Training special moves?

Adam recently left a comment to the About This Blog page that can and should be answered publicly:

Hi Massimo

Are “SPECIAL MOVES” purely the realm of video games…or is there a real life application for them?

And, I’m not talking throwing bolts of lightening and fireballs, or electrifying your skin…although if those are possible, I wouldn’t mind knowing.

But, is it advantageous to practise specific sequences, that suit my style and play to my strengths, with the aim to execute them in a real situation.

Or, are such sequences always too clumsy to implement, and make you vulnerable to good opponents who pick up the sequence, then predict your moves…and naturally counter attack?

It would be useful to have more details about your concept of SPECIAL MOVES but I elaborate of what I understand of your question.  Martial arts can range between the striking kind or throwing and grappling one, bare handed or weapon based they are all meant to use one’s body as a weapon or master the use of a weapon itself.

Ultimately a well trained and experienced martial artist will use one or the other move and select (automatically) them among a usually vast repertoire of techniques that he/she has been learning over a long period of time.

To some extend I believe that a number of different techniques  should be trained in order to:

  • assimilate, at subconcious level, many different moves from different positions and different angles
  • train and broad range of muscle groups in order to be a fit and well round fighter that can fight in different ways
  • understand and be aware of what works or doesn’t work for you in various situations: e.g. it’s no point basing your fight on multiple kicks with one leg if you are not very flexible and fast.  Understanding your self and truly know your limits will be a good way to accept and challenge yourself to improve what should be improved.
While bearing the above point is mind you should remember that every technique trained should have a meaning and a purpose and being applicable to real experience not to a theoretical principle that will never work.
I hope it answers the question but I am happy to continue the conversation further.

6 thoughts on “Training special moves?

  1. SPECIAL MOVES cont…

    In trying to define “Special Move” I suppose as a relative beginner, I find I am able to execute some sequences better than others. But, I guess, even with greater experience, there will always be moves that are preferential to ones style.

    A video game character’s Special Move could be a very standard sequence of moves…but done with extreme power, or speed. Thus, when executed, can take the opponent by surprise.

    To achieve this in the real world, it would take significant practise…more so than learning the multi-button combination and sequence on the games console!

    So, my question is:- is it a good use of time to really, super-refine and practise a single series of moves to a standard much higher than would be expected for your given belt grading?

    I hope that makes sense?!

  2. I think what Massimo is saying is that ‘special moves’ sound like a contradiction in terms. If a move feels ‘special’ to the person carrying it out, then the chances are they will fail because they’ll be thinking about it too hard.

    However, it seems to me that it’s perfectly possible that the attacker will have mastered a slightly unusual combination – something unexpected, say Massimo’s almost fake jab followed by round kick to the face then immediately side kick to the stomach. If the attacker is good at double kicks, they’ll have no trouble in executing the technique well subconsciously and, as a result, it won’t feel ‘special’ to them. On the other hand, the defender is likely to be unprepared for such a combination, hence it will feel like a ‘special move’ to them.

    Any thoughts? Or have I got this completely wrong? 😉

  3. I greatly appreciate your comments that are helping to discuss an important point.

    @Adam: the example you make with video games is very interesting. Obviously learning how to move your fingers in a certain sequence on the video game control box is not different than learning how to play a sequence of a few notes on the piano. Although you can get emotional about playing a video game you can do have a beer next to you and whether you win or loose won’t make a difference in the way you go to bed. Consequences in a street fight can be obviously much more dangerous and the adrenaline being released during a fight will not allow to “play” in the same way as in the gym.

    In any case to the untrained observer (and there are many out there, the majority I would say) any decent sequence of punches and kicks will look like a special move, simply because unexpected. Think about a spinning back kick, either a side or an axe one: it probably take the same time as doing the same technique from the rear leg but it catches more people unprepared and it scores more often. So if you were to train one of these as your “special move” you’d have to do it as many times and in any conditions so you could guarantee it works 99.99% of times. In my opinion simplicity is the essence to success: paraphrasing Bruce Lee, he used to say something like: “don’t add to you techniques but strip them down as the simplest and the fastest will always work”.

    @Caroline: you got it spot on! It’s obviously up to you to identify what is your special move and ensure it works well in many situations. More than one size fits all you might think at a set of special (shall we say favourite?) moves that are working for you and practice them endlessly.

  4. @ James: Keisho (or Keishu) Jitsu is a martial art based on striking the same pressure points and meridians used by shiatsu, acupuncture and other medical arts. Without starting to argue whether the video you submitted has genuine or exaggerated content I believe it’s possible, because I tried it on my own skin, to cause more pain that usual or putting somebody out of order by striking the right point at the right angle. At the same time when a moving person is trying to attack you with the intention of hurting you I think it is pretty difficult trying to strike precisely a point of the size of a penny or smaller; that’s why “simply training special moves” will not be a safe strategy toward your self defence preparation. Now reading the whole post and Adam’s initial comment I think we went a bit out of route…

  5. I totally agree that in a real situation, aiming to strike small targets with great precision is unlikely to succeed and very risky at best. Much better to go with the high percentage options when your life is on the line! Having said that though, if you know where the pressure points are and you get an opportunity you can use them. If you dont know then you will never have the option…?

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