Martial Arts of Addition and Subtraction

Perhaps there are two ways to approach martial arts training, after all.

I am not talking about soft and hard, or fast and slow, or offense and defense. Nor am I referring to external and internal martial arts—whatever you take those terms to mean.

The first method requires a partner. Together you drill common attack scenarios, one by one, until you’ve perfected a set of automatic, thoughtless and effective responses.

Right hook?
Bear hug?
Single leg takedown?
You are ready. You’ve planned for everything.

The second method can be practiced alone, if necessary. No matter the circumstance, you keep your own balance, and move at your own speed.

Your attacker is not powerful and not important. You remain calm.

If there were only a dozen possible attacks, either method could work. But in fact, there are ten thousand variations.

Which is more attractive: more techniques, or fewer mistakes?

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