I have a problem with training (Muay thai , Filipino and wing chun) in that I am a perfectionist. I focus on details of technique like my stance, my body shift, if if I put my body weight on the strike to make it more powerful , if I made it 100%, etc... I focus on that because I am afraid to do the techniques wrong. Which will result in a weak strike and that strike will not affect my opponent

Actually that prevent me from being a creative martial artist, to make a technique in my own way for example, not putting my weight in a strike due to my position in a fight. Another example, I will do a technique like "knee, elbow, punch or even kick" all without putting my body weight in it due to my position.

Should focus on details or should I be creative and do techniques in my own way?

  • Welcome to the site. I edited your question a little to make it more readable. It is a really good question. – Sardathrion - against SE abuse Apr 26 '16 at 6:33
  • Forbidden Kingdom might not have been a great film, but at the core "You have to learn the form in order to learn the formless" is a nice little quote. But from a perspective of training sciences, "perfecting" the form (~10k-16k executions) without adapting to your specific body mechanics will do no good, you would have to un- and relearn in order to adapt. You should adjust it after you have the main features correct. Each form is meaningless if it isn't adjusted to the material. It's like making a teddybear out of steel. The quote holds for the adjusted form, though. – Philip Klöcking Apr 26 '16 at 13:15

I've found a key part of the learning process is experimentation. First, learn the basics to where you can do them consistently well. Not perfect, but good.

Then play a bit with it. Change the angles, a little bit. Change the weight distribution. Change your timing of when you push off or drop your weight to get your strikes in.

The point of this is not to create a new technique, but rather to learn:

  • What are the limits of a technique? (angle, range, position, etc.)
  • What works best FOR ME personally with this technique? (some techniques work differently for different body proportions)

Sometimes doing it wrong also highlights for you why you do certain things in the "right way" that you may not have known. The small adjustments can also help you discover what the correct way is that may have been described for you, but you didn't actually know physically. A lot of efficiency in power is about small adjustments in angles and timing of how to activate your muscles - which you only learn by playing around like this.

End your training sessions with doing it the correct way, incorporating whatever you get from these experiments that worked out well. There may be sessions of training where the only thing you learned is "Why we don't do it that way".


You should focus on the details now so that you can free yourself from them later. The proper mechanics are vitally important. Proper posture, alignment, and balance are fundamental to functionality (and injury mitigation). Once your form has become second nature, you can work on spontaneity and improvisation. You can only really customize the techniques and make them your own after you have laid down the foundation to deviate from. That foundation is key for proper perspective. It helps you understand what aspects are viable to change and which ones are essential kept as they are.


There are a few aspects to this:

  • Make sure you're developing those "perfectionist" techniques so you can apply them minimally from your usual fighting position - they should snap out with minimal telegraphing. Practice on the heavy bag, making sure you can launch a wide variety of your techniques from the same guard position, as well as advance, retreat, side-step and even jump comfortably. Each should be very direct, minimal and powerful, happening like a click of the fingers rather than with a big windup/backswing or large sluggish movement into the technique. Focus on attacking with that suddenness then returning immediately to the guard or a follow-up technique.

  • Use the experience/insights into how you can unleash your techniques on the bag to guide how you dynamically maintain a good stance and guard relative to your opponent, so you can unleash your "classic" techniques freely at them.

  • Make a conscious effort to be flexible and spontaneous mentally in your technique selection, so you're utilising opportunities that arise or you can create and using your "perfectionist" technique in its classic application, rather than fixating on one or a few techniques and trying to make them work when the openings they require aren't available. Constantly during sparring, extend your awareness towards what you can do next that's most likely to be decisive. Take a few risks during friendly practice to help hone your decision-making abilities with feedback. As an example - you might be preparing a powerful reverse punch but see the opponent's going to be able to block it, so throw a front jab to the liver instead.

Which brings us to...

Actually that prevent me from being a creative martial artist, to make a technique in my own way for example, not putting my weight in a strike due to my position in a fight. Another example, I will do a technique like "knee, elbow, punch or even kick" all without putting my body weight in it due to my position.

Should focus on details or should I be creative and do techniques in my own way?

Think over some of the situations where this has happened, and what you might have been able to do if you were "creative". Practice variations of your classic techniques. For example - if you find one opponent always blocks your high section roundhouse/turning/mawashi-geri kicks, you might practice on the bag by introducing a slight delay mid-kick - hopefully they'll tense slightly into a block and you'll actually make contact as they're relaxing again. Or you might withhold the final extension of the kick while turning your kicking leg's knee downwards, then kick downwards at their face. Or bring the knee across without extending the lower leg then hook back in the opposite direction with the heel. Or use some kind of hybrid turning/side kick. Don't think of these things as flawed or poor techniques - practice and explore them with a mindset that a less basic technique that still hits hard enough to do significant damage - or just create an opportunity to do so - is better than a classic technique that's 10 times harder but easily and consistently blocked.

Similarly, a given art might habitually practice a downward "chop", and horizontal chops, but if you realise a diagonally-downwards chop might be a good way to penetrate an opponent's guard, practice such a strike until you're comfortable with it too.

These variations are not necessarily any less "perfect" than your "classic" techniques - you can and should practice them the same with an aim to achieve good speed and optimal power. As you explore such variations, you may start to perceive what I call the "lines of power" around the body - the ways you can coordinate and time the motion of different parts of the body - legs, hips, core muscles, pecs/lats, arms, flexing of the spine etc. to strike powerfully from a wide variety of angles and positions. Your classic techniques are likely prime examples of these lines of power: you want to be so familiar with the classic technique that you can vary say the back foot position then otherwise follow the classic technique and have your attack drive in at the opponent at a correspondingly different angle, all without much compromise to power or speed.

Summarily, you can get a long, long way by sticking to "perfectionist" classic technique if your perfectionist practice has been focused on minimalist, untelegraphed, powerful, snappish movement and you're mentally adjusting your technique selection spontaneously. You get even further by systematically looking back at situations where you've been unable to find an effective technique, and studying variations, strategies or tactics you could try next time. After a while you'll probably manifest spontaneous adaptations too, but I wouldn't try to do that for its own sake - let it happen from a deep foundation of carefully practised techniques. The risk with trying to force creativity is that you create half-baked techniques without sound body-mechanical underpinnings, that may have enough power to block or strike in a friendly dojo situation but will fail you on the street.


It really depends on what you want to achieve through your martial arts. To be a fighter you can be effective by knowing several moves really well (your perfectionist side). If you want to be better for enjoyment then if perfectionism makes you happy stick with it.

I would suggest doing the moves really slowly (perfect balance and technique) then speed up. With speed comes power. Some of my most damaging (on my opponents) moves have been fast with good technique and hitting the right spot- I did not even think I hit that hard.

But if you want to be a more complete martial artist then having a range of moves is important. By exploring different combinations you will find what works for you and also it will help you land hits on opponents. For this I would write a list of all the moves you know (it will be longer then you think) then start putting them in orders that you have never tried before.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.