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#372263 - 12/01/07 12:23 AM Benefits of historical knowledge
BrianS Offline
Higher rank than you
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
What are they? I get lost in the posts here that argue history, what is was, or could have been. I guess I just don't get it?

It was the same way for me in school. I thought we should focus more on the now then too.

What am I missing?
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#372264 - 12/01/07 12:26 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: BrianS]
Bushi_no_ki Offline
Veteran

Registered: 05/03/05
Posts: 1667
Loc: POM, Monterey CA
It's all about understanding why something is done a certain way. Why is Karate so strike-centric? Why is MMA so grappling-centric? The context of how these different areas of MA came up is very important.

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#372265 - 12/01/07 12:40 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: Bushi_no_ki]
Zombie Zero Offline
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Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 1987
Loc: Lorton, VA
Excellent topic. Why was technique X done a particular way in the past? Is it germane to modern times? If not, can it be modified to adapt to current SD needs?
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#372266 - 12/01/07 12:47 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: Zombie Zero]
BrianS Offline
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Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 5959
Loc: Northwest Arkansas
So, if I understand it so far, it's about figuring out the (why?).
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#372267 - 12/01/07 01:22 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: BrianS]
JAMJTX Offline
Enthusiast

Registered: 12/01/02
Posts: 585
Loc: Fort Wayne, IN
I find the study of martial arts history quite fascinating. My main interestes are in Japanese and Chinese arts. These 2 countries have fascinating histories and it is all marked by martial arts.

Also, studying history goes along with preserving the traditions and showing respect for the work of those who laid the graound work and passed down thier arts and knowledge.

In Japanese and Chinese arts where lineage is so important, it is importsant to study history so you know who to train with and who the fakes are. Look at all the people taking money for teaching "ancient Japanese arts" that they created in thier McDojo just a few months ago.

If all you are interested in is fighting and doing MMA then history may not be of value to you. But if you are interested in learning a tradition and passing it along to your students the history is vital.

Keeping the history is not something unique to martial arts either. We have a football hall of fame, baseball hall of fame, etc. You can buy books on the history of the sports. Kids today can read about players that thier grandfather grew up watching. What it gives them is a snapshot of what the world (or that part of it) was like at the time.

History is always germaine to modern times. Modern times were shaped by the events of the past.

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#372268 - 12/01/07 01:39 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: BrianS]
Zombie Zero Offline
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Registered: 06/17/05
Posts: 1987
Loc: Lorton, VA
Quote:

So, if I understand it so far, it's about figuring out the (why?).




You tell me, dude, this is your thread.
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In my walk in the martial way, my hope is that as long as I live, I will always be a beginner.

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#372269 - 12/01/07 02:10 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: BrianS]
butterfly Offline
Professional Poster

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

You got it. It's basically contextual and gives you reasons for something to exist and perhaps change if you are so inclined.

Think of it this way. When you were young would you have preferred your father to say, "Becuase I told you so."

Or, what if he said, "Don't dig there since there is a gas line underneath the barn that you don't want to rupture."

In the first case, you get what's always been presented without explanation or context. In the latter, you understand why and how come. Which would you prefer?

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#372270 - 12/01/07 03:47 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: BrianS]
Ed_Morris Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 11/04/05
Posts: 6768
good question. what butterfly said.

let me try to add an example - something to sink teeth into.

kata is a good example I think. you can train kata the way you are shown - how the principles can be isolated into drills and later blended into freeform spar - and you feel good about it - it works for you, and your sensei is all you need to help you along. perfectly valid, you need not look further.
As a supplimentary and 'outside the dojo' study, some choose to wonder where things may have come from. That search leads to an awareness that things change thru time. In regard to kata, it leads to then wondering, well, why do things change? since kata is interpretive, people thru time have and have taught their interpretation. ok, then you wonder why do interpretations differ over time? necessity usually breeds function, so thats a good premise to go on. what were the necessities during the post-WW2 period of karate/kata ? well, looking at what things were popular we see a sharp trend of MA's becomming used for sport/competition. historically compare two arts: one that was heavily engaged in the competition trend and one that was not.

now historically compare their economy of movement. did one change in a different direction than the other? If one Art was looking at kata in terms of point-sparring, and another Art was looking at it as close-quarter combat - the trend in interpretation starts making sense.

Then you take that awareness and apply it to your own training....when training solo, you start asking yourself questions like, even though I was taught for this stance to be long and low, is it still appropriate for my interpreation? maybe somewhere in my lineage someone who passed this on was affected somewhat by some cross-pollinated changes that were going on during the point-spar trend.

Brian, in the case of your Art (Goju-kai), in a historical sense, I'd try to be aware of things that may have changed from circular to linear....and be sceptical if it doesn't fit with what you are trying to use it for. If it doesn't seem quite right, take the history into account and don't be afraid of changing to a 'messy-er' looking answer. You could be asking 'what likely effect did Japanese budo arts have on my flavor of Goju?'
circular to linear. I think is the key historical question for karate coming out of Japan.


feet don't always have to be 45 degrees. there is such a thing as half sanchin, half natural stance - that doesn't have a technical term.

which is another historical note which actually changes the way you think about stuff....before the curriculums, canned techniques, drills, technical terms and exact angles that were determined for karate...there was the unwritten instruction of 'just go like this'.


so now, armed with that senseability of history, someone would be less afraid to change what they were told must never change....your search back gave you the tools needed to accept change. so instead of interpreting kata with a 'it must never change' mindset, you are free (and within reason) to escape the artifical 'boxing-in' which karate experienced when first packaged and delivered to outside of Okinawa as canned arts.

The pursuit of history knowledge just adds to awareness...which is never a bad thing. but it is supplimentary and knowledge of it does not substitute for training.

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#372271 - 12/01/07 03:52 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: butterfly]
underdog Offline
Veteran

Registered: 09/18/04
Posts: 1270
Loc: Mansfield, MA U.S.A.
I'm not a history person, but I'm glad that there are people out there who are passionate about it. History doesn't help me fight better or get in better shape. Occaisionally, I want to know the what or why. This is particularly true of kata, although there are other occaisional practice questions that are more here and now. I may suspect relationships that would be clues to why something is done a certain way. I usually post these questions.

In return, if people ask about things where I have strong interest, I will answer those questions. That is what the forum is for.
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#372272 - 12/01/07 06:41 AM Re: Benefits of historical knowledge [Re: underdog]
harlan Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 07/31/04
Posts: 6664
Loc: Amherst, MA
History = who begat who (or is it 'whom'?).

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