Recently, I came across a quote from Rickson Gracie that nicely sums up my training philosophy:
When you train you should put more emphasis on learning than competing with your partner.
In other words, Rickson is emphasizing the technical side of the art without using muscle or strength. Competition brings in emotion which inhibits the learning process and usually involves elements of muscle and strength. Thus when training, students should focus more on the learning process rather than competing. His advice dovetails nicely with the practice of Modern Arnis.
One thing that I emphasize to those starting out in Modern Arnis is to forget about using muscle or strength to get their way as they will be setting themselves up for various counters. I encourage them to move away from strength and focus more on the technical side of the art. Oftentimes, those who are more relaxed can “see” more than those who rely on muscle as their default mode. Those who are relaxed often see more counters than those who rely on strength.
It takes awhile for the practitioner to figure this out. Often, I see some who go to the other extreme end of the spectrum and become the physical equivalent of wet noodles. In that case, I have to guide them back to the “happy medium” and tell them to be “firm but pliable.”
The more one emphasizes the learning process while training, the more that person will understand the technique that is being trained. Further, the student will better understand the various options that one can employ from any given position or situation. We are training more than just physical pliability; we are also training mental and emotional pliability as well.
If one regularly uses muscle or strength as the default mode in training, there is a fairly good chance that student will become mentally rigid as well and limit their own ability to see various options or counters that may exist in any given situation or position. It goes without saying that mental rigidity in training will not serve one well in a real life situation.
The above applies not only to Modern Arnis but to just about any martial art. Check out this demonstration by Rickson and Royler Gracie.