Why Only 20?

lionI had the honor of training with two of the best martial artists in the country in the past couple of weeks. Top notch, experienced, skilled, powerful. . . . the list goes on and on with the accolades that can be bestowed on these people.

And less than 20 people showed up in both instances.

Meanwhile, at the local McDojo, over 150 participants came to the tae kwon do  “grandmaster” seminar at over $300 a person.



These are not rhetorical questions. They actually have answers and they are short and sweet:

Concepts and Confusion. Please allow me to explain.

As I mentioned in a prior blog post, my teacher presents concepts, not techniques. Concepts are fairly easy to intellectually understand, but very, very challenging to apply. Unlike technique which can be taught and often applied in a matter of minutes, concepts take technique to the next level. They produce spontaneous movements than are far superior to anything memorized. As such, the time to understand, apply and eventually master is considerable greater.

They also cause a person to feel like a fool. Not just any kind of fool, a brilliant, grandiose, full-blown  “What the !&$@ am I doing” kind of Fool. Not everyone is willing to go backward in order to go forward.

Secondly, on Saturday, Peter Carbone Sensei said something that really caught my attention (actually, one of many things). Paraphrasing here, he stated “It is the teacher’s job to create confusion in the student. Otherwise,they will never progress.”

Interesting and strong statement. Too often, teachers are too willing to stay in the comfort zone out of fear of losing students. They sacrifice progress for safety or growth for convenience.

This is rather unfortunate. It takes away the opportunities for both teacher and student to move into the discomfort, and make it comfortable, thus expanding their skill set. Plus you grow as a person, which is really the core of martial arts to begin with.

Why only 20?

Courage is much harder to come by than comfort and convenience.

There are lot fewer lions than there are sheep.


3 Replies to “Why Only 20?”

  1. I read every one of these emails I receive from you guys. The content is always a worthwhile read and would recommend these to anyone. Just from your posts I am encouraged to come to FL and train in/with your dojo sometime.


  2. Hi David, and thanks for all the emails and updates. I have devloped a hip and foot problem, probably two problems, but if I get back in commission I will try to come on Mondays. Wanted to express my continued interest and admiration for Systema. Best wishes, Pete Knocke 321 536 1493


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