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Old November 30, 1998, 09:53 PM   #1
Rich Lucibella
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I'd be interested in hearing about favorite styles for alternative force combat. It seems to me that the Filippino styles have gained in popularity, given their practical effectiveness and the growing recognition of batons and edged weapons in CQC situations.

However, the Asian arts including Hwa Rang Do, Tai styles, Japanese and Chinese still have much to recommend them. What styles or methods have you each chosen and why? Are choices limited by the assumption that you'll be dealing with firearm retention while doing HtH battle?
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Old November 30, 1998, 11:05 PM   #2
Michael Carlin
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Rich,

In terms of style it does not seem to me to make much difference in the long run, though it may in the short run.

As the student progresses the sequence is from unconcious incompetence through concious incompetence, to consious competence and finally to unconcious competence.

First stage: Though he does not know, he does not know that he does not know, so his responses are generally uninhibited by self doubt. If he has a physcial "problem" with another he deals with it in a sort of natural let it happen way. He may innovate, or respond in some undrilled way because "it seems" the thing to do. Unfortunately this unconciousness (lack of self conciousness) is not a "force multiplier" and may merely allow him the illusion that he is doing well until he is hurt, or killed.

When training begins the instructor shows him how, and he begins to see that perhaps he does not have the natural talent he may have thought he had. He probably will become aware that he is painfully incompetent.

At this stage the student of the martial arts is now very inhibited and grossly worse off in terms of ability to defend himself or subdue an arrestee than before this realization.

At this stage the style may begin to make a difference, for the student NEEDS to achieve concious competence in some techniques before he or she loses interest/confidence and quits in disgust. There is a benefit to teaching at this stage some simple easily mastered techniques that the student can rapidly become conciously very competent in.

Most people in this society (the sit on your ass and watch the gifted giants play on the big screen TV society) do not know how to learn any physical skill. Nor have they ever truly experienced the wondrous feeling that accompanies the true mastery of a physical skill. If we can show them the joy in acquiring a physical skill they may stay at this long enough to begin to approach unconcious competence.

Unconcious competence occurs when your subconcious is driving the step by step train without your cognitive mind participating in that process directly. This is a feeling that many NEVER experience. This is the counter punch/kick technique that you literally watch yourself do in a state of mild surprise. "Wow, nice parry, side step, reverse punch" you think to yourself as the opponent is on his face in the classic fetal position making that sound. You know, the one that indicates that you got all his "air" and he is going to be 15 to 90 seconds in concious agony and doubt as he struggles for a breath.

Now I haven't forgotten that you asked for input about style. I chose Tae Kwon Do, but I do not now believe the style to be as important as the instructor. My instructor, Byung Yul Lee, actually taught his white belts as a 6th degree when I met him. His physical competence was obvious. I would choose to train with the most physcially competent person who could and would COMMUNICATE with me in some way what I am looking for.

It might be broken English, "no no elbow go under, you elbow out!" As he turns you to face the mirror and demonstrates the straight smooth motion that he wants. He might just rap your elbow with a knuckle, or smile in amusement, but the point is he has to be able to demonstrate correct form and to indentify when you improve. You and he are searching for the trigger, the physical sensation that will connect with your mind the sensation that your body needs to generate to make the technique work. When this occurs he has to have given you the right clues so that you recognize it and begin to reward yourself with posistive feedback.

So style is not as important as the instructor/student partnership in the process of exploration and discovery that makes a special bond, you may not even like the guy, but you are sure that he is going in the right direction with you in the long run.

Some style teach kick first, punch later, some teach sweeps and throwing techniques, chokes etc first, some last. If you train in most arts for 6 to 10 years you will be exposed to all or almost all of the techniques, in all or almost all of the styles.

If your goal is to be able to subdue to hand cuff and control suspects you may want to train in a style that seeks competence in these grasps, holds, pressure points first before we are training turning (spinning) techniques.

Which of these are those? I can not say, for though I began training in 1974 and trained formore than 7 years to the near exclusion of everything else in my life, my experience is limited.

I would hazard a guess that if you find a well rounded "adept" who is suited to teaching, you might be able to get him to teach you what you wish to learn first rather than later. In other words if you need to learn to "choke out" with a carotid artery occlusion techique, say so, and he should be able to teach you that earlier rather than later.

I would comment that as explained to me Hwa Rang Do is essentially Tae Kwon Do, true Hap Ki Do is Ai Ki Do Korean style.

Is there a best style, why of course the one I am teaching here, sign this contract please. NO, NOT IN MY OPINION; no one best style.

I apologize for the length of this post. I hope it not too esoteric for this forum. It is just that this is important and deserves a fairly arcane discussion. Hope this helps.

yours in marksmanship

michael







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Old December 1, 1998, 03:15 AM   #3
SB
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Exquisite inputs.

While I don't think style is important, I think schools are different. Some schools focus on primarily on physical fitness. Many others focus on competition or sport. And still others are preoccupied with street fighting. Etc. So, I think it's very important to make sure that your instructor(s) are after the same thing you are.

Beyond that? Well, my personal (almost naive) opinion is that no style is well-roundedly perfect. Most styles I've come across focuses on a specific type of strategy, and fights in such a way that it would allow a good practioner to dictate how the fight will progress. A good practioner should also be good enough to prevent others from forcing them to fight in ways they don't specialize in.

The general concensus seems that cross-training in martial arts is the key. Of course, focusing on any one specific art is demanding enough as it is IMO. So realistically, cross-training just isn't feasible for most. Still, if it's at all possible, this is the way to go.

Fortunately, I don't think it's that demanding for firearm retention. To me, it's no different than fighting normally, but minus one hand. Naturally, the firearm can be used, if need be, as part of the fighting tactics. Or perhaps I'm delusional.

For chuckles, I would like to comment about the five basic types of practioners I've run across:

1. The Beginners. The irony about beginners is that many have no illusions about their lack of ability, and often take very realistic defensive measures to ensure safety. And it's because of this, I tend to listen a little bit more closely when they speak. Their valuable advice can easily get lost in a vast sea of so-called experts with their advices.

2. The Novice. People who have learned enough to be effective offensively, but not enough to know any better. Often times, a Novice falls through the cracks and end up with a overly-inflated ego. This is a very dangerous time for them.

3. The Intermediate. Folks who have been around long enough to be able to realize the depth of what's really involved here. The pitfall here is that the practitioner may become disheartened, overwhelmed, or realize that this somehow does not live up to their expectations, and thus, fade away.

4. The Expert. There are those who are capable of all that is required from the school and perhaps the art itself. They possess both the mental and physical capability to be exceptional. The pitfall here is that many actually do not know how to apply their skills open-endedly (ie think for themselves.. you'd be surprised). The greatest pitfall is that they are bad teachers that produces bad students.

5. The Master. There's the saying, "It takes a thief to catch a thief." The Master is the same. And unfortunately, that is why they are also often so easily overlooked. A true Master have grasped their art to such depth and scope that they have transcended themselves beyond their art. Of what little I can tell, a Master is no different from a Beginner on the outside (the only two groups who are really in touch with reality). Except that a Master succeeds though deep understanding and delibrate will whereas a Beginner may have to rely on luck.

A Master is also hard to distinguish from the rest of the crowd because progress can't be easily defined the five basic categories as mentioned above. A more accurate picture is that we are at different levels of progess with all aspects of our lives. A Master, it seems, renews the cycle again by taking on the role of the Beginner, ready to repeat the process. And so it goes....

->$.02<-

[This message has been edited by SB (edited 12-02-98).]
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Old December 1, 1998, 08:56 AM   #4
David
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Got the TKD black belt in '76. Studied Judo for 3 years, Aikido for 2, grappling for 1/2 year.

I haven't attended Harry's school yet and am looking foward to attending.(If I can get them to answer my voice or e-mail! Ha!)

I attended the SCARS facility in Phoenix in October, and I was amazed how quickly they were getting the students to a level that, IMHO, would make them formadable with many perps on the street. High speed ,low drag.
Martial ARTS vs martial SCIENCE. It was impressive most of all to the older people in the class like me that have gone to different schools.
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Old December 1, 1998, 05:02 PM   #5
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MC,

Terrific post. I especially liked your delineation of the learning process the student goes through. I would tend to agree that the instructor is a key part of the equation, but I have to disagree that the style is not very important.

While shortcomings in most styles can be lessened through arduous practice, some styles (I feel) lend themselves to natural integration- "muscle memory"- better. I would encourage the novice to examine the history of any art before participating. Sport arts may help coordination and strength, but our time is better used elsewhere.

I personally practice Bujinkan budo. This is one of the few remaining Koryu schools, ancient warrior traditions. The Bujinkan is actually composed of knowledge from nine seperate Japanese warrior traditions, all hailing from Iga Province in Japan. Everything is covered. Grappling, weapons, strikes, pain grabs, kicks...the ancient traditions even included firearms and explosives work (hojutsu), though that does not tend to be taught much in the West!

In summation, although I believe some styles are inherently better than others, both diligent practice of realistic techniques, and finding a quality instructor will help you find the skills you need to protect life.
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Old December 3, 1998, 04:26 PM   #6
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Having flirted with many different styles, most of which have been mentioned I have come to the conclusion that, as many of you alluded to, no one style is perfect. This line of thinking is kinda like "What is the best defensive handgun."

Around here Wado Ryu is an incredibly popular art, especially in the LE community. Personally, I just don't see it. I have always been fond of the principles of Aikido and have practiced off and on for a long time.

I think SB made a very important point that the school you choose is often more important that the art. Travelling almost constantly and having lived in several different parts of the country, I have seen a lot of belt factories that give you a check mark everytime youshow up for a class and put students up for belt tests with more regularity than a Co-ed on The Pill. Conversely, I have seen very few schools with a good focus on what I consider to be the big picture. Not dancing and not braggin rights, but real tactical insight.
I enjoy one on one or very small group training sessions with people who are serious about their defense. I'll never get a Black Belt from the Grand Guru of the Perfect Discipline with that approach, but I like to think I can handle myself in a dark alley if I have to.

That said, I have used the skills I learned as a high School wrestler more than anything else in HTH confrontations: Control their limbs, use your hips, keep your balance and know how to fall.



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Old December 7, 1998, 06:36 PM   #7
Mike Mello
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Hello Guys,

Wado-ryu for cops? Thats different. Of course Wado-ryu does contatin some elements of old style ju jitsu so maybe thats the draw.

Allow me to offer this thought. Styles are representations of an indivuduals beliefs, either on combat or any other discipline. Most claim (or hope) that their systems are based on combat experience, ie what worked for them during that era, under their conditions and with their body styles. Some systems, such as Japanese koryu, have strived to maintain the techniques over a given period of time. Does that make it a good system? Katori Shinto ryu is a 400 year old sword system, but does that make it effective for modern times? It that were so, wouldn't the military and law enforcement add it to their "systems".

Most training groups, such as GSGI, strive to teach students to react in dynamic enviorments, such as the use of Simunition and Redman training drills. Keeping the techniques as gross motor skills and training under stress offers a high level of retention and confidence. You don't have to repeat a classical kata 1,000 times to learn the skills for combative effect.
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Old December 7, 1998, 09:11 PM   #8
Rich Lucibella
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Mike-
Thanks so much for joining us. As the ranking chair of GSGI's martial training, your presence is most welcome.

I'd really be interested in hearing more of your training methods which focus on "gross" motor movements. Few people have the time to leard Hap Ki Do style methods of knife disarms, for instance.

Please feel free to start a whole new thread detailing some of GSGI's training methods and techniques. It would be an education for all.
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Old December 7, 1998, 10:08 PM   #9
Mike Mello
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Thanks for the welcome Rich,

I'll try to live up to the educated conversations you have on your forums. I love the attention to detail from everyone.

Each marital system in history attempts to cover what it felt was the most common threats to the developer of the system. Of course culture had a significant factor on this. You mention Hapkido, a Korean system, which contains elements from early Aiki arts. Japan and Korea being blade nuts, had to look at ways to defend those. I think that the Filipinos took the study of edged weapons, both defense and use, to a larger degree.

GSGI, not a formal martial system, attempts to strip down edged weapon use and defense to basic principles, and taking those principles and placing the student in a dynamic learning enviorment. Principles such as a solid foundation, movement, awareness, full body power, gross motor skill movement, creating distance. We don't have students do rote drills in the air as an example. Striking a surface is much more meaningful and rewarding. Going against an instructor dressed in an impact suit, with or without a knife (rubber), greatly adds to the dynamic learning. These are just some of the elements of what we teach at GSGI.

I hope this offers a start for some conversation. Thanks again.
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Old December 7, 1998, 11:03 PM   #10
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Like I said, Mike, I don't see it. I think it got started when I local "hero" officer started winning a lot of the police games type competitions with Wado-Ryu, that was about 20 some years ago and now it is the most popular martial art in this part of the state. I wasn't even familar with the art unitl I moved into this area about 5 years ago (middle Tennessee). The local Dojo even has three classes per week that are full of LEOs only.
I was invited to attend a few classes and thought that the training was good, but I still don't see Wado, being based on strikes and blocks, as a great choice for LE applications.

I am only vaguely familar with GSGI's techniques, but I admire any style based on practical, economical movements which can be (or better yet are designed to be) executed under stress. I caught the end of one of Harry's demos at SOF expo this year and I look forward to seeing more.

I appreciate your frankness about katas. Katas are probably the main reason I have not "found a home" in any particular Dojo or art for any length of time. It is great to hear an accomplished instructor with a well regarded school who doesn't hold katas in the same regard as a catholic priest speaking about the virgin Mary.



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Old December 8, 1998, 03:30 AM   #11
Mike Mello
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Hey Rich,

Thanks again. I don't want to offend the kata crowd, I still do some (Enshin style karate to be exact) but they are not "classical" in the sense that they are not old. I did my share of the classical stuff, looking for the magic pill I guess, but like you, it wasen't what I was looking for.

The goal of any training for combat, not for the sake of art, should be as quickly as possible progress the student to a dynamic enviorment. This can be done in a day, keeping the methods simple. As an example, the the grappling class we teach for law enforcement, we start by describing to the students the most common positions you will see on the street, by either the crooks or the cops. There is only 6 really. We take those positions and drill the students at first static, with no resistance. Then we have the students repeat the drills, now with resistance. Throw in some gross motor skill techniques, mostly the Carotid restraint and locks. To cap things off, the studnets will lightly spar against Deni Chalker or myself. They then get a chance to feel the movement under stress, from a variety of body types. The drills are simple, easy to remember, but like anything worthwhile, you must still do the work. Students are reminded that they need to take this stuff home and practice. Anyone can argue one system over another, but its all pointless unless you apply some sweat. An old warrior from Japan once said "you should train more than you sleep". Kinda tough since I like to sleep. HA!
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Old December 8, 1998, 03:39 AM   #12
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Sorry Rob, I ment you on the last. Doing my typing at 0100 can effect the brain.

I've never seen much of Wado, only what I've read. Its a style thats not even big in Japan.
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Old December 8, 1998, 09:16 AM   #13
Michael Carlin
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Mike Mello and Rob,

First of all let me say that I am very much in favor of much that you say. And to Mike Mello welcome to the discussion.

I concur whole heartedly that strikes, punches and kicks may not be the most appropriate techniques for a LEO to concentrate on. It has always been a source of discomfort to think that if the only tool in the bag is a hammer every problem begins to look like a nail!

Progressing the student to a dynamic environment as quickly as he/she is ready is also important.

The process of a training a gross motor skill or a fine motor skill generally will be facilitated by ensuring that the technique is correctly emulated slowly or without resistance a few dozen times before speed/resistance drills are employed.

The process of building synapse is a real technique, applicable to all physical skills, rote drill has a place in the development of this synapse. Not mindless, but rote, there is a significant difference. Having primarily to do with the critical standard to which the performance is held.

As you undoubtedly surmise, I tend to be a sort of technician, in that I believe that power flows from technique. Correct technique will make more effective the technique over application of brute strength.

Simple and direct are good, training dynamicly as soon as technique is approximately correct is good.

It is my inclination to risk offending you here though, gently I hope. Kata, properly executed are good drills. The primary kata problem is instructors who do not understand the kata themselves. The execution that wins at tournaments is not always the correct technique.

In a dynamic kata the student rehearses a number of movements, full power, with absolutely correct technique. This may not be the most efficient use of his time, but it is a methodology of drilling the techniques. Of most use in training move, block, strike/kick.

Earlier I said that I did not think style mattered as much as the instructor. Here again I am going to reiterate that in another manner.

An instructor (one who is reasonably adept in a complete art) can execute throws, sweeps, holds, chokes, punches, strikes, parries, blocks, kicks, sweeps, and grappling movements well enough to demonstrate an understanding of the fundamentals that allow each to work.

If the instructor is training a complete traditional art and can not demonstrate the utility of a kata as a training tool, I would be more skeptical of his expertise. Mind you now, this is not the same as branding him a charlaton, for perhaps his instructor did not communicate effectively the utility of kata.

I have always preferred to fight (spar) to prove (to oneself primarily) full grasp of various technique. In the military and LEO community we are of a like mind in accepting that such hard "free play" (i.e. Red Man) is necessary to the true development of the student.

In simpler terms Bruce Lee said you can not really learn to swim on dry land. I really concur that you can not learn to fight or control a confrontation without getting "wet".

This is not to say that a person does not need to rehearse the new stroke in some dry land training. Kata may fall into that type of training. (One might liken kata to compulsory exercises in gymnastic or figure skating. What is done in compulsories is the development of true amplitude in execution)!

It is not my position that kata are always necessary for everyone, but rather that properly taught and executed that they might facilitate training for some at some levels of development.

I am not a traditionalist, but also do not subscribe to the current trend to throw all tradition out the window.

In the final analysis, that question is how do we help the student to progress as rapidly as he/she can? If kata can facilitate that for some (and you won't know if you exclude it from the ciriculum pro forma) then we should employ it.

It would be interesting to see some real research into the training/development process, with academic disciplines rigorously applied.

just a few thoughts from and old soldier

yours in markmanship

michael
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Old December 8, 1998, 01:10 PM   #14
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Great reply Mike (great name too),

The question that you really bring to light is "what is kata?" I agree completely that it is a learning tool. In modern terms it can be called "bridging". Taking one techniques and flowing to another. We all perform kata to larger or smaller degrees. Anytime you take a movement and perform it in air, Kata!

In some arts, a kata can be only two to three movements. In others, several (some of the Chinese forms have over 50 in one set). I think that sometimes we get caught up in the tournament style comparison. As you stated, maybe the teacher has refused to or never knew the practical application.

I guess the partial purpose of my statement is, if you have a limited amount of time to train a student, in a military or law enforcement setting, you need to progress the student to the dymanic realm as quickly as possible. Most California police academys allow for only 60 hours of defensive tactics training out of a 6 month academy. And we know that less than 2% of these recruits will continue training in anything. Pretty sad huh!
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Old December 8, 1998, 01:16 PM   #15
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By the way Mike,

I love the "swimming on dry land" line. Its one of my favorites (All respect to Mr. Lee). If you get people who look at you strange after you say it, try "motor training without taking the bike off the trailer". Grunts to the affirmative usually follow.

Regards

Mike Mello
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Old December 8, 1998, 01:36 PM   #16
Rob Pincus
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I think we are all on the same page here. No one is saying that katas are completely useless silly dances (okay, maybe I said that once when I was little less diplomatic ). But we all value the more dynamic and interactive methods of training to a much higher degree.

One comparison I use with someone who has gone through what I consider to be a "belt-factory" is to boxing and wrestling. Now, happy thoughts from gurus aside, martial arts are for fighting, they are for your defense and to hurt someone else. If you want to find your focus and gain peace in your life I don't think that a dojo is the place to do it. This is where I usually excuse myself from further particpation with many schools and trains of thought.

If we get past that intro, I get back to my comparison. I try to take the hypothetical out of it. In other words, many people can train forever and potentially never use what skill we have developed. People who are really training to fight, for a living or for competition (ie- professional boxers or olympic/collegiate wrestlers) do not repeat movements countless times, study the theories behind those movements and then jump into the ring or onto the mat. To be sure, they achieve the best physical shape they cna be in through excercise, but when it comes to developing their "art" they spar and they train dynamicaly, with skilled oponents. That is how one develops fighting skill, IMHO.

Reminds me of a funny thing, I was invited to attend a TKD class one time when I was about 14-15. I went to the class and stood in the back, kinda keeping quiet and wondering what was going on. I expected to see Sho Kosugi flying through the air and what I saw was Bob Villa teaching everyone how to walk forward and count in some cooky language. Near the end of the very disappointing class we lined up in two opposing lines and we were told to spar. The person who invited me had set me up with someone who "really knew his stuff", so he could help me. The guy got into a cool looking stance, advanced forward and threw a kick. I very ungracefully grabbed his foot and twisted it to the outside and throwing him down, I dropped a knee into his gut and held him down. That was my last TKD class.
So, I learned a lot of lessons. First of all, if the instructor lets people into his class and doens't even introduce them to the concpets at hand, something is wrong. Secondly, I learned that pinning someone on the ground is not an accepted Tae Kwon Do technique.
Most importantly, I became accutely aware of something I think I already knew: that fighting is fighting and when somone tries to hurt you you need to react as effectively and as efficiently as possible, not be constrained by a framework of accepted movements or techniques.


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Old December 8, 1998, 05:22 PM   #17
Mike Mello
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Bob Villa and Sho Koshogi, Rob you have a wicked imagination.
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Old December 8, 1998, 05:35 PM   #18
Spectre
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I'm with MC. I believe kata (goodkata) are a wonderful tool to teach the body how to move. The Bujinkan's kata use real attackers, not imagined ones. The strikes are done at slower speeds, but good training will always follow through, not pull the punch the way many TKD and Karate practitioners do. In addition, most of the Bujinkan kata I have seen (100?) have few movements. (One kata: attacker throws a lunging punch to face. Defender steps slightly offline, performing an fingertip strike to the eyes, followed by a kick to the groin/hip area.) Not exactly long, convoluted, and fancy...
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Old December 8, 1998, 10:40 PM   #19
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Spectre,

I think ninpo (ninjitsu, Bujinkan, Genbukan, what ever you refer it as) calls a great deal of its techniques kata. Again it now becomes verbage and interpretation. Western boxing would call it shadow boxing, wrestling mat drills, judo uchi komi, Tae Kwon Do one step sparring. The Japanese use several terms for the same thing. Training can be "Keiko or Renshu". An outward wrist throw is called "kote gaeshi" in several arts and "omote gyuku" in the Hatsumi lineage. Confusing huh? Of which Bujinkan group do you train with?
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Old December 9, 1998, 11:48 AM   #20
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MM,

It is refreshing to meet someone with your obvious exposure. I started training under Stephen Hayes (not recommended, honestly- if anyone wants to talk about it, please e-mail me), then trained under Shawn Havens (highest recommendation), who is now with the Jinenkan. I currently train under Bud Malstrom at the Bujinkan Atlanta Dojo.

I was not attempting to say that the "X-kans" do not have kata, merely that our kata use real bodies. The sole exception I know is the Sanshin no Kata, which is generally used as a warmup...
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Old December 9, 1998, 02:57 PM   #21
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Jinenkan! I saw their web page for the first time just the other day. Interesting to say the least.

Anyone on the forum training is other exotics such as Krav Maga, Pankration, Shooto, you name it! Lets talk about it.
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Old December 9, 1998, 07:23 PM   #22
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The Bujinkan interpretation of kata using an uke sounds similar to the Parker/Tracy Kenpo karate system of techniques. The format is a good way to learn how to position your body in relation to your attacker.

I employ concepts from Kali (especially Dog Brothers stick fighting), Muay Thai, and Brazilian jiujitsu to form my technique matrix. All share an emphasis on real time, real contact training, which I feel many systems lack. You can only punch the air or perform techniques at reduced power or speed so much until you need to test them out and see if they really work for you.
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Old December 9, 1998, 08:22 PM   #23
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A very popular mix Hilton, one that I kinda like. The Dog Brother matches are a lovely way to get bruised on a Saturday morning, arn't they.
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Old December 9, 1998, 09:42 PM   #24
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If I may add my meager two cents worth, it's extremely hard to find people who really know their katas. Although I lack sufficient training to know for sure, I've noticed a distinctive difference in teaching style with traditional Eastern folks. Namely, they prefer to guide you by being one step ahead of you. They want you to figure things out for yourself. If you don't, you don't advance. Us westerners, I've noticed, will pretty much talk you through it. Of course, if someone still doesn't get it, what can you do? Traditional katas have many layers of subtleties that a student have to peel away and grasp.

Unfortunately, it is extremely hard to tell who knows it and who doesn't. Those who do won't show it to you since it's how they traditionally test you. Those who don't, well, until we have realized it for ourselves, how are we suppose to know? And how are we suppose to know if they don't know it? To make things more complicated than it already is, many katas depends on the mission statement of the style itself. For example, you probably aren't going to find layers of combative subtleties in a kata from a style that is only concerned with sports. Other roles of katas are used to identify and authenticate the style that you are in. Thus, the existance of the kata and its true meaning is known only to those who are in the genuine inner circle. Perhaps the most important role that katas serve is that they act as a "time capsule" in which decades if not centuries of combative subtleties and "secrets" are encapsulated within a formalized set of movements. That way, no matter what happens, the "secrets" aren't distorted or lost through time. Also, even if it's passed down from a clueless instructor, the subtleties and secrets of a particular style is preserved every time someone is able to grasp the kata (though I wouldn't hold my breath).

If you really want to know what I think about the whole thing, from a learning perspective, I say don't worry about katas at first. It's too hard to figure out the real deal from the fake. Find instructors who are on the same wavelength that you are on. Real deal combative techniques and "secrets" can still be taught by a extremely good instructor piecemeal with or without katas and whether or not the student realizes it or not. Don't get me wrong. Genuine combative katas are extremely important not only for its practical use, but for its tradition. But in the end, what really matters is that we make sure that we place ourselves in very capable hands. (Of course, finding capable instructors are another matter all to itself....)

[This message has been edited by SB (edited 12-09-98).]
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Old December 9, 1998, 10:01 PM   #25
Rob Pincus
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Join Date: October 9, 1998
Location: Hotels
Posts: 3,677
SB,

That is great insight. I agree with you about the Kata being incredibly important to the traditions of the art. I think there are only a very small percentage of people preactiving that treat it that way, though.

In my own cynical mind, the Kata is the indentity of the art and without identity the International Association of Wak-Dat-Dood-Now can't become popular and open new dojos and make money. Too many Dojos use Katas as the tool to attract and promote students. Make the students feel like they are accomplishing something and they will keep coming back and keep spreading the word about their art.

I am sure that everyone here is very serious about their art and belongs to an honorable Dojo, but when my wife and I met she was an student in Wado-Ryu, she has continued, off and on, with her studies and been promoted. The thing was, I saw her get promoted once when she really hadn't learned a damn thing. We had been out of town a lot, but she attended a few extra classes when we were in town and took tapes of the instructor teacher the Katas with her when we travelled. I was stunned when she was invited to the belt test with the rest of her group that she had been promoted to the previous belt with. After that, I got pretty down on her particular Dojo.
I have seen this kind of thing too often with many different Dojos. If you pay your fees and "try," you stand a great chance of being promoted. I have seen big huge fat obese guys and gals who could hardly walk gracefully pass what should have been complicated katas (and be out of breath at the end of it). Sorta like the way in the military sex and age can give you breaks on PT tests, these people were getting fat breaks on competency tests.

This kind of stuff is what has really turned me off on formal eastern martial arts training in general.

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-Essayons
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