A correct understanding of the ability to use brakes is vital and may be the difference from avoiding an accident and being in one.
There are two brakes on a motorcycle, the front and the rear. When braking in most situations you should apply the front slightly before the rear, in a gradual manner and in plenty of time. Approximately 75% of pressure should be applied to the front brake with the remaining 25% on the rear. Some riders are concerned that applying the front brake will result in going over the handlebars and therefore concentrate most their braking on the rear. However this will deprive the bike of the majority of its braking capabilities. In fact, too much pressure on the rear can result in a rear tyre lock up and a skid.
Be sure to look as far ahead as possible so that you can account for road surfaces (such as drains and pot holes).
Be informed as to the capabilities of your bikes braking and familiar as to how ABS (anti lock brakes) and multi linked brakes affect the overall braking performance.