The Matrix Approach
The martial arts of the Philippines are often considered as conceptual and this facilitates higher order thinking skills, such as analysis, synthesis and evaluation needed as practitioners strive to explore the seemingly endless opportunities for dynamic application. Supporting the teaching and learning of these diverse martial arts are often mathematical concepts, such as angles of attack or triangle footwork. Practitioners often make strikes or cuts that follow the line of a multiplication sign (X) or an addition sign (+) and evade encounters by stepping away at an angle or inclining the body and an angle to avoid impact while remaining close enough for an immediate counter. It is within this analytical environment and the desire to constantly evaluate the core techniques and strategies of the Art that the concept of the Matrix Approach was conceived.
Regardless of origin, each martial art has several core techniques that practitioners strive to learn, understand, apply and master during their journey. Each technique is a moment in time and part of its own journey, with something occurring before, during and after the application of the physical motion. Once the core technique is learned, the practitioner faces the challenge of gaining a deeper understanding of how it can be accessed and applied from a variety of positions, ranges or speeds with a perfection of accuracy and timing. It is from this dilemma and the recurring question of how to apply the core methods of the Art that the Matrix Approach provides a detailed, generic, transferable and accessible framework for exploration and the evolution of personal skills and attributes.
The Matrix Approach is a framework of functional mathematical analysis that enables the participant to select, combine, access and apply the core techniques of the Art. The process of developing a mathematical matrix starts with the selection of ten core techniques. These techniques are then numbered from one to ten and set out in a mathematical matrix which is ten squares by ten squares in size. This framework provides a clear structure to combine any of the ten techniques with any other within the matrix, providing 100 combinations generated from the ten core techniques. Diligent practice of this method facilitates the fluid and speedy transition between core techniques and the ability to access selected methods that flow from a wide range of positions and other techniques. Furthermore, the Matrix Approach provides a vehicle for further analysis across weapon categories and into the empty hand combative techniques of the FMA.