It's all about technique

I saw this video featuring Michael Jai White on the subject of "telegraphing" quite some time ago, but here is the "extended version". It is certainly worth a watch:

I have posted this video because I often get skeptical looks from other martial artists when I raise the issue of telegraphing and other extraneous movement.

"Surely it doesn't make such a difference," they say (or, at least, they think - I can see the raised eyebrows, if nothing else). "Telegraphing might make a difference if the movement is huge. But some subtle shoulder lift or twitch that happens a microsecond before the punch? Are you telling me I need to be fussed about "refined" technique when my "rough and ready" does the job? Are you telling me that I am being "inefficient": that I can't do a little hip load before the punch - to give it "power"? You obviously haven't seen how fast I hit!"

Well here is my answer:

Yes, you should have refined and efficient (ie. direct and devoid of extraneous movement) technique. The above video shows you exactly why. We all need to eliminate tells, twitches, shakes and other uncontrolled movement in our technique. We should be striving for perfect control. We should be moving as directly and succinctly - ie. efficiently - as possible. While this is a goal that none of us will achieve, intelligent civilian defence methodology relies upon good technique - not simple brute strength and speed and not flashy, circuitous moves designed to "add power".

And even if you're as big as King Kong and as fast as Usain Bolt, you should be striving for this goal. Why? For the sake of gong fu - bettering your skill through diligent effort. This is why we call what we do martial art. It's not just about fighting, but even when it is, we need to have the best technique we can possibly have.

"Are you really telling me you can read my "unrefined" or "circuitous" movement - and that it will slow me down enough to make a difference? By the way, have I shown you how fast I hit?

Actually, yes to both.

I might not be Michael Jai White, but what he's doing in that video is standard in traditional martial arts schools. It isn't "magic" and it isn't "new". It's old hat.

And if you're still thinking that you can get away with "double hip" and "sine wave" when even the smallest, imperceptible shoulder twitch both gives you away and slows you down, then you've really missed the point.

Copyright © 2013 Dejan Djurdjevic


  1. as always i love the simple techniques that you present for lay people to practice im already doing your exercise at home and im a boxer but western boxing has a lot of holes however i do want to again expose you to a floyd video where he explains the way he throws the punch without telecommunicating he even defends with out communicating what i have noticed like mr white said is that he comes straight and he has his eyes squarely on the the way im still waiting on your video on incorporating the mayweather style pad work for offence and defence in karate
    as always its a pleasure

  2. Thanks Fabian.

    I've got so many ideas pending for the blog and sadly so little time! I hope I get to it a bit later this year!

  3. That emphasis on perfect technique is exactly what I love about TMA that I feel MMA lacks. It was great seeing Kimbo Slice impressed and baffled by White's technique.

    I've been to a few schools that "claimed" to teach MMA (I say that because it's such a fad here in the States that every school now teaches MMA) and it was always the same thing: sloppy, sloppy technique.

    I'm sure it's cleaner among the professionals, but the schools I visited had no interest in technical prowess. It was all about training for speed and power without any emphasis on fundamentals of power generation.

    On the first day I was doing bagwork, and never once was I told HOW to hit! It's absurd, even moreso when I consider the vitriolic attitude that MMA has towards TMA. In their quest for "aliveness" and "realism" they've lost sight of the fundamentals.


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