Back to Basics

In my training I have found quite a few parallels among the various disciplines. Some things are very consistent from one skill set to another despite being developed in greatly different environments. Today I am pointing out some similarities I have found between my karate training and defensive pistol shooting.

In the dojo

In most traditional karate systems, a great emphasis is placed on training what is called kihon, or basics. This can be implemented in many ways from standing in lines practicing each technique to a count, or moving up and down the floor performing these techniques (edo geiko). Pre-arranged groups of techniques (kata) is also employed in many traditional systems.

The other side of the coin is the training of the applications of these techniques. Sparring (kumite) and the practice of self-defense techniques (goshin-jitsu) are used. Students can very easily see how this practice is applied on the street.

As an example, think about punching. When performing kihon, I teach my students to punch from a chamber position with their fist below the armpit, palm faced upwards. They thrust outwards, turning their first until the palm is downwards while simultaneously drawing the other hand back in a straight line into that same chamber position. How could this possibly be used in real life? Our hands are not up covering our head and we are punching from a very static position – not a great stance in a fight.

Many people who train have come to their own self-realized conclusions that this type of training has no value. I strongly disagree.

While throwing punches from a fighting posture seems much different, learning to drive a strong punch in the traditional way teaches you how to generate power in ways you cannot easily see when training application. There is huge value in pursuing this type of training. By building a strong foundation on the basics you can significantly improve your speed and power. Without this foundation your technique amounts to nothing more than flailing around.

On the range

In a similar vein, many individuals shun the idea of standing and shooting for tight groups on the “square range”. Again I have to disagree. A key part to improving the effectiveness of our shooting is training the fundamentals. Any shooter must put a significant portion of their training into improving and maintaining their marksmanship abilities.

This is just like with karate in the previous example. We train the punch to be fast, straight and powerful before taking it to application. So we must also apply this with our shooting. Only once we can shoot effectively at the fundamental level can we really hope to train for more realistic applications. Without the marksmanship all other training is just an expensive way to make noise. You really cannot miss fast enough to hit your target.

It is fundamental

It really doesn’t matter what you are trying to perfect. Until you can do something at its most basic level without any form of pressure how can you expect to perform on demand? Professional basketball players practice taking unimpeded shots. Calligraphers practice singular strokes of the brush. I think it’s quite reasonable to keep going back to basics in our training too.

In what ways do you go back to basics in your training?  Post a comment below!

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