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#177732 - 08/17/05 12:38 PM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: butterfly]
Galen Offline
Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Thanks Bufferfly for the well thought out and well spoken response. Let me see if I can respond in kind.

When I train to execute a technique, let’s say for the sake of argument, a punch, I have certain goals in mind. Speed, power, distance, timing, commitment etc. Few of these goals can be practiced in a vacuum. I need others against which to ply my technique, in order to determine if my training has given me what I am seeking.

By this definition, there is absolutely a martial focus to my training. I need to ‘fight’ with others in order to measure my progress. However, what I need to remember, and here I think is where my perspective parts ways with many here, is that I don’t care if my speed, power, etc. is better than the person I am sparring with. In my mind’s eye, all I am focusing on is making my next punch better than my last; making sure the execution of my next technique is closer to perfect than my last.

It is truly unfortunate that things such as timing, distance etc. cannot effectively be tested without a partner, because it is all too easy to mistake winning or losing against another person for winning or losing against the only person we should be competing against, and that is ourselves. When we compete against others, you can never tell if your success (or failure) is based on your skill, or your opponent’s. If my punch goes in, is it because I am proficient, or is it because they are not? Impossible to say.

I have had sparring matches where I was completely dominated, but I walked away feeling euphoric, because the goal I set for myself during that match was achieved, and that goal had nothing to do with beating the other guy. Conversely, I have had matches wherein I completely dominated the fight, and felt like crap afterwards, again, because the goals I had set for the match were not met.

Too many people measure their ability and their progress against other people, which is ultimately self-defeating, because measuring against others is a constantly sifting frame of reference. One day you are better, the next you are worse. The only true measure, or the only measure that matters, at least to me, is becoming better than I am right now.

This is what I mean when I say I don’t teach, nor train, to learn how to fight. Now, having said that, can I fight? I have no idea. And like I said, I don’t care. Maybe I can, and maybe I can’t. To me it doesn’t matter. All that matters is, are my kicks faster today than yesterday? Are my punches better, by blocks more effective? And in the end, maybe all this adds up to being able to fight well. My point is, IF I can fight, then that is a by-product of my training, not the point of it.

Now, you mention utility. Part of my training is absolutely the utility of the technique. Will it work or not? Here is the intellectual challenge of which I speak. Thinking a technique through; how can I adapt, add to, take away from a technique to turn it into a tool that is effective? This too can only be practiced on others, but again, I don’t look at it in terms of winning or losing. If I improved just a little but; learned one little thing, then my time spent ‘fighting’ was completely worthwhile, no matter who technically wins the match.

I train to better myself. I use martial techniques as a tool through which to accomplish that goal. Do I feel the least little bit hypocritical in advertising my school as a martial arts school? Absolutely not. In fact, I dare say that this perspective is more in line with the higher ideals and principles of the martial arts than schools that simply profess to teach you how to fight.

“The ultimate aim of Karate lies not in the victory or the defeat, but in the perfection of the character of its participants.”

Sound familiar?

You are right in that utility is important, but in the end we need to ask ourselves the question, what or more precisely, who are we measuring ourselves against? In order to get better, you need to get better measured against a standard. The difference in philosophies is simply this – I measure against myself. Others seem to measure against an opponent. I feel that the latter is flawed and in the end, self defeating.

One last quote occurs to me…

“Do not compare yourself with others, for you will become vain or bitter, for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.”

Thanks for listening.

Galen
_________________________
Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

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#177733 - 08/17/05 01:58 PM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: Galen]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
Galen,

Let me first say, I appreciate your candor and respect what you are trying to accomplish for yourself and your students.

Believe it or not...I agree with much of what you have said and there is a real philosophical identity that is always advanced in the study of martial arts: the dichotomy presented in self improvement and character building by use of a technical syllabus that originally aimed at stopping an opponent...with no altruism involved.

We are all on this road and I a long time ago tried to get rid of the hubris of dominance. However, I cannot release the idea that to improve myself and make sure my technical repotoire has a basis in functional excellence...that I have to utilize these techniques against opponents to judge myself by.

Generally, when in practice, no ill will is brought from me to anyone I spar. Therefore, my opposition is a tool to be used by me to see the results of my training. I fully recognize that there are bucket loads of individuals who can kick my scrawny ass here to Indonesia...but again, this is outside of what we are talking about. Improvement of self and of technique is the consideration. But what measuring stick do you use to show improvement of technique? If utility is placed as a goal, then aesthetic
and subjective qualities have to be limited. It is in the functional delivery of these techniques that must be the benchmark.

So, improvement to me has to be attended upon by actively practicing with my partners and making sure that they are becoming better as well. Otherwise, my training becomes stagnant...this is a win-win situation. This also means I strive to practice with those that are functionally better than me (but also considering age and injury) so that I can learn to a higher standard.

Practice and sparring, in this case, is the same. Self improvement.

There is a training mechanism that we use...the style that I practice is full contact, no pads...we generally do not go to tournaments..and we practice because we like it. The practice I am talking about is something we call "Body Stamina" (not sparring and not as "enthusiastic" as sparring ) and is designed for three reasons: 1) To measure your resistance to strikes; 2) To make sure you are striking correctly to cause the trauma you intend; and 3) To make sure the participants can think while taking pain.

This practice would use about 50-70 % power on body punches and leg and body kicks. The practice is done sans movements to defend the strikes (accepting all the strikes coming to you) and withoug blocking. You will go back and forth and accelerate and increase the techniques' intensity until one person gives up or falters from a body shot or low leg kick and cannot continue.

Now, this might sound a little harsh...it really isn't and any junior student can ask this training of senior stundents after class. We also do this with time contstraints during class. There is pain and there is impact. But there is also discussion between the participants so that one can ask: Did that have an effect? Was the strike centered correctly? Did you feel the impact?

Without receiving this kind of feedback, your techniques are still in a vacuum for utility. The person receiving the brunt of the impacts will eventually learn this: That a body shot is not the end of the world, you can think through the pain, and you will be able disengage yourself from that pain and react to an attack.

A disservice would be to send a student out and not prepare them as best you can to expect and deal with an attack like this. A body shot is not that big of deal if you could handle it in class...better so to be able to handle something similar outside the class where the results of not being able to will have penalties beyond falling over and saying stop...I'll try to do better next time.

So same goals as far as self-improvement, but I must aim as best I can for utility...and that means sparring...and not so lightly.

Warmest regards,

-B

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#177734 - 08/17/05 02:28 PM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: butterfly]
Galen Offline
Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Understood, but what you must admit (and through our dialogue so far, I don’t think that you would argue the point) is that you train with utility as at least one of your end goals.

So lets talk utility for a moment. As I had stated previously, I don’t have cause in my day to day life to get into fights. In my entire adult lifetime I may have been involved in one scrap, and that was with a drunken neighbor trying to beat on his wife. Your point that a disservice is done to students by not preparing them to take a blow is only valid if it is assumed that they are going to go out and fight! To me this is the equivalent of saying that a fencing instructor is doing a disservice to his students if he does not prepare them for what it is like to get run through with a sword.

Fencing students train for utility, but not a utility with a real world practical application. It is utility within that discipline. Same with me. I train for utility with the discipline I practice with no thought to real world application. As with the fencing instructor, I understand my pursuit to be impractical in a real world setting, and I’m perfectly ok with this. If personal growth and self improvement are indeed the goals, does it matter whether there is real world utility?

See, one of the things I like to believe is that the human animal is evolving. One day, the need for the ability to fight will be removed from the human experience. The words ‘what if someone attacks you on the street’ will be gone from the human thought process, because that will simply never happen. Hell, it never happens to most people now. Lets us say that this human evolution happens tomorrow (stay with me…I know I kinda floating out there in la la land right now…) Where with the fighters be? Will the martial arts survive? I think yes, absolutely. The fighters will pass on, but the martial artist will endure, simply because he will have learned that the art is more than the by-product of fighting. The value of what we learn is far beyond the bloodied noses of those we fight.

If I err, I err on the side of caution. I would rather turn out a single thinker and martial philosopher than a whole dojo full of proficient fighters.

Now having said all this, I would love to try your style of training. One of my most precious beliefs is that we cannot expand our limits if those limits are never tested, and your school sounds like a wonderful place to train.

As an aside, I want to thank you friend. I have thoroughly enjoyed this discourse, and look forward to it continuing. I respect the differences in our philosophy, and more, I respect you for your presentation of your side of the argument.

Galen


Edited by Galen (08/17/05 02:29 PM)
_________________________
Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

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#177735 - 08/17/05 03:04 PM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: Galen]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
Galen,

Ditto for the respect.

I guess my side of the arguments would come down to this...the original intent (not of the origins of martial arts, though this touches on it) but of why I learned a martial art.

I fully agree with you about fencing and kendo...but then those who joined these groups did it with the full acceptance that they were going into a pure sporting environment where they were not predisposed to finding someone on a street corner with a sabre.

I, and I think many others, if they were honest with themseleves, started with MAs to learn how to fight..similarly boxing, Muay Thai, karate, etc. The goals and driving forces behind my education have changed a bit over time, but I have not forgotten the initial reason I joined, despite not having to fight anyone in adulthood. That is to learn how to fight and defend myself.

I wish the world was better and MAs as useful things might be more a personal search than something as a defense against violence. Well, the world is still not empty of violence....and I still bolt my doors at night, and lock my car. Even though I have not had my home burgled. My car once!

So, I train for potentialities as best I can...ergo sparring with moderate to hard contact.

But if you are ever in my neck of the woods, PM me...I'll buy you a beer!

Warmest regards,

-B

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#177736 - 08/17/05 09:25 PM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: butterfly]
kenposan Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 08/23/01
Posts: 633
Loc: Columbus, Ohio
Required in our school were gloves and footgear (for higher ranks) and chest protectors and headgear at lower ranks. I always opted to add shin guards/chest/headgear even at higher ranks because of the level of contact we used. As my Sensei would say; most of us have day jobs we have to go to. We still had injuries (ribs and noses mostly) but they were greatly reduced, IMO.
_________________________
The angry man will defeat himself in battle, as well as in life. -Samurai maxim

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#177737 - 08/17/05 09:46 PM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: Galen]
steyr_scout308 Offline
Member

Registered: 06/20/05
Posts: 29
Loc: AR, USA
Quote:



As an aside, I want to thank you friend. I have thoroughly enjoyed this discourse, and look forward to it continuing. I respect the differences in our philosophy, and more, I respect you for your presentation of your side of the argument.

Galen


And to think it was lil' ol' me who spawned it I rather enjoyed reading it myself, and I can respect your goal of sparring as self-asessment. I'm still in it to learn how to fight, but I get more out of it than I could verbalize, even if Sanchin31 and the other black belts hadn't worked me to exhaustion tonight. Me go pass out now.

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#177738 - 08/17/05 11:17 PM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: steyr_scout308]
Passage Offline
Newbie

Registered: 08/17/05
Posts: 6
My school just requires feet,hand,mouth piece, and head gear.The adult classes teach some full contact though.The tournament that I have participated in disqualifies any contact to the head what so ever.

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#177739 - 08/18/05 05:02 AM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: butterfly]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
Galen,
No disrespect,but we differ in opinion on the matter of contact.
Character development also comes when you are fighting to your limits and getting hit,bleeding and learning from it. You know what works and what doesn't in reality through physical tests,you know what you are capable of,even when you are hurt and tired. You also learn to control your emotions,I can hit and be hit without getting mad at my opponent.
To each his own,but there are other ways to develop character. People want to learn martial arts for self defense IMO.
_________________________
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

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#177740 - 08/18/05 08:04 AM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: SANCHIN31]
Galen Offline
Member

Registered: 11/07/04
Posts: 381
Quote:

Galen,
No disrespect,but we differ in opinion on the matter of contact.




None taken.

Quote:

Character development also comes when you are fighting to your limits and getting hit,bleeding and learning from it. You know what works and what doesn't in reality through physical tests,you know what you are capable of,even when you are hurt and tired. You also learn to control your emotions,I can hit and be hit without getting mad at my opponent.




Granted, but where do you draw the line? Yes fighting in a 'contact' context has lessons to offer, of course. No argument. Then again, so does getting shot. Of course I am being extreme, but you see my point. ANY situation can be spun to see the bright side. The only question is, are those lessons worth learning? This question is for each and every person to answer for themselves. As long as I am completley up front with my students and myself about my perpsective and intentions, all is well. And you would be surprised how many adult students, and parents of kids, breath a sigh of relief when I tell them that practical self defense is not a focus of the club.

Quote:

People want to learn martial arts for self defense IMO.




GROSS generalization here. The only thing you can honestly say here is that YOU (and those you train with) want to learn martial arts for self defense. For every person you say wants to learn martial arts for self defense, I can show you one who has other intentions and goals.

I am actually a little surprised at your post, my friend (if I may be so bold). I had expected you to be a little more open minded. Your post is not saying "I dont happen to agree, and its not for me, but if it works for you, cool." What you are saying is, "You are wrong", and in something that is as subjective as this issue is, there simply is no right or wrong. There is only perspective and opinion.

No offense.

G


Edited by Galen (08/18/05 08:13 AM)
_________________________
Nothing imperfect is the measure of anything!

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#177741 - 08/18/05 09:36 AM Re: I wear snivel-gear!!! [Re: Galen]
SANCHIN31 Offline
Former Moderator

Registered: 12/26/04
Posts: 3783
Loc: Arkansas, U.S.
Quote:

Character development also comes when you are fighting to your limits and getting hit,bleeding and learning from it. You know what works and what doesn't in reality through physical tests,you know what you are capable of,even when you are hurt and tired. You also learn to control your emotions,I can hit and be hit without getting mad at my opponent.




Quote:

Granted, but where do you draw the line? Yes fighting in a 'contact' context has lessons to offer, of course. No argument. Then again, so does getting shot. Of course I am being extreme, but you see my point. ANY situation can be spun to see the bright side. The only question is, are those lessons worth learning? This question is for each and every person to answer for themselves. As long as I am completley up front with my students and myself about my perpsective and intentions, all is well. And you would be surprised how many adult students, and parents of kids, breath a sigh of relief when I tell them that practical self defense is not a focus of the club.




The line is drawn between reality and dojo sparring rules.
You actually have people that sign up for martial arts and are glad they won't be learning self defense? Who are you kidding here? I have known numerous amounts of martial artist and have been to several schools,this is a first.


Quote:

People want to learn martial arts for self defense IMO.



Quote:

GROSS generalization here. The only thing you can honestly say here is that YOU (and those you train with) want to learn martial arts for self defense. For every person you say wants to learn martial arts for self defense, I can show you one who has other intentions and goals.




Maybe we should take a poll.?
IMO means in my opinion,how is an opinion a generalization?

Quote:


I am actually a little surprised at your post, my friend (if I may be so bold). I had expected you to be a little more open minded. Your post is not saying "I dont happen to agree, and its not for me, but if it works for you, cool." What you are saying is, "You are wrong", and in something that is as subjective as this issue is, there simply is no right or wrong. There is only perspective and opinion.

No offense.

G




That may be. I have a hard time communicating in words without being blunt which can seen offensive,sorry. To each his own. I'm sure you are doing your best at your school and if you and your students are happy with it more power to you,friend.
_________________________
Skinny,Bald,and Handsome! Fightingarts Warrior of the year

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