It ain’t what you do it’s the way you do it

Tactics over Techniques

I see lots of examples of martial arts and what I see is just a repetition of what everyone else is doing, which is acquiring more techniques. More techniques means more complication, more to memorise, more to practice and this leads to a diffusion of ones skill and you risk becoming ‘a jack of all trades and master of none’. The more different things we practice, the less good we can be at any one of those things.

Today’s martial arts masters don’t understand the difference between tactics and technique and seem only to encourage their students to acquire more techniques rather than how to apply them in more situations. There’s an old proverb in the martial arts which says ‘one technique mastered is worth a thousand sampled’ and this means we can be great if we master a few techniques providing we have good strategies to apply them.

The law of predictability says ‘if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on getting what you’ve always got’. This works fine if the result you get is a good result, but even then, we must progress, evolve and adapt if we are to be effective in what we do. Science is evolving, sport is evolving, technology is evolving yet the martial arts are acting as if nothing has changed.

The law of leverage says ‘create more with less’ and this means being efficient. Efficiency should be the goal of every martial artist, to get the best result possible in any given situation. Basically, to avoid conflict and if it can’t be avoided, to emerge safely from it. This is not easy as every situation brings its own challenges to overcome but it is predictable in that most situations bring up the same types of challenge. This is where tactics come in.

A tactic is like a hammer and a technique is like a nail. The technique is the fix for a situation which in carpentry is to fix two pieces of wood together. The nail only works in a small number of situations. It is only fit for one purpose which is to be knocked into wood and it only needs to be fit for that purpose, such as being long enough and strong enough to keep two pieces of wood together. The hammer though is more adaptable, it can be used with other types of nail and in other ways, such as heavily, lightly, quickly, angled and even to remove the nail if it goes in wrong.

The nail is useless without the hammer and once it’s used it’s pretty much useless as a nail anymore but the hammer can be used with 1000’s of other nails. It’s important therefore, to know the difference between using hammers and nails (techniques and tactics). The hammer is how we use the nail and, the tactic is how we use the technique. Tactics are more important than techniques because if you have only one technique but many tactics you can win but if you have many techniques and no tactics you will more than likely lose.

The key then, is in the balance of tactics and techniques, combining them together, to get the best result. For example, the right cross is a technique and our hammer, the tactic, is how we use that right cross. The right cross has the power to knock someone out but only if it can be landed well. It needs a good tactic to set it up. The tactic could be a left jab which is fast and hard to defend. If the jab lands well the cross is more likely to, whereas the right cross alone has more distance to travel which means more can go wrong on the way, like it being seen and defended against. Here then, the tactic is to prepare the way for the cross using a reaction strategy (the jab) to create an opening for it.

Any technique is only useful when it is backed by the right tactics and those tactics are a combination of distance, leverage, timing, speed and the balance of these 5 factors in cooperation. These tactics apply in carpentry as in combat but unlike carpentry, combat has added complications. The wood that we hammer the nail into will not try to resist our efforts except to the degree of the hardness of the wood but in combat our opponent will actively, try to defend against the right cross being hammered home. Combat tactics must be broadened to meet this extra challenge using feints, fakes, draws and duplicities because our opponent, unlike wood, has, in most cases a desire not to be hit.

This reinforces the fact that tactics are more important than techniques and this can be summed up in the phrase ‘it ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it’. However, too many martial artists forget that combat is not so much an exchange of techniques, as an exchange of tactics. It is strategy that wins, techniques are just part of the strategy.

In summary, if you want to become a better martial artist, you need techniques but more importantly, you need the tactics of how to apply those techniques in more situations. The best martial artists, sportspeople, actors and scientists don’t look for more techniques, they look for a few techniques and use superb tactics to adapt those techniques to many situations. This is the secret to martial arts greatness.

Accept, Apply and Adapt

As a keen observer, judge and critic of the martial arts I’m often, if not mainly disappointed by what I see of hoe they are practised and taught. I almost used the word study there but I corrected myself because in the main, martial arts are not studied. They are instead copied and repeated, there is no study, no experimentation no testing or proving; just acceptance and repetition of that acceptance.

Why is this? The answer to that is ‘I’m not sure’ but I think it is because of the nature and motivation of the type of people who take up the martial arts. Many people take up the martial arts because they are afraid, lack confidence and self-esteem and most, in my opinion, never lose this. They are enrolled by an instructor who seems tough and knowledgeable and they put their trust in him, that he knows what they need to learn to overcome their deficiencies. But where did the instructor come from and what was his reasons for enrolling in the martial arts? Did he do so for the same reasons as his students? And if he did, has he overcome those deficiencies or is he simply hiding them behind a faced of ‘toughness’?

What happens next is that the student mainly believes in the instructor and what might be his ‘facade’ of toughness and because they never doubt what he teaches, they never think to adapt what he teaches or question its efficacy. There is a point where this should be the case as in Socrates’ 3 A’s of learning: accept, apply and adapt.

Initially when we learn we know nothing (presumably) and the best way of learning new knowledge is to simply put your trust in the teacher and do what he says based on the premise that he knows what he is doing and has taught many others in the same way that he is teaching you. This is the accept stage of learning.

This acceptance works for a while and enables us to build some basic skills and proficiencies but after a while we must apply what we have learned in our own practice, away from the instructor to improve our proficiency through repetition, in order to understand the skills we have been taught. This is the apply, stage of learning.

Next is the adapt stage where we begin to question and challenge what we have been taught. Most instructors hate this stage because they see the end of the relationship with their student who seems to be challenging his ‘rightness’. His attitude changes and the student’s attitude changes and the student quits believing his instructor didn’t know what he was talking about.

For most students I can agree with their reasons for quitting, though I suspect they do so without reasoning why. Instead they just ‘feel’ that they have gone as far as they can with this guy and that it’s time to move on.

This quitting might lessen if the instructor himself created the environment where it is accepted that he doesn’t know everything and that he too is still learning, but because the terms ‘master’ and ‘black belt’ are bandied about so much in the martial arts it suggests that these people have the maximum amount of learning possible and are therefore the font of all wisdom. But this dynamic allows no room for growth. Imagine if Einstein had accepted what he had been taught and never questioned it. We would not have what we have today with satellites, Iphones, laptops and all the other devices which make our lives so much easier than they were in the past.

Our teachers should embrace our questions rather than fear them. The fact that we question, test and challenge what we are taught is not to prove them wrong but to take what they have given us to the next level of understanding. We all stand on the shoulders of our previous generations and that doesn’t mean they didn’t know enough. It means that we couldn’t know what we know without they gave us what they knew.

However, as I have iterated earlier, the martial arts often preclude this deeper study, harking back to earlier ‘masters’ who knew everything and who every generation afterwards tries to understand what they taught, instead of standing on their shoulders to understand better even, than they did.

What then is the answer to this often repeated scenario? The answer is simple; accept what you are given, apply it through thousands of repetitions and gradually adapt it through questions, tests and challenges such as:

  • Would this work against a really fast opponent?
  • Would this work against a really strong opponent?
  • What strategies are at work here?
  • How can I do this better?

And many other similar questions. The key is to develop an incessant curiosity about what you do and know with a view to doing it better which means more efficiently. Don’t accept anything that you are taught without first testing and questioning it and if your instructor doesn’t like your questions and if they challenge or threaten his ego, then it is time to find a new instructor. However, if your instructor says ‘good question; let’s have a look at that in more detail’ then you may be in a place where you can truly develop.

Your instructor’s doesn’t know everything, he can’t possibly and you must accept it just as much as he does if you are to grow as a martial artist.

Martial Arts Can Help Your Child Perform Better at School! Here’s how….

Martial Arts Can Help Your Child Perform Better at School

Most school’s characteristics of effective learning are:

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development
  • Communication and Language
  • Physical Development
  • Playing and Exploring (Engagement)
  • Active Learning

 

AEGIS Martial Arts can help develop these skills as well which means your child can be more prepared and progress even more at school. Check out how below!
 

  • Personal, Social and Emotional Development – By actively teaching socialisation skills we can help a child engage better with other children of a similar age. We also look at basic life skills such as courtesy and respect, which can help you child appreciate others and consider how their behaviour will affect them.
     
  • Communication and Language – As part of our programs we teach our students some of the most important parts of good communication such as eye contact and body language. By engaging students in class with questions we also encourage them to communicate their ideas and understanding on the exercises and drills they will do in their lessons.
     
  • Physical Development – Through martial arts training your child will develop a strong body and strong heart. It also helps younger child develop skills such as physical awareness, balance and coordination.
     
  • Playing and Exploring (Engagement) – AEGIS Martial Arts helps our students develop a ‘Can Do’ attitude. We encourage them to take on challenges and overcome obstacles in a safe environment as part of each lesson. This will help your child develop confidence to try new things and exploring outside of classes as well.
     
  • Active Learning – AEGIS Martial Arts provides your child the opportunity to learn by doing. By working techniques at the same time as an instructor and then having time to practice these themselves, they are engaged both physically and mentally during the whole process.

Give your Child a Positive Start at School this September

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The Early Years Foundation Stage Framework (EYFSF) provides
the principles which guide the work of those working with children.

These principles believe that;

  • Enabling environments – the environment plays a key role in supporting and extending children’s development and learning
  • Every Child Is Unique – every child is a competent learner who can be resilient, capable, confident and self-assured
  • Positive relationships – children learn to be strong from a base of loving and secure and loving relationship with a parent or key person
  • Learning & Development – children develop and learn in different ways and at different times; all areas of learning and development are equally important and inter connected.

 
All of these principle are present and are at the core of all our AEGIS Martial Arts Programs.
Check out our Core Values below and how they link with the EYFSF Principles;

Our Core 5 Values

  • Your best is our minimum standard
  • To help every student achieve first degree black belt – Enabling Environment
  • Recognise diversity and, as we are all different, award certificates and belts based on each student’s individual efforts and attitude and journey – Every Child Is Unique
  • Be professional, personable, integral, respectful and approachable-setting the example of a black belt leader at all times – Positive Relationships
  • Continuous professional and personal development through regular training and striving to always improve the AEGIS system - Learning & Development

 
As you can see, AEGIS Martial Arts focuses on providing a stimulating & supportive
environment to help your child perform well at school.

Find out how to get your child started in our trial program. Click here or call: 0800 092 0948

What do you expect?

As you might know, in the AEGIS system we use 25 elemental laws to guide us in getting the best out of our lives. These laws apply in both combat specifically and life generally and if you know what they are it gives you a greater understanding of how life works and how you can make it work better. One law that often comes to my mind is the law of expectation.

The AEGIS law of expectation says ‘you don’t get what you want or wish for, you only get what you confidently expect’. The question is – ‘what do you expect?’ do you expect the best or the worst? Think about it because we humans basically, have only 2 motivations – to move toward what we want and away from what we don’t want. This is why people get fat – they move toward chocolate and cake and away from salad and fruit. It’s the same with physical fitness – we can move toward it, which is difficult now but reaps benefits later or, we can avoid it, which is easy now but causes problems later as our bodies deteriorate, unable to fight the diseases that come as we age.

So back to the question – ‘what do you expect?’ and why do you expect it? do you expect the worst because that’s your conditioned state? You always feel things go bad so they do or do you always expect the best and seem to get it? it’s all about your perception – like the glass half full or half empty – it’s how you perceive it to be that matters. So if this is true; why don’t we condition ourselves to look for the best in a situation rather than the worst? It’s like worrying – I know people who worry about everything because they think by doing so they are less likely to be disappointed and upset when it does go wrong and they get a nice surprise if it doesn’t. But this means you have all the pain of worry and distress and then an outcome which you might or might not be right about anyway. Why not instead, NOT worry and then you’ll get the same outcome anyway but without the stress and pain of worrying about it beforehand?

Another way to look at it; if you think the worst will happen, how hard will you try to avert that outcome? Why try to avoid the inevitable? It’s like braking to avoid a collision when driving your car: do you think ‘there’s no point’ or ‘hit the brakes to save yourself being hurt?’ of course you brake, it’s natural to try to survive, it’s a physical response that’s built into us. Yet in life we create these scenario’s which are almost infantile in their nonsensical simplicity, that if we expect the worst, then we won’t be disappointed. But this is no way to live your life – this is just pain and hurt – no wonder so many people walk around looking miserable and carrying pained expressions, it’s become their defence mechanism for dealing with life.

For me, I was that way, sometimes at least – I used these same strategies, like don’t ask the girl out because she might say no and that would hurt my feelings, or don’t compete in that game because if I lose I will beat myself up too much about it. I decided instead on two things;

1. expect the best from every situation
2. care less if I don’t get it

This makes life so much easier. In fact, I know that if I don’t get something I really want that I might hurt for an hour or so, but after that I’ll turn the thing around and see a new opportunity instead. Many of the things I have really wanted in life that I didn’t get turned out to be blessings in disguise. So now if I don’t get what I want I think to myself ‘well, something better is probably lined up for me instead’.

Another way to look at it is to consider the worst thing that happened to you, at least at the time, and consider how you feel or felt two weeks later. It’s over and gone and its importance is so much less so why put all the worry into it in the first place?

For me, I’m going to expect the best from every situation – not, what if it goes wrong, but what if it goes right? And if I don’t get what I want I expect, then I expect that something better will come along shortly. I decided to think that life has good things in store for me and sometimes I can’t always see what that is, and that’s why I will get disappointed if I miss out, but when I look back, it will be for the best, in the longer term, that I didn’t get it.

So, try it, – invoke the law of expectation in its most positive form – expect the best and take action toward it like it’s bound to happen. If you don’t get it, think to yourself, great, something better is on its way’. This way you can’t lose, either way you get what you want.

‘You only get what you confidently expect’ so expect the best and that is what you’ll get.

Have a great day, have an AEGIS day