taekwondo master executing a hand technique in a photo studio
Young Bo Kong Photo by Rick Hustead

Read Part 1 of “10 Universal Truths of the Martial Arts” here.

Read Part 2 of “10 Universal Truths of the Martial Arts” here.

Read Part 3 of "10 Universal Truths of the Martial Arts" here.

Read Part 4 of "10 Universal Truths of the Martial Arts" here.

Read Part 5 of "10 Universal Truths of the Martial Arts" here.

Read Part 6 of "10 Universal Truths of the Martial Arts" here.

Universal Truth of the Martial Arts No. 7

Many creators of new martial arts fail to produce students who equal them in ability.

There could be many reasons for this, ranging from teaching incompetently to leaving a secret ingredient or two out of the recipe as it is handed down, but one reason seems to occur frequently:

A master teaches a final product that he has created over a lifetime, forgetting that much of his own ability comes from the learning process itself and from the techniques, drills and exercises that he learned but subsequently discarded.

In the martial arts, ability comes from the many experiments that have failed and even from challenge matches that at best could have been described as a draw.

In other words, ability is a matter of drills executed and techniques tested over time, thus resulting in the development of certain attributes and the acquisition of experience.

You can teach techniques and drills that develop certain attributes, but you cannot teach experience. You can tell students about your experiences and you can encapsulate your teachings on paper, but in the end, the students have to create their own experience.

Read Part 8 here.

About the author: Erik Petermann teaches martial arts in Cape Town, South Africa.

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