Before classifying a 52 Blocks technique as beginning or advanced, take some time to analyze what it is that makes it so. Granted, some techniques are more difficult to perform than others and require greater athletic ability. But a lengthy technique comprised of the basic 52 Blocks moves may not be any more advanced than the shorter variation. When I think of advanced techniques, I generally think of techniques that require either athletic ability or good timing to perform successfully.

Take spinning and jumping techniques, for example. Since these require a great deal of coordination, speed and agility, I normally don’t teach them until the student has a good grasp of the fundamentals. But as far as usage goes, these techniques are not really more advanced than the front kick or the roundhouse kick. The simplest techniques are often the most effective precisely because they don’t require difficult manoeuvring.

However, to become a complete 52 Blocks martial artist, you must understand and be able to perform the more complex techniques as well, often for no other reason than to learn about yourself and refine your body mechanics. Some students have a natural affinity for jumping and spinning, and can therefore become proficient with these techniques from the start. If you are particularly interested in flashy techniques and display good coordination, your instructor might want to teach you these techniques at an earlier stage than he normally would.

How good does your instructor need to be at performing complicated aerial maneuvers? If these techniques are part of the curriculum, he should at least be proficient enough to demonstrate the elements of the techniques with accuracy. A jump kick doesn’t have to be thrown high, however, as long as correct mechanics are used. If your instructor can only throw a low jump kick, then that’s what he should demonstrate. He should then have you learn the mechanics of the jump and take you through some exercises that help you achieve height with the kick. Whether or not your instructor is a believer in flashy kicks is irrelevant. He should still be able to take his students through this stage of training, if it is to remain part of the curriculum.

Before learning 52 Blocks jumping or spinning techniques, consider your physical condition:

1. Will you be able to do these techniques without getting hurt? For example, if you are a heavyweight, doing jumping techniques places a lot of stress on your joints.

2. Consider injuries that are in the process of healing. If you have sprained an ankle, the extra pounding and balance required for an aerial technique may not be a good idea.

3. Techniques that involve spinning can cause dizziness and nausea. When practicing spinning techniques, you may want to do some other exercise every five kicks or so, or execute the technique in both directions to counter the tendency to get dizzy.

It should not be assumed that a student who is injured, older or heavier than her peers must refrain from performing aerial maneuvers. The exact mechanics or usage of a technique is an individual matter and should be taught as such.

Our mental attitude toward a more complex technique often affects our ability to learn it. If you make a big deal out of the perceived complexity of the technique, you might think that it is more difficult than it really is. If you are a beginner and your instructor tells you, this is a black belt technique, you will train with the attitude that the technique is far too advanced for you to master.

Your instructor should remember that his job is to help you learn, not to impress you with the difficulty of the technique.

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