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Learn to Move With Your Tools

In a telephone conversation between Bruce Lee and his student Daniel Lee, Bruce commented, “Here it is; if you can move with your tools from any angle then you can adapt to whatever the object is in front of you. And the clumsier, the more limited the object; the easier it is for you to potshot it.” Your various striking actions must be accompanied by highly developed mobility capacities such as while advancing, while retreating, while moving laterally or curving. If you cannot use a particular punch or kick in a stationary position, moving forward, moving backward, moving sideways, you do not have “totality” with that tool.

What’s cool to me about the above quote is that it can relate to any type of tool, not simply a striking weapon. For example, in grappling, if you possess the ability to move smoothly around an opponent and apply a particular choke or arm-bar from every possible position it will give you the same sort of tool totality and offer the ability to adapt and fit in with any opponent. And if the opponent’s movement skills are poor and/or they are limited in their defenses against such attacks, it will be much easier for you to control the situation and submit them.

I remember watching some old videotape footage in which Brazilian Jiu Jitsu legend, Rickson Gracie explains to some students that they should practice being able to apply the straight arm bar from one position at least a hundred times, then one hundred times from another position, then from another, and so on. He goes on to tell them that if they train in this manner eventually they will develop the ability to apply the arm bar from every position and at any time. This, to me, is a perfect example of learning to move with your tools.

I understand that not every single tool or action can be applied from every type of position. There may be some prerequisites for using certain techniques or tools, be it a hand immobilization attack or a choke or arm-lock, etc. However, if you, as Lee put it, “learn to move with your tools from any angle” you will be able to adapt to any opponent you face with a much higher level of success.

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