Ten reasons why your moves won’t work!

How many times have you heard someone remark

“That won’t work!”

about a particular tactic or training method?

Here are my top ten reasons why your tactics or training methods won’t work:

  1. You’re too close!
  2. You’re too far away!
  3. The angle of entry/application is wrong.
  4. This technique relies on a particular attack.
  5. You’re not unbalancing them enough.
  6. You’re unbalancing them too much.
  7. You’re training it too fast (for your skill level).
  8. You’re training too slow (to be effective).
  9. There’s no resistance.
  10. There’s too much resistance!

(11. Because (insert name here) said that (insert advice taken out of context here).)

When it comes to looking at training and tactics, everyone’s got an opinion. Criticism can be a great tool when applied correctly, but before we indulge in its use, we should look at whether we understand what is being done and why. Different training methods and tactics exist because different problems create different solutions. There is no single perfect solution for every problem. (with the possible exception of Chuck Norris)

So before we armchair criticise something from a different system, we should perhaps ask ourselves whether we’ve really understood what it is they’re trying to achieve. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that in the past I’ve criticised something because it didn’t fit the context of my approach, without acknowledging that it was designed for something else. It’s not something of which I’m proud. Blowing out someone else’s candle doesn’t make ours any brighter.

Criticising my own training is a different matter. When it comes to examining why your own training or tactics aren’t working, the list of ten above is a good check-list for why we might not be getting the results we want.

Train safely, criticise yourself regularly, and frame your solutions to the criticism positively using SMART approaches.



  1. I agree with you on why techniques don’t always work. Sometimes it’s execution, angles, size of partner. There are so many variables when dealing with self defense situations.

  2. Practice…practice…practice…with real live partners who wish to learn actual self-defense techniques. In 20 years of police and correctional work experience I was involved in 43 physical confrontations which required the use of force. In 35 of those incidents I used the aikido technique “Ikkyo”. Now this technique is a basic technique in the majority of karate systems and is called many different names but I use the term Ikkyo. I practiced this technique over and over for 30+ years among others but it became a “reflex move” for me whenever someone attacked me, I never thought about it, I just did it. On one occasion only in my 61 years did I perform the aikido technique “Kotogashi” and again I didn’t think about it I just did it and to my amazement and everyone else there I threw the guy five feet through the air! My being able to accomplish these moves was solely due to the generosity of my instructors and training partners who gave me the gift of their bodies to practice on.

    1. Ikkyo is a tremendously useful thing.

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