Awhile ago a friend and I were comparing two great martial artists and we generally agreed that one of them was more polished and that the other one was more dynamic. This conversation got me thinking about the issue of being “technically polished” versus being “dynamic.”

What do I mean by “technically polished?” A technically polished martial artist is one who has precision in body structure, movement, control, and striking. Think of a Tae Kwon Do player who can execute a full powered roundhouse kick to your face and stop on a dime without touching your face, every single time, and with perfect form. Another good example would be the kata video below. Notice how precise and crisp each move is? This is a very polished performance. Yet, one cannot deny that there is a certain amount of dynamism contained in Ms. Usami’s kata performance.

On the other hand, a “dynamic” martial artist, in the context of the conversation that I had with my friend, denotes one who has incredible fluidity in terms of operating in multiple ranges, movement, seemingly has an answer to every technique thrown at him/her, is conversant in either multiple arts or is ambidextrous. A great example is Ronda Rousey. To date, she has had an answer to everything her opponents have thrown at her. Her dynamic judo and ground game makes her virtually unbeatable. There is no question that she is dynamic. Yet, judging by her judo videos posted on YouTube and on Facebook, one can say that she is quite polished in her judo techniques as well.

Truth be told, the two martial artists we were discussing can not be neatly buttonholed into either category. While one was more technically polished than the other, he possesses a fair bit of dynamism in his abilities. The other, while undeniably dynamic, could not be so without being polished in terms of superb body structure, positioning, and movement.

For those who are not able to pursue martial arts on a full time basis, whether as a professional athlete or as a full time instructor, becoming technically proficient and polished should be first and foremost. Aim for technical proficiency and the dynamism, to varying degrees and depending on the martial art, should follow.

There are many who wish to become “dynamic” martial artists. But to get there requires many hours of hard work, sweat, tears, and toil. You cannot just become “dynamic” over night. Better to focus on becoming technically proficient in whatever art you are studying. Focus on the basics instead of the flashy pyrotechnics. The dynamism will come. 

Going back to the two martial artists in the discussion that I had with my friend, both had spent most of their lives in their respective arts. Each was technically proficient and each was dynamic in their own way. Yet, we agreed that one had an edge in being technically polished while the other was more dynamic. And those qualities were their respective strengths. Regardless of which side of the ledger you end up on, it all goes back to the basics.

Over to you, have you had the experience of seeing two martial artists, one whom seemed to be more polished and the other being more dynamic?

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