Dishonest Training

A recent discussion of Ogawa Ryu Kenjutsu (along with other recent events) has brought to mind another subject: Dishonest Training.

I believe dishonest training stems from a lack of knowledge, or a desire to be "accommodating", or from an overwhelming desire to be "the winner". I see dishonest training time and time again.

In the case of the Ogawa Ryu video under discussion we saw an example of honest training where shite would stop his attack after torite made a crippling or fatal strike. Another sensei questioned the honesty of the training because while he had knowledge of the weapons in use he lacked understanding of the techniques.

During a recent knife training exercise I was told by my sparring partner "I won, because I cut you more". Problem with that was the very first strike I made completely removed his ability to continue fighting or even hold onto his "knife". This is an example of "dishonest training from a lack of knowledge". I explained the situation and the cut I had made to him, and then we continued. Once again, I made the same initial cut and once again he ignored it, continuing to fight on. Sure enough, at the end of the round I was told once again "I won". This, then, was dishonest training from an overwhelming desire to be "the winner". This was kind of like Monty Python:

King Arthur [after slicing one of the Black Knight's arms off]: "Now stand aside, worthy adversary".
Black Knight: "'Tis but a scratch".
King Arthur: "A scratch? Your arm's off".
Black Knight: "No it isn't".
King Arthur: "What's that, then?"
Black Knight: [after a pause] "I've had worse".
King Arthur: "You liar".
Black Knight: "Come on ya pansy".

I recently saw the third kind of dishonest training in a jujutsu session I was holding. I was developing a seminar at a friend's dojang and some of his students were picking up some free training in Hirakawa Ryu jujutsu. One of the essential practices of jujutsu (and judo, and aikido, and aikijujutsu) is taking away the opponent's balance yet when even the slightest pressure was applied the "aggressor" was simply flopping down onto the ground. This is dishonest training from a desire to be "accommodating". The problem with this type of dishonesty is that their partner feels they have learned the technique, understand it and even worse, can use it properly in a self-defense situation. The unfortunate conclusion is one usually finds out their lack of skill when it is really critical and ends up hurt, maimed or dead.

There is another end of this as well, and that is safety. In a different jujutsu training session an overly enthusiastic student managed to dislocate my shoulder for me. It is up to the instructor to strike a balance between safety and proper training.

So when you train, are you honest with yourself? Are you honest with your partner? And are you honest with your students?