The Technique That Will Always Work

What technique will work no matter what? When everything else goes wrong; what move did your martial art teach you that will never fail? Does such a thing exist?

Even seasoned martial artists are sometimes guilty of following after this holy grail of self defense mastery. They want to find that 1 answer to any problem. It seems people are subconsciously looking for the 'Crane Kick' from the Karate Kid movie. You remember how Mr. Miyagi described it; "If do right, no can defense".

I recall hearing this description of one of the most blatantly telegraphed kicks in movie history; and thinking how ridiculous that was. No defense... No defense to that? This was clearly the result of a non martial artist writing a script about a topic they knew next to nothing about.


Without getting into full details; there is a martial arts principle called the 'window of opportunity'. This principle sets out that every technique has a certain window of opportunity... a set of circumstances where it will function effectively.

This window is not universal. There are countless variables that affect any move's success. To keep things simple, let's just discuss 2 of the main variables:
- The simplicity of the technique; and
- Your skill and ability in executing the technique.

A jab is a great example of a simple movement with a large window of potential opportunity to work. It's fast, uses gross motor skills, and is familiar (as most people are using their hands and arms all day, every day).

Near the other end of the spectrum are moves like jumping spinning hook kicks or catching a punch and redirecting it's energy into a wrist lock and throw. These techniques require more muscle groups to get involved, involve precise timing, and generally take longer to execute.
These characteristics shrink that window; making success less likely.

Too many people will then look at such techniques and conclude that they are not worth the time and effort to learn.
As soon as a set of circumstances can be hypothetically put together that would prevent the technique from succeeding; it is immediately discarded as 'bullshido'.

What this does not account for are factors that increase the movement's effectiveness. When you practice something over and over again... you get really good at it. So while a spinning kick has nearly no likelihood of working for the average person; you can open that window wider through increasing your comfort and experience in using the technique.

(This is not to suggest that everyone should start practicing spinning kicks... just to illustrate that they can have merit).

If there are potential circumstances that could make any technique fail; by consequence there must also be potential circumstances where any technique could succeed.

I have lost count of how many times I have said this to my students (or really anyone who will listen);

"Nothing works, if your opponent knows what you're going to do".

This applies to Aikido wrist locks, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu sweeps, and boxing jabs alike.

If you know I'm about to try to punch you in the face with a left handed jab; you'll move out of the way or block it. 100/100 times I'll fail.

The only techniques that work; are when your opponent doesn't know what you're planning.

Getting back to the real question at hand...

Could Mr. Miyagi have been right?

Let's consider what was actually said. "If do right". Now examine this statement within the context of the window of opportunity principle.

Doing a technique right means more than just using the correct muscles and body alignment. It also means doing it at the right time.

- You can't attempt a wrist lock while your opponent is kicking at you from a distance.
- You can't throw a spinning kick from on your back in a 'guard' position.
- You can't use a Guillotine choke if your opponent is keeping you away at striking range.

You have to pick the right time.

You have to pick the right technique, at the right time.

The right time may present itself for only a split second... but if you've trained that right technique and are ready to do it "right"...
It will not only work...
Your opponent "no can defense".


The technique that will always work is the one you have to use in a micro second and each time it may be different. Practice is the key, making techniques a part of you so you do not have to think when attacked.
Puyallup, WA

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