Last night we were working on a takedown series as well as a punch-defense series that we routinely practice in our traditional martial arts program. The purpose of practicing these series is multifaceted: developing reliable skill, preparing for contingencies, playing your strengths and addressing your weaknesses.
During the session, I showed the students how they can vary the standard punch defense with four to six different types of takedowns. Each different takedown had a different purpose in order to accommodate for differences in resistance, size and reaction from the opponent.
What I noticed, in almost every single student, was very interesting. The new takedowns, the variation, the variety, was the cool new thing and every student was rushing to get to that part.
Arguably, that was the least important part of the technique. The most important part was to not get punched in the face! That's the part that comes first. In our strategy of defense, we have a three-part approach, a double-redundant system really. And, that's important when it comes to self-defense.
Without getting too technical, the strategy goes like this:
1. Hit them before they hit you
2. Get out of the way
3. Cover up or block the attack
It is a strategy and says nothing of actual techniques. In order for our strategy to work, we need to complete step 1 AND 2 AND 3, but more importantly, we need to execute 1 THEN 2 THEN 3. Although these three things happen perceptibly simultaneously, there is a priority and a hierarchy and that focus is mandatory to ensure effectiveness.
However, the students were glossing over steps 1, 2, & 3 in order to get to step 4 and the techniques were losing their effectiveness.
Steps 1, 2, & 3 are always the same, they are easy, they are mundane so we ignore their importance, but without them there is no foundation for step 4.
In martial arts training, there aren't really any "advanced" techniques, there are only basics. It's like the alphabet. There are only 26 letters, but an un-countable number of words and infinite possibilities when it comes to writing and language.
There are no advanced letters, just increased proficiency and eloquence when stringing those words together.
The same is true for martial arts. The same is true for effectiveness.
Proficiency and eloquence comes from mastery of the basics, the foundational elements of the task at hand.
Mastery comes from purposeful practice and completion.
Finish 1, then finish 2, then finish 3.
These are the things that are easy to do...but that means they are also easy not to do.
Ensure that you have a strong foundation for success.
Then, move onto 4....that's the cool stuff.