A problem well stated is a problem half solved. – Charles F. Kettering
If we can really understand the problem, the answer will come out of it, because theanswer is not separate from the problem. – Jiddu Krishnamurti
Before students practice solutions– e.g. escaping a choke, blocking or deflecting a punch – it is vital they understand the problem – the assault itself. As the above quotes express, the answer or solution, lies in understanding the problem. Let’s take an example of a technique. Escaping a front choke.
An instructor can demonstrate a front choke defense with the pluck, knee, strike, scan, then have the students practice to learn and refine the defense. With repeated practice they can perform quickly and effectively. All done? Nope.
What is missing?
The explanation of the problem! In this teaching scenario, the students don’t understand the problem. They are simply copying the instructor’s actions. Students need to know why they pluck, knee, strike – all the elements of the technique. Without this understanding, the student is memorizing rather than understanding. This inhibits their abilitity to adapt to variations in a technique – one hand instead of two, being choke from a seated position etc.. – that could happenin real life.
Let’s stay with the example of the front choke.
It is essential that the students understand that loss of air – leading to passing out or death is the primary problem. This leads the “why” of the pluck to release the hold. Strikes to vital areas to disable or at least distract need to be linked to the possibility that an assailant will attack again. In this case, students should see (e.g. through demonstration) that releasing the choke does not end the assault.
At the crux of exploring the problem is the difference between understanidng andmemorizing. The latter is rigid and linear whereas understanding isflexible. Understanding allows for adapting, a vital element inlearning to protect yourself.
In future blogs we will explore some ways to understand self defense problems and explore variations.