What Technique a Beginner Needs to Master

I am responding to a question by one of our beginners as to why we don't study any kicks sooner as beginners, as opposed to other schools where they study a lot of kicks (and presumably other hand techniques). My initial answer was because we follow a syllabus, and the syllabus follows the progression of patterns, and that there are few techniques in the first two forms and only a front kick in the third form. This response is also driven off by the following blog entry ...

How you train is how you react

There are two opposing issues when studying martial arts and 'self defence'. That is that the martial arts take a lifetime to learn. The second is that self defence (typically as provided in a course) attempts to pack in 'some' value so that the participant learns something of worth that can protect his/her life.

This is the main problem I see with martial arts schools, and one that I want to resolve in mine. It is that beginners are sold an idea that they cannot be effective for the next however-many-years, and this affects all other expectations of beginners . My objective however was to ensure that beginners know how to use four main techniques against any aggressor ... and to do them so that sufficient power will be generated to create a good deal of respect.

The two main striking techniques are: front lunge punch and reverse snap punch.

The two main blocking techniques are: lower block and middle block.

There are obviously other techniques that are taught in the first few kyu ranks and many drills. But these four techniques are an 'acid test' I use for grading and I'd like if my beginners obssess themselves with the effectiveness of these techniques. When push comes to shove and you need to pull a rabbit out of your hat - what are you going to use? You are going to use one of these striking techniques and you will not hold back nor doubt yourself nor falter in your committment. Read the corresponding blog entry. There're some good tips there.

Best wishes,


ps. The picture above is not one of me.

The Jon Alster Front Lunge Punch


supergroup7 said…
I've been thinking about this posting for awhile now. I can see the value of keeping things simple, and bringing quality, and usefulness as the main goal for the beginning level.

The Shotokan, and Kyokushin styles seem to follow the same idea when it comes to teaching the beginner. We ask them to learn the straight punch, and basic blocks (which all follow the same body movement) However, different from you, there is the addition of introducing the concept of a front snap kick. The kata asked of beginners is very basic.. Have you heard, or seen Taikyoku Shodan?

Anyways, limiting the knowledge to simple basic movements that can be absorbed, retained, and used is a great confidence builder. Since fighting, and using techniques is really based on our thinking, confidence in what we are doing helps us to be able to defend ourselves.

I always tell my students "Use what you have.. you can build on that."
Colin Wee said…
However, different from you, there is the addition of introducing the concept of a front snap kick. The kata asked of beginners is very basic.. Have you heard, or seen Taikyoku Shodan?

Yes I am aware of taikyoku shodan.

If anything I have felt major pressure before to include a progression of kicking techniques from white belt to black belt. These were some of my thoughts against:

1. If you can't hit a target with your hands, you won't be able to do anything much with your legs.
2. Few brown or even black belts use more than the basic kicks to strike the opponent. I use more advanced kicks than anyone else in my old school. So why should I rush everyone to learn so many kicks?
3. Beginners are going to quit. I want them to quit remembering maybe one technique or maybe two techniques.
4. I don't want beginners to be a big burden on the school. If they're going to quit, I'm not going to show them 10 techniques ... 3 techniques maybe better!
5. I have tested this syllabus before, and when I implemented the changes the intensity during sparring increased 3-4 fold because people were looking to 'max out' on two or three striking techniques rather than peppering their opponent with a motley of different ones! Interesting eh?

[Mat] said…
Interesting eh?

Sure is.

Do you think that complete sparring should remain a higher kyu/gup/rank thing?

I remember being yellow belt and being asked to do sparring. I was going everywhere with any strikes and kept focusing on one or two things anyway.

Seems a good point to discuss.
Colin Wee said…
Mat - yeah, I think sparring should be a higher belt exercise. I like lower belts to focus on technique, correct power generation, and movement. Sparring may mess things up and at worst wreck their self confidence. Colin

Popular Posts