Seeking the middle path. Old and new martial arts learning.

The old and new ways of learning can vary depending on the specific discipline, system, style and context. However, here are some general differences between the traditional (Dento) or old way of practice and the more modern (Gendai) approaches:

Old Way of learning;
1. Repetitive drills: In the old way of practice, there was often a heavy emphasis on repetitive drills and exercises. These drills were designed to build muscle memory and reinforce specific techniques or skills. Every class resembled the previous.

2. Isolated practice: Practice sessions were often focused on isolated skills or components of a larger task. For example, over emphasis of tiny fragments, like the toe angle in a breathing kata Sanchin.

3. Sensei-directed: Practice sessions were typically led by a teacher or assistant who provided instructions and guidance. The teacher would demonstrate the correct technique and provide feedback and corrections to the learners. The student no matter of size,  weight or age had mold themselves into the teacher model and ideal.

4. Emphasis on discipline: The old way of practice often emphasized discipline and strict adherence to rules and routines. Learners were expected to follow instructions and practice without questioning or deviating from the established methods. Even if the fighting techniques didn’t make much sense. Preserving the true Way outweighs the purpose, or individual needs.

5. Limited resources: In the past, learners had limited access to resources and feedback. They relied heavily on the guidance of their seniors or teachers and had fewer opportunities for self-directed learning or accessing external information. Cross-training was deemed negative to the purity of the art. Old implements like rock or concrete weights became almost fetishized over modern training aids and concepts.

New Way of learning;
1. Purposeful and contextualized practice: The new approach to practice emphasizes purposeful and contextualized practice. Learners are encouraged to practice in a way that mirrors the real-life situations or tasks they want to excel in. This helps to develop practical skills that can be directly applied.

2. Integrated practice: Instead of isolating skills, the new approach focuses on integrated practice. Learners engage in activities that combine multiple skills or simulate real-world scenarios. This helps to develop a holistic understanding of the task or skill.

3. Learner-centered: The new way of practice empowers learners to take ownership of their learning. They are encouraged to set goals, reflect on their progress, and seek feedback. It’s not only OK to ask questions, but highly encouraged. Learners have more autonomy and are actively involved in the learning process.

4. Use of technology: With advancements in technology, learners now have access to various tools and resources that can enhance their practice. This includes video analysis, virtual simulations, online tutorials, and interactive learning platforms. There should be caution here, we are speaking about more advanced practitioner who already have firm grasp of the basics and dojo practices.

5. Feedback-oriented: The new approach places a strong emphasis on feedback and reflection. Learners are encouraged to seek feedback from multiple sources, including teachers, dojo seniors, and via self-assessment. They use feedback to identify areas for improvement and make adjustments in their practice.

6. Continuous learning: Rather than viewing practice as a means to an end, the new approach promotes a mindset of continuous learning. Learners are encouraged to embrace challenges, experiment with new strategies, and constantly seek opportunities for growth and improvement.

It’s important to note that the distinction between the old and new way of practice is not always clear-cut, and there can be overlaps and variations depending on the specific field or context. The new approach to practice often incorporates elements of the traditional approach while integrating new methodologies and technologies to enhance learning and skill development.

At Northern Karate Schools, we have been expertly blending traditional and modern teaching methods for over 50 years, ensuring the best martial arts experience for our students. With a rich heritage, a dynamic team of teaching professionals and a commitment to innovation, we empower individuals to achieve their full potential on and off the mats. It’s an incredible journey of self-discovery and personal growth.