When we learn a technique we start from the beginning of that movement and progress to the finish – hopefully culminating in some profound effect upon the opponent. But this is all because we are learning the technique ‘second hand’ – that is, from someone else.
But if we were the creator of some new fantastical technique things would be a little different.

As a creator we would begin with the effect that we want – see a need, fill a need!! We would then be working backward to get us to the start and every minute movement of this new technique would be geared and engineered toward that finishing effect. A completely different perspective to the normal approach.

As an example lets imagine that you are the ‘inventor of punching’ – it’s never been done before, it’s a completely brand spanking new concept that you have created… (go with me on this!)
So where do you start your creative process – right at the coal face, that is to say the target.
So you decide its best to hit at 90 degrees, so you angle your wrist. You decide the wrist is a weak point so you align it properly and strengthen it with exercise. You decide you ought to punch straight, cos its quicker so perhaps you should keep your elbow in and then after a couple of goes at hitting something (someone!?) You think, hey there’s a lot of recoil in this I’d better brace my stance so you plant your feet. In fact every detail and nuance of this new move has been carefully thought out, refined and tweaked so that your technique has evolved into a weapon as much as a move.
Every detail has a purpose – to improve the effectiveness of the strike.
Hopefully by now you are getting the point!!
When learning a move we adhere to the details because ‘somebody said so’ but by thinking backwards we are creating a new move every time we practice.
Just try this ‘Thinking Backward’ Mind-Set to your techniques, then hopefully you’ll have a eureka moment, slap your forehead (optional) and say to yourself “so that’s why sensei says keep my elbow in!!” – At that point Sensei will probably slap his own forehead saying “finally – he gets it!!”

So to summarise: Copying is good – but understanding is just better…

See you in the dojo!!