So, you’ve been training in the martial arts for a while now. You have know stances, blocks, kicks and patterns. You have worked on personal protection techniques and sparred. You KNOW what you’re doing.

Are you sure?


My father used to tell me “It’s good that you know all the answers, too bad you don’t know what the questions are.” This holds very true for colored belt martial artists. All the drills and classes have taught a lot but, now that you “know it all”, what do you do with it?

Have you figured out how to take your forms techniques and apply them for personal protection? Have you used them sparring? Have you learned any variations of applying them (i.e. open hand vs closed hand)?

An Aikido sensei commented about a technique he was teaching. He said, “Its not what you think you see.” As with all martial arts techniques, a student can mimic something to use in a specific manner. The problem is that a specific circumstance is required to make the technique work that way. An example of this comes when trying to carry forms techniques into one-step sparring (personal protection basics). I tell students that a strike is a long movement and a block is a short movement. This is to help them determine if the technique they are doing is a strike or a block…in forms. One senior student was doing one-step sparring with a lower rank (teaching the lower rank their new one-steps). The senior student could barely reach her partner to do a knifehand strike to the neck. When I told her to that she was too far away, her response was that I told her that strikes had to be long.

It is unfortunate when students only take the words or the demonstration or the “I like this way” version of doing the curriculum. To not spend time analyzing the techniques, movements and applications is to waste a lot of time. It also points out how little is truly known about what is being done. Different portions of curriculum have different points of emphasis. They can also be drilled in different manners to achieve different results. You’ve seen the fitness kickboxing spin-off. All the fitness without the understanding. This is a reason that martial arts is MUCH more than a fitness routine.

What have you learned now that you know it all? Have you taken the time to get further into your curriculum? Are you understanding more than one concept/application for each technique or movement that you do? If not, keep training…and learning!

Author: Master Robert Frankovich

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One thought to “What do you know?”

  • Donald King

    I know that I know very little about martial arts. I know that I’m willing to learn. I know that since my instructor, aka the pied piper, has left the drama is gone as well. I’ve got a big task in front of me and I’ll take it one day at a time. Got to find that new instructor before I lose what’s left of my sanity.

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