One of the things that helps build a strong foundation in martial arts training is repetition of movement.

The importance of repetition of technique was emphasized at the seminar I recently attended with GM Choi Jung Hwa. Repetition is something I have always tried to reiterate the importance of with my students, but sometimes we forget how truly important it is.

A technique should not be practiced just enough to resemble what it should look like. It should be learnt and repeated the correct way so that it actually IS what it looks like. A technique repeated the correct way should be distinguishable from the one that merely looks right. The true technique can be used with intent and maximum effect, whereas the false technique will only get you hurt, either through you hurting yourself by using it incorrectly, or by somebody else hurting you because you have practiced it in an ineffective manner.

Repeat-repeatA student cannot just practice a technique a couple of times and expect it to have the desired effect. Many only practice the movement when they do it in their pattern (tul/kata) – other than that, it is left alone. The pattern turns into a dance rather than a fight scenario. It becomes solely about grace and elegance rather than about application and effect. Every movement should be repeated countless times so that it has aesthetic appeal and effective power and application, the latter being more important from my point of view.

It is important to repeat technique the correct way. A qualified instructor should be able to give guidance in this manner. Why do I say this? Because a movement can be repeated the wrong way countless times and you can become very good at doing it badly. To correct this is difficult and it becomes necessary to repeat and practice it even more – firstly, to break the old habit, and secondly to make the technique effective. This can be very difficult, but the rewards are great if you are willing to go through it.

With practice and repetition of correct technique you will find you are doing the movement to maximum effect and it will give a new meaning to the way you train. Relying on class time to “practice” is a waste of time. Class is there to learn and correct, practice and repetition of movement happens at home. Going to class for an hour twice a week does not make you a martial artist, it makes you a recreational fan. What happens between classes is what makes us. And what should be happening between classes? Practice and repetition.