Most bad techniques are bad because you're bad at them

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by skribs, Jul 26, 2019.

  1. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    As some of you may know, I participate in a lot of martial arts discussions. This includes talking with my fellow students in class, watching videos on Youtube (and commenting on them), MartialTalk, Reddit, and a few other places.

    In virtually all of these, I see commentary about what is good, and what is bad.
    • Head kicks are bad, because your leg will get caught.
    • Palm strikes are bad, because you might hurt your hand, unlike a punch (there was so much wrong with this I didn't know where to start).
    • Wristlocks are bad, because you can't rely on pain compliance.
    • That defense technique you did a video on is bad, because it only worked against a compliant partner.
    • That wrist escape is bad, because I tried it and it didn't work.
    I've seen all of these things, and I've come to a couple of conclusions.
    1. There are a lot of moves in martial arts that work. How effective each one is depends on the situation and your comfort level with them.
    2. There aren't a whole lot of moves that are widely taught that don't work. If they don't work, it's more likely that you don't know how to properly apply them. (There are moves like no-touch that are pretty much bogus, but most techniques, concepts, or training methods will work if correctly applied).
    3. If you are not trained in a technique, then you shouldn't use it, because it is a bad technique. That's not a judgment of the technique, but rather your execution of it.
    So how do I apply this to the situations above?

    Head Kicks. I'm going over this one first, because as a TKD guy, we do a lot of head kicks. Now, there is plenty of evidence in MMA, kickboxing, and Muay Thai of well-timed head kicks getting a KO. There are also a lot of times where someone will throw a head kick and get caught, and then easily taken down and submitted.

    In most of these cases, I notice that the people with the KO tend to have a good quality in their kick, and the people who get submitted look very awkward. Like they hadn't trained that kick, but they saw it and wanted to try it out, and that test backfired.

    So are head kicks bad? No. But if you haven't trained head kicks, are they bad? Yes.

    Wrist Locks. My other main art, as some of you know, is Hapkido. We do a lot of wrist locks. A LOT of wrist locks. As much fun as it is to try and use as little effort as possible to make your partner do a front flip, the majority of our take-downs are not from pain compliance, but rather from our footwork affecting our opponent's center of gravity.

    In most cases, I can get someone to go down with my feet, more than my hands. My footwork is what makes it work. It's not just the pain compliance of the wrist lock, it's also the effect my wristlock has on their shoulders, the effect my feet have in directing that force, and possibly that my shoulders and hips have in pushing them further off balance.

    That wrist-lock take-down will work, not only because of the pain compliance, but because of the other things I do to break down their structure.

    Does that mean it's a good technique or a bad technique? It depends on how well you understand them, and have practiced the application.

    Defense Drills only work on Compliant Partners. I see this posted a lot on videos where a 1-step drill is shown. "That only worked because your partner is compliant." People who post this seem to have no idea how one-step drills properly work. If you just memorize the techniques, then...yeah. It's just a drill against a compliant partner. But if you learn the concepts and how to correctly apply them, it can be much more. Part of this is learning more techniques (that you can bring in when you fail to use the technique you're trying), and part of this is drilling against a decreasingly compliant partner.

    However, for the initial phases of learning, and especially for instruction, you need a compliant partner. That's because at this point, you're drilling a technique, and you're not applying it. The application comes later, when you increase resistance, run failure drills, spar, and experiment and improvise with the techniques. That one-step drill might train you to deal with a haymaker, but it can be applied:
    • If you grab the 5th punch in a combination
    • To a hand grab
    • To your attack
    • Pieces can be grabbed here and there where appropriate
    Now, does this mean one-step drills are good or bad? Well, they're good if used properly, because it's a great way to drill a technique on a person, instead of a heavy bag or an imaginary opponent. It's also a good way to experiment with different variations of the technique. But if you don't do all that, then these drills do become more of a dance, and less of a martial art.

    I can't figure it out, so obviously it sucks! There's a video I watched of two professional MMA fighters (at least I think they are) reviewing a women's self defense video. The video taught a technique I learned at 7 years old, and I understood better than these guys. It's something I've taught to kids as young as 4, who understood better than these guys. The technique was simple - open your hand to flex your wrist, and pull your thumb towards their thumb.

    It's a very simple concept You attack the weakest point of the grip (where there's only 1 finger) instead of the stronger points (4 fingers or the palm). It's an easy escape that I personally think every child should know how to do.

    However, these guys didn't understand the concept. They just copied the technique. Now, the technique was demonstrated with a cross-arm underhand grab. The escape in this case, is to pull your thumb across your body, towards your other shoulder. These MMA gurus used a cross-arm overhand grab. In this case, you would want to pull your thumb to the outside, if you apply the concept. But they copied the technique. So instead of pulling thumb-to-thumb, they were pulling thumb-to-palm and going deeper into the grip.

    Their conclusion? The technique is horrible and it doesn't work.

    My initial reaction to this video was that they failed, because they didn't understand the concept. Then I realized - the training video failed as well. Because these pro MMA fighters couldn't figure out how to apply a simple concept taught by the video.

    I know the technique, and it's a great one. I also know that for these fighters, it's bad, because they can't apply it.

    What does this mean?

    This means a couple of things. First off, whenever you're in a discussion with someone about what techniques work and what techniques don't, keep in mind that there are plenty of ways to achieve success in martial arts. I may punch with 3 knuckles instead of 2, or I may prefer open-hand strikes. I may focus on kicks, while you focus on punches or grabs. I may train mostly with forms and 1-steps, while you train primarily with a heavy bag and sparring. None of us are wrong, we just have different ways of learning and applying what we learn.

    It also means that if you don't understand a technique or concept, there are three things you can do. In order of worst to best:
    • Try to apply the technique or concept without understanding how it works. This is what gets a lot of people tripping themselves up in fights
    • Reject the concept for your own personal use, but respect those who choose to use it. For example, a boxer/wrestler not learning how to head kick, because it doesn't fit his style, but respecting those that can head kick.
    • Learn the technique or concept in order to be able to apply it.

     
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  2. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    A technique doesn't work may be because you don't know how to set it up.

    If you try to push someone back, most of the time you will fail. But if you pull him first, when he resists, you then borrow his resistance force and push, your successful rate of pushing will be higher.
     
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  3. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    I've told countless students that the solution to a bad technique or a bad side is to practice that technique or side more and more. Eventually it becomes a favorite, in nearly all cases.
     
  4. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    I agree that's the solution to bad techniques or bad sides. I have rarely seen things take over as favorites, though.

    For example, my Mom (1st degree black belt) still has two go-to moves, which have been her moves since before she started TKD: front kick to the groin, or tickling the ribs.
     
  5. isshinryuronin

    isshinryuronin Orange Belt

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    Excellent analysis of your subject. I especially appreciated your comment on "increasing compliancy". Nobody will stick out their arm and say "put me in a wrist lock," except of course in beginning drills. In reality, a little softening up is called for to overcome their resistance: a little elbow strike, pressure to a tendon/nerve nexus, or a foot/knee motion on their legs to break their stance a bit. All can render the opponent momentarily off balance (physically and/or mentally) and allow the lock to be set. This is not hard to do if you practice these set-ups as part of entering the technique. I find the hardest part of setting a lock is that since the opening for it may last only a second in the flow of battle, one's mental state must calm and alert to "seize" (pun intended) the opportunity. Your other points were also right on.
     
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  6. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    Then they quit putting extra effort into those things too soon.
     
  7. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    We all have bad side. Should we try to train both sides equally?

    Which one is better?

    1. 100% on right side, 0% on left side, or
    2. 50% on right side, 50% on left side?

    IMO, 1 > 2. The reason is simple, most of the time you will have only have one chance to apply your technique. If you intend to develop 6 techniques, you may develop 3 techniques on the right side, and develop the other 3 techniques on the left sides.

    If you have right side forward, your

    - right leg is ready to do a skip in side kick.
    - left leg is ready to do a body spinning roundhouse kick.
    - right hand is ready to do a jab.
    - left hand is ready to do a cross.

    Unless you switch sides all the time, your right side techniques and left side techniques are pretty much pre-defined by which side that you may put your leg forward.

    Can you

    - shoot your hand gun with both hands?
    - chop vegetable with both hands?
    - play tennis with both hands?
    - write with both hands?
    - ...
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
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  8. Dirty Dog

    Dirty Dog MT Senior Moderator Staff Member

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    No, we don't.
     
  9. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Some techniques are bad because they were created from people who engage in too much compliancy, and never realiry-tested it while coming up with it. Or were never meant to be used for fighting. Those techniques are just bad, a lot of the time.
     
  10. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    The definition of a bad technique can be that you may give your opponent's arms and legs too much freedom.
     
  11. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    So you can develop 6 techniques on one side, or 3 techniques on 2 sides. Three is simpler to learn, and you know the mechanics of them. (I've learned a lot of my weak-side techniques by mimicing my strong-side, which is how I was able to quickly learn left-hand nunchaku and left leg 540 roundhouse kick).

    Or you can do a different split, like 70% right side, 30% on left side. It also depends on your art. The way TKD works, it's better to be as close to 50/50 as possible. With something like boxing, for most fighters 100/0 is a better split (although some boxers incorporate traditional footwork, in which case being ambidextrous is important).


    - shoot your hand gun with both hands? - You should be able to. Most gunfighting sites recommend this, in case one hand is injured or otherwise occupied.
    - chop vegetable with both hands? - Less necessary, unless you have an injury and need to cook.
    - write with both hands? - Again, less necessary, unless you have an injury.
     
  12. skribs

    skribs Senior Master

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    In this case, the problem is not with the techniques, but because there is no concept of resistance. If you add in resistance, then the techniques that don't work will fall out of favor.
     
  13. kempodisciple

    kempodisciple MT Moderator Staff Member

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    Well its a problem with both. The techniques themselves are problematic because there was no resistance in their creation phase, and until you add resistance there will be a problem with the technique.
     
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  14. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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  15. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    And I think the science of this post is incorrect.

    You observe a thing working it works. In martial arts you observe a thing working consistently against resistance it works.

    There really is no. It should work or why is it in a martial art if it doesn't work or it works in a situation we can't recreate for you just now. That is all pretty much irrelevant.

    And we can see the issue when science is used to determine if magic is real.
     
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  16. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    So let's look at dowsing. And we could use all the OP,s logic to determine that people who say it doesn't work are just haters.



    But the science doesn't back up that dowsing works.
     
  17. jobo

    jobo Grandmaster

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    flipping Eck mate that's a long post, yes I sort of agree, it's all about context, if your in a win or get battered situation, then lots of techniques are " bad" as there not high % enough to make up for the down side of having your leg caught and getting battered.b

    you could argue if your good enough all are high % and its difficult to argue with that logic, but your not good enough and neither are very few other people to make them all work, all the time against all or even most people. if you've never tried one of your wrist locks against a 250 lbs strongman who really doesn't want to be wrist locked, then doing your fancy footwork and finding he can just unlock his arm by twisting it, rather than doing a somersault as you imagined,is not a good time to find out your not good enough
     
  18. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    This photo was on the wall of my old dojo........

    WristLockThis.jpg

    ......under it was the caption Wrist Lock This.
     
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  19. Martial D

    Martial D Senior Master

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    Sure, but there is more to it than that in practice. It's not the technical quality of a headkick that makes it work, it's the timing. I've seen a lot of herky jerky kicks land simply because the opponent moved into them, or was timed

    Wristlocks..ehh. I guess.

    You need to get them in a very specific way while they aren't resisting, and then they work, generally.
    It's very hard to get someone's wrist if they are fighting back, which is why you rarely bordering on never see them used in BJJ or MMA competition.

    Catching punches just doesn't happen. Maybe a super gumby haymaker, but I've never seen it happen or heard of it happening.
     
  20. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    You don't catch a punch, you block it. After you block that punch, you can then wrap that punching arm. A bad technique could be that you just miss something before you apply that technique.

     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2019
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