Technique or Principle what’s the difference?

Technique or Principle what’s the difference?

This is a question I have posed to me many times. I will break it down and explain it so it will be easy to understand. When doing an arm bar for example or a throw, kick, punch then these are all examples of techniques. It does not matter what style you practice it will always have some form of techniques.

These techniques are not principles they are just techniques. The only reason we have techniques is to study the principles contained in them. Many people will apply an armbar using just brute force, of course it is a way and if you are strong enough you can get away with it but if I try to apply an armbar being my size on a 300 pound person with out using the principles then I am setting myself up to fail!

In my 50+ years in martial arts talking to many martial artists they all just wanted to do the techniques and not to study what makes them all work. Principles are in everything we do and make if we look at a car for example it generally has wheels and an engine to make it go, now the car can look sporty, large, small, long and many other things but it does not matter what colour or the size or how many doors it has it still has to have wheels and an engine.

When we talk about principles we have to do certain things as a precursor to be able to do the techniques on someone, we cannot just apply brute strength and hope for the best . There are many examples lets keep with the armbar as it will then become clear what the difference is between techniques and principles. If I want to apply an arm bar to an opponent I must have good posture to start with now that may seem simple but the amount of people I see leaning when applying it is crazy. You than have to take their posture while all the time not losing yours. You have to be on centreline, you have to spiral it through your opponent, you have to send the energy to the balance points/fault lines. You must be able to absorb, deflect and project as your opponent is trying to counter what you are doing. You need to occupy the space of your opponent, stick to him so you can counter his counter, bypass his structure, blend with him, don’t leave any gaps for him to exploit, keep your moves circular, don’t engage any muscle, create a moving base, keep your elbows in to your side, use your core etc. etc.

So looking at the above principles it is no wonder that people just do an armbar using brute strength and then that is how it is passed down to more students who then just use brute strength.

The above principles should be in everyone’s art but I know how it is difficult to apply them and I am not saying they are easy as I fail to do them many times but at least I know what they are and where and when ever  possible I try to apply them.


Keep well everyone until the next time.

GM Angelo