Earlier this week, I was training in blunt weapon defense with Steve and Allen and one of our students. My favorite part in training with those guys is that they point out my weaknesses as well as my strengths. This time, my weakness wasn't my technique so much as my mindset: I was putting form over function.
Long story short, I was going for submissions when it would have been more practical to simply punch the guy's lights out and run away.
"Mike, your brain is like a martial arts library. You are always cataloguing and sorting different moves, but you are putting form over function." Steve told me.
In other words, I was choosing the best-looking move over the most practical move. This would not be a problem against, say, a hotheaded punk who needed to have their jets cooled. However, if I was dealing with an experienced brawler, it could get me into all sorts of trouble. Best case scenario, I was wasting time and energy that would be best spent ESCAPING. Allen reinforced the point when I went for a rear naked choke from an awkward position.
"His face is right there. You'd be better off just hitting him and running," he said, after explaining why it would be tough to get the choke from the position that I was in.
The fact is that, whenever I become really good at something, I can start showboating without even realizing it. Even when it comes to my writing, I've had editors tell me to turn it down a notch. This is partially due to my creative instincts running amok, although my desire to entertain people can also shoulder some of the blame as well. For this reason, I've started gravitating towards more practical people in recent years in order to stay focused. As I continue to develop my skills in the martial arts, I'm choosing the most pragmatic techniques over the prettiest ones. That way, I can survive in the best shape possible, as opposed to barely getting by in an attempt to impress a non-existent audience. In other words, more martial, less art!