Friday, September 4, 2015

By the numbers

The way most people are taught techniques is through memorizing applications to counter specific attacks. Someone punches and you block, someone grabs your lapel and you perform lapel break number 4, someone grabs your lapel with his little finger out and you perform lapel break number three, someone has their wrist bent at a 30 degree angle and you hold your mouth just right and then you can perform wrist lock number 47. This is basically a list and a list is not art. Art has to do with creativity.

Having a response plan for every little circumstance is like having a stack of paint-by-numbers kits. You can paint a lion or a landscape, but it doesn't make you an artist, because it doesn't teach you to be creative. It teaches you to fill in the boxes with the right colors.

An artist takes his brushes and his brush techniques and applies them to an empty canvas to create something new. Will it be wonderful the first time, probably not, but he's still flexing those creative muscles in his brain. This is how karate techniques should be used. They are not used to combat specific situations. They are used to combat general situations by the application of principles, but they need to be used creatively. This is achieved through creative practice.

Creative practice is allowing a person to experiment with the techniques. They are no longer answers to specific questions, they are tools used to accomplish a task just like the painter's brush. Instead of drawing a picture you're learning to take someone out.

A laundry list is not art, creative expression of ideas is art. Karate is an art, not a list.