Thursday, 21 January 2010

Basic Martial Art Training

Basic training is seen by some as boring and by others as the life and soul of ones fighting technique. We all start off learning techniques which do not require much training, much strength, much flexibility or other physical attributes. Some however, quickly want to be taught techniques which they see in MMA, or in movies, thinking that basic training is for amateurs. Is there more to basic training though? Is it really just a compilation of easy to learn techniques, or something else?

Well here at, we think that basics are not a list of techniques but a list of attributes. Things like correct posture, well balanced and stable body positioning, timing, correct distance when performing techniques, correct breathing (which is more important than people think), hip rotation etc. All of these attributes and more are the bricks and mortar needed to produce techniques which are as effective as possible, no matter how advanced they may seem.

Many people think that basics involve basic techniques like basic punches, grappling hold downs without resistance, basic footwork etc and to an extent they are correct. There are techniques which can be learnt within a few minutes and techniques which need more time and possibly physical development and because of this, may be seen as “advanced”. However, without the attributes listed above, these advanced movements will never be mastered no matter how well one is developed physically and one will not be able to progress. For example, without mastering body rotation and correct posture, one will never be able to produce powerful punches, regardless how much weight they can lift in the gym.

Also, when these basics attributes have been leant to a level where one can instinctively perform them without even thinking, a level where they are programmed into ones muscles and movements become second nature, then the true value of cross training will become apparent. Usually, martial artists cross train in arts that have techniques which are not practiced much in there original art. For instance a BJJ practitioner may cross train in Muay Thai, or a Karate student may cross train in Catch Wrestling.

Now, a martial artist who is well trained in one art (i.e. with good basic attributes) will soon click on to the fact that it is these basic attributes learnt from there original art that also make up the basics of the art they are cross training in. It is not coincidence that timing, good body movement, leverage etc are part of the basics of every art. It is simply, that for a human to perform techniques with speed and power, with explosiveness and whilst conserving as much energy as possible, he/she must use all the attributes that make up basic training. Weather it is performing a roundhouse kick or an arm lock from the guard, the same principles of timing, correct body positioning, explosiveness and other attributes must be applied to make the technique effective and practical and it is basic training that produces this.

Hopefully, you may now see that basics involve much more than a handful of techniques being performed up and down a dojo floor, or by one performing the same simple arm locks and chokes. They involve thinking about each technique and that the attributes that make up the techniques are correct. When these attributes have been mastered, through years of thoughtful training then one will be able to apply them with any technique from any style. This is a very important consideration if one wants to make there martial arts truly effective.

For more information on basic training, please check out Neals article on it over at Urban Samurai (here)

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SueC said...

Hi Mark, this is the first time I've read your blog! I linked to it from Urban Samurai. I like the way you focus on the attributes of the basic techniques rather than the technique itself - as a student karateka I appreciate the need to keep these techniques simple in order to concentrate on things like foot and hand positions, hip rotation, balance, direction of movement, turning etc. By the way Neal also asked me to write a post on why we need to do the basics - you can link directly to it from Neals post if you're interested.

MARKS said...

SUEC - Thanks, I shall be sure to check it out

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