Principles in action

Principles in action

Principles are something that has been in the forefront of my martial arts for the last 20 years, although I have been involved in the fighting arts for 50 years.

It was only after meeting my good friend and aikido master Pip Mahony and having countless training sessions and discussions with him that I realized that without doing the principles of something you cannot do martial arts or to be honest anything in life. E.g. driving a car, playing the piano, ice skating, yoga, constructing a building and so on. Without core concepts and understanding of the principles you will always be collecting techniques and dare I say it collecting baggage.

This leads me to the way martial arts is taught many styles and systems of martial arts use a blanket approach or a one size fits all. That means the instructor chooses techniques and just gets the students to endlessly repeat them hoping that if you throw enough shit at the wall something may stick. (Excuse my French) I don’t why we use that expression in English?

Any way I have often wondered why we do not explain the principles to the students right from the start of their training, this could be an instructor thing that they don’t know them, it could also be a time thing that you cannot explain everything in the given time, or instructors will use excuses and say that the students are not ready yet.

For me and everyone I come in contact with I always share the principles they are not negotiable, you must not only do them but also understand why you have to do them.

Let us just start with posture, this seems an easy enough principle; just make sure you are in good posture. Now let’s really look at it though, posture could also includes taking the opponents posture, also mental posture, also environmental posture, so it is not so simple as just saying posture.


Below I have given you many of the most important principles that you must do when doing any technique or martial art for that matter. Having said this they are only words you have to practice and practice to bring meaning to the words. I always say to people that you will filter and decipher them with your own knowledge and experience at that time. Then as you keep training and practicing they will take on new meaning as your knowledge increases.


People are not born with beliefs and opinions these are the result of education and experience. Therefore they are subject to change as a result of being exposed to new experiences and ongoing education.

‘‘I am still learning’’ – Michelangelo at age 87

Here are the main ones to look at;

Posture, Footwork, Elbow in, Absorption,  Deflection,  Projection,  Use your centre,  Centreline, Three way action,  Subconscious non thinking,  Entering,  Hip to hip, Never go back on the same path,  No flat edges,  Energy transfer, Focus to the smallest point,  Minimum effort for maximum effect, Control the distance, Create voids for your opponent to fall into, Grounding your opponents energy, Continuity of motion,  No gaps,  Timing, Awareness, Hit with your hip,

Pre-emptive strike,  Occupy the space of your opponent,  Blending Energy, Don’t evoke flinch response or do, Focus energy to the balance points,  Don’t build structure, Leading,  Diaphragmatic breathing, Don’t give up position for submission, Avoid head on collision , Mobility, Sticking, Control,  Internal balance,  Mental distraction, Non looking, Economy of motion,  Create a moving base,  Eliminating orientation, Transitional flow,  Limit opponents options, Non doing, Blend with your  opponent, Slow and smooth and smooth is fast,  Absorb back into  your centre, Don’t engage muscle, Bypass structure and barriers, Offensive orientation, No arm movement without a corresponding foot movement and vice versa,  Stability,  Oneness.

Match your opponents energy first, Sensitivity, Defensive Orientation, Make your opponent do what he wanted to do before he wanted to do it,   Spirals,  Circles,  Dots, Three dimensional movement, Mental stability.  Hips lead legs follow, Kinetic loading, don’t open a gap without filling it, Drills build the skills. Circle within a circle, First move dictates, Link don’t bind, Precision over power and timing over speed, through not to.


Keeping training and learning, be safe

GM Angelo