Basic Training

     Several years ago, a friend of mine was training for her Tae Kwon Do black belt test.  Since I was a black belt, she asked me to help her with the forms (katas).  I was excited for her and quickly agreed to help.  The first form is Chon-ji, which is also the easiest.  In my mind, you always start at the beginning with the easiest part.  Then you build upon that.  She disagreed.  She stated that she already knew Chon-ji, and didn’t need to work on it.  I argued my point but she didn’t listen.  Against my better judgement, we skipped Chon-ji and I helped her with all of the other forms.

     The next week we met for coffee.  The first thing she said was, “You were right.”  She explained to me that she had invested in private lessons to prepare for the test.  The first thing that the instructor asked her to do was Chon-ji.  She was unable to do it.  She spent that first private lesson doing Chon-ji over and over, wearing a blind fold.  She truly knows Chon-ji now.

     My argument that she would not listen to was about the basics.  I explained that the basics seem to be so simple that people over look them.  They do not drill the basics.  They don’t create the muscle memory needed to be able execute basic techniques when necessary, without thinking.  The basics are the most important part of anything you do.  Whether you’re talking about carpentry, Tae Kwon Do, or Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, the basics are the building blocks, or foundation to everything else.  If your foundation is weak, then anything you build atop of it will be weak.  For example, the escapes in BJJ are built upon simple body movements.  If you don’t truly learn the simple body movements, then your escapes won’t be smooth and quick.  If they are not smooth and quick, they will fail.  Which means you will fail and you will then end up right back where you started… At the beginning with the basics still left to learn.

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4 Responses to Basic Training

  1. Allie says:

    I am always noticing new things each time my instructor shows basic moves, like armbars or triangles. In BJJ, details are crucial. And those are only mastered over time. A lot of people know what an armbar looks like. But being able to finish one from multiple positions in a live grapple is harder than people might think.

  2. Word.

    I had a minor test coming up once; I was told that the teacher would have me do one form only, but wouldn’t tell me which one until I stood up to take the test. I had just recently learned such-and-such advanced form and had been busting my tail on it for almost a year. I was sure it was going to be that form- it only made sense- and the teacher had never seen me perform it yet- so I practiced the crap out of it.

    When test time came, the teacher picked some random intermediate level form from years ago. I just stood there for a sec thinking, “WTF??????!!!???!??”

    Luckily I hadn’t neglected my earlier forms too much, so I was able to get through it okay. But teachers *do* like to pull that kind of stuff on you.

    When we have to do stripe tests- which involve performing *every* form that we know- almost everybody ends up doing their advanced forms vey well but stumbling over some random basic or intermediate form from years ago and looking like an idiot.

  3. leslie says:

    When I was in TKD, the black belt candidates would usually manage to be fine on Chon Ji (that form had to be performed at every single belt test), but would then screw up every form between that and Koryo. *headdesk*

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