Principle based Training vs. Technique based Training
“Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.” Old Chinese proverb
I believe in teaching principles over techniques.
There are styles that have hundreds of techniques. What those many techniques are really doing are codifying various was to apply various principles.
The problems come when those learning the hundreds of techniques fail to understand the underlying principles that make them work and see them as separate individual applications and therefore believe they must memorize all of them.
My friend Rick Bottomley and I work the same way. We are always trying to see the underlying principles behind what someone is showing us.
We either learn something new from the demonstration or if, it is a principle we are already aware of, then we “know” how to do that application.
I was at a seminar many years ago doing some double stick work. I had worked single stick but never double stick at that time. However, the drill we were doing was (to me) to same as some empty hand principles I work all the time. (All the FMA may now nod your heads and say of course). Anyway my partner was having difficulty and stopped. I helped him out and he said I must do this all the time. I said no I’ve never done this before –he looked a little sheepish and said he trained in it all the time.
The point I wanted to make here was that he was trying to simply copy the moves (the techniques) rather than looking at and understanding the principles being used. (The moves were very rich with them.)
All techniques are based in principles that make them work – or they did when they were created.
This is true of every technique you have ever been shown.
The short clip on Joint Locks and the one on Takedowns are examples of principle based teaching.
“Kodokan Judo” by Jigoro Kano Page 16
“In my youth I studied jujitsu under many eminent masters. Their vast knowledge, the fruit of years of diligent research and rich experience, was of great value to me. At that time, each man presented his art as a collection of techniques. None perceived the guiding principles behind Jujitsu. When I encountered differences in the teaching of techniques, I often found myself at a loss to know which was correct. This led me to look for an underlying principle in Jujitsu; one that applied when one hit an opponent as well as when one threw him.”
Techniques are fine if they are taught with the principles that make them work but far too often we see what Dr. Kano saw and the principles get lost when constantly worked with cooperative partners.
If all your training is prearranged sequences then one training flaw that can set in is the over cooperation of a partner. When being too cooperative they allow the technique to work even when without applying the principles properly. This should never happen. As I said in the last blog you have to work from Softwork to Hardwork.
Students (and teachers) who fail to look for the principles begin to think they must have a response to every attack. That is impossible. This leads to some becoming collectors of techniques.
There is no way to learn a response for everything that may happen and I truly do not believe that was the original intent but when you see over 890 techniques in a book you begin to wonder if they are trying.
I use that number because an excellent Jujitsu teacher, George Kirby once wrote a book with that many collected in it and he said missed a few. By the time he had taught for over 42 years and wrote “Jujitsu Figure 4 Locks” it was all concept (principle) based because he found by teaching the underlying principles he did not have to show hundreds of techniques but only a few that thoroughly demonstrated the principles.
Another old saying is from one thing learn 10,000.
THIS is what learning the principles that make the technique work does for you. Once you learn the principles then applying them can be done in thousands of ways.
Yes you need a structure to demonstrate the principles and this is what the technique gives you but whether you put an arm lock on with both hands or a hand and your head the underlying principle that makes it work remains the same.
Seeing various techniques can open your mind to alternate ways to apply the principles but I do not recommend being a technique collector.
You do not have to memorize a technique IF you understand the principles that made it work.
Understanding the principles means you can create and improvise as you protect yourself.
“The Making of a Butterfly: Traditional Chinese Martial Arts as Taught By Master W.C. Chen” by Phillip Starr Page 59.
“As far as Chen was concerned, principles were the most important things one could learn from a form. ‘You can fight with lots of different techniques,’ he said. ‘This punch, that punch…so what? The important things to learn are the principles,’ he said. ‘Each form teaches you to use certain principles the right way, how to line up different parts of your body, how to move in just the right way, how to use different tactics. They are like your school books; lots of information in them, but first…you have to learn to read’”
Everything you do must work from the principles you know and understand at that moment. By adhering to the principles you base your practice in it will be as efficient and as effective as it can be for you at that point in your learning and understanding.
“Teach a man a technique and you protect him from one attack. Teach a man the underlying principle and you protect him from many.” Rick Wilson