It’s a tale as old as time — the new student wants to work on the advanced skills, but the coach stresses the basics.
In two decades of training and teaching, I’ve come to just accept that this is the way things usually are. And that’s ok.
But consider this: you can’t build a skyscraper without first building a deep and strong foundation. We call the fundamentals “the basics” because they literally comprise our base. Stance, movement, positioning — the strength of these exist under the surface but provide the foundation for all the visible skills.
We can use extreme and exaggerated examples to illustrate the point I’m making here.
Imagine you are hitting pads with a partner, but instead of standing on the floor, you are balancing on a bosu ball (one of those half-circle, inflatable workout tools). Now, everything just got a lot harder, and your strikes got a lot worse.
Now, let’s take away the bosu ball, but imagine that your stance is sub optimal, and you are always in a slight state of being off balance. The consequences aren’t as extreme, but you are still sapping efficiency, power, and efficacy from your strikes all the same.
A small adjustment to the stance gives you a large improvement to everything else.
And the same holds true for all the basics. The stronger your basics, the stronger your base. The stronger your base, the stronger you become. It’s really that simple.
That isn’t to say that the higher order skills aren’t important — they are, absolutely. But you only set yourself up for frustration and, possibly, failure if you don’t pay just as much attention to the fundamentals.
A tree’s canopy mirrors its root system, usually. As the tree grows upward, it also grows deeper as well. You can trim the canopy and the tree survives — but if you trim the roots, the tree will die.
Keep that in mind as you continue to train and grow, and realize that when you hit an obstacle to your growth, the answer might not be found by looking forward, but by looking backward and seeing what you can improve.