Quantity? Quality? Which Is Better?

That is the question.

But, before you answer with the clichèd answer, “Of course! Quality is always better!”–I want you to consider the following.

Quality technique is only useful when it has been trained enough (quantity) to have power, speed and timing.

Now consider the answer to this question:  Does practice make perfect? Is practice the key to perfection and proficiency in the martial arts?

Sounds like “quantity” to me… But listen to my answer:

No, practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.

Doesn’t matter that you do hundreds of abaniko strikes per training sessions; if you train a weak, sloppy abaniko, your skill at using the abaniko will be weaker.

Now, we return to the original question:  Which is better–quantity or quality?

And my answer?

Neither. You must have ample amounts of training with the right techniques, the right way. And then you must have more training with better techniques than your opponent.

It is simply not enough to have a well-thought out system of fighting. Who gives a damn if you have an excellent way to stop a jab, if you don’t have the power and timing to apply that technique. And if your opponent has an extremely powerful, but sloppy jab–but you don’t have half the amount of strength to stop that sloppy jab–my friend, you are about to experience the three-shoe syndrome: Two on your feet, and one in your bottom.

That’s the nicest way for me to put it; he’s about to kick your butt. (It’s Ramadan, no naughty words for me!)

We must keep this very important (and wordy, 260 to be exact) fact in mind when training ourselves and our fighters. You must ensure that your fighters are applying their techniques as cleanly as possible, with the correct type of speed needed for its use, and with the correct amount and type of power. And then they need to apply it enough that the technique becomes thoughtless and instinctive. It must be as natural as answering your name when asked. Being able to demonstrate it in front of a group of people is completely irrelevant. Being able to pull it off against various opponents under various formats is imperative.

A gentleman asked me to take a look at his group’s (it isn’t a school, believe that) “Apprentice Instructor” “test”, and give my opinion. I think he was halfway asking for my approval as he is a follower of this blog and may be translating it to German if we could get together. But I must be honest, and one thing that honesty has in common with a butt-kicking–if they ask for it, you must graciously grant that request. At least, that’s my stance on that issue…

I went to the organization’s website (like I said, it is not a school) and I read the language

This training program is a unique chance for martial artists who do not have the opportunity or time to train regularly with a qualified instructor of Filipino Martial Arts in their vicinity.

Basically, what this gentleman had enrolled in was a crash-course for people who lack the resources and commitment to become a real Filipino Martial Artist. Hey, I want to be a millionaire lawyer. But I don’t have the money to pay for law school, and I am not smart enough to get into one. Any option I find that will certify me to become a lawyer in “50 hours of instruction over 6 weekend seminars” is a fraud. Period.

I did not need to see the video, and to be honest I watched about 30 seconds of it before I turned it off. As I tell many of you, if you’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. They all have a background in some Karate style, then they “gateway” into the FMAs through JKD/Kali or Modern Arnis, then branch off to more exotic styles, or they stay within those two. A few will actually go to more traditional FMA styles like Doce Pares or Kalis Ilustrisimo or Lightning Scientific, but mostly, everyone is doing the same thing, and they have very little differences one style from the other. Unless you are advocating committing to a school long enough to secure a strong foundation, and then testing yourself on people outside your organization–whether you call this “distance learning”, supplementing, cross-training–you are all doing the same thing.

And this is why people have only argued with me on the internet. Because I am a traditional teacher and the only people who have the nads to drive to Sacramento and call me to the carpet are people who agree with me. Even FMA guys right here in Sacramento won’t do it.

The gentleman was hoping to convince me that the “quality” of his stick work was superior or somehow up to standard. Sure, they looked clean, but so does a baton twirler at my kid’s football games. And dare I say it–the girls are better. The techniques seem valid when the feeder comes at you a little faster than people in “other” seminars. Your Guros encourage “hit them if they don’t block”, so the techniques seem like they’d work. Some of you go home with bruises and lumps, so you believe your certificate is worth a little more than the rest of the “seminar” guys you believe you are different from.

But I have an opinion about what constitutes a good punch, a good technique, and “valid technique”–and the difference between you and me, is that I will prove to you in person exactly what that means.

So I am telling you without hesitation, that no skill is valid skill without thousands upon thousands of strikes–at least hundreds per session–and no knowledge is valid that has not been put to the test by doubters, many times, over several years. And several years of such training and testing, too.

Do you know how long it takes one of my students to get in 50 hours of classroom training time? About 3 to 4 months. And you are taking a year to do it. It doesn’t matter how much practice you do on your own, you’re barely in kindergarten. So you can write your ABCs a little cleaner than the guys who go to seminars and watch videos and your organization is pretty good at making sure you have good handwriting with a stick. But to call oneself a “Guro” is akin to calling oneself a scholar in the martial arts, and no amount of distance training is sufficient.

Do you know what I consider “distance” training? A guy who comes to my school from another place and stays for several days or even weeks at a time. And because he chooses this method of training, it will take him a decade before I will consider him serious enough for teaching. Because what do you say about a kid who says he wants to go to law school, but won’t move to a city with a law school?

You’d say he’s just blowing hot air.

This organization is not in the business of developing serious FMA Guros; they are in the business of certifying people who lack the commitment and will to become real Guros. They say it themselves.

FMA Guros are not determined by organizations. They are determined by neighboring schools and opponents. That’s all their is to it. Those of you who wish to establish yourself should seek out other fighters–not necessarily FMA fighters, either–to test your skills.

And before you do so, I hope you have a high quantity of quality training before shadowing someone’s doorstep.

Thanks for visiting my blog. Make sure to head over to the Offerings page and checking out my book on Martial Arts Philosophy!