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#281377 - 08/24/06 05:05 PM What is in a name?
Xibalba Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Lansing, MI, USA
Part of the problem in many threads (one now in particular), as I see it, is thinking of 'style' as something that is an unchangable entity unto itself, independent of either the person practicing it or the situation it finds itself in.

Styles are human creations. They are a way of codifying knowledge of combat so it can be more easily transfered from one person to another. As human beings, we need to name things in order to understand them. We need to organize our body of knowledge about combat, label the pieces of that knowledge, and then we can deconstruct that knowledge into bite sized pieces so we can pass it on.

To the beginning student of MA, style is often everything. "My kung-fu is better than yours" may be a cheesy kung-fu flick line, but is often (unfortunately) taken to heart by the martial arts initiate. I know that I felt this way early in my MA career. This attitude, if left to fester, becomes dangerous in that the student not only never opens him/herself up to the wonderful possibilities of what else might be, but also this attitude can prompt often dangerous challenges from others wishing to prove "style superiority".

If the student survives this phase, he/she eventually learns that in the end, there IS NO style. The student is the style. A kick is a kick, a punch is a punch, a throw is a throw, a submission is a submission, regardless of what "style" it belongs to. The human body can only move in a finite number of ways, and once a library of techniques is ingrained into that body, then the student becomes the style. Boundaries of what is and is not stylistically acceptable in combat are blurred, and the student reacts with what is appropriate for the situation, without thinking "this is TKD, so I must do this", or "karate would respond this way to an attack".

When I train, in particular when I spar, I am my martial art. There is no boundary between TKD, TSD, BJJ, etc. (or whatever else I have studied). The names mean nothing to me. I am reacting without thought to the names of what I am doing - I just do what is (hopefully) right for the situation. These names only matter again when I deconstruct the encounter in order to try to make sense of it for myself and my students.

Does this make sense? I hope this can clear up all of the "Style vs. Style" BS that has been going on around here lately.

Comments and feedback are always welcome.

Mike

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#281378 - 08/24/06 05:20 PM Re: What is in a name? [Re: Xibalba]
IExcalibui2 Offline
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Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
i agree with what you said. I may practice different things but those things turn into 1 coehisive thing when im sparring or fighting. The end result is simply me, not praying mantis or muay thai or judo or capoeira, its my art and no one elses.
_________________________
"you're going to work till you wish you were dead and then keep going.." -Sgt Slaughter

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#281379 - 08/24/06 06:19 PM Re: What is in a name? [Re: Xibalba]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
X

Good point.

Everybody "starts" with the "playbook" of a given style.

Gotta start somewhere after all.

Over time--if you keep training you learn to adapt the "playbook" to work better FOR YOU, to fit YOU better.

You take the "generic" art and make it your OWN.

Maybe you add a bit here a chunk there--just like they did back in the day.

But at the end of the day--you sink or swim based upon what YOU PERSONALLY can do.

In my opinion people spend too much time worrying about "this" or "that" style.

Its time they should be spending in TRAINING.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#281380 - 08/24/06 11:07 PM Re: What is in a name? [Re: Xibalba]
MattJ Offline
Free Rhinoplasty!
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Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
Excellent post, Mike. Far too many people have failed to grasp this. Bruce Lee must be spinning in his grave watching JKD being turned into "Well, Bruce did it like this, etc".

You are totally correct - YOU ARE the martial art.
_________________________
"In case you ever wondered what it's like to be knocked out, it's like waking up from a nightmare only to discover it wasn't a dream." -Forrest Griffin

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#281381 - 08/25/06 09:18 AM Re: What is in a name? [Re: MattJ]
Xibalba Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Lansing, MI, USA
Thanks for the feedback, folks. As I turn these ideas over in my head, new ways of thinking about them come to light.

As I see it, "style" in martial arts consists of two things: techniques and strategy.

Techniques are the "playbook" if you will (thanks, cxt!). Technique teaches the student (hopefully) the proper biomechanics of some aspects of combat. Each style may have somewhat different techniques, but as long as the ranges covered (e.g. grappling, striking) are the same and the biomechanics are good, then there will be no essential difference between techniques. (Obviously arts like TKD and judo would have very different techniques, but they cover completely different ranges).

The other facet of style is strategy. Unfortunately, some styles may teach good technique, but poor (or maybe just limited) strategy. The strategy taught may also vary within the style between schools. For example, if we look at the often complained-about art of TKD, we often find people claiming the art as a whole as ineffective, and citing sporting examples (i.e., no punching to the head) as proof. What I think people are talking about here is stragegy, not technique. Schools that focus on sporting TKD tend to teach more limited STRATEGY, but the TECHNIQUES are essentially the same as other schools. When you practice limited strategy, you undermine your combat effectiveness - your technique may be effective, if only applied differently.

Once the student has mastered the techniques - these concepts in biomechanics - then he can apply these liberally in situations far more diverse than the one he learned them in (strategy!). The student doesn't need to practice literally "attack A leads to counter B", because he understands the concepts of biomechanics and a multitude of ways to apply them. Here is where I think the lines of style are blurred - a proficient fighter in any style who has practiced effective strategy in an alive manner has as much chance of success as a proficient fighter in another style who has practiced the same way.

A fight is a fight. Nearly anything can work if done at the right time, with intent, regardless of style.

I hope my above ramblings make sense. Let me know if these ideas jibe with your thoughts on the issue (or not, that is OK too).

Peace,
Mike

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#281382 - 08/25/06 10:03 AM Re: What is in a name? [Re: Xibalba]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
I like how you put it. The part that strikes me is the 3rd part, when the student masters the techniques. When they know entirely how to perform these techniques they should be able to pull them out of context and use them in any situation in any kind of form/stance.

Just because I practice say Eagle Kungfu doesnt mean I have to necessarily look anything like an eagle to use what I have learned. Ultimately your training in martial arts will lead to having no form.
_________________________
"you're going to work till you wish you were dead and then keep going.." -Sgt Slaughter

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#281383 - 08/25/06 10:22 AM Re: What is in a name? [Re: Xibalba]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5823
Loc: USA
X

I think you may have put your finger on at least one of the major "why's?" of the "style vs style" arguments.

People don't what to hear that in a fight they are more or less "equal" with people that train the same way, and train just as hard as they do.

They want to hear that "Method X" is going to make them unbeatable or "Style Y" is unstoppable, or 'Person Z's" training will make them 10 feet tall, covered with hair and packing 8 inch claws.

And that just does not happen.

Being people we all want some sort of "warrenty" that our training is going to "work."

What we forget is that BEING people--it all comes down to US.

We make it work and sometimes we do and sometimes we don't.
_________________________
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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#281384 - 08/25/06 10:45 AM Re: What is in a name? [Re: IExcalibui2]
Xibalba Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Lansing, MI, USA
Quote:

The part that strikes me is the 3rd part, when the student masters the techniques. When they know entirely how to perform these techniques they should be able to pull them out of context and use them in any situation in any kind of form/stance.





Hi, all.

In my experience (for what that is worth), those who are proficient in technique may not be able to apply that technique in all situations or contexts because they have not practiced the technique outside of the context that technique was originally taught in. This is where strategy comes into play - if I have only practiced my counter in the context of "attack A:counter B", then I will not be able to generalize that counter to other situations. The counter itself is not ineffective, my application of it is ineffective. (i.e., the "style" is not ineffective, it is my training/the way I do the "style" that is ineffective).

I will use my own MA career as an example. I recieved my cho dan in WTF TKD in 1989, and promptly went to college. In college, I found my current club, a TSD school. The techniques I learned in my old TKD school were essentially the same as those at the TSD club (I mean, they are both Korean arts, right?). Granted, there were a handful of minute differences in biomechanics, but the biggest differences were in the application (i.e., strategy) of those techniques. In my TKD school, we NEVER punched to the head or hit to the groin. In the TSD club, these were the bread and butter of their fighting (plus we hit quite a bit harder at the TSD club than we did in my TKD club). As a result, I was owned by nearly everyone there every time I fought, regardless of rank (quite humbling for a young, cocky black belt).

As time went on, I got better, and started to give as good as I got. Now, of course my technique got better (as it always does with consistent practice), but what really changed was I had been practicing a much broader context within which to apply my technique. No longer did I train to limit myself to punching only to the chest or kicking above the waist. I trained to use the same tools I came with in a broader context. As a result, I became a better combatant. I still was "using TKD", I just use it now in a much different manner than I did 17 years ago. Thus, the style (i.e., the technique) was not ineffective - the strategy (and as a result, I) was.

Feedback and debate, as always, are welcome!

Peace,
Mike

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#281385 - 08/25/06 11:30 AM Re: What is in a name? [Re: Xibalba]
Xibalba Offline
Member

Registered: 03/11/05
Posts: 499
Loc: Lansing, MI, USA
As long as I am thinking about this, please indulge me as I explore another example of styles that diverge even further: TSD and BJJ.

About a decade ago I had the great opportunity to train for a couple of years at a local MMA club in BJJ and Kali. My style - the techniques I practiced - were vastly different from those of BJJ. However, as an already experienced martial artist, I had fought with many other stylists (including akidoists, judoka, aki-jujitsu practitioners, etc.), and had a rudimentary concept of the STRATEGY for fighting someone using grappling techniques (not a perfect, fool-proof strategy - as there is none - but I had pressure tested my technique against some grapplers and found a strategy that was sometimes helpful). So, when the beginning BJJ class did stand-up work incorporating strikes, I was at an advantage over some of the others (even some of those with wrestling/grappling experience), as some of them had not practiced the STRATEGY of wrestling against a striker, while I had practiced a STRATEGY for striking wrestlers.

Does this mean their style (techniques) were ineffective? Heck no! Once on the ground (and it does happen, despite any well-planned strategy) I was toast - I had not yet learned the technique of grappling. Yet for those who were proficient in grappling, some had not practiced it in the context of using it against proficient strikers - they had effective technique, but no strategy for using it outside the context of fighting anyone other than another wrestler, on the ground.

The same went for me after I had become somewhat proficient at some BJJ. I had learned some technique, but in the beginning only practiced it in a particular context (i.e., on the mat, starting on my knees, etc.). I had to take what I had learned and broaden the situations I did it in - for example: trying to shoot in on someone who is trying to punch me; incorporating take-downs into my stand-up sparring; grappling with people trying to punch, kick, elbow, eye gouge, etc. I had to take what I knew to be effective technique (a rear naked choke works great in any situation if applied correctly ), and try to develop different strategies for applying that technique in all sorts of different contexts.

After all this I came to the conclusion that TKD and BJJ technique can lead to the same end - combat effectiveness - if applied using the right strategy. A TKD stylist who has never fought a BJJ man will get creamed if he hops around on one leg throwing round kicks, but the BJJ fighter would do just as poorly if he has never practiced against someone trying to kick in his ribs as hard as he can.

In the end, we would all do well if we focused on good technique (whatever art we study), and practice it in an ever-broadening set of contexts so we can develop strategies to use that technique that work in the greatest number of situations.

Whew!

Mike

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#281386 - 08/26/06 02:40 AM Re: What is in a name? [Re: Xibalba]
IExcalibui2 Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 05/20/06
Posts: 961
Loc: New York City
hahaha very true
The problem is is that people do not develop the alternate strategies of a single technique. And many then conclude that inorder to use strategy A is to learn another martial art. The question is how can you come about these strategies? By either training in something different or trying to figure out all possible angles and such of a certain technique (with help of other arts by say sparring or asking someone to perform a certain technique that you can use your own on).
_________________________
"you're going to work till you wish you were dead and then keep going.." -Sgt Slaughter

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