On the proper training of martial arts skills

2 Jan

Interested in learning more about my method? Check out my newest book Lion’s Roar Martial Arts: The Master Text


Over the years, I would say I fluctuated between being a hard core “traditionalist” and a progressive. It is too complicated a story to sum up in a few sentences, but for the purposes of this blog, I will state that I began the process of creating what is now “Lion’s Roar San Da” around 1994. Among the things that people ask me is not only how I created the training program that I currently use, but how I have had so much success in training people to fight.


People have been taught that each martial arts system is special and unique. The “fundamental training” / jibengong (Mandarin) / gebongung (Cantonese) is special to that system, etc… However, having trained in both Asian and Western / European martial arts, from Chinese and Korean to Russian and French, from traditional to modern “combat sport” I really do not believe that to be true.


We are all humans, our bodies only work certain ways. Combat is combat, only certain things work in real combat. A prime example is wrestling. Every culture on the planet has developed it’s own wrestling tradition and ultimately they develop the same tactics and techniques. There is more in common and similar in real martial arts than differences. Differences are just “marketing.” In a competitive market place, a teacher looking for students wasn’t going to say what they taught was the same as the teacher across the street. They taught a unique system and the secrets could only be learned after years of training (and years of paying dues).


Developing my “system” or training program was actually pretty easy. I sought answers to the problems of combat, i.e. kicking, striking, clinching, wrestling and ground fighting. Obviously, certain traditions had more developed approaches to different areas, but every martial art offered answers to the many problems of combat.


The only problem, and it ultimately turned out to be only a small one, was sifting through the material to find the real stuff and separate out the “fluff” and useless crap. To that end, I developed a rather straightforward and simple approach.


After an initial period in which the basic techniques are introduced in isolation, they will be drilled using the following live training principles. If training follows these guidelines, you will be able to discover which techniques are both practical and functional, and a majority of the student body will see appreciable benefits in a reasonable amount of time.


Guideline #1: “Structure”
The foundation of the program is learning the proper position and the proper execution of the techniques. Most of the problems students have in applying technique are found in the incorrect execution; the wrong position, the wrong distance, the wrong angle, etc.


Guideline #2: “Movement”
Since an adversary will not stand in one place during a real fight, all the drills must incorporate movement to replicate real conditions. This includes, but is not limited to, footwork, real distance, distance control, level control and head movement.


Guideline #3: “Impact”
While many traditional martial arts place a heavy emphasis on doing techniques without impact, the reality is that hitting an adversary is quite different from hitting the air! Our program includes a significant time devoted to working with various pieces of equipment so the student becomes familiar with the feeling of impact and develops power and focus.


Guideline #4: “Resistance”
Each drill must include or simulate the resistance (or counter attack) of a real opponent.


Guideline #5: “Context”
Each drill must include context; why the technique is being used, when the technique is being used, how the technique is being used, etc. This also includes discussion of our basic theories such as “leaks”, “continuousness”, “gates”, “bridges”, etc.

Interested in learning more about my method? Check out my newest book Lion’s Roar Martial Arts: The Master Text


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