I am a Master of Karate, and Kung Fu, and Aikido, and...
Enough, the leg pulling has to stop, right?
Well, you may not accuse me of leg pulling after you read this article.

There are component parts to all Arts. These parts (to greater or lesser degree, to greater or lesser balance) are: Form, technique and freestyle.

Form is easy, just go out and buy a few tapes and...
But how many Forms do you need? What is the purpose of Forms? Do you need to know the Forms of every Art to master every Art?
To know a Form is to know 1) a pattern of movement, and 2) to know your body.
What you are actually learning, when you do a Form, is to control your body, from the inside out, and vice versa. That, as a criteria, can change the way you view Forms, and the Form line ups of any Art.

Freestyle is also easy. Just go out and fight. Right? Well, not exactly. You should learn how to freestyle in conjunction with your Form. The method of Forms that you practice should give you sufficient control that you are not a danger to your partner. In other words, you learn to control his (her) Form.

Form is actually the ideal. Technique is the applied ideal. And Freestyle is your best attempt to make the ideal of the Martial Arts work in the real world.

And this brings us to Technique. Technique, if done correctly, will enable you to learn the physics and concepts involved in your Art, and will enable you to realign your Forms so they make sense, and can open doors unparalleled in your study of the Martial Arts.

To understand technique is very simple, if you follow the directions which I will give you here. These directions are so simple that you will say, 'I knew that.' And you did, but your specific Art has probably only given lip service to what I am about to share, and has most likely not followed the essence of this advice.

1) Make a list of the techniques in your Art.

2) Arrange these techniques in a gradient manner.

3) Toss out the extraneous and fill in the blanks.

Number one should be easy. I do suggest that you adhere to a simple languge when decribing your techniques.
The sad fact is that there is no comprehensive, 'Universal' language in the Martial Arts. Kenpo describes their techniques one way, Aikido another way, Tae Kwon Do another way, and so on.
This is truly silly when one considers that the techniques being described are related to the physical body and the physical universe, and the language of the subject should be agreed upon.
I suppose that there will be some who insist that if you don't learn how to say front kick in Japanese you aren't really doing a front kick, but...
Anyway, the point here is that physics is the same no matter what country you hail from, so why shouldn't the physics of the body be the same?

Number Two is more difficult. The reason it is difficult is usually for one of two reasons.
First, the Art you are examining is a 'Closed Combat System' to the extreme. While it is important for Arts to be taught in a specific method, and the method can be protected by defining it as a Closed Combat System, the fact remains that if your Art is too closed it will not include certain concepts vital to the Art Whole, and, furthermore, you will have a difficult time translating your Art from block to lock, and so on.
Second, the Art you are studying has samplings from everything, and no systematic method for helping you to progress. This is the other side of 'Closed Combat' concept. This is the Eclectic, or 'Open' Combat System.
The fact is that all the concepts of every Art are in every other Art, and if the methodology is over protected certain concepts will be curtailed before they come to fruition, to the detriment of that Art. And if they are unprotected one may never progress far enough to delve into the True Art.
However your Art is arranged, let me offer you a little help on the subject of arranging your material.
Describe each technique on the back of a business card. Utilize simple language as describe above. My suggestion is:

Attack: Right punch to face
Defense: Right inward Block
Counter: Left punch to body

You can include stances as necessary, and you can get quite complicated, but I suggest you develop a little 'Personal brain shorthand' for these cards.
Here is an example of one of my Brown Belt Level cards:

R Pun to face
R in
L grab wrist/pull
R elbow spike to face
Insert TD

When you have all the techniques of your Art described simply lay out the cards and arrange the techniques from easy to hard.
Let me give you a little warning...when I first did this it took me a few weeks, and I had severe migraines during the process. Be prepared!
Here are a couple of things that I realized. Hopefully they will help you stave off any headaches.
Try arranging your techniques in one attack, two attack, three attack groups.
Separate throws from strikes.
Separate the types of throws.
Try arranging the techniques according to the various ranges of combat: Kick, punch, knee, elbow, throw.
Have all techniques done on one side. (Going from left to right can really invert the contortions of your gray matter.)
Try to group the techniques logically per the belt rankings of your style.


Okay, number three.
Tossing out repetitious techniques is easy. The interesting thing is that you may find your Art resolving into separate artistic influences.
Throws become Judo. Strikes become Karate. And so on. (One interesting possibility is the arranging of the belt levels of your Art into separate artistic influences.)
And, this is going to be the difficult part, you will have to ascertain where the short comings in your Art are.
For me it was easy. I have thirty years in the Arts. I know several Karate systems, have studied Aikido, Tai Chi, A couple of different styles of Kung Fu, and so on.
The more Arts you have at your fingertips the easier it will be for you.
Let me give you a hint:
If it strikes call it Karate
If it throws by Force call it Judo or Jujitsu.
If it throws by flow call if Aikido.
If it throws by 'Pulling' call it Tai Chi.
If it sets up by cross step call it Pa Kua.
And so on.
Simply, describe the Arts by physics, and let the techniques fall where they may.
The more Arts you have studied the easier this will be.
You will find, incidentally, as your viewpoint expands, that all Forms are lacking. This is because what you are doing, by following the directions of this article, is 'Getting the whole picture.' And the people who created the Forms, especially of Closed Combat Systems, usually did not have the whole picture.
Gee. You're going to have a larger viewpoint than any of the old masters. Isn't that great?
To go on, let me explain a couple of things that I found especially valuable in this matter of dissecting and understanding the Arts on the whole. I found the Internet especially useful as people have described the techniques of entire Arts and put the directions on the internet. It's very easy to download, arrange the techniques on paper, and use scissors to create your 'cards.'
Kenpo, on the Internet, is especially useful. Kenpo has a sampling of techniques from just about every Art.
I found Kenpo quite worthless as a Closed Combat System, and very difficult to decipher. With all respect to Mr. Parker, the techniques are totally out of order, and seem to be presented in a way that actually obscures understanding.
Before you dis me for this observation I would suggest that you follow the directions of this article in regards to Kenpo.
I do wish to thank those individuals who placed their Art on the internet. I found a few that were quite intent on understanding their Arts, and who were making serious inroads. This article, hopefully, will lead them the rest of the way.

To close: I would like to say that if you can follow the advices of this article you will discover several important phenomena.
You will have to explore a wealth of Forms, and even create your own, to encompass any new line up of techniques you come up with.
You will have to come up with different types of freestyle to go with the concepts that you progress to in your new Art.
About this matter of Art: Art is creativity. Anybody who says you must live and die by a Closed Combat System has a Closed Head. Yes, I do recommend that you stick exclusively to a Closed Combat method for the first few years of your initial training. This is important if you are going to delve into the Core Concepts underlying all Arts. This article, however, is really for students who have progressed beyond the first few years. (Beginners can use the material of this article to help them chart their future course in the Arts.)
This article is more like directions on how to write your Doctoral Dissertation in the Martial Arts.
A PhD, as you may know, is required to make creative and original contributions to his field.
With this article you have the directions necessary to do so.
Remember that old saying: 'Jack of all trades--Master of None?'
With this article you may find your artistic abilities redefined as: 'Master of all trades--Jack of None!'

Monster Martial Arts