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Work is the effort of doing, as opposed to thinking. Work is effortful and eventful. It is acting, sparring, moving, living.
What is called work in some martial arts, is considered Kung Fu elsewhere.
- Wrestling and rolling.
Soft or slow work ∞
Let us imagine two people; training partners. They go slow and soft to stay safe. One partner matches the other's speed, and to an outside observer they "dance" or "play". They are not "being honest", they are going through motions for practice.
People have bad days and bad moments. The body, psychology and every moment are inconsistent. Working faster and harder has higher consequences for mistakes and accidents.
This type of work is especially useful for beginners or people who have to work tomorrow.
As an individual becomes more confident with themselves, they can ask their partner to go harder or faster. They take their training to a more honest level. This should be a goal when working with things they are confident with.
Omitting a partner altogether is another form of soft work. Exercise or kata are significantly safer than working with a person, yet still provide significant value.
Hard or fast work ∞
It is not a replacement for soft work.. one has to know the actions before performing them, but when added on to knowledge it adds "street value".
Speed and strength bring significant risk by moments of incompetence, mistakes or simple accents. The possibility of temporary or permanent injury or even death are very real.
Thin work ∞
Intercepting close to the body.
I'd also lump "Close-Quarters Combat" (CQC) with this.
Permission-work is really all kinds of activity. One gives permission when one allows another to touch them and to work with them.
The foundation of permission work is in partner-assisted resistance or stretching work, however all manner of sparring has an element of permission.
Permission can evolve or hamper the concept of "honest training".
Permission is an incredibly important part of any training. It is optional in most martial arts, and to varying degrees is absent in others. Barriers to permission include various levels of personal psychology from bull-headedness to an assumption of the expectation of others or traditions, as well as military training or consequences of withdrawal from training.
Honest training ∞
"Honest training" opposes "Permission-work".
"Honest" is a concept in training where a person acts more honestly in training with their partner. It is concerned with the physical and psychological. This may mean working at higher speed (not slow), with greater strength or greater effort. It often tries to be more "realistic". For the skilled who are confident in their ability to avoid mistakes, they can enter into an arms race with their partner, pressing them to become an opponent by removing permission.
This enters into the realm of sparring and competition. However, even these things have limitations in their honesty, being shackled by rules. Perhaps a person doesn't have to work tomorrow such as with a professional fighter, but they do want to live tomorrow.
It needs to be firmly stated that the more honest the work, the more dangerous it becomes. It is therefore removed from the experience of most beginners in most arts. Honesty becomes a major limitation throughout all martial arts. That is, the more skilled an artist, the more challenging it becomes for them to "truly test" what they know. Perhaps they can be more honest with their limited skill set with someone who is significantly better than they and who can "hold back" for them, but this is still not an honest pairing.
This is a major point of contention with all martial arts and in comparing them together. This brings up the problem of "street value", and has prompted rules-light "blood sports" throughout history.
This is also a problem with martial arts who are seen as not having enough permission-removed work, because they end up seeming arrogant with an assumed skill that is never tested.
For Groundwork, the floor is honest - it doesn't pretend to be soft because it cares for you. It's feedback is just the truth, an honest reflection of your own actions.
I can't remember if I wrote this. =)
Honesty is a number of things. It is a kind of integrity to realistic commitment. For example, if practising punching and movement, if the partner does not move they should be connected with. This is not a matter of punishing them, but of being true to the role. It is being a good friend.
It has been said that mats are your bad friend and the floor is your good friend because it immediately tells you where you are tense. The plain floor does not pretend to be anything else, and just "tells it like it is". The same thing can apply to a training partner. You are a good partner if you commit your direction, force and weight appropriately. Slow sparring entices us with the ability to play with strength and movement but should instead promote training safely. So our actions should be smooth and directed and committed.
It is interesting play to purposely pause to see if a partner is working honestly, instead of getting out of the way. Sometimes with a smile they catch themselves pausing with you, but they should instead continue on to their success (and again with a smile).