I was asked this question a couple of days ago. ”
How important are basic techniques in combat situations?
Self Defence, Combative Skills, and Martial Arts are all different things with overlapping similarities.
A self defense program should be able to teach you its basic skills in just a few months of hard training. You will never look polished as with years of practice but you should be capable of handling a general encounter.
Combat Skills as I see them are built upon the aggressive side of an encounter. A student learns how to fight and fight to win and may start the fight. This can be self defense or as the aggressor. Think street gang or military conflict.
Martial arts is the study of both of the above skills and theories but can be a lifetime pursuit. The student moves beyond the defensive side and refines themselves be it mentally, physically, skill based, or socially or other area. Some schools focus on all these aspects and some focus on only a few.
As for the question you originally asked. Every endeavor requires some basic skill. Block, Strike, Fall, Run….. But if one looks at the combat situation I would think aggression becomes the most important skill to develop. Combat is not about self defense, it is about going out with the intent to do harm and winning.