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Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture
Revolutionary Changes?

I was discussing “revolutionary” moments in our martial arts with a training partner a few days ago. Whereas most martial progress is steady and takes place over a long period of time, occasionally we come across something that changes what we do overnight. What I mean is a concept or idea that we are so blown away by that we change what we do from that point on.

A few examples from my own training would be experiencing Peter Consterdine’s double hip method of power generation (coming from Kimura), Geoff Thompson’s “fence”, a seminar with Martin Murphy where he stressed the importance of practising running away and gave a number of drills for its practise, training with Peter and Brian Seabright and their emphasis on transitions or “fighting on the half beat”, and so on. All of the above made me change how I trained and practised from that point on.

I thought it may be interesting for people to share their own “revolutions” as it would give us all the chance to check them out and see if they would help us too?

So what concept, technique, drill or experience did you personally find revolutionary? Why was it so convincing and how did your training change afterward?

All the best,


Leigh Simms
Leigh Simms's picture
I remember watching the first 2 ufc's back to back (where their were little rules and it was style vs style orientated) after watching them I realised that I need grappling skills if I am to survive a fight. Reading dead or alive and watching the pavement arena inserted the fence into my martial arts straight away My instructor was almost their at cracking the 'code' of kata but I think it was bunkai justu that made us realise we have to teach it pragmatically
Dave Moore
Dave Moore's picture

I had two, one was the seminar you did for Jason Murray in Bradford at Beckfoot school a few years back where my brother asked me along,  after grappling and throwing each other around for 4 hours I came away from the seminar thinking ' whoah this is brilliant' and began looking at Karate in a totaly different light rather than the sports orientated stuff I had been doing.

The other was attending a private class with Jon Law of Epic martial arts in Birmingham on Sanchin stance  shortly after your seminar where he explained the stance rather than saying this foot goes  here and  that hand there etc which also blew me away. Been back for a few more private classes and enjoyed every one especially his Saifa class which wasn't based on doing specific Bunkai but more principles underlying it which I could take away and practice.

So both brilliant in their own ways, both made me think and both made me want to learn more

Gary Chamberlain
Gary Chamberlain's picture

Using sabaki

In Kyokushin (in the early days) we fought like two old-fashined sailing ships - getting in close and blasting away at each other.  Going back or avoiding hard shots was seen as a weakness.

Joining Enshin and focussing on avoiding that face to face position was a real education.


PASmith's picture

The first UFC's were pretty pivotal for me too. Having previously done semi-contact tappy tappy TKD it really opened my eyes to the chaotic and unpredictable nature of fighting and how what I was doing wasn't preparing me for it AT ALL.

Another was training with my old Progressive Hapkido instructors Terry and Gordon (neither sadly teaching these days). Both of them could punch, kick, grapple, use a stick, joint lock, throw, trap, the works. They really showed me how much there is to learn in martial arts and what a real martial artist is capable of. How throwing a good kick or punch was just part of a bigger picture. Having previously been pretty well regarded in TKD (I could kick a bit when I was younger) it really broght me back to reality. I've been trying to emulate that breadth and versatility of skill ever since.

michael rosenbaum
michael rosenbaum's picture

I'm always looking for those "a-yes" moments. Some come pretty frequently like when you realize there is a direct correlation between the movements you do in weight training and martial arts. I'm not talking bodybuilding but dynamic style lifts (clean press, one arm snatches, push presses etc,) and how the power transfers -exploding off the balls of feet, up into your hips then on to the arms-can be applied to your karate and improve your karate dramatically.

Aside from the above I guess the two most important moments in my martial arts training have been:

1. When I finally began to make it my own style of fighting and stopped worrying about how someone else did it on Okinawa.

2. When I saw my neighbor get his testicles blown off by a shotgun. I'd been wrestling and training in Judo for around 5 years, but after that little episode I came to the conclusion that empty-hand fighting (karate,kung fu whatever) is at the bottom of the food chain where combat is concerned. Especially if your opponent has a gun.

Mike R

Traveller's picture

Dare I say it? Getting hold of a copy of Karate's Grappling Methods about six years ago and realising that it wasn't an "either/or" choice between striking and grappling, that the Aikido I was studying on the side wasn't somehow a "bolt-on" to my karate, but was integral to a complete fighting system that karate (as I knew it) had abandoned in favour of the "kick, block, punch" product. I'd assumed until then I'd been ploughing a lone furrow; some sort of crack-pot hybrid idea I probably had no business pursuing because surely my instructors knew better than I did.

StuartA's picture

Two moments I can think of - 1st was reading an article by Master Willie Lim a an old combat mag around 1993 where he was doing patterns with the non-standard applictions- blocks as locks etc.

The other one, like others here was getting hold of Dead or Alive - which changed the way I was training to incoporate the fence etc. I remember my instructor asked me to cover a class for him (I didnt run a school then) and  I spent the who lesson practicing stuff from the books and incorprating it with TKD - such as pre-emptive strikes, fence work etc.


Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

Hi All,

Very interesting! Thanks people!

It’s interesting to consider if the “information age” has lead to a greater frequency of these revolutions? What I mean is ideas can spread very quickly these days and hence good ideas can “go viral”. I think that the fact that the martial arts are probably more “mainstream” than ever before it sure to be helping to.

Whereas in the past the only information you could get was from inside the dojo or from any books and magazines you managed to acquire (and pre-Amazon that was not always that easy), today almost everything is just a few clicks away.

The negative is too much information and for the inexperienced it can be difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff.

I do think that we martial artists are lucky to live in the information age. Obviously it’s no substitute for hands on instruction, but it could help us better decide what we want instruction in and evaluate the instruction we are getting.

Another revolution for me was Peter Consterdine’s “box concept”. The idea of separating areas of practise (art, sport, self-defence, fun, etc) so we can practise them all in a focused way, not get the objectives of each confused, not buy into the “by-product myth”, and enjoy all the aspects of the martial arts, was a liberating and very useful concept for me.

All the best,


PS Thanks to those who said my stuff has helped. That’s great to know and kind of you to say.

Andi Kidd
Andi Kidd's picture

Most of mine moments have really been seeing bigger and better possibilities. First time Harry Cook came down was the first time I had seen karate in that way, I'd read about all sorts of stuff but seeing someone do what you have read about and want to do yourself was awe inspiring. This started the move from 'normal' shotokan to heresey!

Hosting a Vince Morris seminar was another one. He had changed his karate to make it work in a real situation. Talking with him made me realise it was possible.

And I have to say (without trying to suck up) that Iain's four step guide to kata was a real eye opener. To be honest it was one of those things that you say "that is obvious, why didn't I think of it", type moments. Before that I had been doing bunkai etc but that gave the the kick start for how to logically progress stuff.

There are also some books that just stop you dead in your tracks and make you go "WOW", 'On combat' and 'Bunkai Jutsu' both did this and recently 'Meditations on Violence' did this for me.


shoshinkanuk's picture

aprox 20 years ago going to a feestyle club and getting knocked about alot despite my 6 years previous hard traditional training, I wasn't prepared for ridge hand or straight blast attacks at all!

aprox 15 years ago cross trianing in wing chun, thai boxing and judo - big lessons!

aprox 10 years ago finding Okinawan Karate, and aprox 6 years ago finding 'the real deal' in terms of what I was looking for,a family art that has little care for grades, how it looks or what anyone thinks!