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Michael Rust
Michael Rust's picture
BB Curriculum & Hicks Law

Who would like to share what their BB cirriculum looks like for reality based training. I'm looking to get new ideas and compare what I'm doing in the hopes to making things better. I can say I try and keep things effective yet at the same realistic and simple.  For example, when it comes to throwing I cover Funakoshi's 9 with some variation's because I think that's enough material in that area.

For, striking all the basic kicks and hand strikes. I don't focus so much on the fancy spinning stuff but, will do it for fun on occasion. Break Falls we cover front, back and side falls. Some basic chokes, locks and strangles and escapes that you find in Kata. Essentially, I use kata as my guide and reference for my cirriuculum. I know of some self protection systems that are incredibly diverse were you learn, 30 throws, 30 escapes, 20 strangles, 20 chokes, tons of Ne waza and gripping, striking combo's ect.

I'm not sure I like this approach because of something called Hicks Law. Although, I'm not opposed to it. Hicks law argues the more a person learns the more likely they will freeze in a stressful situation. However, the more one trains and includes realisitic stress the less likely it will happen. Most of us don't include that type of training enough. So actually learning something about how the body reacts to stress should be part of our training. Just like awareness, avoidance, the law ect.

So for me my cirriculm is based off kata. I kind of went off topic a little bit, but I couldn't help it. I am interested in what people cirriculm's are.



Iain Abernethy
Iain Abernethy's picture

I covered my take on things in this podcast:

I hope it’s of some use.

All the best,


What a Black Belt Should Be (as Iain sees it)

The podcast is split into two halves. In the first half, I discuss the topics that I feel a holistic and pragmatic syllabus should include and why they are so important. I think it would be fair to say that the majority of martial arts syllabuses omit these things so I hope it provides some food for thought. The second part of the podcast discusses how my personal syllabus (which I keep private) is set up and the podcast also breaks down what we do for 9th kyu and 1st dan: http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/what-black-belt-should-be-iain-sees-it

Jordan Giarratano
Jordan Giarratano's picture

Re: Hick's Law

I teach this concept in my self-defense workshops. I understand the point you are getting at, and it's definitely valid, however I teach Hick's Law in relation to self-protection with the following breakdown of the theory: "Hick's Law states that the more choices a person has, the longer it takes them to make a decision." So the issue is less about limiting what techniques a person is taught and more about giving them the tools to train specific techniques to muscle memory and have open-ended live drills to explore their reactions.

In my belt program, I tend to love teaching tons and tons of different grabs and releases and I'm keenly aware of overloading people, so I change the context from memorizing techniques to understanding principles: everytime I teach a specific lock or escape, I teach and reinforce the principles, not the specific technique. Meaning, my goal is not for my students to memorize 30 wrist locks, but to have a visceral understanding of why a wrist lock works (and thus be able to do 30 wrist locks - or whatever).

When we reinforce these principles with games and live drills, the goal is avoid having a flustered student struggle to remember choreography, but instead to have their practice of various techniques lead to body feel, understanding of concepts, and the ability to react/improvise. 

To answer the main thought regarding curriculum, I go off of the kata as well. Each kata introduces new principles that are explored through various new applications. 

Also just to add, in my Self-Defense workshops meant for the general public (i.e. non-martial artists) I teach an extremely pared down set of movements and concepts.