Skill progression in Martial Arts

You start, you can’t. You practice, you can.

Sounds simple… And it is. The only problem is in the P word. That P word can be the difference between greatness and mediocrity.

Martial arts and kung fu teaches us this lesson.

The discipline that it takes to PRACTICE something enough to get good, and I mean really good, is what defines a persons ability.

As a teacher I have seen many naturally talented people who could have been excellent at Martial Arts give up because of a lack of mental discipline. Conversely I have seen many people who have had to struggle with every part of their Kung Fu journey, yet they keep trying and eventually  get it and become really good. There are many factors at play here but the most important is mental discipline. The ability to apply yourself to achieve something that you find difficult, if not impossible.

Whether it be achieving physical skills that require, flexibility, strength, speed, accuracy, endurance or the refinement of movement. Advancing from basic gross motor movements to the acquisition of fine motor skills is, I believe, one of the greatest gifts studying Kung Fu can give a person.

And I do mean Kung Fu, because I believe that Kung Fu is generally more technical and requires a broader range of skills than other martial arts. It is more difficult.

As an example of learning a new skill I have posted a video with this blog. While training at Head Academy Kung Fu in Caringbah, I decided that I should film me trying to learn to do a part of a traditional form that I had previously not been able to do. The movement is from the Jow Gar Kung Fu Bench form. It involves doing a forward roll off the bench into a back bridge while rolling the bench over onto the ground.

This is a great example of breaking something hard down into achievable pieces and working to build up to the full required movement. A good teacher should be able to break a movement down into its components and develop drills to progress a student through the process. I have included in the video a couple of training sessions where I trained components I thought necessary to make sure I had the back strength and flexibility then moved into a gradual progression through various stages leading up to the full required movement. (Please note for a beginner to intermediate Kung Fu student I would add a few more exercises and progressions to enable them to build up to this technique including forward rolls and some back bridge work. Please do not use this as an instructional video of how to train the movement).

Now I was originally shown this form without this movement in it, then after learning it again was shown the more difficult introduction. It would have been easy for me to come up with an excuse to leave it out…I am too old, too inflexible, no time blah blah blah. But I decided that I was going to do it and went about achieving it. That smile on my face at the end, is a genuine smile of satisfaction. Knowing that I put in some hard work and now I can do something that previously I could not. Its not perfect….. Yet.

At Head Academy Kung Fu we teach self defence, and all the other great things that training Kung Fu can bring. But, I believe the greatest lesson that Kung Fu has to teach is that in each and every training session you have the ability to leave the training floor better than when you stepped onto it.

Scroll to Top