Concept: Attributes

Bruce Lee’s used a large number of concepts in his martial arts training and teaching. One of those concepts he called “attributes”.

Attributes are different characteristics that are useful in martial arts application. Strength, speed, balance, hand-eye coordination, killer instinct, technical skill are all examples of attributes.

Technical skill. People in the martial arts world and focus on the level of technical expertise that a martial artists possesses and think that just the technical expertise of a persons skill set will be the deciding factor in a physical confrontation. There is much more to being an excellent martial artist and black belt then just perfection of technique. This is why in sport systems where younger children are able to achieve the rank of black belt they may have a lot of physical and technical skills but they couldn’t have success against serious adult black belts because they have very few of the advanced attributes beyond their technical ability. They also lack most of mental skills and training that separates what serious martial artists think of as “real black belts” from sports martial arts systems that will give children advanced belt ranks. Technical skill is the most obvious of the martial arts attributes but for it to be most effective it must be augmented with the other attributes as well.

Strength. Having more physical power than the opponent is a significant advantage. Many times the person with the greater physical strength and mass can overcome even some superior technical skill by just physically powering through when they are opposing a technique that is being attempted on them. You can overcome an attacker being stronger than you through skill and training but being stronger is still a good advantage to have.

That is why for instance at our dojo we have a very effective martial arts based strengthening routine that we teach if students want to increase their physical strength.

Speed. Having more speed and being faster than the opponent is also an advantage. Speed can be trained for. You can train to have more “economy of motion” and other ways of hitting and moving with optimal quickness.

Balance. Having better balance and being able to move more effectively is another attribute that makes for a more effective martial artist.

Killer instinct. Being able to manifest the intensity and the ferocity that is needed for the self-defense situation is a huge advantage. It is an attribute that can overcome many of the others. It can be trained for through various mental training methodologies. It is definitely an attribute that you will want to have the ability to use if needed. Survival instincts, the will to live, natural fight or flight ferocity are all part of your instincts and make up.

Many of these things have been set aside by the characteristics of our modern life but they are a part of you and they are an attribute that is hugely effective in self-defense. (As a side note using your natural aggressiveness in a positive way such as we do in martial arts also ironically gives the additional benefit of being a more peaceful and relaxed person)

Timing. Having a better developed sense of time and rhythm is useful in martial arts training. Not strictly in the musical sense of course, although you are looking for patterns in the opponents movement and tactics.

Proper timing allows you to choose the correct moment to optimize your chances of a technique or defense being successful. And as with all attributes there are very straightforward methods that have been developed over the years to teach these skills. All good black belts have excellent timing and good teachers can develop it in their students very easily.

That’s a quick overview of the idea of attributes. When you come out to the school we will explain it in more depth.

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