Free Flow Vs Formula: Practical Self Defence

There is a reason that techniques have been created, taught and repeated endlessly throughout every martial arts style however the question is – should these techniques be applied in the same formula style they are taught or as a free flowing form.

Practicality demands that one should be able to adapt to any situation especially when there are so many unknown variables on the street. The end result we all seek is to get home safely.

The reason we are taught techniques as they were formulated is simply because when we begin we are unaware of what movements are effective. We must learn to stand before we learn to walk otherwise we stumble. Hours of repetition lead to muscle memory and years of training lead to confidence however this is also the stage where techniques should evolve to a free flowing state.

If an assailant attacks you on the street, the best defence is the fastest one that will immobilize (with reasonable and necessary force) the opponent so that you can retreat. Should this be achieved by cutting down a three move technique into a single strike than it is the right technique.

Remember as a martial artist you are taking clay away to reveal the statue underneath, not adding more on.

That being said, you should not forget the techniques that were taught to you as they act as an invaluable reference guide to defence for yourself and will also act as the initiation phase for your future students (as is the fine tradition of martial arts – to pass on skills and hope your students surpass you).

Do not be limited to a rigid view by hanging onto techniques but also do not forget the skills you have learned which have gotten you this far. Respect and honour tradition while embracing evolution of your skills.


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