‘Feedback’ The Gift and The Curse.

Wing Chun And Rings 'Built from the ground up'

By Bennett Martin.

As we now live in the age of ‘the internet of things’ with millions of connected devices, products, media platforms and consumer interactions. It’s no surprise that people crave instant responses, ‘likes’ / ‘comments’ / ‘shares’. In fact engagement of any kind – ratifying their actions or opinions. Endorsing or critiquing an output or content of any kind.

You don’t want to do it like that, do it like this…”

OK, so all this need for a reaction is not always a bad thing. Feedback that is given well and received well can be the greatest of things. Especially in the early stages of a martial arts journey when the student is not only getting to grips with the physical demands of training, but also the changes required in self-awareness / self-regulation, in order to avoid the ugly ‘ego bubble’ that is so commonplace in some establishments.

This is what I can offer you…”

As a beginner on your martial arts journey it’s vital to be a sponge, soak up as much information as you can, don’t worry that you can only process a small portion and put an even smaller amount in to physical action, that’s just part of the process.

However, even in the moments when you may be holding on to your lungs for dear life and sweating through a drill or exercise, you still have some choices.

Number one:

To receive and accept whatever feedback is given gracefully, politely and humbly.

To that end the feedback should also be offered in the same manner.

Number two:

Take a moment (maybe after class, when you’ve got your breath back), to try and recognise if the feedback is coming from a place of authenticity and experience?

You see people give critique or feedback for all manner of reasons and it’s important to notice, if you can, what is driving this. Sometimes it can be more to satisfy the ‘giver’ than the intended ‘receiver’

Whatever the case, accept the notion of the critique.

But you always have a choice”

Number three:

Do you act blindly on the experience or seek out further advice from a trusted source, before you take action?

Humans are complex things, no make or model are the same, interior and exterior, the specifications are all quite different, this relates to why people offer critique and feedback. Within the context of this blurb though (and just for clarity) I’m not talking about your Masters, a Sifu, Sensei’s or experienced, seasoned instructors. Frankly if you don’t act on feedback from these guys then you’re not going to get far on the journey!

If it was that easy, there would be no students left – everyone would be teaching!”

Not every great student makes a great teacher

I am however, definitely talking about fellow practitioners, in whatever guise they may come. There is a reason why people follow a path to teach and pass on information, it’s super high-level stuff for starters! Conveying concepts, theory and practical skills in a manner that can be understood and processed by the aforementioned student (sweating for their life, whilst also trying to understand and translate new applications in-to physical movements), should never be underestimated or in fact demeaned by the offering of flippant comments or generalised feedback by others in a learning environment.

What’s the reason for feedback?

Like I said previously, these people offer critique/feedback for specific reasons, some positive and some less so. This is far more to do with the ‘giver’ than ‘receiver’:

  • A genuine wish to see a team / classmate improve.
  • An understanding of the steps needed to advance.
  • Authentic support for the benefit of both / all practitioners.
  • Insecurity.
  • Misplaced feelings of grandeur.
  • Inflated ego.
  • Jealousy.

Good or Bad intentions?

In the right hands feedback can be an amazing thing and if taken well it can start a fire of passion to progress. A mission to make that key adjustment. However, if wielded in the wrong hands, without authentic intentions, it can literally crush someone’s self-esteem, destroy their training confidence and at worst stop them from walking back in the door for the next class. You can never underestimate the fragility of the human psyche, just because people don’t show it (especially men), it doesn’t mean the effects are not felt.

Our, Wing Chun Dave, nicely summed up the learning process in a recent session:

As a baby, learning to walk you fall over countless times, but you don’t get to a point and say – you know what – stuff this, it’s too hard, I’m just going crawl forever instead”

It resonated with a lot of students and spoke perfectly to the point that we are born with innate courage and perseverance and it’s life experiences that in fact ebbs away at our resilience. Sadly the stigma of not doing things perfectly is compounded by today’s society.

Increase the fear of failure”

A large proportion of development as a person and notably in martial arts is being able to accept doing things wrong as not a bad thing but an incremental step to getting something right. If you’re lucky enough to work, train or just find yourself in a supporting relationship / environment where this is encouraged, then you already have a better chance of improving than most. But you have to truly be comfortable with the notion of ‘falling over to get up again to begin with’. You simply can’t play the role or pretend with this though, or you’ll just end up being the ‘insecure, jealous, ego driven’ individual that transposes everything on to someone else. Work extra hard not to be that person, your journey will be more fulfilling.


Wingchun_dave on instagram https://www.instagram.com/wingchun_dave/

Bennett Martin on Instagram https://www.instagram.com/bennett_bm/

“Wing chun and Rings, built from the ground up”

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