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#425883 - 03/17/10 03:23 PM Obfuscation as a teaching tool?
MattJ Offline
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Registered: 11/25/04
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Interesting (if uncorroborated) notion in this link:

http://www.sanjosekenpo.com/origin_of_american_kenpo.htm

Quote:
American Kenpo forms were taught with hidden meaning so only the perspicacious would see what was intended. The system was designed to lead the student through tangled and obscure paths, where the instructor could point out the meaning of each twist or turn. Then, when it all came together, the student--the Ed Parker Kenpo black belt--would emerge from the darkness into the light of new understanding. The black belt would only need to know about 100 applications of American Kenpo, as his understanding of the "why" of the movement would replace all of the "techniques" of other Kenpo systems.


I don't see how teaching students inaccurate info could possibly be a good idea, as the vast majority would not do the research to figure out what *is* accurate. But I guess I can see where those who do might have a more 'complete' understanding of their training.

Does this seem like a good idea to you? Anyone else who's style or instructor uses (or you suspect uses, LOL) this method?

Related thread here:

http://www.fightingarts.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=288583&page=1

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#425884 - 03/17/10 04:01 PM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: MattJ]
butterfly Offline
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Registered: 08/25/04
Posts: 3012
Loc: Torrance, CA
It's a craptastic way of not teaching and still being used in various ways today. If you are not showing/explaining/demoing what you are trying to teach...you ain't teaching. You can see it when some instructors court the student's want for something secret and hidden in the mists of some acient Asian instruction. People want to believe in magic and that if they only had the secret, then you wouldn't have to work as hard or be as big as someone else to hit as hard as the other guy.

Then you have those who like to over correct for some stance or technique just to make it seem like you still didn't exactly get what was being taught...and for no other reason than that moving your hand a centimeter this way and the next student a centimeter the other way....without really changing or explaining why.

Then of course you have those who like to couch all their replies in some mystical, magical pseudo philosophical speak that leaves much to be desired in an answer. But how do you generate power? Use your internal combustion engine and twist your big toe like this..... Yeah, right.

All in all, the same thing happens so many times and so many ways that it's hard to fathom why people can't get straight answers from their instructors or why these instructors can't give straight (not necessarily simple) responses. And why students still come back for second helpings of non-teaching.

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#425886 - 03/17/10 04:04 PM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: MattJ]
Cord Offline
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Registered: 01/13/05
Posts: 11399
Loc: Cambridge UK.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JfUhTwwVUYs

As a cinematic tool, it works brilliantly. As a real life strategy to impart information, it sucks ballz.

People have enough trouble with simple instructions, let alone cryptic witterings.

The idea behind it is sound however, as you do not want people 'doing' blindly, just because they are told. You do want people to engage their brains, and see the why, as much as the how. As a personal trainer, I always told my clients at the start of our relationship, that if I did my job as an educator correctly, that they would not need me, or any other trainer after 18 months, because by that point, they would have in their brain, a grasp of concepts that allowed them to be their own trainer.
Some are willing and able to do this, others are not and not only need, but want spoon feeding.
None at either end of the spectrum are well served by riddles and vagueries designed to agrandize the teacher.
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#425887 - 03/17/10 04:30 PM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: MattJ]
everyone Offline
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Registered: 01/02/07
Posts: 597
Loc: USA
Quote:
American Kenpo forms were taught with hidden meaning so only the perspicacious would see what was intended. The system was designed to lead the student through tangled and obscure paths, where the instructor could point out the meaning of each twist or turn. Then, when it all came together, the student--the Ed Parker Kenpo black belt--would emerge from the darkness into the light of new understanding. The black belt would only need to know about 100 applications of American Kenpo, as his understanding of the "why" of the movement would replace all of the "techniques" of other Kenpo systems.

I don't see how teaching students inaccurate info could possibly be a good idea, as the vast majority would not do the research to figure out what *is* accurate. But I guess I can see where those who do might have a more 'complete' understanding of their training.


I don't think the writer is saying they teach inaccorate information. He is saying they teach all the details up front, which tends to be confusing for a new student. The end result is a greater understanding of simplified movements.

If you break down each movement involved with a punch, it can sound complicated (explaining each twist and turn). Once those are understood, however, the punch is a simple movement.

The benefit of this is if you know why something like jointlocks work, you don't have to learn several techniques, just apply what you know in various situations.

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#425888 - 03/17/10 05:04 PM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: everyone]
MattJ Offline
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Originally Posted By: everyone
I don't think the writer is saying they teach inaccorate information. He is saying they teach all the details up front, which tends to be confusing for a new student. The end result is a greater understanding of simplified movements.


I did not read it that way. I was taking this quote at face value:

Quote:
were taught with hidden meaning


Although, that would be ironic if they meant otherwise! LOL

I still think it is a perversion of the teacher/student relationship to knowingly deceive the unsuspecting. Is it more acceptable in the stereotypical (do not ask questions!) martial arts instructor sense? I don't think so, but that's just me.
_________________________
"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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#425889 - 03/17/10 05:25 PM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: MattJ]
everyone Offline
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Registered: 01/02/07
Posts: 597
Loc: USA
I think maybe it's a case of a bad writer, but maybe a good teacher. The "hidden meaning" in context appears to me to be the principles of the style that are contained within the forms. By learning these principles, you don't need a lot of techniques. They are "hidden" from the casual observer who may only see a series of techniques and not the principles.

Anyway, I agree with your conclusion - you just may not have used the proper example.

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#425890 - 03/17/10 05:45 PM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: everyone]
MattJ Offline
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Registered: 11/25/04
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Loc: York PA. USA
Oh, I think I get you now. Parker's kenpo is a bit different from many TMA's in that the forms use the exact same techniques taught for self defense, with no bunkai or interpretation. I noted in the link at the bottom of my OP that some of those techniques seem fundamentally flawed or impractical, but are taught as viable moves. The student must figure out if the moves are 'real' or not.

This was the perspective I was approaching this thread from. Apologies for lack of clarity.
_________________________
"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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#425894 - 03/17/10 09:47 PM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: MattJ]
TeK9 Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 2257
Loc: Northern California, USA
I seriously doubt that an art like Kenpo which is an up close and in your face style would have hidden meaning in any of its teachings. It just wouldn't be American.

Especially since this art was promoted as the original no nonsense "street fighting" art. If anything Parker added to the understanding of movements an came up with the first curriculum fir teaching the art from a syllabus. Which is why he broke it down and came up with all these names fir techniques and developed those fancy endless counter strike combination's (tricks)Kenpo is so well known for.Through this he developed new training methods. It is doubtful that he would try to mystify his art for the sake of marketing.
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does not surpass his
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#425906 - 03/18/10 07:42 AM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: TeK9]
MattJ Offline
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Registered: 11/25/04
Posts: 15634
Loc: York PA. USA
I agree that it sounds incredible to me that Parker would have created moves that are purposefully impractical, just to make people "think". Doubly so in light of the way Parker went to extremes in clarifying and quantifying heretofore obscure concepts and principles of martial arts.

Seems like an odd way to teach, if that is indeed the case. I have yet to find any direct proof that Parker did create moves that way, but was curious to see what other people's opinions and experiences were.
_________________________
"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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#425934 - 03/19/10 04:03 PM Re: Obfuscation as a teaching tool? [Re: MattJ]
MrWizard Offline
Newbie

Registered: 03/19/10
Posts: 5
Another amazing case of a guru spinning a fairytale yarn that makes the practitioner believe there are much deeper underlying considerations taken in the meticulousness of the "craptastic" martial art.

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