Creativity, Comprehension & Interpretation in Martial Arts

Creativity, Comprehension & Interpretation in the Martial Arts

One of the sticking points in martial arts culture seems to be creativity, deriving new technique from basic drills. Every art I’ve been a part of has a system of basic techniques drilled into you, mercilessly, for years.

Some arts, like Karate and Kung Fu have even distilled these basic techniques into forms which roughly flow from one skill to another and pass these templates down from one generation to another.

But, is it Art?

Mindless regurgitation will add to knowledge, skill and overall fitness. Also, traditional martial arts are set-up and taught as individual techniques or in singular situations. Is moving up-and-down the floor performing re-enforced inside-blocks enough to handle the chaotic nature of a fight?

There is more work to do.


Creative Leap

The main hack to creativity in martial techniques is applying them to distance or range which are ideas as old as humanity itself.

Think about the progression of cave-dwellers throwing rocks at each other all the way to the modern hyper-sonic intercontinental ballistic missile. If the popular sci-fi space opera novel series “The Expanse” is even remotely correct, humanity will go back to throwing rocks at each other except this time the “rocks” will be asteroid-sized. Full circle, right?

Additional to ranges, start including body-positions and levels.

The aforementioned Re-enforced Inside Block (REIB), doesn’t look like much of long-range weapon skill.



Re-enforced Inside Block


Break it down.

There are 2 arms. The right arm and fist, positioned across the body, touches the forearm of the left arm. Now, 1/2 of that position looks an awful lot like a hook punch from boxing or kickboxing but not considered a long-range tactic.

It is an excellent starting point for a cross-body hammer-fist, which does require a full-extension of the arm, thus qualifying as long-range strike.

Likewise, the left arm in the upright position looks like it might be an uppercut from boxing/kickboxing. Again, not considered a long-range tactic but is a position for a snappy back-fist extension to the bridge of the nose.



You now have 2 more tactics on top of what might only consist of Jab, Cross, Hook, Uppercut.

At shorter ranges, you can focus on elbow positions of the REIB. Realize the cross-body and the up-and-downward elbow strikes now available to you.

At grappling range, clinches, body-locks and hip-throws can be inferred from the REIB.

Do me a favour. Form the REIB. Open the hands, turn the palms out. Lay the right hand across the left forearm.

Tell me, how close are we to a rear-naked choke? A traditional shoulder-lock?

From one basic technique, you now have 15 new ideas to explore.

That’s the Art of Martial Arts.


Look for a companion video soon!

Sensei Jim



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