Change or remain the same.
Change is the key in martial arts usage. Modern or traditional, mixed or single art makes no difference. The player who changes faster or better than the opponent wins. The thing is we tend to train and teach our students only about the shapes, techniques and movements in our arts and rarely focus on the other side of the equation; the moments in between. No matter how well trained we are, how fast or powerful, when we cannot change strategies, tactics or methods and instead keep trying to make something work we can only win by luck. Luck that the opponent didn’t change and was trapped in the same kind of thinking. If martial arts are like having a toolbox at hand filled with more and more tools as we progress, then the skill in the art is shown by choosing the right tool for the job rather than trying to fix everything with the same tool.
Look at the dying art of cursive writing in the English language. Its beauty is found in the linking together of the letters of each word. No matter what the combination or sequence a skilled calligrapher can link the letters beautifully allowing the curves to change as they need to link everything seamlessly together. In this way they can write anything from their own thoughts at will or copy the words of another adding their own flair and personality to it. It is this linking, these in between moments that make the calligraphy their own and beautiful. So why is it that everyone keeps printing in the martial arts world? Only using the same strategy over and over against an opponent is like only printing words in upper case letters. It may get your point across so long as they allow it, but it is certainly not the full extent of ones capabilities.
I won’t belabour the point further, look to the spaces in between. Change quickly from method to method, thought to thought and you’ll find the opponent tends to remain stuck in the prison they have thought themselves in to.
Neil Ripski 2018