With so many styles of Martial Arts and so many principles to consider when practicing the arts, sometimes we occupy our minds with what is the most effective. But, is this way of thinking limiting our capacity as Martial Artists?
A seemingly simple question, and yet, what standard are we to measure our practice of the arts? Just because people practice particular techniques doesn’t necessarily mean that it is sound. Just because it is an old technique or a new one doesn’t make it sound.
The question, how do we know what makes an effective technique? is a simple question. It all boils down to – Does it work? and Does it function in the context it is designed to function?
Bruce Lee is famous for adhering to the “whatever works” philosophy. He very simply applied techniques against resisting opponents. If it didn’t work, he would try something else without any adherence to set structure or rules. That being said, just because the technique didn’t work, doesn’t mean that it is useless. Only that it not effective in that time.
Testing out techniques is crucial to personal growth in Martial Arts. After all, if the martial arts truly concern self-defence, we cannot afford to stake our well-being on untested techniques. Similarly, we wouldn’t apply techniques that don’t work. That being said, what works for some in one situation, won’t work for others. For example, Sports techniques might not be suited for street fighting.
Although the “does it work?” way of thinking is a good way to analyse ones game and personalise ones strategy, it is not a good way to measure the effectiveness of that technique as it’s depends on the person and the situations. That is why we have principles.
Principles don’t fluctuate from person to person or situation to situation. It is a constant. It is here that the principle of “does it work” calls for what Martial Arts is all about. Self evaluation. It is not just a matter or using those around us as a measure of our own improvement but rather the principle of trying to be better than yourself previously. Being mindful of this is the best way one can improve their game in Martial Arts.
Of course, knowing what it is to be efficient in combat is a valuable skill but to limit yourself to a strict structure in the arts is a paradox. We are forever and ever in point A. Although we improve everyday, we will never reach point B. However, despite not being able to determine how close we are to Point B, we are able to measure our growth by point B by knowing if it grows nearer.
Do not limit your growth in Martial Arts to acheiving perfection. In the words of Leonardo Da Vinci, “He who is fixed to a star does not change his mind.”