I’m not big on New Year’s resolution but at this time every year I do like to reflect on the year that has passed and the year ahead. The problem is that I am little bit like a rat in maze in one of those psychology experiments – I always end up doing the same thing. Every year I decide to start the New Year with a focus on taijutsu basics.

When I say “basics” I am not referring to skills that are easy. Rather, I am referring to fundamental skills that are the “base” of our art. Taijutsu is like a pyramid. A pyramid’s height is determined by the size of its base. If you want to build a really tall pyramid, you need to start with a strong, wide base.

Developing taijutsu skills is a constant process of building a base, adding a few layers on top of it and then going back and shoring up and expanding that base in order to add yet more, higher layers on top of it. That process never ends and that’s why – like the predictable rat in the maze – I always start the year with basics.

This is something I really look forward to because even after 16 years of studying this art I always find something new in the basics. I suddenly realise that the basics connect to some higher level technique in a way I’d never realised before and that then gives me something to work on in my own training.

The more I delve into the basics, the more I realise the advanced taijutsu is, in many ways, simply really good basics and certainly deeply rooted in them.

So studying the basics is kind of like giving myself a present to start the New Year, that gift is a clear path to improvement.


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