Thursday, 19 November 2009

Principles vs 'techniques"

Some martial arts systems seem to consist of thousands of "techniques" which their students rush to learn. That is rote learning without understanding or mastery. I used to train in an eclectic system that valued principles and concepts above technique. So I tend to think that if you understand the principles of body mechanics, then it shouldn't really matter what technique you use to attack or defend.

We also have to consider Hick's Law, which basically says that the more options you have, the slower your response will be, because your brain has to sort through them all to decide what to use. That process may take milliseconds, but that delay could very well be the difference between winning and losing, living or dying.

I am also a fan of the need to drill, drill, drill. By drilling, we make sure that our responses become part of our muscle memory. We need that muscle memory, so that when we are under stress the body is able to revert to that muscle memory. Sadly it seems that students in the west are way too anxious to get onto what they perceive as the 'cool' stuff, to spend their time on the 'boring'.

To a certain extent, I blame MMA for some of this attitude. I train MMA, and help teach it and I love it, but the students can be some of the worst for lack of patience and not wanting to drill. I also train in traditional martial arts, and see a very different attitude from the students. Doing both gives me a balance to my training that I find very valuable.

Sometimes I fear that MMA is becoming a place for those who only want to scrap and roll around the mats with their mates but don't have the patience or the willingness to train in traditional systems. When they fight competitively in the ring or the cage, they are often the ones who freeze or 'gas' out.


  1. Hi Avril, glad you've started a martial arts blog - love the name. I've put you in my blog roll and you'll notice I'm your first follower!I look forward to exchanging views with you on both your blog and mine. Best wishes.

  2. Hi Sue

    Welcome to my blog! I look forward to our chats :-)