The study of martial arts is great in the fact that you can continuously learn new skills and techniques as you advance through the years. This keeps the study challenging and rewarding as you learn new techniques.
However, sometimes with all the new techniques and skills to study, the basics and things already learned are neglected. It is essential that a martial artist spends time reviewing and practicing the basics on a regular basis as well as learn new techniques and skills.
For self-defense purposes, this becomes even more critical. In an actual self-defense situation the fear, adrenaline, and other factors present make it almost impossible to perform any technique that has not been solidly ingrained into your responses by many repetitions in practice. The solid basics, such as knife hand and arc hand shots to the throat, palm heel strikes, low kicks, basic elbow and knee strikes, finger jabs to the eyes, and slaps to the ears, among others, are the techniques that will be the most useful if you ever have to defend yourself.
Just because these techniques are easy to learn does not mean you don’t need to practice them. Repetitive practice, in a realistic mode, such as going all out on a heavy bag, is crucial to ingraining these basics so you can use them under the high stress of a physical attack. So continue to grow as a martial artist by learning new techniques, strategies and so forth, but do not neglect the basics. For defending yourself, a solid core of basic techniques, that you have practiced over and over, will be the ones that help you survive.