Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sine wave vs. the core purpose of forms

Derailing the core purpose of forms – let me count the ways...

In my previous article I discussed the core purpose of forms; how in order to be effective training tools, forms must place techniques in a dynamic context. And that dynamic context must be both relevant and useful.

Understanding these components, and having these concepts at the back of your mind while you train, is essential for making traditional forms work for you. After all, a form is nigh on worthless if you simply flap your way through it without a care or a single bead of sweat. The best designed form in the world won't help you one iota if you butcher it with a poor performance.

And poor performance is just one issue. Yes, many students have, and many will continue, to be lazy in their kata practice. That is human nature. But others will err not through caring too little but by caring too much.

What do I mean?

Some students will conscientiously perform kata in a way that robs the dynamic context of its both relevance and usefulness, which in turn strips the kata of its core purpose. They will do so through diligent (but misguided) modification. It doesn't take much. Let's take just one (I think obvious) example: the ITF "sine wave".

Can a relevant and useful dynamic context survive the "sine wave" theory?

One point of professional disagreement my friend Sanko and I have is with the infamous "sine wave" theory as it now appears in modern taekwondo. I have previously outlined why the "sine wave" cannot apply to melee range fighting. But to understand my own objections to this theory in the context of kata we need to look specifically at a taekwondo form: in this case let's consider "Chon ji".


Chon ji – the first of the taekwondo patterns

By anyone's reckoning, Chon ji is a very basic form. It is clearly based on stepping of the shotokan karate school (in particular, the stepping found in the heian series of kata – kata which are themselves quite basic forms).

The steps in Chon ji are all full, "natural" steps (ie. where the back leg passes the front). As I discussed in my article "Why bother with natural stepping?" there are good reasons (particularly for beginners) to practice such steps, in particular being able to move as quickly and with as little telegraphing as possible. I won't bore you by repeating the details but I encourage you to read the article if you haven't already.

In my previous article I gave some additional reasons for stepping in stances: such steps add load by:
  • requiring a full step within a timeframe where one might expect to use a mere lunge; and
  • requiring a stance that is much deeper than what one might see in a real fight.

So what is wrong with the above performance of Chon ji? Why am I suggesting that the "sine wave" element is "derailing" the relevance and usefulness of the dynamic context provided by this form? After all, these are strong allegations indeed! Some might say that I'd better have some fairly solid arguments to back up these assertions. Well, I think I have. You see, it all comes down to something I've already discussed in some detail, namely the problem of dead time in natural stepping – and how one deals with that problem.

The natural step: your best friend or your worst enemy

You'll have seen from my previous articles that "dead" time is a real issue, not an imaginary one. In fact, it's a killer. Lyoto Machida shows just how he exploits his opponents' "dead time" in a number of examples I've detailed in my article: "How the internal arts work: Part 1". While that article is about the internal arts, I raise the example of Lyoto Machida to illustrate that the problem of "dead time" is common to all fighters. It just so happens that the internal arts have pedagogic devices specifically geared at addressing "dead time" where many systems are only obliquely aware of it. But whether one is aware of it or not, the issue is there.

As I've discussed, "dead time" occurs with every "natural step": every time one leg passes another you have a period during which you are not exerting any force on your opponent – during which you are a "sitting duck" both offensively and defensively.

Decreasing "dead time": a chance to make the best of natural stepping

Accordingly, as a martial artist you have two choices in relation to your own "dead time": you can either try to eliminate "natural stepping" from your fight plan, or use such stepping to your advantage. The latter is basically karate's (and hence Lyoto Machida's) approach. I discuss this whole issue at some length in my article "Why bother with stepping in stances". (Indeed, that article would have been better titled "Why bother with natural stepping in stances" but I thought the latter would have been a bit too long!)

But it goes without saying that if you choose the latter course, you must also take the opportunity (afforded by so many, many natural steps in basics and kata etc.) of minimising "dead time" in those natural steps. It would be sheer folly to do otherwise. For one thing, it would squander a valuable forum for correction and refinement of movement. For another, doing thousands of repetitions of suboptimal movement will inculcate that something that is, by definition, suboptimal.

Where "dead time" occurs

To understand how one can minimise "dead time" one needs to understand first where that "dead time" occurs in the course of a natural step. It should come as no surprise to hear that the "dead time" lasts until exactly half way through the step. It starts when your back heel lifts off the ground and ends when your back foot draws parallel to your front.

And it should also come as no surprise to find that this is end point is precisely the point at which the body reaches its maximum height during the normal human walking gait. In the course of ordinary walking the body does indeed go through a kind of "sine wave" motion, with the body going up as your feet draw parallel, then down again as you extend out to step forward.

Making a bad situation much, much worse

Every time a taekwondo practitioner consciously "rises" as his or her feet draw parallel, the practitioner is accentuating what is a "natural" tendency. Indeed, this is the argument for doing it in the first place. It is more "natural" and is therefore more "relaxed". But this logic misses the point on several fronts.

That we shouldn't be doing "natural steps" (ie. a full step with one leg passing the other) in the course of fighting is something I have already covered extensively and I won't repeat it here. The more important factor is to note the following:
    How we move "naturally" isn't necessarily optimal for fighting.
If what we did in our normal day-to-day living were sufficient preparation for fighting, we wouldn't need to train. We certainly wouldn't need forms. But that is very far from the truth. More often than not, learning martial arts involves unlearning what we do on a day-to-day basis. This is the case for practically every other specialist movement, be it for dance, sports or other physical activity. Movement to which you naturally gravitate is often the polar opposite of what you need to learn for more targeted activities. Just as the "natural" doggy paddle isn't the most efficient swimming stroke, stepping with a "rise" and "fall" isn't the most efficient way of moving for fighting. In fact, it is the reverse.

And here's the main reason why:
    By accentuating the "natural" rise as you approach the mid-step, you are deliberately increasing your "dead time".
There is simply no way around this. You're making what is already a bad situation, much, much worse. Instead of cutting a straight line (the shortest distance) through the dead time, you're taking a circuitous detour - and dangerously raising your centre of gravity when you are most vulnerable (ie. least stable, least able to evade, least able to counter)!

While internal arts practitioners are investing a great deal of time scientifically and methodically eliminating (or at least minimising) "dead time" in movement, proponents of sine wave are doing the exact opposite.

"We choose to go to the moon!"

But what of the idea that one should do "sine wave" movements so as to learn how to move in a "relaxed" manner? Isn't there some merit to this? Indeed. Moving in the most relaxed manner possible is one of the cornerstones of the internal arts – particularly taijiquan. Just take a look at Master Ren Guangyi performing Chen taiji in the video below and tell me it isn't "relaxed":


Ren Guangyi performing Chen taijiquan: note the relaxed movement, but also note that there is nothing "everyday" about it!

What should be immediately apparent to you is that the movement is often most relaxed when Master Ren is in a very low stance, transferring weight from one foot to another. For example, note his movement from 0:40 to 0:42. In terms of "relaxed" movement, this is the very opposite of "sine wave". Where sine wave is "natural" (in the sense of "everyday") Master Ren's equisite "relaxed" movement is anything but. It is actually very hard to do – even for a master. To get this "relaxed" Master Ren has spent years upon years training in low stances. He no doubt endured years of feeling "stiff" and "tight" before he acquired this level of self control.

Importantly, you can be sure of this: at no point did Master Ren think "I'll just raise my body as I step – that will make it more 'natural' and therefore more 'relaxed'." Why? Because it would not have made him more "relaxed". It would just have made the activity easier. And making something "easier" is no recipe for success. To quote science fiction writer Robert A Heinlein:
    "Tanstaafl".
In other words: "There ain't no such thing as a free lunch." In this world, you never get something for nothing. If you want to know how to move in a relaxed way, you don't take the easy road. To paraphrase President Kennedy (from around the same era!):
    We choose to step without rising! We choose to step without rising... and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard!


So while "relaxed movement" is offered as support for the "sine wave", this contradicts the very reason for having deep stances in the first place - namely to add load.

Conclusion

If you practice kata steps with sine wave (especially to the extent shown in Chong ji form performance above), what have you accomplished? Well, you might well have introduced some relevant movement (eg. a downward motion helping accelerate your punch) - I'll grant that (even if the degree of benefit from such "force accelerators" is questionable).

But I believe you have simultaneously lost the only good reason for doing "natural" (ie. one-foot-passes-the-other) steps in the first place – and that is to increase load. In other words you've lost any usefulness of including in kata footwork that is otherwise inherently unsuited to fighting. If you want to practise punches with such a downward moment, you might as well do them as simple basics - "one-off" punches timed with a dropping motion, but without the inherently impractical (for fighting, anyway) "natural" steps.

And if you have a rise and fall between a block/deflection and its related counter, the context will lose any relevance it otherwise had; you will divorce the related constituents (eg. the block from its counter) into distinct "parcels" so that they no longer occur in a truly "dynamic context" (ie. a context where related techniques have the necessary continuity or temporal connection). Yet this is precisely what is happening with each block/deflection and subsequent counter in the performance of Chon ji.

I've used sine wave as an example here, but the same sorts of criticisms lie against other modern "innovations" such as the "double hip". Instead of using having a sequence of related moves embedded in a dynamic environment, you are left with a disjointed series of unrelated basics. You might as well sit down between each technique – they have absolutely no nexus other than that one follows the other sequentially.

Forms are so much more than a series of unrelated basics. They are a way of understanding the process of change; how techniques manifest in a state of motion. They are, in Sanko's terms, poetry. And just as poems don't comprise a mere series of unrelated words (however "powerful" those individual words are), forms don't just comprise a series of unrelated basic techniques (however powerful these are). In a poem, the magic lies in how words relate to each other - and the meaning (usefulness) the sentences that they create have for you. Forms are no different.

Copyright © 2012 Dejan Djurdjevic

Monday, April 23, 2012

Forms: their core purpose

Introduction

My friend Sanko has written a number of excellent articles in recent times about the nature and importance of forms (what taekwondo call "patterns"). It is a testament to Sanko's considered, well-reasoned and researched arguments that I am revisiting this subject, not to flog the proverbial dead horse but because I feel that he raises important points – points that go to the nub of what we traditional martial artists do and, more importantly, how we go about doing it. I'm talking of course about the practice of forms - what makes them so special and what we need to do to make sure they stay that way.

Forms (形) – known in Japanese as "kata", in Chinese as "xing" and in Korean as "hyung" (although modern Korean arts like taekwondo often use terms like "poomse" and "teul") are a feature of practically every traditional Far Eastern martial system. But what are they actually used for? And do these uses vary from system to system?

Distilling the "core purpose" of forms

In one of his articles Sanko refers to the well-worn maxim "kata is karate". Sanko goes on to observe that the same is not true for taekwondo. Yes, the importance placed on, and the exact role played by, forms in these "cousin" arts is a bit different. But whichever way you look at it, forms are still important to both karate and taekwondo – as they are almost every other traditional Chinese, Okinawan and Korean martial art today.

It is my view that it is possible to distil factors that are important to all martial forms – factors that transcend cultural, historical, tactical and pedagogic barriers. These are factors that go right to the core purpose of forms. I also believe that if you mishandle forms you can totally derail this purpose. Accordingly, how you perform them really matters.

So what exactly is the "core purpose" of forms?

Are forms a "fully developed mock case study for a fight"?

Sanko refers to karate kata serving as a kind of "shadow boxing" or a "fully developed mock case study for a fight". In this respect he is quoting Bruce Clayton, author of the book Shotokan's Secret.

This might be Mr Clayton's view, but I strongly disagree with it. I think there is very little in karate kata that one might accurately describe as realistically reflecting an actual fight. For example, I don't know if any fight has ever featured 3 consecutive steps with a rising block, or a lunging punch, executed at the end of the step (eg. in heian shodan / pinan nidan). As I have recently observed, you rarely ever seen a fight with even one full "natural" step (more on what I mean by "natural step" in a minute), let alone three in a row. Yet karate kata are absolutely chock-full of such steps, often executed along a distinct floorplan (eg. an "H" or "X" pattern). This same concept applies to the Chinese and Korean systems.

Similarly I haven't seen any fights where a fighter has remained rooted in one stance while executing a lengthy sequence of hand techniques (eg. in sanchin and tensho). This simply doesn't happen. But karate kata (as with the forms of most Chinese and Korean systems – including the flowing taekkyon, the unique indigenous art of Korea) feature many such examples.

For a form to be a "case study for a fight" the floorplan and sequence of the movements would have to be radically different from the typical karate, gongfu, taekwondo etc. form paradigm. It would have to be chaotic, abbreviated, non-repetitive, messy... you name it. In short, it would have to be nothing like the pre-arranged, formal structure of a kata/xing/hyung etc.

I think it is self-evident that the kata of karate – in fact the forms of any traditional system – are manifestly not, and have never been intended as, "case studies for fights". Nor do I think that they should be (ie. I very much doubt that such a concept would ever be particularly useful to a martial artist – but that is for another time).

The real purpose of kata: placing techniques in a dynamic context

So assuming that karate kata (and other traditional forms) are not about fighting templates, what are they for? As I've argued previously, they have one purpose above all others:
    They place certain formal techniques (particularly those of central importance in a kinaesthetic sense) into a dynamic context.
To understand what I mean by this I invite you go my article "Dynamic context drills".

Why is dynamic context so important? Because in order for techniques to be useful it is not enough that they be practised in isolation (eg. in as one would in standing basics practice). Rather, they must be put into a context that is shifting and changing – ie. one that is dynamic. Techniques cannot be fully understood in a static context as this robs them of one of their dimensions. Time is a dimension, just as height, depth and width are. Putting a technique into a dynamic context is recognising, and taking into consideration, a dimension that is usually ignored in technique analysis. (For more on this topic I invite you to consider my article "Mathematical dimensions and martial arts analysis".)

And it is the dynamic context that allows you to inculcate useful reflexes that are appropriate to a particular situation – what I call situational reflexes. Without such reflexes there is simply no nexus between your techniques and your "way of fighting". In other words, there is no bridge between the gulf that separates the dojo/dojang/guan and the street.

Relevance and usefulness –two necessary factors for a dynamic context

So, in essence, forms are all about putting techniques into a relevant context from where they can be fully understood and assimilated into your subconscious as part of a productive, modified flinch reflex. This lets you have practical use of them in a fighting situation.

But didn't I just say that kata was not a template for fighting? Indeed. There is a difference between a technique (eg. a response to a right cross, comprising an evasion, deflection and counter) being placed in a context that is dynamic and appropriate and one that is "realistic" in the sense of reflecting a real fight. For a real fight you need an opponent. With a solo form you haven't even cleared this first hurdle. But, then again, that hardly matters. Having partners is desirable for martial arts training, but it doesn't follow that all solo training is worthless. Rather, when it comes to solo training (of which forms are just one part), what matters is not how "realistic" it is, but rather whether it takes place in a context that is both:
  • relevant; and
  • useful.
Confused?

Making a dynamic context relevant

Let's look at what makes a dynamic context "relevant": A technique comprising a block or deflection is in a relevant context if it is accompanied by appropriate evasive or other body movement. This is so even if the body movement is just implied. You can't apply any defensive hand technique while you remain "flat footed".

A block/deflection is also in a relevant context if it is accompanied or followed by an appropriate counter. Again, this is true even if the counter is just implied – or if the block can itself function as a "simultaneous" counter. But whichever way you look at it, you can't simply keep on blocking/deflecting attacks. Sooner or later (preferably as soon as possible) you need to seize the initiative back from your opponent.

Some basic forms feature multiple blocks in succession without counters – but arguably that is precisely what identifies them as "basic". They are starting to sacrifice some of the relevant dynamic context for the sake of "basics practice". Heian shodan / pinan nidan would be a case in point. That's okay – so long as this sacrifice is identified and understood. However by and large, in forms blocks/deflections are executed with the relevant footwork for evasion, and, most importantly, they are accompanied or followed by counters.

At this point I feel it is important for me to stress that forms are not just platforms for stringing together isolated, unrelated basic techniques. You certainly don't need complex choreography to practise your basics. Rather, forms should be all about putting your techniques together in a dynamic, relevant context. That context doesn't have to be "realistic". If it did, all solo practice would be pointless.

Making a dynamic context useful

But while "relevance" is necessary, it is not sufficient. A dynamic context for solo practice must also be useful. Let's take this common example: a form might have you executing three block/punch sequences repeated in a row. This is hardly realistic. But it might well be useful. After all, repeating things is the essence of training. Without it you don't get anywhere. I've heard it said that it takes about 10 000 repetitions to get something "sort of right" and 100 000 to get it perfect. So it should be no small wonder that repetition (however "unrealistic") occurs in forms. Put simply, repetition is useful.

It might also be useful to take a full step in a form in a traditional stance, rather than just lunge with the front leg (ie. extend it out). Why? Because the greater distance covered in a lower stance means that you have increased your load.

Increasing load is a vital part of forms, as it should be of any solo practice. Roger Bannister broke the 4 minute mile by running up hills and with heavy backpacks. He acheived what others had not done by increasing his load during training. In solo martial arts practice you lack the pressure of a resistant partner/opponent, so you must increase your load in other ways (especially in a way that has the potential for lactic acid build up and increased anaerobic respiration). Arguably all forms need this load in order for them to be effective as a training platform.

An example: the usefulness of stepping in deep stances

Deep stances and full steps don't really make up for the lack of an opponent, but they at least offset some of the lack of pressure inherent in solo work. And in many cases, they can match the type of respiration you will experience and the rate of fatigue. For example, try doing 40 consecutive seiunchin kata and see just how hard this is. Trust me: after the first two forms (approximately 3 minutes) you'll already start to flag – much as you would in a spirited sparring match.

Why? I think this is obviously because seiunchin is performed with deep stances and full, "natural" steps. It's just plain hard. All those steps in deep stances creates quite some load!

Note that by "natural step" I mean simply that one foot passes the other. I'm not talking about "easy" or "comfortable" steps: I'm contrasting "natural", one-foot-passes-the other steps with shuffling steps (known in Japanese as suri ashi, yori ashi, tsugi ashi etc.). (For more on this topic see my article "Dead time: pitfall of natural stepping".)

These "natual" steps are generally performed in traditional stances eg. the forward stance ("zenkutsu dachi" or "gong bu") or the horse stance ("shiko/kiba dachi" or "ma bu"). They might be "natural" in the sense I've referred to – but they are far from "easy". They are hard!

Forms feature deep, formal stances with full, "natural" steps precisely because they are hard. This is what makes them useful. It doesn't matter that they aren't realistic. I have previously voiced my opinion that a large part of Lyoto Machida's success in the UFC was based on his training in traditional stances – and I think that a large part of this came from the extra "load" he gave himself in training by adopting, and staying in, deep stances while executing full, "natural" steps. Indeed, this is a defining characteristic of shotokan technique and pedagogy. The two are inextricably entwined.


Conclusion

Forms might well mean different things to different people. In some schools of karate they might well assume a greater importance than they do in ITF taekwondo, where they might well assume greater importance than they do in WTF taekwondo, and so on.

But one thing about forms is, I believe, constant and immutable: forms must add value to your training. And they can only do this by providing a dynamic context – one that is both relevant and useful – for the practice of your techniques.

How do you know if a dynamic context meets these criteria? This is something I will analyse in my next article where I will take a very specific example - the "sine wave" of ITF taekwondo - and demonstrate how easy it is to derail the core purpose of forms through diligent, if misguided, adherence to a particular theory of movement.

Copyright © 2012 Dejan Djurdjevic

Friday, April 6, 2012

Magic in the small things

Somewhat synchronously, I have recently had a number of different reminders of something that is fairly fundamental to martial arts study.

First, I have only just discussed the importance of basic or fundamental skills, such as stepping in stances.

Second, this excellent essay by Scott Sonnon reminded me of something I've said to my students for many years:
    "There's magic in the small things."
By that I mean that the true essence of martial arts does not lie in being loosely familiar with hundreds of techniques, but in truly understanding all the subtleties of a few.

And last, earlier today a beginner in the martial arts sent me a query directly relevant to these issues. Essentially his question was this: when, if at all, would it be appropriate for him to start cross-training in different disciplines?

My answer to him was as follows:

My first teacher, Bob Davies, told me that it was inadvisable to dabble until at least nidan - which in our case corresponded to at least 8 years training. I can see the wisdom in this: that is how long I trained before dabbling in arts outside those my teacher taught me. You need to develop a strong foundation in one system before looking at others.

If you choose to train in multiple disciplines, I think it is best to do so under a teacher who does all those disciplines as part of one system. That is how I started (my first teacher taught multiple arts). In that way your teacher can present the information in a way that is not contradictory or confusing.

For example, we teach a bit of Filipino stick and knife fighting from day one with our karate because we've found that they don't contradict each other (at least, not in the way we teach them). I also teach multiple internal arts because the Chen Pan Ling system has rationalized them as different facets of the same system. Where in some schools xingyi and bagua are very different, in CPL they are recognizably different sides of the same coin.

So in essence, I recommend that you stick with one system/teacher, attain a level of competence and familiarity in it and only then cross train. Alternatively, if you simply must cross-train, pick something totally different (eg. judo and karate).

Bear in mind that time spent on other systems will be time taken away from your primary system. This means that you will spread yourself thinly and slow down your progress in all the arts. Unless you have no other work or home life, this will necessarily be a limiting factor.

And, most importantly, in martial arts, it is far better to master a small set of techniques than to have shallow knowledge in a large set.

I credit a solid foundation in one art with my ability (whatever that might be) to understand and absorb other arts. When it comes down to it, that foundation is what I rely upon. The rest sits on top. While I know my way around multiple martial arts now, you have to remember that I've been training continuously for more than 3 decades. Most of those 3 decades have been spent developing one set of core skills. I've found that these core skills are transferable to other arts. But I had to truly understand and internalize those skills (ie. make them "my own") before they became transferable. Without that deeper understanding, I would not have recognized the same skills arising in different contexts. I would have focused on what is different rather than what is the same. And the differences would have confused me.

For example, some systems punch with a vertical fist, some with a full corkscrew action. Which is better? How do you decide such an issue as a student faced with 2 competing pedagogic paradigms? It is only when you've understood that they are both part of one continuum (decided by reference to things like range) that you see how there really is no conflict between the 2 methodologies. [For more on this topic, see "Why 'corkscrew' your punch?".]

To come to my own understanding of the punch, I had to do many hundreds of thousands of them - in the air, against makiwara/bags/shields etc. So when I came to study wing chun, I didn't see it as a different, diametrically opposed, system, but rather a discreet focus on one aspect of something I already did. It wasn't a marriage of alien systems. It was a deeper exploration of a part of my existing "system".

Accordingly, you should commence "cross-training" only when you realize that there is no "crossing" at all; there is merely emphasis.

Remember: there is magic in the small things. Having a good understanding of the punch is better than having a catalog of one hundred different strikes in the back of your mind somewhere. Stick with one art, make it your own. Then you will be in a position to absorb other systems' methodologies within one cohesive, integrated framework. Until then, the various cross-training methodologies will remain separated in your mind. Separated, but similar, methodologies will compete and confuse. In order to be able to use your martial arts (ie. apply it reflexively under pressure), you need one harmonious system in your mind, not competing, antagonistic ones.

It is only in this way that you can aspire to "transcend" form - ie. see fighting for what it truly is - and not from the perspective of a particular style (eg. as a judoka, karateka, gongfu or silat practitioner, etc.).

Form (how a technique looks in a particular style) is a mechanism designed to teach a principle. Each style's form approaches the understanding of that principle from a slightly different perspective. That is it's function; to help you understand and absorb the principle. Until you really, truly, understand that principle and have totally absorbed it, you won't recognize it in different forms. The outward difference in the forms will be what is at the forefront of your mind, not the shared underlying principle.

So learn one "form". Study it until you understand the principle inside and out. When it is truly part of you, you will begin to see it in other forms. These other forms might "value add" to your understanding by approaching the principle from a slightly different angle.

Then, and only then, might you be able abandon all of these forms. That is the goal (albeit a hypothetical one) of traditional martial arts. It is why my first teacher called his school "Wu-Shin" (no form) - even though it was chock-full of different "forms" taught in a particular order.


An interview with Bruce Lee where he advocates "unnatural naturalness" or "natural unnaturalness" (set to start at the right point).

Abandoning form is what Bruce Lee advocated. Unfortunately, many people don't seem to know or acknowledge that Bruce had already attained a fairly high degree of understanding of principles through traditional art forms (in particular wing chun) before coming to his realization. It is no accident that none of his students (except perhaps Dan Inosanto) rivaled his own expression and multi-style ability. They had not mastered one form sufficiently before delving into "no form". They had failed to attain what Bruce Lee called "unnatural naturalness" or "natural unnaturalness" - the ability to translate formal technique into a dynamic, unpredictable and resistant environment. This ability can only be attained through mastery of form.

For this purpose, no particular form is better than another. For Dan Inosanto it is kali. For the Gracies it is BJJ. For you? Take your pick and master it. Only then can you abandon it.


A demonstration by Dan Inosanto: note how he absolutely "owns" the techniques; they are part of him to the extent that he doesn't have to "think" - they just emerge. This is the mark of someone who has truly mastered form - to the point where he can "abandon" it.

When the form is abandoned you will be left with principle. That is when you will be in the best position to see that style is just a path, not a destination.

Copyright © 2012 Dejan Djurdjevic