Lessons on Terminology and History

with Dan Bernardo, Sabom

Study with Sabom - "Waist Twist"

I've always been inclined to look at the little things. To contemplate intricacies rather than the big picture. My approach to the martial arts has always revolved around that very inclination. But I've noticed it becoming more and more important as I grow older, and my body isn't as young as it once was. The intricacies of a technique strike me as the very foundation of the application of that technique.

You hear the words Applicable, Functional, Tactical, etc... and when we are using those terms we are really looking at many different facets of the same thing. And that's the very common question, "Does the technique work?"

Well, it's a good question... but I think an over simplified one. A good definition of the verb "work" in regards to being used without an object is "to act or operate effectively." But to decide whether or not something "works" you need to know exactly what it's intended operation is.

For instance, you can swing an axe and a sledgehammer pretty much the same. But each tool cannot perform the other's job. The technique is much more than just the gross motor movement, but the intricacy of the weapon (hand position, foot position, sword, staff, etc...) So we have to ask ourselves, if I perform a reverse punch am I properly positioning my body to allow the punch to act or operate effectively?

If you work in any sort of manufacturing you'll know that there are many steps to making one thing. A properly made product is not just thrown together. It's a building process filled with planning and design and then assembly. I think of a reverse punch in the same way.

The planning and design are the pre-technique phases... making sure my range is correct, making sure my angle and line control is correct, making sure my timing is correct, etc...

The assemby is the technique being performed. With the foundation being laid first, aka my footwork and stance. Generating power from my feet up through my hip and out through my knuckles. And the process has to be maintained. Because if it isn't, the effectiveness of the act or operation is compromised.

This is is why I focus on the little things.


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