© 2014 Avi Nardia & Ken Akiyama with Carlos Newton
In order to gain skill in martial arts, you must first gain awareness of yourself, your fears, who you are, what you are, and most of all, what you want to be. Only after studying yourself can you begin to study others and only after knowing yourself, can you know others. The more aware you are, the more you can make from this life. In martial arts strategy, the more aware you are of what is happening around you, the greater your ability will be to adapt and counter.
Good self-defense requires good awareness and great self defense requires great awareness. There is an Israeli combatives expert who designed his system to teach his guys only 5 moves. His strategy is based on one tactic – if any one comes close you, kick the groin. The “expert” shared an anecdote to support his strategy: a cat will always climb a tree to escape any danger. He said that if you give your students too many different ideas, they will not be able to think under stress. To this Sensei Avi replied, “What if there is no tree?”
Some teachers attempt to support their theory of oversimplification with pseudo-science. An experiment that was not related to martial arts was performed which showed that when people have many options to choose from, they will require more time in order to make a decision. This research is valid when it comes to something like choosing a meal at a restaurant or selecting a piece of ripe fruit, but it does not “prove” that students of self defense should only practice 4 or 5 techniques.
A system of teaching that is based on the assumption that the students are incapable of thinking seems like giving vitamins to a dead body. Why would you teach people who don’t have the ability to think? Master Avi often explains that a jet pilot needs to calculate many things in high speed. The pilot must be able to react quickly, and with awareness of many concerns while keeping the plane in the air. That example demonstrates that we humans have the ability to make decisions under stress.
In KAPAP, we teach about the importance of studying “what if” scenarios, the chain of attack, and cause and effect relationships. The more you develop your understanding of what is possible in a fight, the more aware you will become of your opponents’ next move.
With enough study, you may develop the skill to know all of your opponent’s possible moves before he or she does. When you can predict the effects and vulnerabilities of your actions, you can always block your opponents counter options before you even attack. When you do this, your opponent will become very frustrated. When your opponents are frustrated, they can not think. When your opponents can not think, you win.
Thus, your strategic success rate is ultimately based on your level of awareness. This article has focused on the importance of awareness in developing strategy. A future installment will cover the importance of awareness as present-mindedness.