Monday, February 11, 2013

Amateurs and professionals

Bill “Superfoot” Wallace is fond of saying that in a fight for his life his front leg sidekick is one of the few techniques that he wouldn’t hesitate to rely on.  As it is his most versatile, most dependable and most practiced technique, he has found in this one movement, simply in theory, a wide variety of executions, targets and practical applications.  The trick to its effectiveness in fighting, he says, is that he never throws it the same way twice.  Implicit in that secret is the fact that he has probably thrown a front leg side kick more than a quarter of a million times in his 40 years of training.  He can deliver it with speed, force, accuracy, precision – anyway he likes really, because, like a blade, it has been sharpened to the razor’s edge.  One might say that he’s developed it at the expense of other tools he could have polished and you’d be right.  There is a saying that in warfare, amateurs study strategy and professionals logistics.  That beginners in war need to know how to win, and experienced warriors need to know where the resources to support the units have to be and what those units need to execute the strategy – strategy itself becomes an instinctual afterthought.  

The same can be said of learning in the combat arts.  It is fashionable to know terminology and techniques and methods but those too should be an afterthought.  They should be internalized to the point of no-thought.  Only when they reach this level can they be considered martial technique, waza.  This is the difference between knowing of karate and knowing karate, the difference between karateka and budoka.  A karateka may know every karate technique in existence but a budoka is more concerned with making one technique work as often as possible.  Amateurs accumulate kihon and professionals perfect waza.  

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