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#434281 - 12/05/11 06:08 AM Re: "No" Art in Martial Arts [Re: gojuman59]
trevek Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 05/15/05
Posts: 3337
Loc: Poland
I think a lot of the concepts of "art" came from a time when they were less likely to be taught for practical application and more as character building, so matters of aesthetic came into play.
See how well I block your punches with my jaw!!

Supporting everyone saying "nuts to cancer"

#434282 - 12/05/11 10:16 AM Re: "No" Art in Martial Arts [Re: trevek]
gojuman59 Offline

Registered: 04/08/11
Posts: 224
Loc: Missouri

Good point.It really comes down to what is ones definition of art.I guess when there are some redeeming qualities to the activity it is an art.I guess the definition seems to blur when it comes down to the physical act of just pounding somebody senseless.It gets back to the old argument that we each get into these activities for our own reasons.There are many differant motivations to train.


#434320 - 12/18/11 09:46 AM Re: "No" Art in Martial Arts [Re: EFRAIN]
kakushiite Offline

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
Traditional martial arts schools are, in many locations, coming under increased pressure from "fighting-oriented" schools. Muay Thai, Boxing, Cardio kickboxing, PMA, BJJ, (and all sorts of mixes under the term MMA) schools compete for students with TMA schools. This wasn't as much the case 20, 30 and 40 years ago when the proliferation of TMA schools really began.

The challenge is that many students who seek training in martial arts, are far more interested in the martial than the art. Most, at least initially, want to learn how to fight, to learn how to better protect themselves against larger, aggressive attackers.

That is not to say all prospective students. But many want to learn how best to deal with an aggressive, larger attacker.

These students now have multiple training options open to them. And the more they seek to train in modern MMA-type fighting systems, the more pressure that TMA systems will, in general, have to adapt. It may be the only way to be economically viable. If the MMA studio has twice the rate of new students, compared to a TMA school 10 blocks away, and the TMA school, which may have been around for 20 years, sees the base of new students continue to dwindle, what other options does the the teacher have?

This evolution of TMA to more modern systems is an inevitable reaction to the economic forces of supply and demand. Martial art teachers want to remain economically viable, and so they have to "modernize" their training methods. And increasingly, that means transitioning away from what defined these systems as "arts". In the old kata of TMA systems, there is a bizarre focus on the abdomen. Punches originate and terminate in the abdomen area. In modern fighting systems, they originate and terminate at the head. Students of modern fighting systems rightly point out that many TMA systems train students to leave their heads ridiculously exposed when they "chamber" their hands at their hips. Downward blocks and center area blocks seem to be designed to block an unlikely attack.

Modern systems recognize that bigger aggressive attackers routinely strike to the head, and for good reason. The head, and especially the neck have a lot of high-value targets. But many TMA systems have virtually all strikes targeted to the abdomen.

I can't speak for Chinese based TMA, but I do know a little bit about the traditions of Okinawan karate. The Okinawans revered tradition. Chinese forms (kata) were the core component of tradition of training in fighting, and so the Okinawans practiced these Chinese kata incessantly. They also did substantial conditioning and striking practice.

But one can't ignore that the emphasis in the old Chinese kata for hands chambered at the hip, strikes to the abdomen, and blocks to strikes to the abdomen, seem fundamentally out of synch with the way modern fighting systems train.

There is increasing pressure on today's schools as they try to adapt. They need to figure out what to keep and what to discard in the goal of attracting an economically self-sustaining student base.

The Okinawans used to practice several hours, every day. And as a result they became strong and proficient fighters. Today the typical student only has time to practice several hours every week, less than a quarter of the time that Okinawans traditionally trained. And in those few hours, warmups have to be done, basics, kumite, and in some cases kobudo. The ability to teach students kata, and the meaningful use of these kata is greatly challenged by the fundamental lack of time.

Today, in an effort to remain economically viable, many teachers face the often daunting task of what to discard. It's usually a difficult decision to make. But given the economic realities, we should expect, over time, to see a diminishing role of kata in schools that have as a goal, the development of fighting abilities of their students. And to that extent, martial "arts" will, to many students, have less "art".

-Cayuga Karate

Edited by kakushiite (12/18/11 09:55 AM)
Edit Reason: Edited for clarity.

#434321 - 12/18/11 12:03 PM Re: "No" Art in Martial Arts [Re: kakushiite]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5846
Loc: USA

Excellent post.

Made me think about the "old days" and why people may have done what they did.

I think, perhaps, that many "old timers" started training for the same reasons that people do now--the number of "old masters" that started training because they were "weak" or something close to that is rather large.

And like many students they didn't ask enough questions about the history and "whys" of their arts--NOT AN INDICTMENT IN ANY FASHION--they were just like us, we train and train hard but by the time we get older and realize that we still have questions for our teachers they are gone.

I think the current differences are not all that different at all.

I think many of us started training for self protection and many people stopped when we felt we no longer needed to train.

When MA first came to the USA it was an ADULT activity--practice was rough, bloody noses and black eyes were frequent and the training was really rigorous---which made sense as many of the first generation teascher were ex-military or trained under such.
But evetually childern became the main target market (I'm skipping 40 years or so of the business here) and that changed everything.

In terms of "chambering at the hip" I was talking to a friend of mine recently and I was poiting out that the goju I do chambers "high" and he trains in a Shorin varient that chambers "low" down around his hips so the way I did it was "better"---yeah I was giving him the business wink so he pointed out that it is "unrelaistic" to chamber so high.

As he put it "most" serious fights don't start with two guys putting their "guards up", squaring off and going at it. Most serious fights are kinda sudden. And if your just standing around your hands are going to be hanging around your hips--so you should train that way--makes it easier and more "natural" to get them into play. "I" have to get my hands up in a "high" chamber to use them.

OK, so it have some flaws in logic--still a pretty good point. Something I had not considered.

The base problem--as you point out is the "business" aspect of things. Classes have been watered down--for business reasons. Classes are largely not as rough as they used to be (in general) for business reasons.

(this even effects MMA and boxing clubs--few working folks are willing to endure the effort, risk of injury, hours of training, the rough sparring, needed to get good at MMA or Boxing--so many of the clubs have to "water" struff down for their none pro/semi pro clients)

In short, I seriously think that in many respects, the standard "business model" does NOT fit martial arts training.

I will, respectfully smile disagree with one area---most TMA systems do target the chest/torso/abdomen--but in my own limited opinion, they do so mainly at the lower levels/belt ranks. The goju I do spent a lot of time doing so only to switch to the eyes, groin, throat, neck, spine, knees etc. after the student had been around awhile......or more precisely they showed us a whole range of "better" targets that used the same movements we had learned prior.

But given your larger point of only having so many hours to train--waiting so long to teach us those "other" targets might kinda be your exact point.

Again, thanks for posting--made me think.
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

#434322 - 12/18/11 07:43 PM Re: "No" Art in Martial Arts [Re: cxt]
kakushiite Offline

Registered: 02/06/03
Posts: 266
Loc: Ithaca, NY, USA
cxt wrote:

"most" serious fights don't start with two guys putting their "guards up", squaring off and going at it.

I would agree with that. However, what I fundamentally disagree with is the concept in karate of single strikes ending a fight against a larger attacker. Perhaps for someone with many, many years of training. But that is the exception not the rule. Once engaged, a person is best served by protecting their head.

I began training in TMA in the mid-70s, and am still quite active. I recognize the power generation capabilities from a hand chambered on the hip or ribs. I recognize that a strike from a hand chambered at the jaw does not have similar power. But it's a trade-off. You can get power from a chamber at the face, and you need to learn how to. I have found that training in both is an excellent way to develop maximum power.

However, many TMA schools don't teach to strike from a chamber at the jaw.

cxt wrote:

I will, respectfully smile disagree with one area---most TMA systems do target the chest/torso/abdomen

My experience is quite different. I have found in a broad range of systems three things:

1. The kata themselves predominantly have strikes to the torso region. The kata themselves predominantly have blocking movements where the blocking hand does not come above the shoulder, or significantly above the shoulder. There are occasional strikes in kata to the head area, but they are the exception, not the norm.

2. The practice of basic applications and bunkai, most often involves counters to the torso. If we look at traditional bunkai from the 60s, 70s and 80s, that we find on youtube, there is a heavy emphasis on counter strikes to the solar plexus.

3. Kumite, at least free sparring, typically has a heavy emphasis on strikes to the torso. In many schools and tournaments, strikes to the head are forbidden. Kicks to the head are allowed, but in general, no strikes to the head are permitted.

I am not arguing that the practice of these traditional strikes to the torso have no value. Karate systems emphasize hard striking, whether in kata, in application, or in free sparring. In order to practice with a minimum of injury, there is good reason to restrict striking to the torso.

However, it is my experience that many schools never teach the important changes that enable a student to transition from "dojo" fighting, to fighting in self defense, where it is likely, a big attacker wants to strike you in the head multiple times.

The more that dojos provide both the concepts of useful targets, and the need to protect the head with hands held high (once in a fight), the better they serve their students, at least those who come to learn how to better protect themselves.

UFC and other MMA venues have pulled away the curtain hiding the wizard of Oz. For too many years, karate teachers have peddled false information about the effectiveness of their systems. What has been exposed is the fiction surrounding the emphasis of one-strike to the abdomen, whether in application practice (bunkai) or in free sparring systems based on points. Against a larger attacker, the chance of a one-strike victory is low. The chance of a one-strike to the abdomen victory is ridiculously low. One needs effective combinations of strikes that can only be achieved through proper training.

The idea that kata provide all the tools one needs to defend oneself is increasingly becoming an obvious fallacy. I am a dedicated student of kata, and my self-defense movements are based on kata. But I also recognize that if I am lucky to get a punch in, I need to be able to quickly punch more times, very fast.

A double strike in kata is rare. A triple strike, almost non-existent. And where they are found, (Kusanku Dai, Pinan Yondan, Jiin, Jion, Gojushiho) they go to the torso. Kata are also missing hooking strikes to the head. These, done properly, require the back heel to come off the floor, something rarely done in karate systems. Kata routinely have movements where one walks forward one or more steps. This is rarely found in modern systems where shuffling is far more common. Kata is routinely practiced with lots of pauses. This may be a good way to train at times, but fighting combinations need to flow at maximum velocity.

These concepts found in karate, and other TMAs, may be useful training mechanisms, especially over several decades, especially if training is 10 hours a week and not two hours a week. But if one cannot commit to decades of training 500 hours a year, one should still be able to improve their self-defense skills with some reasonable investment of training.

All students of striking arts should routinely train in combinations of multiple strikes to the head. Fans of MMA see that multi-strike combinations are frequent, and defenses often include multiple strikes.

When one goes to a cardio-kickboxing class, one finds lots of training in multi-strike combinations. My experience (which is quite limited) is that the teachers don't have the best boxing training. There is far too much punching without optimal body rotation needed for maximum power.

TMA systems, (I am most familiar with karate) have training, including kata, that really leverage body turns for power generation. I find that when I train in cardio classes, that I rotate far more than everyone else. I teach my students that if they choose to train in a cardio class in the future, that they are best served by remembering the lessons they had in turns and how good body mechanics allow maximum generation of kinetic energy transfer to a given target.

I believe that over time, karate schools will adapt, as they must, to ensure that they are meeting the goals of students. If students primary goals are to learn self-defense, then they will figure out a way to meet those goals. If they don't, they just might not get enough students to survive.

-Cayuga Karate

#434330 - 12/22/11 12:43 PM Re: "No" Art in Martial Arts [Re: kakushiite]
cxt Offline
Professional Poster

Registered: 09/11/03
Posts: 5846
Loc: USA


Have to agree "single strikes" seldom end fights--although you see it happen the UFC on occasion. TKO's happen with somewhat greater frequency.
And a "single" blow that stun/disorients just enough to allow for multiple additional strikes or a takedown/hold happen as well.

In terms of kata, I agree---although I think your mixing "training" with "application."
As I suggested the points you make would, from my POV, be more suggestive with lower rank training. We start off with say the "solor plexis" target because its safer to have newbies punch there than at the easily damaged face/head. Plus even pro boxer get their hands broken with head punches in street fights. Its safer for the puncher at that satge as well.

Same with Kumite at that stage as well.

IMO smile

I'd also have to agree that many schools don't teach what many would agree is important.

I disagree howevr with the value of MMA style training---it has as many potential flaws as TMA.

"The idea that kata provides all the tools one needs is increasingly becoming an obvious fallacy"

Which is in and of itself framed as "strawman" fallacy.

A-I don't personaly know anyone that actually thinks that way or teaches that way.
I'm sure that there are people that do--I just can't/won't defend the practice since its not how I was taught nor is it how anyone I know teaches.

B-Those that do are not teaching properly IMO--so its a problem with the teachers

C-I was taught that anything you can do in the kata you should be able to do on the heavy bag--so the statement "everything is in kata" might be a bit more defensable than one might first think.

All I can say is that I was taught to do kata at "speed" and that the kata needed to be done as hard and as fast as you could do---at least for some types of practice.
I can't comment on how other people do it.

Goju however does teach "hooking" punches in its kata.

I agree with you that people need to hit stuff and that single strikes to the abdomen as "fight stoppers" are vastly low percentage shots.

"Meeting the goals of students"

I would agree, presumming that the students actually know what it is they need to know.

The number of students that start training without having been in a single fight in their lives is honestly kind of scary to me.
I started training because I got the ^&%&*% kicked of me a couple of times--so I at least knew what it felt like to lose.
I see all kinds younger people coming into schools whose only experience is watching TV---they niether understand the length of time it takes to develop real skills nor the importance physical conditioning nor what a fight can be "really" like. Or how hard serious training really is.

Some schools and teachers take advantage of their ignorance--a pox on their houses!!!!

Overall we are much more in agreement than not! smile

have a Merry Christmas and safe New Year--talk to you next year.
I did battle with ignorance today.......and ignorance won. Huey.

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