It is actually surprising how often the difference between "training" and "practice" is discussed, argued and more often than not, compared to one another in theory. The truth is, these two fundamentals are not remotely similar, the basics are different and both require diverse approaches to truly master the craft!
Let's begin with training. What is training to be exact? Derived from its Latin origin "Trahere" which means to Pull or Draw, the standard definition in the English dictionary defines training as an "Action of teaching a person a particular skill or type of behavior". Training in the modern sense is essentially a trade offered for those that lack things like technique, know-how or experience and require expertise in order to educate and evolve style, nature or even performance in fulfilling a particular task proficiently. The simple word is "educate" and crucial to remember what constitutes training. Basically, one begins training when they don't have the slightest idea what they're doing or where to begin, resorting to help from other sources in order to understand the fundamentals, staring with basics to master how to accomplish a task or even a specific trade.
Bottom line, there are traditionally two ways we can train:
The first and more common approach is the attempt to train ourselves. Generally executed through research of materials on the web, books, manuals and sometimes even videos that are usually provided by field matter experts. Unfortunately, and more commonly overlooked, is the fact that this means there is no-one who truly understands the field, trade or material to help steer us in the right direction with insight, additional pointers or even critique as we attempt to master the material.
The second and most recommended way to train is to attend an educational training affair. There are some drawbacks to consider here, people usually have time-constraints or daily schedules to follow and more often than not, a topic or trade is covered too quickly during a training course without ever allowing listeners and attendees the opportunity of grasping the entirety of the topic. However, there is always the benefit of a specialists or field matter expert present to be able to provide additional insight as well as the opportunity to ask additional questions. Whether seeking technical advice or actual performance related guidance, there is always the potential of consulting with a trained professional to secure the information required in understanding the concept at hand.
The main objective in training is taking the time to educate oneself in a specific field, practice or activity beginning with basics and fundamentals that will eventually lead to development, evolvement and proficient ability in possible operation. A good example to help put things into perspective, consider training as someone being trained, or training oneself to master the ability of participating, playing and even competing in sports. The theory of training can be complex and perceived differently, as some will argue basics and fundamentals are natural elements of human development and as one grows into an element, training would be required from that point to really master oneself to complete the task proficiently and in most cases as well, outcompete others.
Moving on to practice. After taking a moment to run through training above, let's explore practice in more depth as well. Same as training, practice derived from Latin Origin "Practicare" meaning perform, carry out, and the English dictionary explains practice to mean "Repeated exercise in or performance of an activity or skill so as to acquire or maintain proficiency in it". So unlike training, practice identifies the understanding of the basics and fundamentals in advance of one or many topics, and through practice, can become more experienced and proficient in that specific trade. There is an old saying "practice makes perfect", but lately more and more field mater experts in various fields have begun to adopt a new and modified phrase - "PERFECT practice makes perfect".
Many educators, instructors and trainers are now trying to emphasis the crucial importance of being well trained first before beginning or attempting any form of practice. This will ensure that during practice, you are performing the task correctly based on the proper tools and concepts received in training. When practicing something incorrectly, beyond the bad-habits technically being generated, we end up engraining incorrect methods and it becomes even more difficult further down the road to perfect the practice or even become truly proficient as it's very difficult to break bad techniques.
There are certainly times when practicing can prove to be beneficial surrounding yourself with a field matter expert who can aid, assist, critique and essentially provide insight for improvements. This however should always be perceived as a practice session, not a training session. Not to say that you might not pick up a trick or two during a training session that may have been missed in previous training exercises that were covered or addressed briefly. Either way, it can still prove to be beneficial to have an expert present while practicing to help maximize results.
In conclusion, the real difference between training and practice is "Training" begins with us learning and developing a trade, procedure, activity, sport, function, operation, etc. from outside influences, where "Practice" takes our influences either learned or developed and helps expand and grow them to greater heights in proficiency of the art. The best way to "maximize results" is to alter between the two (2) continually. You should not only train consistently independently, but consider the ability to train with various field matter experts, taking advantage of different approaches, training styles and for that matter, perceptions based on various experiences. Humans differentiate from multiple levels of life and we all find our own methods to our madness, therefore, it's important to acquire various tools from different field mater experts and see how one topic can have multiple views, approached from distinct angels, most importantly providing options to consider. While trainers will traditionally do certain things similarly, they very seldom do them exactly the same way. Training with multiple sources with variations of perspectives can only prove to further enhance abilities providing a learning curve that will help you find the style, approach and format that works best for you.
As you continually take time to train with various sources, you should always be practicing in between these training sessions. The fact is, many people fall into "ruts" where they train so much on one specific element, spending countless hours concentrating on one element of the trade, they tend to overlook other aspects and almost always fall short on the actual performance they seek to achieve. A good recommendation to consider in avoiding this trap is to structuralize your practice. Invest in a notebook and begin scheduling your practice sessions, ensuring you are devoting enough time to all aspects of the topic. Don't hesitate to make additional notes or even track progress, setting goals in practice sessions sometimes is the best method of achieving the results we desire.
Sequentially, whether you are interested in self-defense, competitive shooting, hunting, precision shooting or even underwater basket weaving, important factors to consider and apply is, one should be continually training and exploring other avenues of training, all the while following a structured and routine practice regiment. If you are uncertain, interested or simply seeking sources for training in the fields of self-defense and shooting, please take a moment to visit DNA Tactical's Affiliates Page.
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