What Is ‘Natural’ In Martial Arts?

zTT Shuuto

I remember saying to Toru Takamizawa my Karate Sensei that martial arts were ‘natural movement’ and he answered “no they’re not, they’re trained, skilful movements done naturally.” A big difference!

We have to really understand this. Right from the start we have to learn how to stand, walk and run, how to breathe and train our emotions, this requires a constant mindful state.

We have to learn the right ‘martial’ exercises to free the body and enable the strength, flexibility and mobility required.  These have to be trained daily.

We have to learn the ethos behind our art and the principles behind the strategies and movement and all of these have to be put into the techniques of the system and trained unerringly until the skills become ‘natural’ to us.

If we don’t get this and don’t train in this way we cannot ever get to be a martial artist. It is a lifelong pursuit of mindfulness and skill training.

I meet many 30 year + martial artists that have only repeated the first 3 years 10 times and have failed miserably. They learned enough to teach the basics to others but are not mindful and are still sadly lacking in any consumate skill. Time served and lineage mean nothing without mindfulness, resolve, determination, the courage to improve and the intelligence to find and utilise the right resources.

Each part of a system is like a piece of the jigsaw, just a shape and a small part of the picture, it’s only when it’s put together in an intelligent way until it ‘fits’ that we can see the entire picture.  I can’t count how many people have a jumble of pieces with many still missing!

Many systems have been put together from the bottom up, with the instructor deciding what do for white belt, then yellow, then orange and so on and the problem is that there is no synergy to an end result and that cannot possibly work. The only one possible is invariably a jumble!

When devising a system an Instructor should determine what he wants from his dan grades first and then map it backwards to beginner, that way everything points to the destination and has synergy. I often ask Instructors what the end result of their training system is and their answer is a predictable jumble.

I wanted good health, emotional intelligence and the ability to validate the learning in all areas including self defence.  That was my starting point and I worked backwards from there, nothing in my syllabus is vague in any sense and every skill can be followed through from white belt to the highest black belt grades.

If you are going to train in any art or skill to become ‘natural’ to you, make sure it’s worthy of the effort and will enhance your life!


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