Find Out What You Don’t Know

For the majority of my karate training, I basically lived in a bubble. I didn’t care to compete. I didn’t know about many tournaments that were happening. The ones I knew about, I didn’t really care to attend.

This changed two years ago when I started training in Chinese martial arts. I started to realize there are things I don’t know that I don’t know. Lots of them.

So I became a sponge. I started attending more tournaments and seminars to meet people to learn some of the things I should be thinking about and doing. For example, at yesterday’s tournament put on by Ms. Vera Harrison, I wound up having two extensive discussions with a Shuri-ryu stylist who was gave me some pointers on what I should be doing to advance.

Another example was Friday night’s pre-tournament seminar. Six martial artists demonstrated some very basic but very effective techniques – everything from pressure point and joint lock work to potential rape scenarios. Each instructor brought a new perspective to the table, ideas that I’ll be thinking about as I move forward in my own training. I even learned from my partners – one of them turned out to be one of the demonstrating instructors, and the other was a girl who wasn’t going to take crap from anybody.

Learning what I don’t know I don’t know is especially important for me at this stage. I have a solid library of techniques and experiences thanks to all of my instructors that I’ll continue to build on, but it’s critical that I seek out more information from others from time to time.

I would suggest to any martial artist that you get out of their comfort zone and take a class somewhere else. Find out what you don’t know that you don’t know so that you know your strengths and weaknesses. Maybe you know striking but not so much grappling, so you go find a grappling class.

No matter what you know, there’s always so much more you don’t.

By Adam Bockler

Adam Bockler is a B2B marketing professional, a black belt martial arts instructor, DDP Yoga instructor, and a personal trainer.


  1. “I shall be open to the study of all martial arts, and never stop in seeking new knowledge”
    … or something like that. I don’t quite recall the wording. But I’m glad you’re embracing it 🙂

  2. I like this post.

    A martial arts education is like a college education. There are many different fields of study. I may know a lot about intercultural communication, but I know little about public relations. Studying public relations, however, makes me a stronger communicator.

    The same is true for martial arts. I studied TKD for a couple of years before taking my first Shuri class. I thought I had a good understanding of basic technique, but I was taught on day one new ways to perform a side kick. I was amazed that there were different ways to do a basic technique. Imagine all of the different ways to perform advanced techniques?

    While training in Shuri-Ryu, I explored Praying Mantis Kung-Fu, Aikido, MMA, and more. I felt guilty because we were told to be very loyal to our school. The following statement may be controversial but I believe loyalty was promoted to protect the business. It’s more important to be loyal to a genuine pursuit of knowledge. I’m proud to say you were my student and I’m proud that you are continuing to pursue knowledge.

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