Martial Secrets: Smith Rules of Design




This is number four of four blogs based on “Smith’s Rules of Design” from the August 2008 issue of “Popular Mechanics”:


4. Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication


Nature builds complexity out of simple commands. Flowers, bugs and you, all made up of simple commands, repetitive, simple commands. The biggest rock in the world is in Australia. Uluru, also referred to as Ayers Rock, has outlasted everything man has ever built, and likely will ever build. Simple, elegant, exactly what it is supposed to be, the world’s biggest rock.


The old saying goes, “Dumb as a rock.” However, when it comes to the simplicity of being what it is supposed to be (built out of simple commands) Uluru has us all beat. To put it in today’s vernacular, (K.I.S.S.) Keep It Simple Stupid.


It is important, in my opinion, that your martial arts reflect this understanding that “Simplicity is the Ultimate Sophistication.”


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Continuing the theme from the last two weeks, this is #3 in a series of four articles based “Smith’s Rules of Design” from the August 2008 issue of “Popular Mechanics”:

3. Transferring Technology is Good; Transferring the Skill to Improve the Technology is Better.

If you are an instructor you have the responsibility to transfer the skill of improving technique to your students. If you are not, you are remiss in your duty to your students. You know that old saying, “Give a man a fish and he eats for a day; teach him to fish and he will eat for a lifetime?” Well this is the same. You as a teacher must have the desire and the vision to teach your students the skills of discernment and exploration.

By discernment, I mean the ability of the student to understand what is going on and to use good judgment. And to follow along that line, exploration is defined in terms of seeking the next horizon. These two make a potent combination. Instilling these two skills means that you students can venture and learn anywhere and will know the difference between, the good and the garbage.

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As I noted last week, while in the doctor’s office I came across an article in the August 2008 issue of “Popular Mechanics” titled, “Smith’s Rules of Design.” Because the rules apply so well to the martial arts, I wanted to write about each of them separately.

This is number two in a series of four.

2. Study the Problem

The Scientific Method of studying a problem reads this way:

1. Define the question
2. Gather information and resources (observe)
3. Form hypothesis
4. Perform experiment and collect data
5. Analyze data
6. Interpret data and draw conclusions that serve as a starting point for new hypothesis

The Scientific Method has gotten the modern world very far and is the standard of research, good stuff, imperial evidence, and reductive thinking. If you use these six points in trying to discern your art, you will go very far.

However, the greatest martial artists we have seen have been, as the title implies, artists. They have, or have had, the ability to take a situation and intuit, or sense, the situation without much reasoning. They have, through hours of practice, studied the problem. And after some time they have blended the scientific with the art and solved the problem.