Master the Basics and Forget the Rest

I have taught martial arts to thousands of students. One of the things that many beginning students want to know is how to do “the advanced” stuff. After a little questioning, they’ll tell me that they want to learn the “advanced stuff” because they want to make some “big” improvement. When I tell them, first you need to master the basics, they often look dejected, some even quit within a short while. But those who stick around and master the basics always become excellent martial artists and often earn their black belt – and more.

What does this have to do with you? Many people, maybe you’re one, want to make some big improvements in their lives.  

Here’s something else. You probably already know way more than you need to know to make those improvements. Like a martial arts student, mastering the basics is all you probably need to greatly enhance your health, fitness, relationships, finances, career or anything else you want to work on.

Mastering life is about mastering the basics. In fact, very few people really need to move beyond the basics in any area of their life. So, to make changes for the better, spend your time mastering the basics and less time worrying about the “advanced” stuff.

Facts about mastering the basics:

1.     When you master the basics, you have the ability to accomplish at least 80-90% of the results you want to accomplish.

Depending on the style of martial art, there are usually less than a dozen basics. Mastering them will develop you into a black belt. You begin to learn the “advanced” stuff after you’ve been a black belt for quite a while.

This is true for life in general. Mastering the basics is the most important first step toward mastering anything. In fact, unless you want to take something to the highest level, like the black belt who want to become a master instructor, the basics are likely all you need.

Let’s take your health, for example. What are the things that matter the most?

Diet. If you eat your fruits and vegetables, consume some protein, and avoid eating too many of the foods you know are unhealthy, you’re good.

Exercise. Thirty minutes of some type of exercise five times a week is sufficient to maximize the benefits to your overall health.

Sleep. Get enough of it. How much is enough? If you’re not tired when you wake up, you’re getting enough. For most people this is somewhere between 7 and 8 hours a night.

This is why you want to master the basics, because there’s really not much else that matters. Eat well, get some exercise, and get enough sleep. If you do these three basic things well, you’ll look and feel great.

2.     Basics are easy to learn.

This is both good and bad. Since the basics are easy to learn, many people assume they’re not relevant or you don’t have to work on them for a long time. But the reason a black belt can respond to an attack so effortlessly is because their basics have become second nature.

The same goes for anything you want to become good at. If you realize how relevant the basics are and work on them, you can make a lot of progress in a short period of time AND the basics will become your automatic response.

3.     Practicing the basics over and over again can be boring

The reason beginning martial arts students want to work on the “advanced” stuff is they think it will be more exciting. The truth is the detailed and complex are always more interesting than the basics.

Eating your veggies and getting 8 hours of sleep isn’t as interesting as figuring out the perfect blend of amino acids or finding the optimal training shoes. In fact, many people spend hours doing this instead of trying to master the basics. This, of course, is just another excuse for why they fail to reach their goal.

Keep this in mind. The basics might not be interesting but practicing them is what will make you successful. Instead of doing distracting  “advanced” stuff, master the basics.

  1. Complex details contribute little to your practice.

You can’t practice anything well that’s greater than your skill level. In fact, if a beginning martial arts student tries to practice a complex movement, they’ll perform poorly because they haven’t spent the time needed to master the basics behind that movement.  

This is not to say that more complex ideas and techniques are never worth your time. Get good at the basics and then see if there is a need for you to dig even deeper.

5.     Your brain is addicted to the complex.

Humans love complex things. We’re addicted to trying to figure things out. This makes mastering the basics much more difficult. Recognizing the value of the basics makes it easier to avoid the trap of becoming obsessed with the complex.

Master the Basics and Everything Else Will Fall into Place

The fundamentals matter, whether you’re talking about martial arts, math, business, or dating. Completing five advanced courses on flirting won’t help your dating life as much as working on basic attraction methods like looking your best, having a life you’re excited about, and being pleasant and sociable with everyone you meet.

Here’s something Bruce Lee said that has stuck with me for over 50 years of martial arts training:

“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.”

Most of the challenges in your life are from a failure to master and apply the basics consistently and intelligently. You don’t have to know the “advanced” stuff. Instead of pursing the complex develop a desire to master the basics of life.

Whether you need an upgrade to your health, social life, finances, or career, learning how to master the basics is all you need. Make it a goal to practice your basics every day and see how far it will bring you.

If you’re interested in developing the habits of success, pick up your FREE copy of Black Belt Mind Mastery by following this link –

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author avatar
Wil Dieck
Wil Dieck is a teacher, coach, mentor, martial arts master instructor, Neuro Linguistic Programming master trainer, and master hypnotist. He is the founder of Black Belt Breakthroughs, a community dedicated to helping people use Mindful Mind Hacking to achieve clarity and focus and feel more connected to themselves and the world around them. Through his work as an author, college professor, and martial arts instructor, he has helped thousands of people from various types of backgrounds unlock their true potential. Wil combines physical training techniques from Qigong, Taichi and Yoga, neuroscience insights from over four decades of research, mindfulness meditation and his background in NLP and hypnosis to help people access their inner power so they can gain greater feelings of joy and purpose. His passion is helping others find ultimate fulfillment in life through developing mental strength and emotional resilience.
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