Friday, 5 November 2010

The Law of Priority

One of the key principles we apply in the Aegis system is the 'Law of Priority' what the ancient English Martial Arts Masters called the 'Four True Times' and the 'Four False Times'. The Law of priority is a very useful principle that we can apply to any technique and once you understand it you will move more efficiently, faster and with more power. You'll get hit less and hit your sparring partners more often, Wow! that's some big claims to make! You'd think this was a sales pitch. the good news is that this is not a sales pitch and the claims I just made are really true. Also the principle is very simple to learn and it works like this:

1. The hand moves before the body
2. The body moves before the foot
3. The foot moves before the feet

The hand, the weapon, moves first. That's it! Simple. The weapon moves first means that nothing moves before the weapon. So if its a punch, let's say a Jab, a good jab needs some shoulder behind it to give reach and power and generally this will be accompanied by a step to increase range and apply bodyweight. This is standard for most techniques isn't it. But there is a precise order that this all has to happen in or the technique will be impaired. In this example the fist, (the weapon) moves first, nothing moves before the fist or else your opponent will see it coming and if he sees it coming he can react to it meaning he can defend against it. Our goal is to hit our attacker with a shot he never saw, this way he can't defend against it. As Muhammad Ali said 'Your hands can't hit what your eyes can't see'.

The next thing to move is the body - the body follows the fist. The fist has to reach an unwilling target so its usually accompanied by a step to get close enough to contact. My old Boxing coach used to say 'lean on it!' meaning lean on the punch, apply bodyweight behind it and this is how you apply body weight but doing this means you have to step under the weight you are throwing forwards. The basic idea of a punch is to throw the technique so commitedly that it throws you off balance and this balance is regained by stepping forward to catch your bodyweight before you fall flat on your face.

Now I've talked a lot about throwing a technique so far and I bet I haven't said anything you didn't already know have I? So why do i see so many experienced martial artists who break the law of priority? Because its one of those concepts that is so simple you can easily miss it. I often see students throwing kicks and punches with only the arm or leg so they have no reach or power. I see students throwing rear leg kicks before lead leg kicks; the kick rarely lands and they wonder why?

So the 'Law of Priority' means that when you, for instance punch, the first thing to move is the fist followed by the shoulder and body, then the foot to catch the weight thrown out of balance. Understanding this concept will revolutionise the effectiveness of your techniques though it can be quite hard initially to achieve because we're not always doing what we think we're doing. To check this I suggest video yourself or get a partner to check your order of prioritised movement. very often I see even experienced martial artists moving the foot before the Jab, this is an easy mistake to make but it makes a huge difference in effective combat.

This, as I mentioned yesterday is a law and so it works every time and in everyday life it links with Stephen Covey's 2nd habit of highly effective people which is 'Put First Things First'. So my goal today is to put first things first not only in my training but in all 4 areas of my life: Heart, Mind, Body and Spirit. Have a Great day, tomorrow I'll be talking about the Heart, Mind Body Spirit in more detail so please come back and read me again.

Best wishes

Tony Higo
Chief Instructor
National Martial Arts College

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