A question came up in a budo group I’m part of asking what the 3 most important concepts in budo are. It’s an interesting question. What ideas are most fundamental in the art you practice? These concepts undergird and direct your training. They direct the focus of your training and what sort of things you are practicing. People offered quite a few ideas, including:
Keep your body relaxed.
Always keep your center (or be centered).
Keep your elbows down, and close to your body
Always try to control the first move
Many of the ideas offered were specific to Aikido, which is the point of that group. My thoughts are more general and apply to any form of budo. My list is structure/stance, spacing and timing, in that order. Each builds on where the previous concept is, and without effective use of the previous concept the next cannot be employed effectively. All apply regardless of whether you are doing kung fu, judo, boxing, aikido, swords, staves or scary stuff like kusarigama. This my list, and I make no claim that it is definitive. I offer it in the hope of sparking good conversation and consideration of the most important elements of practice and application. I’d thought to do these all in one post, but it looks like it’s I’m going to have to give each one it’s own post.
My first principle is structure/stance. Without a solid, connected, supported structure you can’t accomplish anything. This why I’m only partly joking when I say that the only thing I really teach is how to walk and how to breath. Good structure is what allows the fastest, most effective, stable and strong movement. If you are slouching and rolling your shoulders, tipping your head at the ground and not supporting yourself, you can’t breathe deeply or efficiently. Slouching and poor posture compress the torso so it cannot hold as much air. You will get tired more quickly just because you can’t get enough oxygen into your body fast enough.