Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo DaVinci.

Simplicity is the key to brilliance. – Bruce Lee.

My first formal introduction to Arnis/Eskrima was during a private lesson with Professor Florendo Visitacion, otherwise known as Professor Vee in the fall of 1989. I had traveled to New York City with a martial arts buddy of mine, Drew Sandler, during the fall semester break. The highlight of our trip was a private lesson with Professor Vee. I remember him introducing us to the first five angles of attack. I remember being amazed at how simple the angles of attack were. I was entranced by the simplicity of it.

Prof Vee
Professor Vee with knife against stick technique.
Professor Vee and myself
Post private lesson!

“Nah, it can’t be THAT simple!” But, as I later learned, it IS that simple. The more I practice and study the martial arts, the simpler it seems. The more I practice, the more value that I see in simple techniques rather than the fancy or complex sequences. 

The great martial artists tend to keep things simple. There is a reason why Bruce Lee said “I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times.” Yes, the ones who have practiced and mastered the simple techniques are often the great ones.

How many of you have heard the late Professor Remy A. Presas exclaim “You see? It’s berri simple!” Get out the 1980s instructional tapes and you’ll hear him say that several times. Simplicity is the key. He was incredible at keeping things simple. What could be simpler than something, say for example, than banda y banda? It can be applied in so many different ways.


Yet there are those who get into the complicated complex techniques or sequences. Why waste valuable training time on techniques that is not likely to work?

If you are not able to view this video, click here.

As indicated in the video, I did see a YouTube video with the joint locking sequence. I had to watch it several times in order to replicate it for the above “Fix It Friday” video. As it turns out, this was not a one off video. There are several videos by this individual demonstrating different joint locking sequences that were quite complex and, in my view, unrealistic.

Why make it so complex?

Keep it simple!  The simpler your technique is, the better off you are. 

Muhammad Ali’s career revolved around one technique, the jab. That’s it. The “Thrilla in Manila” took place 40 years ago this week and the key to Ali’s victory over Smoking Joe Frazier was his jab. Jab, jab, jab. Pretty simple.

Achieving simplicity is easier said than done. It’s a process for many dedicated martial artists over many years to simplify what they have learned and to come to the realization that simplicity is the key.

I’ve gone through those stages. There is something profound about keeping things simple.

But getting to “simple” takes work.

As Michaelangelo once said:

Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.

And so it is with martial arts.

It is the task of the martial artist to discover simplicity.


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