Efficiency and Effectiveness:

The hardest thing to do is often to translate our martial training into words.  So the words we use are important and it is important to know what we are meaning by the words.

The use of different words that mean similar things is not always wrong unless it misleads us but I cannot say what words will resonate with you to understand my meaning so I will use mine and you can use them or find your own.


Efficient: productive without waste.

Efficiency:  the ratio of the useful energy delivered by a dynamic system to the energy supplied to it.

Effective:  Producing a decisive effect.

Effectiveness:  capable of producing a result.

Therefore our Goal is:  Being capable of producing a desired effect without wasting energy.

The only way to accomplish this goal is to work at creating efficiency and then taking that into effectiveness.

Coach Scott Sonnon uses the terms Softwork and Hardwork to distinguish the development of efficiency and effectiveness and I like those terms.

Softwork is the experimental stages where we work to develop our principles.  For me this is done with the clear training flaw of working slowly.  I liked when Rory Miller (a man I respect greatly) said it was the training flaw he worked with most often as well because he had never seen anyone go slow when attacked.

Softwork is the learning of new principles and how to work them with cooperation from your partner.  Experimentation and learning has to be done in a non-threatening environment.  If you are placed under threat before those new principles are part of what you do you will quickly abandon them and revert to the ones that have worked for you in the past thus negating the learning process and inhibiting incorporating those new principles into what you do.

In Softwork two things are very important.  A partner should never let anything work if it is done incorrectly but when it is done correctly they do not fight it.  Softwork should never be done without moving to Hardwork or really bad deception of self creeps in.

As the new principles appear to be imbedded in what you do then you are ready to move to the next step.  Now you can put a toe in the water with the proper drills upping resistance to see how well you have incorporated the new drills without moving all the way into the next step which is Hardwork.  In fact you can work this into a single class or training session.

Hardwork is the next step, where you take the principles you have developed and begin to increase the level of resistance and remove the levels of cooperation until your partner not only doesn’t cooperate but they want to “win” too.

Hardwork is learning to actually make the application of that efficiency work against resistance.

I liken this to learning to hit a baseball.  You might start with it sitting still on a T-Ball stand then move to slow pitches lobbed at you but eventually the pitches get faster and faster until the pitcher wants to strike you out.

Hardwork is done by progressing from Softwork by adding more and more resistance and you remove cooperation.  It must be progressive and staged.  The reason for this is if the switch is over to full resistance and fight then the person attempting to learn the application of a new principle will simply revert to old ways and no learning takes place and no evolution of abilities advance.

You work from Softwork learning to be efficient with the new principles into Hardwork learning how to actually use them to produce the effects you want.

If done right then you are “capable of producing a desired effect without wasting energy.”

If you have the proper set of drills or tool you can learn through principles over memorized techniques. 

And THAT will be my next blog post.