The late Professor Remy A. Presas often said “you must practice!” Underlying that simple statement was a belief that countless repetitions of techniques was necessary to become proficient in Modern Arnis. As in Lee’s quote, Professor had practiced various concepts of Modern Arnis thousands of times. Imagine the number of times he practiced the traditionals, palis palis, the basic left hand tapi tapi techniques, abanico corto and other Modern Arnis concepts/techniques in the 55 years he held a stick. Through repetition, Professor honed and refined his art to deadly efficiency by the time he got into his early 60’s. Indeed, “repetition is the mother of skill.”
The key is to keep your arsenal simple and practice those simple techniques over and over. “Keep it Simple Stupid.” I think that the true meaning of Bruce Lee’s quote is to keep things simple and practice a few techniques over and over. I’ve seen martial arts instructors teaching 40 techniques per belt level. I feel sorry for their students.
Muhammad Ali’s boxing repertoire was based on one technique, his jab. He worked on this technique mercilessly and was said to be obsessed with it. Many of his punching combinations was based on the jab. Take a look at the last few rounds of “The Thrilla in Manila” when he rallied to beat Joe Frazier. In those rounds, he connected with Frazier’s head with frightening consistency. Many of those combinations began with his jabs.
Another example concerns the coaching philosophy of one of the greatest basketball coaches in Ohio high school history, Jack Greynolds. He coached at Revere High School and, for the last 17 years of his career, at Barberton High School. He never had a losing season. Most of his teams never had a player taller than 6’3″. To compensate for the lack of height, he employed a full court press and a run and gun offense that was revolutionary for the high school level in the 1970s and 1980s. The Barberton Magics often broke the 100 point mark. It was all very simple…..just a full court press and a run and gun offense. This put a premium on superb physical conditioning. Aside from the fundamentals, the Magics often practiced the full court press and their run and gun, honing it to perfection. From 1975 to 1977, the Magics were 72-3 and ranked #2 in the US.
It often comes down to simplicity and repetition, doesn’t it?
Want to get to a high level of martial arts performance? Keep it simple and do a lot of repetitions with attention to detail.
In other words, “you must practice!”