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.