UnderGround Forums
 

TMA UnderGround >> Karate in America


12/11/09 10:55 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41263
 
Guys, I'm interested in the growth and current state of karate in America. In part, I'm interested to understand my own place in it!

Wondering how much you guys can sketch in - I'm sure it's too vast to encapsulate in one post, but, the way I see it, karate evolved in America after WW II but especially in the 1960s and 70s and now ranges in practice from BS McDojos to competitive kickboxing to mixed martial arts to pure Asian styles. Along the way, the primary influences on American karate were Shotokan, kenpo, Tae Kwon Do, kung fu, boxing and, to be fair, judo. So for many of us, a cross-training style of something that can only nominally be called karate and more accurately be called kickboxing has been our background.

I'm interested especially in learning more about kenpo (thread on this already) but also tae kwon do, as I think TKD really impacted American karate. Anyone else share this interest? Anyone want to take a stab at explaining the Korean TKD diaspora to me?
12/11/09 11:05 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41265
A bit more about me:

I studied "Chinese kempo" and, sadly, I didn't stay in touch with that instructor and am not sure the lineage. It *seems* like a lot of Mitose/Parker-ish stuff to me. But we also cross trained with TKD guys and had a strong boxing influence and then were branching into MMA. Got a little judo in me, too.

But for the last eleven years I've practiced kendo, so I don't even keep up as an empty hand stylist. I've retained my hand skills by regularly working the bag etc. on the side of kendo. Spar every once in a while with other stylists, not as often as I'd like - like I said, I am almost always kendo.

Always been interested in the kind of karate experiences I've had though. Really seemed to come out of a mix where lineage was not as important as what you were doing with it *now*. If a TKD guy could show you something, great. And you had to be able to answer to boxing type hands, so I've got pretty good hands and feet and move like a (recreational) kickboxer. My bread and butter is jab, cross, hook, back fist, horizontal chops, snap kick, round kick, side kick, and of course my MMA instincts, such as they are.

Share with me. WHere are we in this great big stew of kicking and punching?
12/12/09 10:13 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
twinkletoesCT
13 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/26/02
Posts: 8535
Modern Self-Defense Center, Head Instructor
FRAT Warning :)

Well, I came up in a Kenpo Karate school that was somewhere between the Tracy & Parker systems. I'm told we were doing "what Parker taught before he fully created the Parker system", which matches that description fairly well.

The school where I came up used to have a big adults program and a fairly equal kids program, but I haven't seen an adults class bigger than 4 students in about ten years there...maybe a little more.

Some of it, to be sure, had to do with the individual chemistry of instructors at that school. Some of it definitely has to do with the fading image of karate for adults, as MMA and RBSD-oriented academies have become the norm.

The folks I came up with were a mix of traditionally minded people, open-minded people, and superficially open-minded people. Fortunately, the seniormost instructors were all very open-minded. My head instructor had been a full contact guy in the late 70's and early 80's, and had boxed before that. He was heavily crosstraining FMA and Small-Circle JJ, and so he encouraged us to find our own specialties and bring back the goods to the mothership. Eventually he retired, and his successor did a great job.

As time has progressed at that school, I moved on to open my own school, because I was becoming more and more ostracized for training BJJ/JKD...there was a major stigma about the BJJ in particular, for whatever reason. I taught at both schools for a year, but found that everyone was minimizing my involvement there, so I left and went solely on my own.

Two of the instructors that I groomed there for years (and one from the sister school) came with me, and although they still teach there too, that relationship is waning as mine did. They're finding more and more pressure to "stop with all that BJJ stuff" and "concentrate more on their karate and FMA". There's an ironic relationship with the superficially open minded instructors, who heavily encourage that senior students and instructors crosstrain, but ONLY in the styles that THEY THEMSELVES crosstrain. They look down haughtily at those who venture into styles that they haven't endorsed personally.

The first problem my companions found, as I did, was that the entire training method there is based on the curriculum. So once you know the entire curriculum, they don't know what to do with you. (At one point, as a second degree black belt, I was teaching the senior black belts, because I knew ALL the black belt kata and they did not.) Sparring is an optional training method there, and not practiced regularly by most of the black belts...only maybe a third or so.

The second problem they've found is that young people (by which I mean folks in their 20's now but who came up through the belts as kids) were being promoted much more slowly than folks who started after age 20. I can tell you that the same folks I was teaching in the black belt class were promoted past me, some even in less time than the required "time in grade", while I was teaching 12+ hours/week and attending tests and other functions without exception. It was an incredibly frustrating experience for me, and it's been hard for me to watch these folks go through the exact same thing.

So where is Karate these days? Unfortunately, my personal experience has been that karate is not doing so well. It's stuck in its old training methods, not moving forward, and surrounded by pettiness and competition in all the wrong ways. And unfortunately, as MMA and RBSD continue to grow, I see a lot of karate instructors with their fingers in their ears saying "LALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR YOU." Those of us that feel otherwise have stopped trying to save them and are off training other, more hands-on styles with each other, like Refugees.

~Chris
12/13/09 7:32 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41267
That last paragraph in particular is killer, Chris. When you were coming up, did you know some badasses in kenpo?
12/13/09 9:11 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
de braco
23 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 1/1/01
Posts: 413
shorin and ishin ryu had tremendous impact on the kenpo based american karate thru Lewis and Wallace
12/14/09 1:02 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41270
Interesting.
12/14/09 10:31 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
twinkletoesCT
13 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/26/02
Posts: 8538
Modern Self-Defense Center, Head Instructor
Ogami,

I didn't do much Kenpo training outside my own group of schools. They weren't linked with any of the big orgs, so I didn't rub elbows with any bigwigs. Instead, I met folks like Prof. Remy Presas, who was an amazing person. I once met Mr. Greg Silva, who (IIRC) runs United Professionals. He and my instructor came up through the belt ranks together in Massachusetts.

Within our schools, there were folks that competed - I'm talking open karate tourneys like the NASKA ones...I forget the other organizations. I did a few of those myself, when I outgrew the local ones that were held 2-3 times each year. In fact, I was at some of the first NAGA tourneys back in 1997 and shortly thereafter, back when it was a karate tourney in the morning and a grappling tourney in the afternoon. I joked at one tourney in 12/97 that I wanted the "hustle award" after competing in Black Belt forms, Black Belt weapons, Black Belt sparring (2 divisions), and Novice grappling (there was no "gi or no-gi" back then...all one division!). I entered every division they allowed me into.

I knew a couple guys who did well on the pointfighting circuit, but most of the instructors ahead of me fell into two groups: those who were content to hang out and teach at the Kenpo school (and not do much training for themselves), or those who were crosstraining in Modern Arnis (thereby continuing to be students and train). A couple of instructors ahead of me moved out of the area and started training JKD or other styles, but it was hard to keep contact in the pre-internet era.

Through the changing generations at my school, there became a few instructors around my level who started a major witch hunt for anything that wasn't "purely kenpo" making its way into classes. Through passive-aggressive means, they managed to get a lot of things removed from the curriculum from FMA and other sources that were being taught to the students...anything they disliked. Anytime someone fought to keep it, they'd shrug it off and say "my interest is really only in Kenpo. Isn't that what we came here to learn?" It really sucked for the rest of us that a couple close-minded people were tainting it for the students, when the head instructors were so much the opposite. Several of my colleagues actually left over confrontations with these guys.

I found great irony in all this, since Kenpo itself really came into existence post WW2, and our system in particular seems to date back even more recently. I've found videos on several of the forms we teach, and it looks like our versions of them could be as recent as the 70's. It's not like these are ancient, unchanged techniques we're discussing. When my first head instructor was still around, he had a copy of Mitose's "What Is Self-Defense (Kenpo Ju-jitsu) in the office, and I used to read it whenever I had down time. The style I practiced look little to nothing like it (though I feel it's equally dissimilar to what I see in Parker's Infinite Insights books).

There's been a fairly decent schism at the school where I taught, and that's made the two camps distinct. Those who are only interested in Kenpo are still there, teaching the same ol' curriculum day after day. Those who are broadening their horizons, well...they still teach there a little, but they come to me to train. They know that I "get it", that I sympathize, and that I see the same shortcomings that they are finding. Ironically, it's NOT with the curriculum or the art itself...just with the people at the helm and the way they're approaching the idea of "changing training methods".

I think I stuck it out so long because I held onto the hope that more than a couple of them would see, and would understand, that I didn't want to change their Kenpo, I just wanted to change how effectively they practiced their Kenpo. But after a few years of trying to do that, I realized I was beating my head against a wall and trying to turn them into what *I* though they should be...and that's not my job. So I opened my own place and I train the way I think is best, and the folks that agree with me come visit to do the same.

And it's tough to let go. Last fall one of the instructors I brought up through the ranks from a 6-year-old white belt came to me and told me that the sparring program there was in need of a total reboot--that the instructors running it had needed to change days, and that with new instructors at the helm it had collapsed completely. None of the students came anymore because control and contact issues had soured the experience, and it ran unchecked like this for a long enough period of time that all the students bailed. It was REALLY hard for me not to jump in and offer to redesign and supervise the program and make sure that it worked...but again, I have to realize that it's NOT MY JOB to enforce what *I* think is best on someone else's school. That's been a tough lesson for me.

So as it stands now, I'm friendly with everyone over there. Attitudes have softened, and perhaps a contributing factor is my own absence. Personally, I miss the people over there. They were fun to train with and nice folks. But I have no interest in training what they're training: I don't need to learn another kata or some self-defense techniques. These will not help me to grow or to improve. I've been doing those since 1988. So those of them who want to roll, or to spar at only 20% but include leg kicks and head contact or with weapons or whatever else, those people know where to find me. And there will always be some folks who don't come join me, because they still don't understand why I want to do those things, and why I think the students benefit so much from them.

It makes me sad, really, that I couldn't take them all with me. There is so much out there for us all to share.

~Chris
12/15/09 12:38 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41291
Another great post, Chris. Especially when you point out that kenpo really should be all about broad, incorporating cross training with kenpo as a foundation.

What about TKD. Ever rub elbows or cross train with those guys?
12/15/09 2:19 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WidespreadPanic
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/29/06
Posts: 3189
I'd be interested in knowing just what pure Kenpo/Kempo training is now-a-days. Kata, SD one and three-steps, 'grab me here' drills? (Yes I know some try to incorporate FMA, but omitting that for now).

Do they equate 'calluses on the knuckles' and getting hurt sparring (i.e. no gear, getting black eyes) with 'skill'?

TIA.

12/15/09 3:42 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
twinkletoesCT
13 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/26/02
Posts: 8539
Modern Self-Defense Center, Head Instructor
Ogami Itto,

I've trained with some TKD guys, but I haven't trained TKD. Their style is much more linear and hard, like classical karate.

To answer both your question and WP, here is what the training was like for us:

The curriculum had 3 parts: basics, techniques, and kata.

Your basics were individual punches, kicks, stances, and blocks. It was pretty standard fare here...get into a horse stance to demonstrate blocks and hand strikes, then some hand strikes & kicks were only done from a fighting stance. Usually the first 10-15 minutes after calisthenics were spent practicing some basics on the air, or on some shields/targets. This was always done stationary, never in motion, and it was typically just done with everyone in rows, facing the mirror.

Self-Defense Techniques were short, choreographed responses to specific attacks. They tended to be 3-10 moves long, though some were longer. It was the stereotypical thing where the guy throws a punch and leaves it hanging in the air while you hit him a bazillion times. There is a lot of talk about "first you hit him in the groin, so he doubles over. As he does, you bring up the backfist and knock his head backwards, then palm under the chin as the head goes up, etc. etc." Most techniques assumed specific body reactions from the strike before it, all of which are guaranteed to land and be successful. Practicing these techniques was about a 50/50 split between actually performing them with a partner, or just doing them on the air (depending on the instructor, you'd get more of one or the other). When I came up through the ranks, there were 186 techniques, and you had to be able to perform each one on the right and left sides, just from hearing the name called. Roughly 60% of them are performed as a counter to a straight right punch, attacker stepping forward with the punch. These were drilled into me so well that I bet I could probably still do them all. If there's one training method that gets the most attention, this is it.

Lastly, there were some kata (longer prearranged sets). Though some were added and deleted from the curriculum during my time there, I knew 30 below the rank of black belt. They were Chinese Forms 1-6, Finger Set, Moving Finger Set, Mass Attacks, Tiger Form, Book Set, Dancing Cat Part 1 (Bo Staff), Rushing Fists Part 1 & 2, Sword Form, Universal Drills 1-6 (added in the 1990's), Modern Arnis Anyo 1-4 Empty Hand, Modern Arnis Anyo 1-5 with Stick. After black the curriculum was only forms, and I knew all of those too.

At times, there were other requirements in the curriculum, including Modern Arnis. The system we studied was a blend of linear and circular, hard and soft, and with an eye for (theoretically) economical movement. Stances were somewhat classical, striking was more contemporary, and interpretation of the role of the various training methods was ENTIRELY up to the instructor. There are some senior instructors there who still tell students that a kata is telling the story of a multiple attacker situation, and that practicing the forms is a good way to prepare for that. No joke. Others are much more practical.

Sparring was (and still is) optional. When I was teaching the kids program, I'd say about 70% of them attended sparring, and only about 20% of adults. I hear now that it's maybe 20% TOPS of the whole population.

WP, there were only a few instructors into "conditioning" in the sense of "toughening" the body. Some of them had us whacking our forearms and shins together, but that died out by the early 1990's at our school, as did board breaking. I hear the breaking is making a comeback there, as a few young instructors have found themselves excited by it, and are now breaking roofing tiles and cinder blocks.

A typical class was a 10-15 minute warmup, 5-10 of basics (either one, or a smattering of different ones), then most of the class was breaking into groups by rank and working techniques or kata, depending on what the instructor wanted to do that day. Sparring had its own day, and would start immediately after basics.

Typical sparring was a few rounds of "quarter speed" (sometimes that really meant light contact and slow speed, other times it deserved to be in quotation marks), then full speed but still with light contact. The only things permitted were punches and kicks between the neck and the belt, excluding the back. No striking of other kinds, no leg kicking, grabbing, or head contact was allowed. Among the senior adults (brown and above) the way of demonstrating sparring prowess was to get in there and beat the heck out of each other...from the neck to the belt...and to take it in kind. Depending on who was supervising, that might occasionally include head contact. This is rarely done in front of other students.

Little defense was taught for sparring, and no footwork or head movement was ever shown. Defenses were typically "keep your hands in a fighting stance" and "don't be there". Sparring equipment was cup & mouthpiece, foam hand protectors (the multi colored ones you see in all the catalogs...they don't even deserve to be called "gloves") and most folks wore multicolored footgear too. Some wore shin or forearms pads, but most people bragged that they didn't.

I look back and feel that most of the training methods were misunderstood by student and teacher alike. The point of sparring was, as it was generally understood, to learn to take a punch...except that typically, the contact was expected to be so light that you didn't take one...except that typically, you eventually found a partner with poor enough control that you DID take one.

The forms and techniques were no better understood, as they were agreed to be entirely workable in a street situation and if questions arose, the instructor would improvise an explanation of how to follow up in accordance with concepts and principles that totally applied, in theory.

One of the young instructors from our sister school is now one of my BJJ blue belts, and is trying to create a Martial Arts program to teach at a local gym that approached him. So far, he is trying to figure out how to teach Kenpo now that he has cut all the forms and almost all the techniques out of what he wants to show. What training methods will he have left? I have no idea.
12/16/09 12:00 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WidespreadPanic
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/29/06
Posts: 3203
 That was similar to what we did in my first 'Korean Karate' class at University. Lots of warm up in group, sliding forward, pivoting fore and aft, side stepping, moving and kicking (all air drills here). It really built up calluses on he feet, and you also built up a 'lower stance'. I think it was effective for those reasons.

I remember going back to class after a semester off and I got horrible blisters on my feet (yes, we did try to slide and pivot and move with a 'light' step, but it still caused them. The floor was varnished wood.

I think the 'air' punches are, uh, ok, but after the first belts, I think it's better to hit a target. In reality, I think a lot of TMA schools still have parts of the curriculum in place to 'weed out' certain less devoted students (and maybe bullies?).

So, you'd have them do a lot of Karate-like stuff but really not improve their ability to fight. In fact, I think I was a better fighter naturally before I started doing Karate (until a few years had gone by).

The one and three step drills might have been worth something if they were done more realistically. We always tried to actually hit the opponent, kicking the shoulder, or the gut, and we'd also do partner drills where we'd stand in a side stance and practice kicking the shoulder, deltoid, and back of the shoulder and the pectoral area with almost full power (as you got better accuracy). It takes a little skill to slide up and sidekick the deltoid everytime (and not hit the elbow, instead, for example).

Sounds a bit like your classes (and mine) were more like 'white collar' boxing compared to what might really teach you to 'fight'.

Thanks for the detailed reply!


12/17/09 12:55 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41306
Wow, more great posts. My Chinese kempo training was similar except my instructor was rapidly ditching kata, doing a lot more pad/shield, bag work and sparring, and our one-steps only involved up to three moves or so and nothing complicated like what you described ("then, when he bends over..."). And MMA leanings, of course. We used to do karate on Monday and grappling on Wednesday.

"So far, he is trying to figure out how to teach Kenpo now that he has cut all the forms and almost all the techniques out of what he wants to show. What training methods will he have left? I have no idea."

^He should consider what I used to do. I think one steps are great, actually - even competitive kick boxers and boxers do them, they just don't call them that - maybe they are better called "drills?" I punch, you block and counter punch. Again. Again. With focus mitts or without. Like what WP was describing.

Personally, I think that's pretty good hand to hand training. Warm up, basics on air, bag, mitts, shield or all of the above, one steps, sparring.
12/17/09 1:33 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WidespreadPanic
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 12/17/09 1:33 PM
Member Since: 12/29/06
Posts: 3210
 Bear in  mind that some beginners just don't have control over their bodies. I think 'kata' is good for teaching them memory, body alignment, focus, concentration, internalization of a sequence of movement and even 'stance' training. It's just not a substitute for the skills needed to fight or spar, which need to be layered on top.

So, while it might make sense for the experienced guys, 'throwing out kata' is probably a mistake.
 
12/17/09 4:54 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41320
So, there's kata in kendo and I have a good perspective on it.

In kendo, you drill and spar at everyp practice. You also do paired kata. Eventually, the stuff you are pulling off in kata starts making its way into your sparring and you actually start pulling off stuff you'd do in kata. Could the same apply to hand to hand? Some of which you'd never use it in sparring but it may come out in the right situation.

I love kata, myself, of all kinds. They get, I dunno, prioritized too high, sometimes, I think.
12/17/09 10:20 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
twinkletoesCT
13 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/26/02
Posts: 8551
Modern Self-Defense Center, Head Instructor
Well, yes, we do that in every style, don't we? In BJJ, you do paired techniques cooperatively, and eventually you build the coordination (and other attributes) necessary to actual do, say, an armbar that looks like an armbar. :)

The problem, of course, is that in styles like the ones where I grew up, the skills practiced statically are NOTHING like the ones practiced in sparring.

The kenpo I studied was all about getting inside and throwing elbows and knees and close quarter striking...statically. In the ring, it was punching and kicking only, to the midsection only. How were we going to develop those elbows and knees and whatnot if we never sparred them? There was too vast a disconnect between the static training and sparring training.

Something like boxing, BJJ, or kendo on the other hand...you learn it statically, you practice it cooperatively, you escalate towards using it in sparring, then you pull it off in sparring, etc. It's a sensible skill progression.

The 10-minute solo forms, I'm less convinced about. I agree with Widespread Panic that for some folks they are GREAT for building coordination and movement. I think some forms are better than others for that. I am told that in Parker Kenpo, each form has a "theme" that it emphasizes, like "striking in the opposite direction that your body is moving". Our forms didn't have any of that...or if they did, nobody ever told us.

I often feel that Martial Arts instructors inherit a curriculum without an instruction manual. Over generations, it can be inevitable that information (and purpose) is lost. We need (1) good instructors and (2) sparring or other feedback-heavy training methods that let us evaluate our own performance.
12/18/09 9:23 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41324
"I often feel that Martial Arts instructors inherit a curriculum without an instruction manual. Over generations, it can be inevitable that information (and purpose) is lost."

Agreed. Historically, there were often written documents to go with the verbal instruction, but you can not understand one without the other. Musashi's "Book of Five Rings" is an example from the sword schools of Japan.
12/18/09 4:42 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WidespreadPanic
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/29/06
Posts: 3222
I think you inadvertently hit on something bringing Kendo into it.

One of the 'problems' with Kata is that it does not seem to have the right 'timing'. Try this.

Take any of the basic katas, heians, pinans. But, get two sticks, two short swords, any kind of hand-held weapon. Do the kata, but add in your own 'hand movements'. Use twirls, strikes, whatever feels natural with the weapon, but along the lines of the original hand motions. Keep the stepping and kicking the same.

Completely different 'feel', right? I think the addition of the weapons give the kata moves 'reach' and 'weight' and 'timing' that isn't there empty handed. Likewise, Kendo kata are done with the sword, so that aspect is 'built in'. Obviously, this observation is non-scientific - I don't have pat meanings for 'adding weight' (as in meaning and emphasis, and yes, the physical weight of the instrument). So get out of it what you will.

As far as MA losing their 'core' as time goes on, yes, it happens in several ways, chief among them 'secrecy', and 'jealousy', and passing along the 'real stuff' to only select disciples to preserve the ability of the Master. (He wouldn't teach what could possibly be used to beat him, while still alive - always holding something back).

So, over time, it gets diluted.

$0.02

12/20/09 2:37 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Seul
17 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 9/18/02
Posts: 2112
The descriptions of training are pretty accurate for my time in kenpo (I quit after 4 years or so at brown belt, mostly because I started wrestling and became unhappy with the training methods).

We had somewhat fewer formal techniques and forms, though, and sparring started off with that "between neck and waist" BS and expanded to include "sides of the head", then "light contact to the face", "sides of the leg", and eventually (at black belt) open target (which meant you could do regular kickboxing with a small amount of grappling thrown in, which most people didn't have any real idea how to do).

There were some guys in there that could fight very very well, but most of them had some experience with other styles(including one of the head instructors, who had kickboxed competitively and learned submission grappling, though he was never able to make it a very large part of the curriculum).

I learned the difference between knowing how to do an armbar and being capable of pulling it off against a resisting opponent soon after leaving the school.

Sparring was more or less optional (I have a friend who stuck with it and recently received a 3rd degree black belt; he hasn't sparred regularly in years and is not really any better at it than he was whenever he got used to including head contact. As long as you learn the techniques, they move you forward), and the pre-arranged sequence stuff was given the majority of the training focus.

I became frustrated once I got involved with sub-grappling (which I was absolutely awful at, despite knowing most of the basic submissions, because we never "sparred" on the ground), wrestling (it didn't seem right that I would get absolutely dismantled with such ease; I was nearly a black belt, lol), and an MMA club.

I never learned proper footwork, head movement, or got a chance to drill effective defensive maneuvers outside of just hoping to get them done during sparring.

The instructor who is also a pretty decent kickboxer broke off to start his own thing stressing sparring a lot more, though. The training at his school is (unsurprisingly) drastically better than what was offered before.

Somebody at the school I used to attend broke their forearm because they tried to block a roundhouse kick with an "8-point block" (if any of you had to learn these, too). The instructor said "these aren't really supposed to be used in sparring" (or, presumably, against anything besides the air), but nobody asked "why did we bother doing these a billion times, then?".
12/20/09 6:59 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
twinkletoesCT
13 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/26/02
Posts: 8562
Modern Self-Defense Center, Head Instructor
Seul - Somebody at the school I used to attend broke their forearm because they tried to block a roundhouse kick with an "8-point block" (if any of you had to learn these, too). The instructor said "these aren't really supposed to be used in sparring" (or, presumably, against anything besides the air), but nobody asked "why did we bother doing these a billion times, then?".


I heard the same thing, time and again, but I DID ask. I was told "they're for committed attacks from untrained attackers, not the sophisticated attacks your sparring partner will be throwing."

Riiiiiiiiiiight.
12/20/09 8:06 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41338
Is this an eight point block? Dude broke his forearm?!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v586i8TPy7A
12/20/09 8:09 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41339
WP: still trying to get your point about weapons and kata. Something to do with the empty hand and weapon kata having similar origins? Or movements that were used for both? I should clarify that kendo no kata are two person kata, uchitachi and shidashi, "winner" and "loser," or what in my old days was called tori and uke!
12/21/09 11:29 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WidespreadPanic
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Edited: 12/21/09 11:30 PM
Member Since: 12/29/06
Posts: 3236
^^ Take any basic empty hand kata. Now go through it with empty hand, first. Note how it feels.

Then take the SAME kata and hold two weapons, like two single sticks, or two short swords and go through essentially the same moves, but the blocks and strikes are now being done with the surfaces of the weapons and not your arms. It's a WHOLE different feel and actually feels 'right', extending your reach and balance and timing because of the use of the 'force multiplication' aspects of the weapon. The footwork seems to fit better too. My point is that when you compare the original empty hand version now seems inadequate and ineffective by contrast. But try it yourself (especially if you've done FMA).

I'm not talking about a 'weapons' kata. Just doing an empty hand kata while holding a stick in each hand (for example).

Many, many TMA guys who go into FMA, and learn the single and double sticks have gone back and played with their former empty hand kata using their new found 'sticks' skills and giving the same kata an 'FMA-flavor' and found it satisfying and I'm trying to explain why.

HTH.

 
12/22/09 9:33 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Seul
17 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 9/18/02
Posts: 2114
"Is this an eight point block? Dude broke his forearm?!"

Exactly, from what I hear (I don't train at these places anymore, a friend who is still active told me about it) he used #7 or #8 in that video to try and block a hard roundhouse kick.

I don't know whether or not it was his carpals/metacarpals that broke or if it was his ulna or radius, but his arm is fucked up and in a cast.

We always got the same reasoning "it's for untrained attackers" or even better "it's so you hurt them while blocking their attack" (the latter clearly not being the case in this instance, lol).
12/22/09 11:09 AM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
Ogami Itto
219 The total sum of your votes up and votes down Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 11/12/02
Posts: 41385
Well, fuck, that's how I trained to block! And I've used them in sparring... geez. Although, yeah, they do work a bit better in "gotcha!" situations.

We called them:

Outer block
Inner Block
Upper block
Lower block

WP: now I get where you are coming from. Begs the question: if kata come from weapons arts of China and Japan, are they really well suited to empty hands? Argument in favor of doing away with kata completely.
12/22/09 2:53 PM
Ignore | Quote | Vote Down | Vote Up
WidespreadPanic
Send Private Message Add Comment To Profile

Member Since: 12/29/06
Posts: 3237
^^ I think the use of Kata is two-fold.

1. It's a catechism of some of the movements in the style, which may or may not have anything to do with fighting;
2. It's something to give beginners to do that allows them to develop memory, body awareness and focus. If the beginner already has this, then kata is less useful.

It's also something you can do to help moving meditation, and in the case of certain types of solo movements, you can build on your internal power (e.g. silk reeling).

$0.02


Reply Post

You must log in to post a reply. Click here to login.