My goal over the last few years has to be able to hand over what I know to my instructors so that they can pass on my knowledge and philosophy to the next generations of our black belts. As we have grown more schools I can no longer teach everyone as I once did. I have spent and still spend a lot of my time systemising what I know.
The problem has been that much of what I know, I just know through experience. Whilst I am teaching students directly I can get the gist of what I know to my students but when the message is 2nd or 3rd hand I have found that the message can easily be lost.
So I spend much time and thought breaking down what I know into a method that can be taught at a consistent standard so that we can maintain our systems effectiveness.
Part of this process is separating principles from techniques. A principle responds to a universal law and a technique is a method of using that law. For instance the law of gravity states that what goes up must come down and that applies every time. So if I throw a ball into the air I know it will come back down again pretty soon after. The technique is how we use that law: so that might be how I throw the ball; high, level, curved, long, short hard soft, fast etc.
In martial arts I often hear of students looking to learn new techniques and this is laudable and necessary to a degree. More importantly though is focusing on the principle behind the technique. My own motto is ‘I don’t want more techniques until I have mastered the ones I already have’.
For instance a kick is a technique but it cannot work without adhering to certain principles, such as balance, timing, distance, speed, leverage. Without these principles a kick cannot work. A correct stance for instance can be in many forms but will always conform to the principles of balance and equilibrium. The rule goes if the stance is correct then your technique has more chance of being correct. But if your stance is wrong the technique can never be correct.
Other principles are: Speed, Power, Distance, Timing, Intensity, Leverage, and Alignment to name but a few. Once we begin to understand the principle behind the technique the technique improves immensely.
Some of the principles we have arranged into a series of Laws such as the The law of Speed. Speed in martial arts is more important than power. Why? Well if you have massive power that is good but if you have insufficient speed to hit the target then all that power is wasted. Plus if you double your power, you double your power but if you double your speed you quadruple your power. This is the principle behind our need for speed over power.
Another principle is the law of attack. The law of attack states that ‘attack is the best defence’ this works every time if the techniques used have been chosen effectively. The law states that attack is best and if you know this then you can choose your techniques to maximise the law.
So my advice to you is by all means practice your technique but seek to understand and practice the principles that support those techniques such as balance, Timing, Speed, Distance etc. When you master or at least improve you’re (for instance) balance then every technique will improve as a result – Make sense? I am at present preparing a manual for the instructors based on the laws of combat so keep an eye open for these appearing more in your classes.