M.U.R.D.E.R. is an acronym for a model that describes the basic elements of good learning. The study method was proposed by Professor Danserau in 1985 and consists of 6 steps.

Although this method was designed to help school students, its elements are universal.
To all intents and purposes, MURDER, if you overlook the emotional impact that the acronym arouses, is an excellent system for martial arts masters to plan long-term training programs and improve individual lessons.
This study method, in my opinion, is also a valid support for practitioners who want to optimize what they have learned in class or explore areas of their discipline that they find best suited to their characteristics.

Let’s now see how this method is composed.

The acronym MURDER is broken down into Motivation, Understanding, Recall, Detect (errors), Elaborate and Review.
Each of these phases is important in itself but is most effective when organically connected to the others.
These steps, easily understandable if oriented to the study of a written text, require adaptations when we move into the field of physical training.
However, since these are universal elements, I did not have to make significant changes.

I believe it will be as useful to you as it has been to me.
Consider the first two steps as important elements of each lesson and the subsequent ones as supporting elements of your medium- and long-term planning.


Motivation is the initial spark of any learning process.
This emotional characteristic has the task of creating a favorable terrain as much as possible linked to enjoyment and gratification.

A good teacher always tries to start the lesson in such a way as to activate his class.
This can happen with a warm-up that gives some clues on how the lesson will be oriented as well because of his enthusiasm and personality.
Think of the very first part of your lesson as a movie trailer.
It must push those who watched it to want to see the rest (train in this case).


Repetition is the mother of perfection.
This sentence is true only if we are talking about conscious repetition.
Learning occurs when we understand what we are doing.
In particular for combat, the student must be able to master a technique by understanding its key points. When explaining, always make sure that the class understands the main elements of a technique and is able to reproduce them in practice. If not, take a step back and simplify, perhaps disassembling the technique into several sub-elements.

The next two steps must be considered together and are essential to convey the teaching plan to the needs of the class.


This aspect concerns the student’s ability to reproduce the technique after a certain amount of time.
What remained of your teaching in their minds?

Detect (errors)

What are the most common mistakes that students make in performing the technique?
What was misinterpreted?
How did your students compensate for a lack of information?

This analysis helps the teacher understand what is needed for the technique to be internalized. Sometimes it’s just a matter of adding in the missing information; sometimes to correct erroneous interpretations, but more often both things together.
Keep in mind that it may be necessary to repeat this cycle several times for the same technique.

The last two steps are identifying an advanced stage of learning a technique.


In this phase, the student has understood all the key elements of the technique and is able to adapt them to his own mentality and physicality.
The role of the teacher, in this case, is to help him in this search by providing support with details that, useless in a general explanation, are appropriate for the needs of the individual.

Review and integration.

The technique becomes an active and vital part of a context. The student integrates the technique within his set in interdependent connections. Also in this case, the teacher has a support role in helping the student to find new combinations and suggesting new exploratory paths.

A few more words

This was my very personal interpretation of the MURDER study model in terms of guidelines for martial arts teachers and athletes.
I would like to underline two things before ending this article.

The first one: always consider models for what they are.
Models are maps that serve to orientate us. Nobody has the key to the perfect and definitive model. If you think what I write is for you, use it. If you feel you need to add, remove or change something, go ahead.
There is nothing absolutely right or wrong, only things that work or do not. It all depends on the context.

The second one: think about teaching in a fluid way.

None of the phases I have described strictly travels in separate compartments.
When you teach a technique you are already giving context and connection with other parts of your system. The subdivision I have proposed is academic and should be understood more in terms of lines that intersect themselves rather than as a series of tasks to be completed one after the other.

Opening a new door after you have closed the previous one works only for the movie “the others”
Haven’t you seen it yet?
Do it right away before someone spoils it to you.

Here we are at the conclusion of this article.

Well… In hindsight, I would have used a different acronym so as not to write murder so many times.

Google will not be happy at all.
Greetings to the CIA friends who may be reading and are attracted by the suspicious keyword.

Please don’t arrest me.
I’m serious.
I can’t go to jail, I suffer from rheumatism.