By Jose R. Villanueva

As originally published on the Listen & Be Heard Weekly1, November 16, 2005.

If one is going to get anywhere in the Martial Arts, one must work on their fundamentals to such a degree that it becomes instinctual. Fundamentals are vital to any activity. There is no one that can achieve a high level of success without solid fundamentals. The Martial Arts has engineering aspects such as foundation, structure, mathematical, scientific and axiomatic concepts. Fundamentals are the basic building blocks of knowledge in an activity that leads to greater and greater ability on a distinct gradient. One should know each fundamental thoroughly. When I state "know", I mean understand the concept and science. Students must take each fundamental and practice it to such a degree that mistakes are not occurring. The final touch is to be able to apply a technique with all its fundamentals instinctually. The fundamentals lead to one's abilities (skills).

Fundamentals must get to a level of knowingness. It is the thorough understanding of the theory of each basic fundamental. When one trains in the Martial Arts, he is taught one piece of foundation/structure. Each piece builds on other pieces to create ability. For example, a child beginning his education in elementary school learns his ABC's. As he goes to the next grade, he learns to put words together. He then learns the definitions of words, and so on down the line of education. The only difficulties that ever occurred were the lack of thorough understanding of one or more fundamentals or the complete omission of one or more fundamentals. Therefore, ability could not be obtained.

The practical application of fundamentals will create confidence and certainty, so no errors are occurring. It is very elementary when one observes the creation of human ability that it is vital for one to practice to perfection. For example, you can take a student who has learned each fundamental there is to a front kick, and he drills each component of that front kick until he no longer is making errors on the exact fundamentals. He is so confident in his application of each basic fundamental that he can now graduate to the next gradient of ability.

We can take this student who has drilled his fundamentals to perfection, and he is now working to apply the technique so it is instinctual. Instinctual is defined as - a technique becomes so thoroughly a part of you that it is applied without the mechanics of thinking. One is not thinking about each fundamental. The technique flows as a whole not as separate parts. Thus, we have ability!

Fundamentals cannot be omitted from the equation when it comes to creating human ability. It is the very thing that will cause one not to be successful in an activity. Fundamentals have to be applied on a consistent basis. They must be known thoroughly, and 100% correctly. It is sad when I observe schools of academia because fundamentals are being omitted, so students are unsuccessful. Each student must know each fundamental and pass each test 100%. If one wants bright and shiny students, fundamentals must be known and applied thoroughly. Absolutely no exceptions!