Latosa Concepts Terminology. Is focus the same as state of mind?

Picture 106I hope ya’ll are doing well. I was talking with someone about mentality and mind set the other day when. As it sometimes happens, a conversation is ending up as a blog post. The question today is …Is focus the same as mind set? The answer is yes and no. One thing is for sure, mind set sure does make focus much easier.

I remember when I started karate at a club in Copenhagen a long time ago. It was my first or second day training and I was starting to get the feeling back in my body again. As luck would have it, the head instructor and I ended up free sparring and I just reacted with the flow. We both ended up on our backs on the floor and I thought I had done something good. I did a leg sweep and forced him to the floor while holding back the elbow to the chest out of courtesy. Little did I know that the man had won several major tournament and he was some kind of big shot. His pride was hurt and I didn’t know why, I could have smashed my elbow into his face or chest but didn’t. He didn’t see it that way.

The man hated me after that and our feud did not end until I had my revenge many years later. He proceeded to show me who was boss and pick on me when ever possible during class.  A few years later he was dumb enough to come to one of our free sparring sessions with people from other schools/clubs. He ended up limping out and making many excuses.

How did this all happen. He was a point karate fighter and I was a street fighter thanks to my dad. That meant the contact was just a “tad” more than he was used to. Even holding back, I thought in a different way than he did. I could write about respect and many other issues but my experience with the misuse of the respect idea by instructors had formed me through the years. Today, I openly admit that students might get a hit in while I am watching what they do in a training session. The “destroy mode” is turned off when teaching.  I like to compare it to light switches that are turned on or off in my head. Do I become angered that a student has learned well enough that I need to turn on more switches in my head? NO. I tell them they did well and we turn it up a notch.

So how does the little story and focus and/or mental state relate to each other. Getting used to being hit and still having focus takes practice. It takes a mind set or acceptance of the consequences of what we do. I am not suggesting we should bash each other in all the time. I am suggestion that things like the light contact karate training is dangerous because we become used to it and it affects our focus and power as well as our ability to maintain the afore mentioned under pressure. If the light contact training is used as a tool, then it is a learning tool, that’s great then. When starting something new we need to take it slow and work from there. With time we should turn up the heat. There will be times when our mentality has quite a lot to do with our focus. They are not always interlocked but it happens more often than not. At some point in a students development they are responsible for not having their hands bashed in. The mind set is … if they are your hands, you keep them safe and out of harms way.

Here’s were it gets tricky, for years people thought they could change a technique up when they needed it for real on the street. Muscle memory, or myolin, or what ever you want to call it, works in a different way. That’s why the military trains soldiers in old wooden huts with smoke grenades and flash bangs going off. The programming aspect of it teaches us to react to in the way we need to when it counts. Our mind or focus is where it is supposed to be and our muscle /nerve memory works the way we train it to work. In this case, focus and state of mind melt together. Focus will not always be the same as state of mind. Mind you, we are not talking about physical focus.

When we look at the physical focus aspect  of it we have to think about a few things as well. You have also heard “mind and body.” There is a reason. By turning our feet in a direction away from our opponent, we open windows of attack physically and mentally. Our mental state is effected by our physical posture and body language and the opposite as well. Our physical balance affects our mental balance and vice versa.

There are of course people that would not harm a fly, they will find it hard to tap into the “gorilla” as I have often called it. By learning to let the beast out we can also learn to lock it up and just let an arm out of the cage or we can let the whole hairy thing out of the cage. This also get’s into mental energy and energy conservation and many aspects of fighting or sparring that are improved with experience.

When we look at how different aspects and concepts affect each other in the fighting arts we have to recognize the fact that it is more like a gestalt therapy spiral or loop. One aspect /concept feeds the next, which feeds the next, which feeds the first again. Physical and mental balance would fit into the cycle with focus and mind set which in turn feeds power and so on.

In the short video you will see some of the MCMAP training. They have some escrima mixed into their system / training as you can see.

That’s it for now.

Be Proactive in Life and Training.

Latosa Concepts terminology. Thoughts on mindset, moods, and espada y daga.

Latosa Concepts terminology. Thoughts on mindset, moods, and  espada y daga.

I thought I would write a bit about the mental state and how it influences our physical ability to perform a given action. This subject is driven by my experience in the last few weeks. I train espada y daga  for the most part with MA these days. There are days when I just don’t feel it until we do some hand to hand inspired by the espada y daga. (We go through different weapons and training methods in a session.)  We stay “inside”, in tight  and use our arms as machetes. You might say I don’t get into my groove until I get really physical sometimes. That might be due to the warm up (shadow boxing with hand weights) that I do before strength and conditioning sessions.

The alu-trainer sets can be ordered at Norms Training Blades. I have been real happy with the ones I have ordered for my self as well as for other people.  Next time I need some more variations of trainers I’ll be ordering them from the same place. Chris also makes special orders. He trains and teaches which makes the products better in my view.

I should mention that I like to start with point foot work and circular movements (at the short sword range)  when building up a person’s espada y daga game. Working at a long distance and moving in to the stabbing range when a feeling of control is established usually works well. This would be working in the squaring off zones as well as diagonally backwards. Btw, hockey gloves, arm protection and smackstiks are a great way to practice the flow and not have to hold back as much as we have to do with alu-trainers. I can recommend it for espada y daga training.

All this gets to the subject at hand. I am driven by mood and my fighting changes according to my mood. There are days when a more serrada based movement pattern feels right and there are days when a more traditional espada y daga feels right. Trying to do espada y daga when every gene in your body is screaming Mike Tyson is a waste of time. The opposite is true as well.

The basic pattern (a basic starters pattern) for espada y daga is cut-maim-kill for beginners. In other wards there is a set routine … sword-knife-sword. You can see how that can get to be slow when you are in a Mike Tyson kind of mood (online, online, and online again). If you are a student, you have to do what your instructor has planned for the day. If you train with a partner then you can possibly talk with your partner about training what best fits your mood.

The reason for this is simple. If you teach yourself to fight against your instincts you are “un-training” yourself. When we teach ourselves to die … we learn to die. When we teach ourselves to win … we win. When we learn to trust the instincts we have worked hard at developing we are winners. This gets back to one of my basic philosophies … don’t get used to starting in a bad position. We should be busting our butts not to get in a bad position. Catastrophe training from a poor position should not be the largest part of your training! I repeat starting from a bad position and accepting it is not a good habit!

If your mood lets you go either way, great for you. If your instructor has some tips for changing your mood / mental state, learn them and practice them. He/she can’t change the plan for a class just for you.

If you are a professional and you have to be more tactical in your response/actions, that’s another “tough … learn to live with it” response. Tactical responders don’t have too many choices, especially when they are working with teams as they do for the most part. Each person has a job.

All this brings me to another basic mantra for me. Don’t defend yourself in a given way if you don’t feel it 100%. That will get you in trouble. Second guessing takes time and energy, which is often needed to perform the action correctly and safely. That’s why the bruiser beats the martial artist every time. You have to feel it, know it and live it. Add to that have experience with it when under real and painful pressure. If you can’t get your Mike Tyson on because you are in a “control-gunt-strike mood”  … then go that way. If you feel some Carl Lewis in your legs, then run if you can. There is no reason to stick around and get your butt kicked when your head is not in the fight.

I’ll stop here. Ya’ll have a great day.

Be Proactive in Life and Training