In my travels I often get to look in on various classes that are being taught across the nation. What I see in some martial art and even self defense classes leaves me shaking my head in disbelief. I’ll see brand new students practicing samuri sword defenses, three on one weapon attacks, knife on knife, jump spin kicks, etc Most of those newbies I see practicing such things in class can’t even punch correctly, move or block a punch. Why in the world the instructor wants to take up practice time on these things instead of what the students are most likely to need for real world violence is just baffling. I would think that if you had a report of all of the attacks thrown at someone in the past few weeks a punch to the head would out number a samuri sword attack by about a million to one!

When high ranks in other systems and arts come to our gym and take level one classes they are amazed at how basic the techniques are. They see very easy techniques that they have known for years but they still can’t get through a class at first. Easy basics mixed with aggression, stress and exhaustion is what our level 1 and 2 classes are all about.

In the USKMA we use what we call the “Target Principle” when it comes to teaching self defense. Think of a target. The bullseye represents the most common attacks, the basics that need mastered for those common attacks, movement, targeting and getting body weight into combatives. This is where we should spend most of our training time as this is what will be needed to survive in ninety nine percent of real world attacks.

After these are mastered we can start moving out to different rings on the target. In level three we hit knife, stick and handgun defenses. These are needed but they are not the “bullseye” techniques of punching, movement and body weight transfer. The less common an attack is the further out on the target it should be (the less important they are to practice).

The attakcs and defenses on the last ring of the target are the Hollywood Ninja BS defenses for attacks that we’ll never see. When we get to level 5 and Black Belt we do some really cool things. We do multi person, multi weapon attacks, high jump spin kicks, machine gun defenses, etc. Fun stuff to learn but not worth spending a ton of practice time on and absolutely only done when the basics are mastered.

If you are teaching (or a student for that matter) think about the target principle. Put most of your time in the bullseye, not the outer ring. The bullseye’s easy stuff will save your butt, the outer ring crap will get you hurt. BE SAFE!



  1. Agree with everything. However, if the only way to get people to the salad bar is to put chocolate on it….

    • Good analogy! I guess the “chocolate” we use is a fast paced, fun, workout of a class. It’s got us 850 members at OKM. All that with substance and not flash….way cool!

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