If you ask a person with no experience in martial arts to throw a punch or a kick you might get some kind of result that will be, in most cases, very inefficient and inconsistent. Having a foundation based on some kind of martial art ensures the application of a technique based on the style(s) this person has studied and that will apply one of the basic theories behind the art itself.
Each style of martial art has a basic philosophy and underlying foundation that determines various characteristics of the style itself. Usually this was outlined by the person that originally defined the techniques and it reflects four basic principles:
- His background and experience:
- a broad range of different styles might have generated a clever mix of the useful techniques from each style
- a long experience in a single style might have just evolved into a new one that is more in line with his personal taste
- His body shape:
- a small, short person might have developed styles that must be, by definition, very clever in defeating larger opponents;
- a person with good flexibility in the lower body might have developed a style with many high kicks
- a stocky person with lower centre of gravity might have developed a wrestling and grappling style
- His taste for one or the other technique: certain people like punching others like kicking or grappling
- The environment where he grew up and where he developed his techniques: the kind of opponents he had to fight and defeat determined what techniques and defence strategies that he considered useful to be in his style.
Have a look at the many styles available; some of the principles behind them will be even in contradiction with each other:
- A Karate expert will mostly strike his opponent while a Judo or Hapkido practitioner’s main goal will be to grab, throw or manipulate the opponent’s body
- Wing chun mostly uses straight strikes and footwork while Aikido is all based on circular movements
- Kicks delivered by experts of Kickboxing, Thai boxing, Tae Kwon Do are similar although the emphasis is on different rhythm and targets on the opponent’s body
- A Silat expert will keep a typically open guard that attracts the opponent to hit in between, working like a trap, while Wing Chun will protect the central line inviting the opponent to go around it
It is important to remember that a style was not defined overnight. Whoever has spent long time to define a martial art did a great job to understand human anatomy, biomechanics and how to exploit natural movements while using particular groups of muscles that are suitable for certain situations.
It is therefore paramount understanding the style you are practicing and what the logic behind it is: this is to maximize your power, speed and efficiency in any given situation. A reality check is obviously a good thing to do once you start understanding your style. Any comment is appreciated.