improving TMA

We've got a pretty good idea of what's wrong with TMA, so what do we do about it?

I've got a few ideas:

Be honest about what you teach. If its exercise, self improvement or point sparring then come clean and don't try to make it into something it isn't.

Know your limitations. If you don't think you have any, start cross training with people who do something completely different than you. If that doesn't point out your limitations, get someone good looking to play you in the movies.

Did I mention cross training? Do it.

Hit stuff. Heavy bags, focus mitts, makiwara-don't just punch/kick in the air.

Drill, drill, drill.

Work with big training partners, small ones, strong ones, quick ones, mean ones-get a variety of people to train with. Tell them to resist.

Speaking of drills, everything is a drill including those forms and kata some hold sacred. Treat forms as a drill. Within reason, they shouldn't be set in stone, they weren't given to us by God after all.

Get in good overall physical condition. The better the body works, the better it will perform the techniques.

Think, experiment, test your ideas.

Spar. Doesn't have to be full contact, but practice applying your techniques against someone who is actively resisting by trying to hit you back. Don't keep points - if they hit you, you'll know it and vice versa. Make the rules as flexible as possible, allowing for the widest range of techniques. This is going to be a trade off with safety. Its up to you to determine what risks you are unwilling to take. Keep in mind, other folks may be unwilling to take the same risks.

What other suggestions do y'all have.


dont imitate the masters, seek what they sought. Just becuase the guy at the top of your family tree could fight does not mean you can. If you look at any of the old "masters" what did they have in common? They all tested their theorys against other Martial artists, and they all learned more than one system.

Awesome list.

Work with big training partners
One of my favorite moments in HKD was during a test. Two females students were doing self-defense moves against the two biggest guys there. One woman struggled, but improvised a little, took the big guy down, and locked him up. The other woman cursed, strained, and eventually gave up.
"Who do you train with?!" asked Sabumnim. She pointed out several female instructors. "Little people!", he shouted. "Are you afraid of little people?!"
"Who do you train with?" he asked the successful woman. "BIG PEOPLE, SIR!" The class busted up.
After that, I made it point to find the biggest partners possible.

Spar with mutliple formats so you don't get caught up in the rules.