"Imagination is more
the accumulation of knowledge."
Tactics & Tips
this section I will give tips on training, picking a type of instruction,
body mechanics and tactics for self-defense.
This site refrains from teaching actual techniques
not due to an effort to make people take classes or order videos,
but because there are already countless sources that can provide
extensive detail on these subjects. However there are only a small
number of sources dedicated to helping you apply the techniques
you learn through those sources. This is the intent of this section.
Knowledge is not power. Power is in the ability to apply knowledge.
Training, Tactics and Body Mechanics
Please select a subject from below.
| Training | Efficiency
| Relaxation | Shadow
| Footwork and Distance
Adaptability | Attachments
a type of instruction
is available in multiple formats: live instruction, books
and videos. Each has their own pros and cons. In this section
I'll list the main ones.
Live instruction has the potential to be the most beneficial if
you can use it to its potential, and have a good instructor.
The following is a list of advantages to live instruction over
books and videos:
- Being able to see a technique in person
- Being able to feel a technique done to you. Especially at advanced
levels, your sense of touch will give you detail that your eyes
will not perceive.
- The ability to ask questions
- The ability of the instructor to correct mistakes that you may
have never noticed on your own and to give individualized advice.
- Most books and videos focus on impressive techniques rather
than fundamentals which is actually what is most important
Additionally, books and videos have their own advantages over live
- Access 24/7: Whenever you have time or desire you can learn
- You don't have to rely on your memory. Anytime you forget something
you can review it
- You can proceed at your own pace
- The ability to study from styles or instructors that aren't
available in your area or from instructors that are at a higher
level than your local instructors
- An advantage of video is the ability to watch a move frame by
frame (if you have a VCR that can do this)
- An advantage of books is the ability to go into great detail
Overall I would say live instruction is essential. If you look
at most top professional athletes, they still have coaches and trainers.
While live instruction is best for building your fundamentals and
continuing to advance, it loses much of its advantage with the manner
in which many instructors teach. For example many instructors teach
large classes by showing a technique a couple times and then leaving
students on there own. In this manner you might not be seeing the
technique as well as a good video, you're not feeling the instructor
doing the technique, and you're not getting the personal corrections
and advice. Some instructors also discourage questions. In these
cases, a video can be as good or better than live instruction. From
written word and still pictures it's difficult (not impossible)
to see the transitions and flow of a moving technique. The strength
of books is in teaching history and theory due to the great detail
that can be gone into. A live instructor could lecture the same
material but personally I would rather read a book then listen to
hours of lecture.
almost all rules have exceptions so if I say something is
done in one way I'm usually speaking in general. There will
be specific instances that it might not be.
- Practice makes perfect but only if it is perfect practice.
If you practice with bad habits it doesn't matter how much you
practice. You will just get better at your bad habits. If you're
making mistakes then either you are going too fast or the technique
is too complex. The key is slowing down even if it means going
Tai Chi speeds. Isolate the technique down to individual moves
and if need be do the footwork separate from the upper body. Then
integrate it back together.
- Make practice part of your daily life.
When you can find a free minute, work a couple techniques. For
example, as you walk around your home, shadowbox using any techniques
you're working on: Kicks, strikes, footwork, etc. While microwaving
food you've got a couple minutes to practice. While brushing your
teeth, stand in a low stance for strength or one-legged stance
for balance. While talking on the phone, do simple footwork patterns.
Be creative to find ways to practice. It all adds up.
- Take inspiration from all sources.
Look how many traditional styles are based on observing nature
(animals, bugs, etc.) An easier way is to observe people. Watch
the methods employed by anyone who is at a high level of physical
skill (for example sports, music, dance.) Watch how they train,
generate power, increase coordination, work strength, endurance,
flexibility, mental preparation, visualization, etc.
- Use technology.
If you often train by yourself, then tape yourself and watch for
errors. If you learn a new technique tape yourself while it's
fresh in your mind. This will help you to remember. If you have
an instructor on tape, watch in slow motion to pick up details
(just remember instructors make mistakes also or sometimes have
physical limitations due to age or injury).
- Find a style and teacher that suits you.
There are thousands of different styles. Some styles will claim
to have secret or unique techniques. Let me assure you that I've
seen hundreds of styles and there is no such thing. Many times
I've had instructors tell me they were teaching me a secret technique
and after seeing it, I could give a half dozen other styles that
used a similar idea. Instructors will often claim to have the
best, most traditional (or authentic), secret or unique style.
This usually comes from having studied a small number of styles
themselves so they don't realize what else is out there, or sometimes
it's just self-promotion. If one style were truly the best then
after thousands of years of martial arts we would all be using
is important. It has a lot of different meanings, some of
which I will list. As a general rule, so long as you achieve
the same end, look for the simplest and quickest means to
that goal. When I say goal, if you’re in a fight that
may be to restrain or strike your opponent. It may also
be to just run away. Whatever the goal make sure each action
takes you closer to that end. Don’t just use one rule
to determine efficiency. A technique can be physically efficient
but tactically inefficient.
Move the shortest distance between two points. When attacking
this is a straight-line. But then you have to take your opponent
into consideration. If they’re protecting the straight
line target then it may be best to attack another line, use
a feint, or clearing action or distraction to open the straight
Another example of using the shortest distance for an action
is if you’re attacking or defending use the part of
your body that’s closest to where you want to attack
or defend. For example, a kick comes at your knee. Instead
of bending over and using hands to defend, use your leg. However
if the kick comes at your ribs, your hand or elbow is closest.
Having said that blocking isn’t tactically the most
Defensive actions are commonly done in a two-count rhythm.
First count, a person starts an attack and the defender
blocks. The second count would be the counterattack. Sometimes
people will practice in a three count if the defender pauses
before blocking or adds actions before the counterattack.
In this case, since your goal is to counterattack without
being hit, the most efficient method would be to counter
on the first count. This can be achieved by either blocking
and striking simultaneously, not blocking by avoiding the
strike and countering or jamming or lastly, stop-hitting
into the attack. All of these should be completed before
the attacker finishes their attack.
If attacking in combination, do not pause between techniques.
Keep the momentum going. The end of one technique should be
the beginning of the next. If using the same body part to
throw multiple strikes, use combinations that don’t
require you to pull back and restart between strikes. Use
combinations such as punch to elbow strike or elbow strike
to hammer fist. If someone attempts to block your strike switch
lines while continuing forward the whole time, like that of
water finding a crack in a dam.
should be done at all levels of speed, power and exertion.
For instance, if your max speed is throwing four strikes
in a second, then most of your shadowboxing should be spent
throwing one or two strikes a second. This way you can work
on your combinations, balance, body mechanics, relaxation
etc, only occasionally doing the three and only rarely doing
the four. What
will make you faster is good body mechanics, relaxation,
clearing your mind and repetition. The
risks at doing the four per second are greater chance of
injury (pulled muscles, hyper extended joints.) At max speed
it's easy to get sloppy and you will tire out quicker, not
allowing as many repetitions.
Learn to use all of your techniques. Don’t limit
yourself to boxing techniques (unless you’re a boxer.)
Shadowboxing should include strikes, joint locks, throws,
sweeps, defensive actions, and footwork. Everything in your
When facing multiple attackers you need to keep moving so
you don’t allow yourself to be surrounded. Use your
attackers to block each other by positioning one attacker
between yourself and the other attackers. This way you actually
only fight one at a time.
practicing you should always take time to work on balance
and be aware of it when doing techniques. Good balance is
essential for doing effective striking combinations, footwork,
throws and counters. When I say balance I mean in all of
your actions and not just while standing in a stance. One
common way people lose their balance is over committing
to an action. In fast footwork even if you need to come
to a sudden stop or direction change, you should still maintain
a balanced stance. Another example is that you should not
commit to strikes so much that you lose your balance if
Be adaptable and don’t get locked into combinations
because you can’t predict what your opponent is going
to do. Always prepare for different possibilities. For
example practice what you would do if in the middle of your
combination they threw an attack, blocked what you were
doing or stepped out of range. Once you can do the technique
with your partner just standing there then have your partner
try these or other variations. If need be stop and analyze
what you should do and then practice it.
Don’t become overly attached to a drill, technique,
or even a style. If you do then you will be reluctant to
give something up even if you find something more effective.
Also many people will have favorite techniques that they
will try to force into situations even when they aren’t
appropriate or the most effective.
The tips on this page are by no means comprehensive, as
that would certainly require a whole book. My goal is to give a
cross section of ideas that people will hopefully find useful.
"Practice is the best
of all instructors."
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