Advanced Training in the Martial Arts … REVEALED!

Does that excite you? Do you like to read advertisements for secret arts, techniques and styles that no one else knows? Or do you want to learn something that–if you learned it–will enable you to defeat everyone you meet on the street?

A lot of folks come to this very blog (maybe even you) curious about what the “Filipino Fighting Secret” is. I know…

Then you have the folks who will ridicule the idea of a martial secret, or “super” techniques (check out my article on “Super Techniques“). Mostly because they don’t know anything profound, so they wish to put down any knowledge they don’t possess. Sort of like the Fox from the story “Fox and the Grapes” (also contained in the article). So those guys are still looking for the one bad-ass art, technique, method, whatever, that will convert them into a “whirlwind of death” on the streets (lol). Then the ones who still say that they aren’t looking for that art like to say that they believe the only secret to fighting skill is hard work.

So…. what’s the truth, Mustafa?

Reality is that what we do for advanced martial arts isn’t much different than what is done at the beginner level. I had this conversation recently with one of my advanced students and I over-simplified it by saying that advanced martial arts is just beginner martial arts executed at a higher degree of skill. But there is more to it than that.

You cannot have advanced martial arts without advanced skill. That should be a given, but it isn’t. There are legions of pot-bellied, weaklings who believe that they can rationalize a better way to fight. There are also physically gifted martial artists who are natually strong or simply work hard, so their kicks and punches look better. Certainly it helps, but that’s not all it takes. If that were the case, we could just drop training and all start weight lifting and stretching classes.

I would like to list what constitutes “Advanced” martial arts:

  1. SKILL. No way around this one. You must hit harder, faster and more accurately than the next guy. Fail to do that, and it doesn’t matter what you know, the opponent will have the upper hand. Train your skill to a high degree, then we can talk. No use in learning advanced strategies and uses if your basic skill is poor.
  2. SUPERIOR APPLICATION. A well-planned, well-thought out plan of using the skills you have in your arsenal. This can be variations of use, angles of attack (not the way you learned the angles in your seminars and videos), ways to set up the technique, methods of countering the technique, and methods of countering the counters.
  3. POWER MECHANICS. All techniques should have a variation for maximum speed in application and a variation for maximum power. There should be nothing in your arsenal you cannot “load up” to finish an opponent.
  4. PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS IN FIGHTING. I would recommend having variations for the different types of fighters we may face. For example, you would not punch a stronger man the same way you would punch a faster man. You would not punch a man who stands his ground the same way you would punch a more mobile opponent. We should not treat (forgive me, Bruce Lee) a punch as just a punch or a kick as just a kick.
  5. FOLLOW-UPS.  Techniques change if they are to be the finishing blow or if we were using the technique as a set up. Not many fighters differentiate the two–which actually changes the whole technique as well as its effectiveness–and end up working harder for success… or failing.

I do believe that some techniques should not be taught until the fighter has reached an advanced level, because many techniques are useless to the beginner. In my Eskrima program, I have 24 hits, but we do not teach beyond #7 until the student’s second year. It may sound strange, but strikes 8 – 24 are completely useless if there is not enough skill in the first 7 strikes. A foundation is highly necessary for the fighter, and this is the priority. When you have built the proper foundation, the advanced level will be of use to your fighters and he will be effective with the lessons found there. It is much like allowing a 14 year old boy to marry and have a family. Is he physically able to work and make children? Of course, but he is not fully prepared to be an effective adult (let alone father and husband) at that age. It isn’t a race! Let your students develop at a patient rate with proper attention to detail, and you will find superior skilled students at the advanced levels. The techniques are mostly the same; we just peform at a higher level with greater, deeper understanding. Allow your students to grow! They cannot develop basics while wasting time on so-called “Advanced” skills that won’t do them much good beyond demonstrating to friends.

Thank you for reading my blog. Enjoy your weekend!