Sunday, March 9, 2008

How Do You Understand Martial Arts Techniques

How do you understand martial arts techniques? Before you look at any techniques/methods from a martial arts system, it is important to first know yourself. It is important to have a clear goal about what you are trying to achieve with your research. Often, when people research without a clear objective, they become a "technique collector". They become a master of all trades and a master of none. This is not a functional approach. The reason is because knowing a lot of moves does not win fights. It's about how good you are when you move.

Can you move with speed, power, accuracy, timing, co-ordination, sensitivity, non-telegraphic ability? Training time is limited; therefore it is unrealistic to try to master too many techniques at once.

If you look at top fighters in any system, you will see that they only use a few well developed moves. The key is not to learn many things for many situations but rather to learn how to adapt a few things to various circumstances. The ability to do that is very difficult for some people because due to the martial arts media, a lot of beginners like to put things in black and white categories. The truth is, fighting by its very nature is chaotic and therefore things are not so black and white.

One example is the popular concept of non powerful "set up" moves such as the straight blast follow by powerful "finishing" moves such as elbows and knees. This separate category of setup vs. finishing techniques is a concept that has sold many DVDS and magazines. However, I question if a straight blast is actually just a "set up" technique that requires a "finisher". What would happen if a fast straight blast also has functional finishing power? I guess if that was possible, things would get a lot simpler and you would not have to collect more stuff to do the job.

But how do you get the example of the straight blast to become a finisher? Is it simply a matter of more practice? In some cases, yes. But in most cases, it requires research into how to put the whole body mass into the blast. Something that is rarely seen. This idea of modifying techniques to make it work instead of collecting more of them is true for a lot of things in martial arts. By modifying, it will allow more practice time and repetitions in each move and therefore a higher development of physical attributes - things that win fights.

For me the objective of research is to be as direct as possible. Therefore when I look at any technique I simply ask if what I see would help me become more direct. If not, how can I modify it to make it more direct? If I can't do that, then I ask, what is the most direct way that I can defeat what I see?

Looking at things in slow motion allows you to see the finer detail. From a martial arts point of view, it means the ability to see the motions in beats and eventually quarter beats and finally, the intent of movement. Looking at things fast means that you have to take into consideration force and speed.

Many things demonstrated in MA demos work well in mild speed but you have to take into account human reaction time limitations. You must take each and every technique that you practice and test it under real speed and power to see if it is actually workable.

Sometimes, what is direct physically may actually be slow mentally and therefore not direct at all for a fight. For example, no matter how fast a technique is physically in a drill, it may be too complicated for the mind to pull off in a fight causing you to freeze under stress.

You have to take into account the natural variables such as limited perception, reaction time and the motor-set commitment of motions in combat.This is a very basic look at how to understand techniques, I hope it helps.

My name is Adam Chan and I started martial arts in 1986 training in classical Wing Chun under sifu Joseph Boychuck. In 1993 I learned a hybrid version of kung-fu from sifu Mike Smith which contained elements of Tai-Chi, Ba Gua, Hsing Yi, Shaolin, natural gate boxing.

In the end, names and styles do not matter but or convenience sake, my system is called Modified Wing Chun.Tracing back what I learned, I realized that it contains elements of fencing, boxing, savate and karate. Some of my own influences are Aikido and Yi-Quan.

Martial arts training can lead one to confidence, creativity, compassion and many other qualities. This led me to research Taoism, motivational psychology and Zen studies. Little by little, I realized that using martial arts as a medium is a great way to help people.

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