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Aggression Makes You Lazy

Aggression in practice or sparring matches makes you lazy.

This theory might be a bit controversial to some martial artists, but I hope you can see my point by the end of this article, and maybe understand why some martial arts like Taiji or Aikido chose to practice without or with minimal aggression.

Also note that, this theory is only meant for training, and not for actual fighting. Watch the video, or scroll down to read the transcript.


To begin, let me introduce 3 elements to you, and briefly define them:

  1. Aggression = Using brute force to bash, cut, stab as hard and fast as you can, violently in a pumped-up state.

  2. Skill = Having the correct posture, using good movement mechanics, ability to perform attack & defensive techniques accurately, etc...

  3. Fighting Ability = Your actual performance in a practice or sparring match.

The equation goes: Aggression + Skill = Fighting Ability.

Now, these are things that we can't actually quantify, but for the sake of this discussion, let's just say that we're able to put a number to them. An example will be something like the following:

So let's say someone with Aggression Level 50, and Skill Level 50, together he will be able to perform at Fighting Ability Level 100 in a practice match.

The "Aggressive" Trainee

If you've participated in sparring practice matches before, you would understand that being aggressive will help to increase your Fighting Ability. You may have seen someone before, who by being aggressive, was able to perform rather decently in a sparring match even though he may be a new guy.

The equation for such persons look like this:

Even though this person is probably new to martial arts, and has very little Skill to speak of, but he was still able to generate an output of Fighting Ability Level 100, because he makes up for it with Aggression.

But please beware of 2 important things:

  1. Almost any Tom, Dick or Harry that I randomly pick up from the streets can be aggressive. You don't need (much) training to achieve that. I can easily flip on the "aggression switch" in my brain and start charging at you, bashing you with brute force as hard as I can, and instantly see an improvement in my Fighting Ability. But if that's the case, then what's the point of practicing martial arts?

  2. If you choose to go down this path, that means 10, 20 or even 30 years from now, when we meet again, I will not see much improvement in you in terms of martial arts. You'll still be pretty much the same. And anyone can be a match to you, if they just simply chose to turn on their aggression.

Remove Aggression

If you attended Taiji, Aikido or something similar, the common thing they have is always to reduce or even remove aggression when you practice the techniques.

Let's say I'm a newbie, and I drastically reduced my aggression, I will look like this:

With only a Fighting Ability of Level 20, I'm gonna keep getting my ass kicked in sparring matches. I may even start to have doubts about the legitimacy of teacher, and whether the techniques are authentic or not.

There will also be an urge to increase my Aggression Level, so that my Fighting Ability can increase too, so that I can start winning.

STOP. Hold on a minute.

This is where my theory kicks in: We intentionally want to minimize our Aggression Level, so that any lack of Fighting Ability will be made up for by our Skill Level.

You want to start winning? Work on your Skill Level instead. Practice maintaining good posture, proper movement mechanics, executing accurate techniques etc...

The Path To Mastery

If you have insisted on minimizing your Aggression Level, so that you are forced to increase your Skill Level instead, when I see you again in time to come, you will look something like this:

The reason that you're able to perform at Fighting Ability Level 100, is because you have such a high Skill Level, and not because you're bashing your way through with brute force.

If you've truly attained this state, I believe you will have truckloads of people lining up waiting to call you "Master".

Which Path Will You Choose?

Both paths below will give you a final output of Fighting Ability Level 100. Which path will you choose? The "Aggressive" path, or the "Skillful" path?

Note that, if you cannot instantly choose to dial up your Skill Level at the snap of your fingers. Skill is something that you have to work on and develop over a period of time.

But someone from the "Skillful" path CAN choose to switch on his Aggression and increase his Fighting Ability.

So once again, which path will you take?

Jack Chen

Ancient Chinese Martial Arts Manuals


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