Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Paradox, Bruce Lee and Jeet Kune Do - Keep what is useful, discard what is not

One of Bruce Lee's ideas was that in the study of any fighting art, you should keep the techniques that are useful and work for you and get rid of the ones that don't. He believed that you should question what you learn and not study by rote.

This concept is sound. There is no point endlessly practicing techniques that do not work for you.
As with many topics, there is a caveat. In order to throw out what is not useful, first you need to learn and fully understand what it is you are discarding. You need to fully explore, understand and nearly master a technique before relegating it to the trash.

When I first learned the technique Sankyo, I felt it was unrealistic and believed I would never really use it. I was tempted to give it no more thought or practice and clear it from my mind. Now, Sankyo is one of my favorite techniques. It's one of my 'go to' defenses from strikes, chokes, bear hugs etc. I have learned how to enter into it from a variety of angles and from a variety of attacks. I can apply it causing extreme pain to my opponent while keeping myself out of harms way.

I first learned it from a handshake. The likelihood of applying it from a handshake is low, but it's a good way to learn the mechanics of the technique.

It is important to be critical of what we learn. We cannot be slaves to curriculum if techniques don't work for us. We need to adapt to our body styles and our abilities. If we want to study a martial art for it's combat applications, we cannot fill our heads with unrealistic techniques. However, our minds must remain open. We cannot judge prematurely.

It's the paradox of the martial arts. First you must practice and master a technique before you know if you can throw it away. You must learn it before you un-learn it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice post. I decided fairly recently that I have been too quick to decide that a technique is no good. I started to realise that the techniques I was being taught were good, it was just me that was no good at executing them! I now realise that it takes time to master the small nuances that turn a technique from mediocre to brilliant - a slight change in hand or foot position, more twist or unbalancing, moving slightly closer to your opponent - things like this can make all the difference. I now give myself time to learn the technique properly before I decide it won't work for me. I think it's about having trust in my instructor - he wants me to suceed not fail so I have to trust that what he teaches me is good, I just have to give myself time to make it good.