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Wax on, wax off…

April 14, 2010

This must be one of the most iconic scenes in history of martial arts movies. Check out the following scene from Karate Kid, the very first one.

The appeal of this comes from two ideas – first, that hidden in our everyday movements are the secrets to martial arts success, victory and the defeat of our enemies. Second, that all it takes is someone to point out for us the secrets and, presto! we are immediately able to use our newly-realized skills to save our lives in a life-or-death encounter.

It’s a romantic fantasy, and what makes it appealing is that it is partially true, at least when it comes to Bujinkan Taijutsu. If you make natural body movement as the basis of your techniques (I can hear Justyn’s voice in my head now, saying “Technique will get you killed!” Whatever…) then it would stand to reason that everytime we practice natural body movement we are practicing our Taijutsu.

It’s like God-knows how many of the lessons with Justyn, when he’d keep saying “You’re trying to do martial arts. STOP trying to do martial arts! Just walk, see? Just walk like that, he falls over and goes “OW OW OW!”” And of course he demonstrates and makes the whole thing look so easy.

But that brings us to the second part – the actual use of these skills. That is the part when the fantasy breaks down. After Justyn tells us how easy it is, that we only need to walk the way he told us to and we’ll get magical results, WE try it and end up embarassing ourselves.

Bear in mind, that’s in a relaxed setting, with people we know, non-competitive environment and all that. What happens if it was a geniune encounter with some roaring, raging attacker committed to seriously hurting or killing us? What are the odds of our wax-on-wax-off coming out right to keep us safe? Honestly, I am not sure about that.

I know there are people with a natural inclination towards martial arts. These people are the sort who can, with minimal training, execute their martial arts moves in a real-life encounter. But honestly, these people are few. And if you are a teacher, seeking to impart life-saving skills to your students, are you going to bet on ALL of your students being that naturally inclined?

Or will you try to include a wider variety of scenarios in your training, allowing your students to use the same skills in a number of different settings, so that your students can discover for themselves that they are using the same simple skills after all? I know which option I am going for…

Just my honest thoughts on this matter! 🙂


From → bujinkan

One Comment
  1. Techniques will get you killed, true. Principles and foundation are what will save your ass.

    Hence, the whole “back to basics” mantra.

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