I have used the phrase ‘artifacts of training’ sporadically to refer to conditioned responses that result from improper training assumptions and methods.  One of the most notable is the ‘sensei effect.’
The Sensei effect works on both teacher and student – the student ‘over-reacts’ to the instructor’s input (making any given technique look more effective) and this only further reinforces the perceived divide between them in skill.  It is a psychological barrier at best and at worst it can lead to delusions.
Numerous ‘habits’ can betray a student – where they learned by their mannerisms.  Do they raise a tepid hand to stop an atemi without moving the target – trusting that the symbolic block will be respected?  Are students cutting through the target or reflexively stopping short?  Do ukes anticipate the technique and start to move into position prior to being moved?  I see all these artifacts of training and worry because they impede development.
A recent meditation by James Keating illustrated more subtle artifacts of training – including the simple act of wearing a gi.*
The current vogue in self-defense training is ‘reality based training’ which usually has a ‘force on force’ component.  I agree entirely.  It is impossible to argue with the training theory that the closer the encounter is to reality that it will provide invaluable experience.  The only challenge with reality based training is the map and territory problem.**
I do not have a solution.  Artifacts of training – I suspect – are inevitable.  The phrase for me usually implies a ‘bad habit’ but all training instills a conditioned response.  Our goal is to be continuously aware – honestly aware – to discern which habits are correct responses and which are false.  Which are bad habits and which are good.  And never forget that correct and good = life whereas false and bad = death.
*wearing a gi:
** The Map / Territory problem is well illustrated by Borges and Lewis Carrol .  Borges succinctly and Lewis Carrol in a longer meditation, outlined the problem of maps, scale, and representations.  The problem was more formally described by Alfred Korzybski – but the conclusion is that to accurately represent a territory the scale needs be greater than 1:1.  For a martial artist that would require experiencing combat as ‘training.’  Augmented reality training is the logical next step and is in development – VIPE.  But it is impossible to train for every scenario and therefore we will never remove the fog of war.  The uncertainty and unpredictability of every encounter requires that success is always achieved through adapt, improvise and overcome.


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