Why should I practice basics?


Basics are always mentioned in Martial Arts circles, but what is a basic? And why do we see so much of this....

And not enough of this...

The first clip has a wow factor. We look at it and see an impressive array of striking and control. If your going to put a video online why not put one out where people say, "Damn, that guy looked good". Maybe people will be shocked, share the video, and you will become a household name. After all it does require a certain amount of skill to accomplish anything remotely as fast and complex. 

But fundamentals win fights. Not flash. 

Sure, we could kick someone in the head. We could catch a jab, turn it into a wrist lock, and subdue the attacker. We could trap a kick, sweep, and take someone down. We could parry a punch and rattle off 10 uncontested strikes. We could strike the vagus nerve with a hand sword / judo chop and knock someone out in one blow. 

We could kick our shoe off our foot and knock someone out, but that doesn't mean we should.

There is a reason everyone talks about fundamentals being the most important aspect of the Martial Arts. It's quite simply because they have the highest probability of success. That wrist lock after catching a punch... low probability. No matter who you are, with 50 years of training or 1 year, given a thousand punches you will have a higher probability of success moving your head, getting a hand in the way, and counter striking. 

Do what has the greatest likelihood of success. Fighting isn't a fashion show. 

So why do we bother with anything but fundamentals?

Because people get bored. Because businesses have to keep the doors open. Because people don't want to repeat the same movement over and over. And because at some point, once you have solid fundamentals, it's just damn fun to explore what could happen. Exploring what could happen will open your eyes to the possibilities and make you well rounded. I can't argue against it completely. Hell, I still practice the ever complicated Kenpo techniques I learned many years ago, but never, ever do I do it at the expense of fundamentals. 

Fundamentals come first.

You have to be honest with yourself first and rely on your instructor second. Take responsibility for your training. If a movement doesn't feel like it has power or efficacy there is a reason. Stop doing it, take a step back, and re-examine it from your basics. Trust me, you will get to where you want to be faster if you slow down and focus on the basic within the complex. 

Listen to your body.

Your body is usually right. Pay attention. Are you forcing a movement with brute strength? Are you winning your sparring through speed? While strength and speed are great advantages you should try taking them away. You may be as fast as Bruce Lee or as strong as Arnold, but it will fade with age. Move yourself out of your comfort zone to become the best you can. In fact, move towards the discomfort and you will find that you don't need speed or strength. You need timing, distance, leverage, and mechanics. All of which you learn through practicing basics. 

That's why I like to work on fundamentals because those will never let you down.
--- Rickson Gracie (video link)

And if you don't have the basics down you'll just look like this these guys...

 

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