1.  NEVER UNDERESTIMATE YOUR OPPONENT.  Remember that a reflection on a pool of water does not reveal its depth.  You should train to become confident in your skills, not conceited.  If you over exaggerate your talent and underestimate your opponent’s, you are likely to make some unnecessary mistakes like not taking the fight seriously, or blocking or striking weakly.

2.  NOTHING IS TO BE FEARED, ONLY UNDERSTOOD.  When you see the attack coming without fear, you can defend yourself in a rational, reasonable way.  Fear is nothing more than a feeling, and you can control your response to it.  Train not only to strengthen the body, the mind, but also the spirit.  Remember that since fear is a feeling, it can never kill you.

3.  EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED.  Innocent looking grass can be concealing a poisonous snake.  Being surprised by an attack prevents quick action.  If you strive to attack your opponent where he least expects it, then you must consider that he will try to do the same with you. 

4.  SEE FIRST WITH YOUR MIND, THEN WITH YOUR EYES, AND FINALLY WITH YOUR BODY.  This quote is from Samurai swordsman Yagyu Munenori and means that you mentally rehearse the fight in your mind, and then see it unfold as your body is executing the techniques.  Your body should be executing the techniques much like when you walk into a dark room and turn the light switch on automatically. 

5.  YOU MUST NEVER HESITATE.  Panic is the absence of skill.  Train for emergencies until they cease to be emergencies.

6.  USE THE ELEMENT OF SURPRISE TO YOUR ADVANTAGE.  Train to use a whole assortment of strikes and blocks, and then use the unexpected one.  Don’t train with all these techniques and strikes thinking you will use them all in the same fight.  A fight is dynamic and changes based on your input.  You will have to determine what strike your opponent least expects and take advantage of his being surprised.

7.  NO WASTED MOVEMENTS.  A fight that lasts longer than 15 seconds is a martial arts documentary.  Which is greater, a fight ending in 8 movements, or a fight ending in one?  Sparring for an extended period is great for practice, exercise, and mental discipline, but is not realistic for the streets.  No matter how good of a fighter you are, the longer you are in a fight, the greater your chance of getting hurt.  To prevent injuries and possibly defeat, end the fight as soon as possible.

8.  FIGHT SMARTER NOT HARDER.  In his famous book, Tao of Jeet Kun Do, Bruce Lee said “the difference between an expert and a novice fighter is that the expert takes advantage of each opportunity.”

9.  SOMETIMES YOU HAVE TO LOSE TO WIN.  Yield and you need not break.  If somebody pushes you, pull them.  It may appear that you are about to lose until you use your opponents energy against him.

10.  IN THE HEAT OF BATTLE, DO NOT CONCERN YOURSELF WITH WHO WILL BE VICTORIOUS, STAY FOCUSED AND LET NATURE TAKE ITS COURSE.  Focus all your energy on "defense with an automatic offense." When your attacker strikes, you block and strike back where he least expects it.  You continue this process as long as it takes to win.  The conclusion of the fight will come.

Written by Tucker Axum III