Mastering Your Craft

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Many students begin their journey thinking that after some time and commitment to training, all of their doubts will be extinguished, that they would gain greater levels of confidence and they would feel totally indestructible.

The reality is that along their journey, students may become even more doubtful and less confident than when they began their journey. Although this state is temporary and transitional, the feelings of doubt often lead to the student becoming disillusioned and stopping their journey all together.

I would like to offer some knowledge as to why all students go through these emotions and it is indeed a normal part of the journey of being a student.
According to Neurolinguistics Programming, the following represents the four stages of learning.

  1. Unconscious Incompetence.
  2. Conscious Incompetence
  3. Conscious Competence
  4. Unconscious Competence

In stage one, Unconscious Incompetence, you don’t know what you don’t know. Some may say ignorance is bliss. In context of self-defence, many people at this stage will typically say things such as, “I can talk my way out of anything, I don’t need to learn how to fight.” Or “I will just hit them with the sharp heel of my shoe.” Or “fighting is only for thugs, it’s not for me.”
Even with this mind-set, something may motivate, inspire or trigger the person to begin his/her journey towards more empowerment.

As you begin your journey, you will transition from unconscious incompetence to Conscious Incompetence. You are now becoming aware of things you did not know before. You are no longer ignorant, you are more aware and in some cases even hyper sensitive to some stimuli. At this stage, you know that you don’t know. You have more questions than answers, you may have more doubts than ever before, and your confidence levels may even decline.

For example, until your instructor made you aware of it, you probably weren’t aware that someone could attack you with a jab-take down combination or that someone may stab you with a knife from behind with a reverse grip using a downward 45 degree angle.

At this stage, your awareness of what you don’t know may be increasing faster than you can accumulate answers. You may be watching ring fights on TV or attracting friends and other people around you who are asserting their (uninformed) opinions about fighting or even engaging in forums and reading blogs on this topic regularly.

It’s very easy at this stage for students to become disillusioned and quit their journey all together. They may search for another martial arts style in an attempt to get faster answers, only to find they are repeating the same cycle.

This is the same person who claims to have trained a dozen different styles of martial arts, but they are not competent in any of them and therefore not effective as a fighter by any stretch of the imagination.

If a student is resilient and determined enough to get through to the next level of competency, they would now be at the Conscious Competence level. At this stage, you are competent enough to perform the moves if you are really conscious of what you are doing. All of your moves are driven consciously, so you may not feel like anything is natural, you may not be able to perform any moves with grace and flow and every move involves effort and intense concentration.

Students may even feel like they are not having fun or progressing due to the intense level of conscious effort required. If they’re not aware that this stage is indeed just a part of the journey and is normal for everybody, feelings of frustration may set in and they could even quit the journey.

For the (rare) student who is resilient and diligent enough to continue training, he/she will move to the next level of competency; the Unconscious Competent level.

At this level, you are able to problem solve, perform the moves without conscious thought. Your reaction time to stimulus is instant, you do not have to drive your moves with conscious thought, you are able to slip between thoughts, you are in the moment, you are in the “no-mind” state, moments of Zen are achieved (as fleeting as these moments may be).

At this level, you must be aware that you may be unconsciously competent with some of the moves, but many of the other moves that have been taught to you may still be at lower levels of competency, therefore you may have moments of grace and flow as well as frustration and doubt.

As you learn more new moves, you will be consistently cycling through these four levels of learning, therefore you will always feel the vast arrays of emotions associated with being a student. So if you are chasing the feeling of “I have completely got this,” you will be disappointed, maybe even disillusioned.

Even a Master of his/her craft will tell you that they are constantly learning, growing and discovering new distinctions and never feel like that have completely ‘got it’. For a Master, this is the most amazing feeling; this is the feeling of being an eternal student, of being on an on-going journey without an end destination. When you surrender to this concept, all the frustration, doubts and feelings of disillusion melt away and you find moments of bliss.

Robert Kyaw

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Arakan Martial Art® journey today!

Arakan Martial Art® seminars, self-defence classes and personal training private lessons are available in a large number of areas around Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Northern Rivers NSW and Perth


Great Company and my Instructor Jayson is exceptional to work and train with. I have trained several different styles in my security career of 27 years and I find Arakan to be the most effective and professional by far. 
In my business you have to be constantly at the top of your game and one step ahead and this style allows me to achieve that. 

Paradise Security Aust, M.D Andrew Csabi

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Important notice regarding COVID-19

During this time of uncertainty, we would like to reassure all our current and future members that we are still providing Arakan Martial Art Training as usual. 
Your health and wellbeing are important to us and not only does staying active help to boost your immunity (important in fighting illnesses and viruses) but by training Arakan Martial Art you also learn practical and essential self defence techniques. 

At Arakan Martial Art, we specialise in Private Lessons which are conducted outside in the fresh air and are still allowed under government restrictions. Alternatively, if you would like to train but are unable to do so in person, we also have the option of online video lessons via Skype or other video streaming platforms.  READ MORE

What are you waiting for?

There is an old saying, ‘necessity is the mother of all inventions’ and Arakan is no different. Arakan is perfectly adaptable for all shapes, sizes, ages, physicality and any health or other perceived limitations. 

No two bodies are the same. Everyone has something they are managing, working on or towards. 

We appreciate these differences and always ensure we structure your journey from where you are at. Our students have been in wheelchairs, had missing or prosthetic limbs, broken bones, terminal illnesses…. the list goes on; all perfectly capable of training Arakan. It is even more important to be able to protect yourself with these perceived limitations. We believe everyone has the right to feel safe and our mission is to impart skill sets and techniques to ensure the safety and wellbeing of you and your loved ones.  READ MORE