Saturday, October 18, 2008

Basics: Mastery and Bluster by John Owen Ong

(Note: This article is reprinted with the permission from the author, John Owen Ong, a family man, a martial artist and a businessman.) Oct 1, '08 11:33 PM

Know the basics. Sometimes we forget this. We get caught up in the race and neglect the basics. Then when we stop and evaluate, we have nothing. We are forced to go back to the basics. This is true for everything in life.

We learn to walk before we can run. We learn the four basic math operations(+,-,*,/) before we can do complex calculations. Why? Because everything can be broken down to the basics. Life is made up of atoms. The variations occur with the infinite combinations of the atoms.

In martial arts, we learn basic techniques. Once these are mastered, we learn combinations and complex sets. These combinations or advanced techniques are just basic moves done in sequence. After learning all the sets, we begin to understand the particular art. Why things are done a certain way. This goes beyond just memorizing the moves. Then we begin to feel the flow. This is hard to explain. It's everything put together. The techniques, philosophy, your body, the opponent's body, timing. The list goes on, but I'll stop here.

I see some people talking about being a master of a particular art or style after a few months of study. One can learn to punch in a minute, but to punch effectively takes longer. To claim mastery of one move after a few months is possible, but master of a style? Legends in their own mind. A basic technique done a certain way becomes more effective. There are different angles and variation on a technique. This can be learned through trial and error or through a credible teacher.

One can learn to fight in a few months, but are you effective? There are those who have never trained and are great fighters. Either they are gifted or they learned through experience by fighting a lot. Natural talent can only get you so far. Hard work gets you farther. Talent and hard work can be incredible.

Some people take a seminar and claim to be masters afterwards. I think this is wrong. If you go in a fight thinking this, you could get killed. The poor souls you've deluded as your students could get hurt. There is no shortcut to mastery. One must practice and learn from a credible master.

There are people who criticize an art they've been studying for a few months as not very practical. Or only good for this or that. What these people don't realize is that they've only seen the tip of the iceberg. Without total comprehension of a particular art, there are always holes. A credible teacher really helps here. Only when one has truly mastered an art can one pass judgement. So studying an art for a few months and saying that it's lacking this or that and moving on to another art that has this or that only gives short term benefits and a chop suey knowledge. Then these people say that they've invented their own style after one or two years of jumping around. There is no cohesion to their invented art.

I will state an example from my own experience. Aikido's ikkyo, first form, is a basic technique taught to all beginners . The basic form is effective enough, but as one advances, there are refinements that make it more effective. At advance levels, it looks like a different technique altogether.

Stick with an art, maybe even a few. Just remember that the martial arts is a lifelong pursuit. enjoy it. If you just want to fight, go out and pick one.

1 comment:

Cito said...

Listen to this man. He knows what he's talking about.
I am proud to have trained with him. Here he is, throwing me to the mat: