defense strategy. What it is not however is the end all. We practice our techniques and skills, and put them all together in training to ensure we can use them under stress.
All of our physical skills in the context of self defense are perishable. Meaning “use ’em or lose ’em”; we don’t practice, we lose what we have. So we must practice in order to stay sharp. Do not for a second however, ever think that you have mastered a skill beyond the need for practice. The best shooters and martial artists in the world spend a great deal of time practicing and training. If you think you have practiced to the point of perfection, I highly recommend you reconsider and reassess your abilities. For when you think you have perfected it, you tell yourself there is no need to practice it anymore. This translates into a lost skill within a short period. No one is perfect, especially when you throw that pesky variable we call the human body.
What can we learn?
Practice is critical; but without training it loses its potency.
No one is perfect, not me, not you, not the best in the world. The second you think you have perfected a skill, you are subject to failure based on that very statement.
We can be good, but never perfect. Do not set your self up for failure thinking that you can become perfect. You will get discouraged, or arrogant. Both are detrimental.
One of the first lessons I can recall my father teaching as a boy is: “Son, there is always someone out there better than you”. Remember that. Those words will prepare you for the fight of your life