I get all sorts of students coming to learn Martial Arts/Self Defence, many of whom have experience in other arts, even if it was from many years ago. It’s amazing how their former training stays with them. In some ways this is a blessing, as they will have many of the movements, if not the skills. In other ways this is a curse as it can mean I have to spend so much time breaking their old habits before creating new ones.
One of the biggest obstacles is the fascination with the small details, and the lack of a big picture view. What do I mean by this? Well, say for instance I show a drill that is based around footwork and body movement (Taisabaki), I’m invariably asked about what the hands are doing, the answer nothing, it’s about the body movement. Showing a strike, I’ll be asked about the angle of the fingers/knuckles, but never about the feet, knees, hips or shoulders.
There is a fascination with the fine details (this is fine with advanced students who have the basics) but a lack of interest in the larger, more important details.
If your feet aren’t right, your hips won’t follow through, the waist won’t turn right and the shoulder will be out of line, all before you even get to consider the angle of the wrist.
Now but this into the real world. In a real conflict situation, it’s the big picture that matters, the feet will get you out of trouble and the hips will end it for you, concentrate on the big picture and the details will fall into place. Look at footwork and body mechanics, this is how you avoid being hit and generate the power too hit.
How do people become like this? I think much of the blame lies with their former teachers. Instructors that have either misunderstood the art they’re teaching, or simply have never had to use it. Too many styles concentrate on looking pretty, rather than effectiveness. So many students are encouraged to specialise too early rather than understanding the overall art. As a result the students end up earning more of a dance than a combat art.
I ask my students to remember why they are learning martial arts, remember what the arts are designed to do and keep a big picture view of how the let the art turn them into warriors, not dancers.