Do as I say, Not as I do...
by Sensei Neil Prime
December, 1997

This is a classic old saying that normally should not be a regular practice, but there maybe some weight in these words... let me explain.

As an instructor and a human being I am not perfect (believe it or not), but when trying to make a point or pass along information to a willing student there maybe some contradictions as to what I say and what I do. Sometimes this is unavoidable because as I mentioned people are not perfect and if my form is not as you may expect, it maybe a fault of mine or it maybe a result of the point I am trying to get across in this article.

Think back to when you first started your training. To turn around in sankutsadachi (forward stance) you would bring your rear leg forward to your lead leg, cross behind your lead leg and move back on the opposite angle with your rear leg (making the letter "V" with your rear leg). Once you have re-positioned your rear leg, rotate 180 degrees and your are facing the opposite direction.

This process is done so that you learn to distance your feet and co-ordinate your balance while you turn. Soon you will eliminate the extra step of bringing your rear leg forward and you will simply place your foot onto the spot where you want to end up and you will rotate and face the opposite direction within the proper stance. This process is a step beyond the first method and really works the hips and upper body but again is another exaggerated movement.

If you want to experience full power and speed you would simply snap the hips and shoulders together with the addition of the hand and foot placement during the rotation.

Now you can see 3 very distinct ways of achieving 1 final result however, to successfully make the most advanced techniques work for you, you must train your body to move in that particular direction by breaking down the movements.

This, depending on what technique we are working on can take a couple tries, a couple of hours, or even a couple of years or more to do efficiently.

This is only 1 small example as to how to develop proper technique. As you progress through the ranks you will see various "changes" in your technique. Don't hesitate to ask questions if you can't see the resemblance between the new movement and what you already do because you may find when training your body to move in certain ways that it feels awkward. That's fine, because your learning to co-ordinate new movement.

As you progress further through your training you should even try to develop your own technique through trial and error. Your own ingenuity and input is very important at an advanced level. It will keep your technique and mind sharp and will make others consider their own technical abilities and hopefully inspire them. After all, we are all built different and we have to adapt certain movements to suit our body own structure. Make sure though, when adapting your own personality into the technique that you do not weaken the technique by using shortcuts. It is imperative that the technique remains realistic and functional.

My explanation of advancing your technique is very simplified and I stress that you work at the level at which your Sensei feels you should be working at. After all, without a strong basic foundation you will not be able to build upon your strengths and work around your weaknesses.

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