The Importance of Technique

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The definition of technique is a “method of accomplishing a desired aim”. In the Martial Arts our aim is mastery of our bodies, minds and self. Like everything in life the road to mastery begins with the basics. The basics of the martial arts lie in technique. The techniques we learn are precise having been developed and perfected over hundred’s of years.

There is a famous saying “1,000 days of training a beginner, 10,000 days of training, a glimpse of the mysteries”. This saying is a quote by Mas Oyama, the founder of Kyokushinkai Karate. Before we discuss the meaning of the saying we should put it into perspective. 1,000 days is equal to 2 years and 9 months. 10,000 days is equal to 27 years and 5 months. Could this be correct? That is a LOT of time! The times may vary but the message is most certainly true. We are all beginners in life no matter what our age. While this is not the reason I am writing this article it is important to maintain our perspective.

The above quote is meant to drive home the point that no matter our age or level of experience, only with constant dedication and commitment do we attain Mastery and thereby gain a form of enlightenment. In ancient times, new Martial Arts students were required to practice the same movement everyday for one year. The purpose was to perfect the technique of that one movement. While mainstream Martial Arts rarely uses this form of instruction, the principle remains to be true. This is why even the master does not neglect the warm-up and routine exercises used to help the beginner learn.

What does daily practice have to do with technique? Technique is everything in the martial arts and life. If a builder does not follow proper techniques when building a structure, it is sure to fail. Do not mistaken; the structure may look perfect but when put to the test it will most certainly fail. The basic techniques we learn in the Martial Arts are our foundation. If we neglect them not only will we never attain Mastery, we will meet with disastrous failure when put to the test.

When teaching a favorite reference is the original “Karate Kid” movie. This isn’t a joke, that movie portrays true karate and the importance of learning the basics well. The Karate Kid also uses the teachings of Mas Oyama! Daniel uses one of Mas Oyamas books in the movie when practicing. Here we have a student (Daniel) eager to become a Martial Arts expert so he can defend himself. His instructor understands that we can gain nothing worthwhile quickly and begins to teach Daniel the basic techniques thereby creating a strong foundation. Watch the movie to see if you can pickup on all the other lessons it contains.

Too often Martial Arts students skip the basics so they can learn some Jackie Chan style moves. Too often Instructors are willing to skip teaching the basics so they can keep their students interest and increase their profits. The problem with either situation is the foundation suffers; these students do not have the foundation to perform correctly use and adapt the basics in a real world situation. In the beginning of the “Karate Kid” Daniel gets into a scuffle on the beach, while he knows the basics of Karate he lacks perfection of these basics. As a result, he loses. Focusing on learning the basic techniques to perfection provides a solid foundation from which to build Mastery of all techniques so they become second nature. When no thought is necessary your reaction time increases significantly and this gives you a distinct advantage. Of course reacting quickly is useless without the correct reaction! This is the importance of technique. Without mastering the basic physical techniques, a Martial Arts student has no hope of attaining the higher rewards of dedication to the Martial Arts. The student will never know inner peace, self-control, personal achievement, and the true nonaggression that is the Martial Arts.

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