THAT GUY: What-If Guy
Your teacher has asked you to pair up and work on a specific drill.
You follow the instructions, pair up, and you work on the drill for a few minutes. As your teacher comes by to check on your progress, your partner asks a question.
"So, what if the situation is completely different than what we're working on right now?"
Your teacher smiles. "Then we'd do something different. But we're not working on that right now, we're working on this,"
Your partner seems relatively unimpressed by the answer.
Later in class, your teacher is demonstrating another concept related to what you were working on earlier. When she opens the floor for questions, your partner raises her hand. "What if the attack is something else completely different than what we're doing now?"
You pair up again, and this same student says to you, "I don't think this would work against a completely different situation than what we're working on today. What if something different happens? What then?"
Congratulations. You're paired with THAT GUY: What-If Guy.
We all have a little bit of What-If Guy in us, and that's not a bad thing. Questioning what you're learning, thinking hard about it, considering a larger situation or how it applies to different things, and being engaged in class and the material being shown is absolutely the way to go.
What-If Guy takes it further by never accepting what's being shown in the context it's being presented. What-If Guy is always thinking about things that might happen out of left field.
If you're learning defenses against a kick, What-If Guy will ask what happens if the guy punches or takes you down instead.
If you're learning a concept in one-on-one grappling, What-If Guy will invariably ask about multiple attackers.
If you're working against an unarmed person, What-If Guy will want to know what to do against a weapon.
If you're working against an angle of attack with a weapon, What-If Guy will ask about a different angle or a different weapon.
If you're working against punches, What-If Guy will ask about kicks.
If you're dealing with knives, What-If Guy wants to know about guns.
A true What-If Guy has a hard time understanding that you can't train all scenarios and situations simultaneously. What-If Guy never focuses first on what's being presented. What-If Guy is always looking to change the conversation to something you're not actually working on right now.
I suspect What-If Guy is trying to find that perfect technique that works in all situations, the simplest solution to a complex answer. What-If Guy doesn't accept that it doesn't exist.
It's not like it's rare to encounter a What-If Guy. Of all of the "THAT GUY" types I've covered on this blog, What-If Guy might be the single most common one of all. There's almost always at least one in a room, isn't there?
The worst version of What-If Guy will take the answer of "We'd do something different, but we're working on this right now" as being evasive, and then judge whatever is being shown as ineffective. That kind of What-If Guy may end up flitting from school to school, art to art, never reaching the depths of any style (and thus, never getting to the REAL answers to his questions). The very worst What-If Guy ends up making up his own style to answer his questions.
So tell us about your experiences training with What-If Guy. Are YOU What-If Guy? What do you do to try to curb that impulse? If you are an instructor, what are your strategies to deal with What-If Guy? Let us know in the comments!
Use the "THAT GUY" category to find all of the THAT GUY posts on TSC!