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For a martial art that is dedicated to realistic, usable self-defense skills, we need to recognize that we may not be the meanest or strongest person in a confrontation. A true self-defense system has to rely on more than just hitting hard and fast in order to be useful in any situation. Not to discount the effectiveness of hitting hard and fast. We just want more. There are many concepts in our Twelve Keys that make our martial art far more than smash and bash, but even when we do create power in To-Shin Do, we want to do it in a way that maximizes results and not in a way that simply maximizes effort. This key is about doing things well.

The third of our twelve keys is:


“Correct, confident, strong, and effective techniques – project power precisely with “full body” articulated delivery from feet firmly using the ground”
-An-shu Stephen K. Hayes, To-Shin Do Official Curriculum

The first step toward owning a technique is to learning where ‘all the pieces go’. Knowing the details of a technique, and growing that knowledge step by step in every class, was our previous concept and vital to gaining skill in anything we want to excel at. But we also need to be able to do, not just know. Going through a technique while focusing on this key is about making each movement count.

Here are some ways to drill precision:

  • Accuracy: Practice so the exact part of the weapon (fist, knee, bo, etc) makes contact with the exact part of target as intended. Go as slow as needed to be completely accurate. Then gradually build up speed. No point in going fast if your weapon doesn’t do what you intend.
  • Alignment: Practice so everything is aligned correctly whether a strike, throw or footwork. Again, go as slow as you need at first. In the beginning, if something is not in the right alignment, take the time to put it where it should go. Take a moment and let yourself feel what that correct placement is like.
  • Power: Practice so power is projected through the target with knock down energy. Keep your feet firmly on the ground, and remember what correct alignment felt like. No point in hitting hard if you are so far out of alignment you can’t hit again, or worse, damage yourself. Rare is a fight that ends with one hit.
  • Distance: Practice techniques with different distances so that the target is still hit with accuracy and power no matter where it is.
  • Movement: Practice against a moving target or a repositioning training partner so that you can make adjustments on the fly.

In the beginning focus on one of these concepts at a time. Practice each one as target work, and again with a training partner. (Keeping the power down to safe levels, of course). Later your goal is to get more of these working together, where you can target parts of the attacker’s body on the move, change the target as needed, and have your technique always look sharp and correct even under pressure. This gets us closer to a later concept on this list: Mastery.

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