Concept: Master Keys

Master keys is a concept in martial arts training. It’s a very useful concept that will allow you to adapt and improvise within the techniques you’re using. Master keys are the principles that underlie the individual technique’s in a certain grouping of martial arts skills.

To better understand the idea of master keys imagine you’re standing in front of an apartment complex and there are 100 apartments and each apartment door has a lock and there’s a corresponding key that goes to that individual door lock. So lock number 17 is opened by key number 17 etc.

In a lot of ways that’s how more nonfunctional “classical” or Budo arts -the martial ways and martial sports are taught. You learn a technique that goes to a particular set of circumstances or attack and then you learn another defense against a totally different attack and you start to stack those up over time. Sometimes they teach them as presets, sometimes they do them as an augmentation to the preset patterns (Katas) they teach.

So you learn these preset, rote responses trying to gather up enough of them or do them enough that they somehow you gain an understanding and ability to handle and adapt to whatever you might face in reality.

And obviously many times that’s a long frustrating process. You’re trying to remember all these preset moves and hope you have enough of them to handle whatever might come up and you’re going to be attempting to remember your preset under pressure and distraction of a real life situation.

Master keys work much better than just working with memorizing techniques. The idea of a master key is if you go to that apartment complex with all the different locks one key (the master key) will open all the locks in that building.

In the same way a master key martial art concept will for instance give you an understanding of how a certain set of joint locks work. So you will learn a series of fundamental joint locks for instance but at the same time you’ll have an understanding of the underlying principles that make it work. This “master key” understanding will let you adapt and adjust the technique you’re using to make it fit the circumstances.

Another way we sometimes explain this is when you travel from the neighborhood that you’ve lived in for a long time And know very well you might have a primary route that you use to go to work for instance. So if you knew that your primary route was blocked off you would very easily be able to reroute your trip to get to your destination. You know exactly where you are and it’s very easy to make adjustments.

The opposite situation would be somebody who doesn’t know the neighborhood well and only had one memorized route to get them from point A to point B. That’s the situation that people who try to learn martial arts without a deeper understanding find themselves in. They can’t adapt and improvise because they don’t truly understand where they are and the territory surrounding them.

That’s why people worry when they start to learn martial arts that they are going to have to memorize large amounts of material and somehow remember and execute a certain skill under the time pressure of a real life self defense scenario.

That’s not the way we teach it in our school. We have much better methods of learning. That’s another reason why we have so much success with our students being able to defend themselves effectively. Because we do have better methods that have been developed over the many years that allow people to very simply and very effectively use their martial arts skills.

Once again these concepts are much much easier to learn in person when you’re being instructed. The purpose of the video and this discussion is just to give you the beginnings of an understanding. These are the sorts of concepts that good martial artists know and that you need to know if you want to have functional self-defense skills or just want to learn martial arts in the simplest most effective way.

Give us a call to Dojo (954.249.4998) if you want to learn more and have the opportunity to come out and train with us.

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