Martial Arts Illustrated Column 'Learning Curves' - Part 7


By Lakhvinder S. Madahar


This month it’s only right to begin with a tribute to one of the best known martial arts champion/movie star of our times – Jim Kelly.


Along with millions of other martial arts fans, I grew up watching him in the all-time martial arts classic ‘Enter the Dragon’ then in his own starring roles in ‘Black Belt Jones’, ‘Three the Hard Way’ plus many more., etc. He was a positive influence on our earlier years in training.


It was a shock to learn about his death vis a Facebook post from Ron Van Cliff (martial artist and actor) and it was unexpected as he looked really fit and healthy in the recent Youtube videos.


 Jim Kelly died from cancer on 29th June 2013 – condolences to his family – may he rest in peace.


 In part six of ‘Learning Curves’ I briefly touched upon developing attributes in the martial arts. If you aspire to be a well-rounded martial arts athlete, then the development of attributes are essential. Paul Vunak’s article on attribute development had a huge influence on my training back in the early 1980’s.


“You cannot open a book without learning something” - Confucius


The article made me realise that developing the attributes are just as important as developing the techniques in my chosen arts, hence I re- arranged my workouts in favour of developing the attributes as it’s the other side of the coin and fights are not won by technique alone.


If fights are simply won by technique then the fighters with the greater number of techniques would win all the time.  I refer to this point in my classes quite often. I ask: “Now suppose: student -‘A’ knows one hundred moves and student  ‘B’ knows one hundred and one. Does this mean student ‘B’ will always be the victor over student A, just because he/she can do an extra move?”


It’s always interesting to see the response from the newer members of our academy - always quality over quantity!


“I fear not the man who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the man who has practiced one kick 10,000 times”. – Bruce lee



I’ve had a couple of emails last month asking for more information, plus my own students have shown an increased interest in developing their own attributes to a higher level, so it’s only right for me to expand on it a little.


In all fairness, the subject of developing attributes in the martial arts could possibly fill a couple of issues of this magazine! But since that’s not possible, I’ll go through one or two each month.


Here is Paul Vuank’s all-important list once again, it has helped me improve my martial art skills and I’m sure it can help others too.


 Awareness- To see the opponent’s intentions.   

Sensitivity - To feel the opponent’s intentions.

Proper Mental Attitude - A combination of calmness, killer instinct and self-confidence.            

Body Mechanics - Knowing how, when and where to position the body at all times; moving without wasted motion or energy.

Strength -The ability to overwhelm the opponent through manipulation.

Footwork - The ability to put oneself where one needs to be through dancing, shuffling forward, sidestepping to right or left, circling to left or right, crossing, dropping and elevation.     

Speed - This encompasses perception and awareness of the initiation, performance and alternation of an action.

Timing - The ability to launch an attack at the proper moment.

Coordination - The ability to perform a movement with efficiency, ease and balance.

Balance - Correct body alignment during motion (controlling one’s centre of gravity).

Spatial Relationships - The control over distances (ranges) of all kinds.

Agility - Being light on one’s feet with limberness, quickness and speed.

Stamina - A combination of endurance and wind.

[*]       15. Conditioning - The ability to take punishment to the hands, forearms, stomach, thighs, elbows and shins.

[*]       16. Limberness  - Having loose-stretched muscles (improving high kicks).

[*]       17. Rhythm - Deals with faking, cadence breaks, changing tempos, single beats, and 11/2 to 31/2 beats.

[*]       18. Precision - Accuracy and exactness in projection of force.

[*]       19. Explosiveness - The ability to relay destructiveness in a sudden manner.

20. Flow - A combination of awareness and sensitivity, uninterrupted concentration.


Before I begin on the attributes, let’s take a look at our computer system - the human brain. It weighs about three and a half ponds and as far as we know is the smartest thing on the planet!


As we are aware, everything begins with a thought, a mental picture, repetition of a single thought (task or idea) is a form of visualization. An average person has about 12,000 thoughts per day and a deep thinker can have as many as 60,000 per day When we write, we think 2,500 thoughts in an hour and a half. Our thoughts are the blue prints of our actions we should be careful about what you think.


Since negative thoughts produce negative results, then positive thinking is the only way to produce positive results - Be what you desire.


“Unless we find beauty and happiness in our own backyards, we will never find them in the mountains” – Charlie Greer.


Ask a childat school leaving age, about what their plans are for the future and you may find that  the answer is “I don’t know” or “I don’t care”.

An old anonymous quote goes: Any fool can wonder through life, it’s the wise man that plans his journey” – be clear about setting your goals!


A direction in life is important - just ask yourself, what do I really want to be? A little basic but it could help you find your way in life.


Here is the ‘ultimate success formula’ from ‘Unlimited Power’ by Anthony Robbins. I’ve used it many times and it has helped me achieve the desired result.


1.   Decision – knowing your personal reason for training will hep you to have a clear focus on your goal. Whether it is to become a fighter, self – defence, simply training for the experience, sociable, keep-fit, making new friends, the philosophy, mediation and/ orcultural understanding. 


2.   Action – take action and work hard towards the goals.

“Hard sweat is the lubricate to Success” – Erik Paulson.


3.   Analyses – assess the action taken. Is the action taking you closer to the goal or further away? Are you training often enough? Have you joined the right academy? Do you have a genuine black belt instructor? Have you joined a mac – dojo so the list goes on!


4.   Adjust – if the action is taking you away from the goal, change your action or find improved training methods to get the results even sooner!


Generally speaking, if you’re training at the right place with the right instructors a few times per week, you’re getting closer to your goal with every training session.


 Visualisation of the decision has got to be one of the most powerful means of achieving goals.


When I was in the process of purchasing our new academy, I used to visit the building and spend about twenty minutes visualizing every day. Some days it was several times a day with friends and students, discussing the lay out, the reception, how the move was going to happen who was going to help us, all the fine detail as if it was actually happening.


In reality it was nowhere near completion as I wasn’t even sure if I was actually going to get it.There were some major obstacles but all I knew was I had to get it and there was no other option. It did have a positive ending as TMA now hasthe largest premises for a martial arts academy than anywhere else in Coventry!  


“Without continual growth and progress, such words as improvement, achievement, and success have no meaning”. - Benjamin Franklin 

        Children’s imagination is their form of visualisation. Like many seven year olds I was well into my super heroes and I let my imagination run wild. I would imagine flying like Superman or zipping down a rope and climbing the side of a building like Batman. In one incident I was actually about to zip down our washing line as one side was tied to the very high end of the garden, thankfully I didn’t have the bottle to jump off, I could have been killed if I had actually carried it through.


A few months later I did climb up the wall while playing Batman and Robin with a friend, the washing line snapped and I was lucky to escape with just cuts and bruises.


 Although, everyone wants to be like their heroes to a point, in my case it was despite the dangers, after the fall it was best my superheroes stayed in the comic books and on television. 


As I grew up, I swapped my superheroes for real life sports and martial arts legends; they were less dangerous to my health!  


I still enjoy watching the movies based on people using special powers!  


 The first set of squats and press ups I ever did occurred when I heard about Dara Singh - the World Wrestling Champion. It was something he did to get strong; a case of monkey see, monkey do!


Later on as I discovered Muhammad Ali, Bruce Lee, Dan Inosanto, Bill ‘Superfoot’ Wallace, Joe Lewis, Benny 'The Jet' Urquidez and Arnold Schwarzenegger, I added them all to my list of inspirations and guides to my training.


   These champions and many more have shared their knowledge and experiences and it was due to these amazing individuals who got us into the gyms and the dojos, which have improved our health and strengthened our character beyond our imagination.


   I aspired to the impossible task of trying to be like them all and failed by not even becoming close to one of them, but with the bar so high even a failure is a success. I still gained a lot more by following their example than otherwise. It was a lot of fun trying and my life is richer through the experience. The training is usually uncomfortable and at times even painful, but the images of these great individuals at the peak of human development in my mind helped me visualize that one day if I trained hard, I too could be like them – Charles Atlas programme’s selling point was just that “you too could be like me”!


“Visualization is daydreaming with a purpose”. - Bo Bennett 

Our five senses (visual, auditory, kinaesthetic, olfactory and gustatory) are the organs by which we place ourselves in association with peripheral objects.


Mental Attitude - combination of calmness, killer instinct and self-confidence – Paul Vunak.


A few years ago, in the Muay Thai class at University of Warwick, two girls, Sandy and Jasmine, from Singapore asked me if they could fight in the next Muay Thai interclub.


I was a little surprised as they didn’t come across as the fighting type. (Shouldn’t judge a book by its cover as they say).I told them to start training harder: We do had about three months before the next interclub so I woud see how they shaped up.

Three months had passed and I felt they could hold their own without serious self-injury. On the day of the interclub I had picked them up and although they were putting on a brave face, the nerves were very evident which is normal. It was also Sandy’s birthday on the same day; I gave her a birthday present (a club T-shirt) to lift up her sprits a little.


 At the interclub Jasmine’s fight was before Sandy’s and as I was cornering. I noticed that Sandy was almost tearful, waiting in anticipation while very supportive of Jasmine. Sandy went next and had her fight and both girls did as well as expected and continued the rest of the day with birthday celebrations. It was a sense of all round achievement They did well in their fights and for me they were the first girls to fight from our academy for over twelve years!


In the following six months the girls had fought a couple of more times and they had toughened up and were a lot more relaxed; maybe a bit too relaxed as I noticed Sandy eating Jaffa Cakes just 30 minutes before her fight -which I confiscated!

We have trained and cornered over two hundred fighters over the years and have notice after a certain number of fights the attitude changes the fighters are able to deal with the pressure a lot better and they enjoy the experience. Generally speaking good fighters are also good listeners; poor fighters are usually poor listeners and full of self-importance – ego makes you blind!


“Nothing can stop the man/woman with the right mental attitude from achieving his/her goal; nothing on earth can help the man/women with the wrong mental attitude”. - Thomas Jefferson 

         Paul Vanak’s suggested training methods for developing the right Mental Attitude in his articles, Full-contact training with loud abusive language, use of vivid imagery during training recalling a previous fight.


Until next month – God Bless!


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Total Martial Arts Academy,

Unit B1 Endemere Road;

Coventry, CV6 – 5PY


Tel: 024 76 666988


Lakvinder Madahar mobile: 07834 767 487

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"TMA is what it says, a Total Martial arts Academy. First and foremost, it is a place where you are respected and helped to grow, in a safe environment. As the many reviews say, it is thanks to Lucky (Lakhvinder)  that a place like this exists and students can feel at home, in a world that can be cruel - that's a gem and frankly, a life saver! I'm going into my second year here now and I love training here and seeing everyone's journey. Be it for fun, confidence, fighting or so many other reasons. The instructors are some of the finest in Coventry and very approachable. You will be totally looked after during your first free visit and throughout your training here."


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