The Eight Principles of Martial Arts

Written by Wayne. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

 

The Eight Principles of Martial Arts by Wayne Roberts

On the wall of our dojo in Basingstoke is a list of 8 words that face students every day when we train. I have to admit that even though I have previously looked at these words many times, I don’t really think that it is until having worked through much of the research for this project that I now understand these fundamentals more clearly and their applications.

These eight ideas are the underlining principles that need to form the foundation of sound ‘soft’ martial arts. If skill in martial arts can be thought of as a series of layers, then this is the first of these followed by the 13 dynamics (The Eight Gates & Five Steps as covered previously) and then finally different techniques applied on top of these which will be specific to each form of martial art.

The Eight Principles

Feet – are the way in which our bodies connect to the ground, so are key to transmission of energy through the body and to balance. Feet in general should always be pointed in the direction of power and used to press against the floor to generate power – this is the key to good rooting and the ability to generate a spiraling of energy from the feet, up the legs and through the rest of the body. Contact with the floor should be though the pads of the feet, always being mindful of where your center of balance is – toes should just be lightly in contact with the floor.

Posture – in order to really master awareness of where your body is and what is happening in terms of balance and stance it is key to be constantly mindful of this every day, not just in training. Through the pressure generated by the feet, the body naturally brings itself upright. The feeling here should be as if the head is pulled upwards by a string and then allowing the body to soften and relax so the body is effectively not ‘standing on its bones’. Good posture will give you a free passage of energy and also enables you to breath correctly.

Mind – its important to have a high level of awareness or ‘liveliness’ in order to be able to stay highly focused. This is especially important in threatening situations where it is critical to be able to maintain a strong, concentrated and powerful mindset. Discipline and willpower are also key to achieving this. Poor posture or breathing can particularly effect the mindset.

Breath – good breathing is key to increasing the oxygen flow through the body and ensuring the mind stays alert. Breathing action should come from the lower abdomen (the Tan Tien), pushing outwards on breathing in and opening up the back and shoulders.

Internal – in Tai Chi this is also know as ‘energizing the inner orbit’, opening up the energy flow around the body. On breathing in, you channel Chi through the Governing Vessel (running over the skull and along the spine) and breathing out channeling through the Conception Vessel (bisecting the front of the body). The Governing and Conception Vessels are connected by touching the tongue to the top of the mouth. Internal also refers to the ability to channel energy/force from the contact point with an opponent through the body, down the legs and into the feet. Key here is being able to connect the top and the bottom half of the body, so for example force is not just taken into the shoulders or upper body resulting in being thrown off balance.

Power – power can be generated from many parts of the body, but is most effective when used in conjunction with each other e.g. with power being ‘layered’ up through the actions of different joints or muscles. An example would be a punch, which some students may only use the hips to generate power. However, when layered and timed correctly power can be greatly amplified through using first the muscles around the spine, then to bring in the action of the shoulder, arm, waist, hips, legs and finally the feet. The majority of the power in this instance is generated from the spine, which is the core muscle at the centre of the move.

Wedge – the point at which out hands our other part of the body would normally travel to when meeting an attack (the interception point) and combines the first four principles above to be able to first block and then begin to redirect a strike. Key here is the feeling of ‘wedging’ through an attack towards the opponent, and this principle is key to self defence aspects of any martial art, however is offensive rather than defensive. The wedge principle can be applied with many parts of the body including legs, head and shoulders as well as arms and hands.

Spiral – spiraling comes after the wedging action and is a way to turn the an opponents energy or momentum against them, taking force away from the opponent and turning into a lock, strike or throw. A spiraling action is also present in the way force is transmitted through the body and the legs to the feet and again helps to keep the connection in place between the upper and lower halves of the body.
Steve Rowe, Shikon, Gavin King

 

As can be seen, many of the above are closely interlinked and in most cases cannot really practiced without the other, in particular the first four principles feet, posture, mind and breath. In Chinese martial arts these are commonly know as Neigong which emphasises training the coordination of an individuals body with the breath. The last four principles are closely aligned with Qigong, which is the channeling of Chi through the body. Chi can also be used to repel, parry or absorb an attackers energy.

It is also very important to be able to able to recognise the condition of these principles in an opponent. For example by being able to analyse where their balance is e.g. weight might be in their heels; perhaps they are distracted so may not be fully mindful of the situation; an aggressor may also be breathing heavily with a puffed up chest which will also impact their posture and balance. An initial attack can also be targeted at disrupting one of the eight principles which can then be followed up with the primary attack aimed at disabling the opponent.

References:
The Eight Principles are at the heart for the Shikon system put in place by Steve Rowe Shi Kon’s Chief Instructor. More information can be found her

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Going from Loser to Winner

Written by Zane. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

By Zane Sewell

Question C:

The question is:

When someone is in the middle of a match and they are losing, what do they think and do to encourage themselves to win?

What this question tells me:

I believe that the question tells me to fight, be outstanding to impress other clubs. It tells me to trust others and not to stop. I am going to write how I feel when I am losing, the answers and ask for people’s opinions outside of karate and then link it to karate.

How I feel when I’m losing:

When I’m losing a match I feel gutted and ashamed of myself. I want to run away and give up. Then I ask myself why did I want to do this in the first place? Then I remind myself that I’m representing the club with true power and pride. Now I’ve got to this level there is no turning back. So all I can do is think positive and try my best.

My answers:

If I was in the middle of a match and I was losing I would see what techniques my opponent is using and see if I have a possibility of stopping it and hopefully add in a counter attack to gain points and maybe retrieve a comeback.

I would never think negative but have a PMA (positive mental attitude). I would be angry and imagine that they insulted me or broke my most treasured possession and I want to fight back because I should.

I also listen to what my coach is trying to tell me because I know he is the one who I could put all my trust into. They are the ones who I should listen to the most because they got me to this level and have as much faith in me as I have faith in them.

If I am being beaten I would just give it my all and just confidently and happily carry on and represent our club and show how we are dedicated to perfection by being brave and fight.

This is what I know I must be doing but in reality it is sometimes different.  In previous competitions I have found that I get angry at myself and get upset because I lost. I get upset because it makes me feel embarrassed and want to run away but there has to be one winner and one loser. Considering that the opponent was good I would learn from the way they successfully won and use the techniques that they used so I could add them in my next match or in the future. I will remind myself this in my next competition and I will remember not to get upset!

Other people’s opinion on the question:

My mum (on running):

When I start thinking of quitting early, I try my best to start thinking positive. I do not want to have the feeling of failure at the end because of stupid excuses like my legs are hurting or I’m too tired and that I can’t complete it, so I block the negatives outside of my brain.  I don’t want to let myself down, or then have to explain to my running friend why I didn’t finish! I remind myself about the good feeling of achievement at the end when I am given my time.  I know I can do it so I put in all effort to get to the end.

Michelle Maddocks (being team captain in netball):

Well as a captain I would look at where the team are weaker. First analysis would be on the opportunities at goal, are we getting plenty of opportunities, but have we weak shooters or is the ball never reaching our shooting circle. From this I would rearrange players accordingly. Then I would look at tactics, so what the opposition are doing and think of ways to interpret their play. Also look at the oppositions weak points and use them to our advantage, for example if the opposition has one shooter better than the other, then we would aim to deliberately block the stronger shooter. The team will discuss this at quarter breaks. On the field I would give more vocal direction and words to keep morale up. If we were losing by a fair amount, I would then set a new aim of getting at least half the number of goals of the opposition has got, which would mean we could gain a higher goal difference in our league. I would also say to the team, losing a game is good practise for future fixtures.

 

Thomas Maddocks (based around football):

Never give up and always encourage others right to the end. It is very difficult for a team or an individual to stay on top for the full duration of the game; you will get a chance. Knowing this fact not panicking and staying positive and determined is really important. You must however take advantage of your opportunities when they arise keep working hard and keep encouraging when you sense the opponent’s heads going down. I personally hate losing and that is all the encouragement I need.

 

The thing all these things have in common is the encouragement you must give to yourself and to give to others; either if they are winning or losing. You have to sense the smell of victory. This links to karate by supporting others and yourself. This mainly relates to the corner chair person who will give you feedback for example: hands up!!! Quick! In out really fast!! Although it is hard to listen when you are thinking about beating your opponent. So you need to keep an ear out.

 

Finally, to answer the question in a simple sentence:

You should encourage others and yourself to win by thinking positively, having the confidence that you can achieve it and focusing on the end result.

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Communications in Martial Arts and Work/Education

Written by Aaron. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

Talking about work and education

Following on from my previous update on communication skills in other sports, in this update, I will be looking at how these same skills are transferable into work and education. However as a student with little experience of work I will focus mainly on communication in education.

When I was looking at the methods we use to learn martial arts, I identified different types of learners:

  • Auditory (like things explained)
  • Visual (prefer to what demonstrations)
  • Kinaesthetic (prefer to learn through doing)

In schools, when a teacher is teaching a lesson, they too have to engage each different type of learner, so that they gain the best from what they are being taught. For example in science; we often learn about an experiment or theory theoretically through book work, and then so everyone fully understands we actually do they experiment or practical to put what we have learned into practice. This is especially useful for learning for exams. By using a combination of all three methods, we are more likely to remember whatever it is for the exam. I can justify this be saying it does work, after passing all of my science exams, it must of worked.

When practicing a technique in martial arts with a partner, we give feedback. This is where we tell them what is wrong and how they can improve. This can be adapted for education. Teachers and fellow students who mark your work are told to give a comment of what is good and provide constructive criticism and then suggest ways for them to improve their work. As in martial arts it’s the teachers duty to point out mistakes at remind everyone how to do/perform something properly.

In education we are set homework where we study something at home. This is important as it helps to consolidate the information we learn in class and makes sure we can apply it and

remember it. I feel independent study in martial arts is important to for the same reasons. If you’re like me and have to study for exams and other elements of education you often forget katas and forms so home practice is essential so we don’t forget them and also it help to improve the way we do them.

If teaching, it can be very easy to create misunderstanding amongst students. I find if a teacher at school isn’t being clear with what they are saying; it can often become difficult to pick up

what they are teaching. Thankfully, as our martial arts teachers do, they check to see if they are being clear and if we do understand. An example of a lesson very similar to martial arts is PE (Physical Education). PE can be taught outside or inside and expands a wide range of sports and therefore a wider range of techniques. When teaching outside, it will be harder for students to hear you – due to background noise – so you have to use both non visual and visual techniques. This allows the teacher to try to reduce confusion for the students being taught.

When visiting The AA for my work experience in the summer, I became a member of a small team. Despite my lack of experience at work, I could see that when working in a team communication was essential to the team solving their problems they were tasked to do so. Due to the variety of different people in a working environment, everyone’s opinion and views have to be taken into account and shared effectively with others. This means the leader, much like a teacher has to communicate in a way that suits each individual. Another skill transferable between martial arts and work is giving good feedback. Praise allows a business’s employees to feel important and work better with their team.

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Martial Arts Standards Agency British Judo British Council for Chinese Martial Arts – National Governing Body The World Union of Karate Federations Shi Kon Martial Arts British Council for Chinese Martial Arts – National Governing Body

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