What "rules" should be broken in your art?

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
5,953
Reaction score
1,598
What are the rules that you teach beginners in your art, that advanced students should know when to break?


I came across this video from Fight Tips which talks about the rules you teach beginners, such as "don't cross your legs" and "don't chicken wing when you punch". He talks about why those rules are taught to beginners, how to break those rules while still applying the principles from them, and that you should still follow the rule in most situations.

It got me thinking about my training in both Taekwondo and Hapkido, and how some things are taught when the concept is introduced, and then changed later on.

Power Direction
When turning and using a technique, you should apply your turning momentum to the technique. For example, a roundhouse kick followed by a turning kick (back kick, spinning kick, tornado kick) should keep the moment from the roundhouse. Also, if you are doing a block in a form, the block should travel in the direction you were turning (such as if you turn with the left leg, down block with the left hand or inside block with the right hand).

This allows you to use your momentum to your advantage. But sometimes you want to block or strike across the direction of travel, or you want to reverse direction to throw off your opponent. If you're turning to the left, they expect your kick to come from your right, so if you change direction you can catch them unaware.

The Details Matter
In Hapkido, we start off learning the exact way to do a wrist lock and take-down. Later, you'll learn that as long as you can apply pressure in the right spot, or at least trap the hand in the right spot and use the right footwork, then you can apply the technique.

Ever try hapkido in boxing gloves? It's a rather interesting experiment.

But anyway, the point is that the details do matter, you're just learning which details are vital and which are merely helpful to the success off the technique. It's kind of like a guitarist playing with his teeth - the mechanics of what he must do to the guitar are still the same, he just accomplishes it in a different way.

Back Stance is for Blocks, Front Stance for Strikes
At the beginner level, everything is front stance, but once the back stance is learned, typically blocks will more likely be done in a back stance, and strikes will almost always be in front stance. As you move up, you'll find quick combos in front stance, and you'll find strikes by themselves in back stance. You learn when to apply different stances with different techniques.

Similar rules apply for open-hand vs. closed-hand blocks, and any other time there's a few ways of doing something. For example, our 5 basic blocks are high block, down block, inside block (ends inside), outside block (ends outside, palm towards you) and knife-hand block (ends outside, palm away from you). However, by black belt, you've done every block with the opposite (close a fist when you learned knife-hand, blade your hand when you've learned closed fist).
 

wab25

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 22, 2017
Messages
1,062
Reaction score
869
Great video... I'll have to watch more of his stuff. He explains well.

What are the rules that you teach beginners in your art, that advanced students should know when to break?
Beginners are taught that this move in the form or kata, is a block and this one is a strike. The beginner needs to visualize doing those actions, to get the right form, the right power, and the right focus so that he can focus on learning the principles and ideas. Once the student starts to become advanced, he should realize that the important part is not the block or the strike, but the principles and ideas taught. That same movement can then be applied in many, many different ways.

It got me thinking about my training in both Taekwondo and Hapkido, and how some things are taught when the concept is introduced, and then changed later on.
Exactly. You need to get the details and the form / kata right to start. This allows you to start to see and then to study the principles and ideas contained in that movement. As the student progresses and advances, he starts to realize the important part is the principles and ideas, and then he is able to break the rules and move beyond the static form / kata.

In Hapkido, we start off learning the exact way to do a wrist lock and take-down. Later, you'll learn that as long as you can apply pressure in the right spot, or at least trap the hand in the right spot and use the right footwork, then you can apply the technique.

Ever try hapkido in boxing gloves? It's a rather interesting experiment.

But anyway, the point is that the details do matter, you're just learning which details are vital and which are merely helpful to the success off the technique. It's kind of like a guitarist playing with his teeth - the mechanics of what he must do to the guitar are still the same, he just accomplishes it in a different way.
Yes. In TDK, in Hapkido, in Karate, in Judo, in Jujitsu, in Kung Fu.... This applies to all the one steps, all the forms and katas and most of the drills.
 

JR 137

Grandmaster
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
5,162
Reaction score
3,219
Location
In the dojo
I tell my students that just about every general rule I teach them can and should be broken at some point down the line. (Just not right now for most of them.)

The concept of "lies-to-children" is relevant. (Even though I teach adults, the process still applies.)
Im into photography, and theres a saying thats exactly what youre saying:

Learn the rules of photography. Master them. Once youve done that, learn when and how to break them.
 

JR 137

Grandmaster
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
5,162
Reaction score
3,219
Location
In the dojo
I tell my students that just about every general rule I teach them can and should be broken at some point down the line. (Just not right now for most of them.)

The concept of "lies-to-children" is relevant. (Even though I teach adults, the process still applies.)
Im into photography, and theres a saying thats exactly what youre saying:

Learn the rules of photography. Master them. Then learn when and how to break them.

I tell my (academic) students all the time:
Everyone loves to say think outside the box. Everyone wants to do. Thats great, except for one thing: you have to learn to think INSIDE the box before you can think outside the box. They dont like it when I tell them that. Youre not going to come up with some radical new thing without having any understanding of what the standard thing is and how it works. Einstein needed to learn basic math and physics before he turned the scientific world upside down. Michael Jordan needed to learn the game before he went out and changed everything. Just saying.

Edit: somehow double posted the first part of my rant.
 

Steve

Mostly Harmless
Joined
Jul 9, 2008
Messages
20,225
Reaction score
5,724
Location
Covington, WA
Im into photography, and theres a saying thats exactly what youre saying:

Learn the rules of photography. Master them. Then learn when and how to break them.

I tell my (academic) students all the time:
Everyone loves to say think outside the box. Everyone wants to do. Thats great, except for one thing: you have to learn to think INSIDE the box before you can think outside the box. They dont like it when I tell them that. Youre not going to come up with some radical new thing without having any understanding of what the standard thing is and how it works. Einstein needed to learn basic math and physics before he turned the scientific world upside down. Michael Jordan needed to learn the game before he went out and changed everything. Just saying.

Edit: somehow double posted the first part of my rant.
Absolutely correct. This is also true of art and poetry. Poets tend to want to write in open verse before they understand the value of working within a closed form.
 

Christopher Adamchek

Purple Belt
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
335
Reaction score
158
Location
CT
great post, know the rule before breaking it. The most common one when teaching kids is to keep your guard up and to never drop it when kicking, later they can learn the trade off of dropping the arm for counter balance torque and leaving an opening.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
11,780
Reaction score
3,341
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
- Beginners train static punch that back foot always stay on the ground. Advance guys train dynamic punch that back foot always move along the ground.
- Beginners use body push limb method. Advance guys use limb lead body method.
- Beginners copy their teacher. Advance guys develop their own flavor.
- To beginners, a punch is just a punch. To advance guys, a punch is a punch followed by a pull.
- To beginners, a kick is just a kick. To advance guys, a kick can be used to close distance, or to set up a punch.
- To beginners, a jumping kick needs to jump high. To advance guys, a jumping kick need to jump far.
- ...
 
Last edited:

Ivan

Black Belt
Joined
Apr 8, 2018
Messages
540
Reaction score
245
What are the rules that you teach beginners in your art, that advanced students should know when to break?


I came across this video from Fight Tips which talks about the rules you teach beginners, such as "don't cross your legs" and "don't chicken wing when you punch". He talks about why those rules are taught to beginners, how to break those rules while still applying the principles from them, and that you should still follow the rule in most situations.

It got me thinking about my training in both Taekwondo and Hapkido, and how some things are taught when the concept is introduced, and then changed later on.

Power Direction
When turning and using a technique, you should apply your turning momentum to the technique. For example, a roundhouse kick followed by a turning kick (back kick, spinning kick, tornado kick) should keep the moment from the roundhouse. Also, if you are doing a block in a form, the block should travel in the direction you were turning (such as if you turn with the left leg, down block with the left hand or inside block with the right hand).

This allows you to use your momentum to your advantage. But sometimes you want to block or strike across the direction of travel, or you want to reverse direction to throw off your opponent. If you're turning to the left, they expect your kick to come from your right, so if you change direction you can catch them unaware.

The Details Matter
In Hapkido, we start off learning the exact way to do a wrist lock and take-down. Later, you'll learn that as long as you can apply pressure in the right spot, or at least trap the hand in the right spot and use the right footwork, then you can apply the technique.

Ever try hapkido in boxing gloves? It's a rather interesting experiment.

But anyway, the point is that the details do matter, you're just learning which details are vital and which are merely helpful to the success off the technique. It's kind of like a guitarist playing with his teeth - the mechanics of what he must do to the guitar are still the same, he just accomplishes it in a different way.

Back Stance is for Blocks, Front Stance for Strikes
At the beginner level, everything is front stance, but once the back stance is learned, typically blocks will more likely be done in a back stance, and strikes will almost always be in front stance. As you move up, you'll find quick combos in front stance, and you'll find strikes by themselves in back stance. You learn when to apply different stances with different techniques.

Similar rules apply for open-hand vs. closed-hand blocks, and any other time there's a few ways of doing something. For example, our 5 basic blocks are high block, down block, inside block (ends inside), outside block (ends outside, palm towards you) and knife-hand block (ends outside, palm away from you). However, by black belt, you've done every block with the opposite (close a fist when you learned knife-hand, blade your hand when you've learned closed fist).

I feel like the idea that backhands aren't allowed in boxing is stupid. I understand why they're not allowed and their historical context, but I feel like it would really switch it up a bit in the sport, giving fighters a new tool for their arsenal.
 

JP3

Master Black Belt
Supporting Member
Joined
Dec 19, 2015
Messages
1,388
Reaction score
698
Location
Houston
Here's one from Tomiki Aikido, in response to O/P...

"Always be pushing."

Which, once you've reached... maybe Nidan, you realize is less about physical action, than (at first) posture... then (down the road a bit more) about attitude and direction of your thought intent.
 

JR 137

Grandmaster
Joined
Apr 26, 2015
Messages
5,162
Reaction score
3,219
Location
In the dojo
Here's one from Tomiki Aikido, in response to O/P...

"Always be pushing."

Which, once you've reached... maybe Nidan, you realize is less about physical action, than (at first) posture... then (down the road a bit more) about attitude and direction of your thought intent.
I figured aikidos rule would be always let them push you. Isnt that the whole aiki thing - use their push/momentum/energy against them?
 

Buka

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
11,949
Reaction score
8,767
Location
Maui
Rules? Oh, gee, cant go breaking any rules. People would talk.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
27,882
Reaction score
9,051
Location
Hendersonville, NC
I'll catch up on the other answers later, and pay more attention to the video. But my first answer is close to Tony's (again): pretty much all of them, in the right situation.

I tend to teach with fewer hard-and-fast rules than most in my art - maybe fewer than is optimal, in fact. I teach the way I see the art. But here are the rules I expect to see broken (part of what I look for in a student's progress):
  • Do this exactly as I do. This applies to both kata and the Classical forms.
  • Take my word for it. In some early training, it's necessary for the student to accept that a rule works. Once they have a few techniques to test it with, I expect them to challenge my thoughts and rules.
  • Stances. The exact stance is a starting point. Later, they should adjust the stance to match their needs in the situation.
I can't think of anything else specific that I'd teach/require of a beginner that I'd change later. Even with beginners, I allow variations on strikes from what I'd normally teach. If they know a kick (or version of a kick) I don't teach, I'm okay with them using it in class as long as they seem to be using it well. I just require that they also learn my version.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
27,882
Reaction score
9,051
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Here's one from Tomiki Aikido, in response to O/P...

"Always be pushing."

Which, once you've reached... maybe Nidan, you realize is less about physical action, than (at first) posture... then (down the road a bit more) about attitude and direction of your thought intent.
I'm interested in some discussion of what that means in that context. I don't know anywhere else in Aikido (the art or the family of arts) that would be a rule, though maybe that's just because I don't understand what it's meant to say.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
27,882
Reaction score
9,051
Location
Hendersonville, NC
I thought of another one: the entire idea that the "techniques" are the point, and are separate. Beginners learn a thing called a technique, and how to apply it in different situations. Advanced practitioners should be applying the principles, not the techniques. This will result in combining of parts of techniques, playing in the grey area between techniques, and discovering other techniques that don't exist in the formal curriculum.
 
OP
skribs

skribs

Grandmaster
Joined
Nov 14, 2013
Messages
5,953
Reaction score
1,598
I thought of another one: the entire idea that the "techniques" are the point, and are separate. Beginners learn a thing called a technique, and how to apply it in different situations. Advanced practitioners should be applying the principles, not the techniques. This will result in combining of parts of techniques, playing in the grey area between techniques, and discovering other techniques that don't exist in the formal curriculum.

My opinion is that, while this is true, you also shouldn't lose the original techniques.

This is an opinion that has started many an argument in the TKD forums.
 

Latest Discussions

Top