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    Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

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    Jonny Figgis

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    Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Jonny Figgis on Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:43 pm

    I have a question I wanted to ask everyone as it's something that keeps coming up in conversation. I am still involved with traditional martial arts and some of the people I train with are always quizzing me about RBSD and why we train the way we do. I tell them that we train with realism in mind and that a lot of traditional martial arts, the way they are taught today, will not work on the street. They are usually not very impressed! I do still enjoy some of the training but find that some don't train with realism in mind at all. It's very much "When someone steps in with a right punch, you execute an outward block...." or "No, I need you to step in with a left hook, you came at me with the wrong punch" or my personal favourite "That's not allowed, that's dirty fighting." Having said that, of course there are very realistic and excellent traditional guys out there so I am just speaking from personal experience about some of the questions and conversations I have had with a variety of martial artists and instructors.

    So my question is, how relevant do you see traditional martial arts training nowadays? What is confusing at times is when I ask RBSD instructors about their own training and some tell me that they wouldn't be where they are except for their traditional MA years. If this is the case, what about younger people nowadays who are only training in RBSD and have not been exposed to the traditional martial arts?

    I can sense that I might be setting myself up for a fall here as I've probably missed the point but your comments would be appreciated :-)
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    Al Peasland
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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Al Peasland on Mon Dec 15, 2008 4:54 pm

    Hi Jonny

    A bit pressed for time but will throw a couple of thoughts in the pot for further discussion

    To me, it depends on what art you are training in traditionallY and what you want to get out of your art.

    If we're talking about just the physical aspect of self protection, then of course, there may be some arts who's base techniques are better or worse suited to a self protection situation in the street.

    However, if you are focusing more on the mind set aspect of protecting yourself then training the traditional way in a traditional art can be a very good solution if you ask me.

    Some of my toughest training sessions, the ones that shaped me the most as a budding martial artist and perhaps the ones that have given me the grit and determination to drag myself through tough tough fights outside - have come from my "traditional" karate days training with Geoff and the other guys in our early Shotokan Karate club
    (phew - long sentence - sorry) Smile

    The attitude to your training can be seen to be far more relevant than perhaps the techniques and I feel the way traditional arts such as Karate, Judo, approach their training are great for developing this attitude.

    You could argue that walking up and down the dojo throwing punches in the air, or sat in a Keba-dachie (spelling mistakes - sorry) throwing straight punches is not very realistic. But let me tell you, if you can do that to the point of failure in the dojo - that strength of will is the thing you are going to be calling on when you've got 20stones of muscle bound goliath trying to make you eat tarmac and you'e got a choice to cover up and go down or grit your teeth and find some resolve to carry on. Technique is out of the window then - attitude, mindset and strength of will is what will pull you through.
    Trad arts have that in stacks - providing it's trained correctly

    On the flip side - some RBSD (and whatever other acronyms we can come up with) classes, have all the so called "realistic" techniques but still miss the point when it comes to the real area of self defence - the defence against "the self"

    Self Protection starts with the "Self" (I'm using that on a t-shirt so hands off everyone) Smile
    If your training doesn't cover this then doesn't matter what you train in - if you ask me Wink

    Sorry - longer response than I thought

    Take care

    Al
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    Les Turpin

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Les Turpin on Mon Dec 15, 2008 5:06 pm

    its the biggest question out there these days mate.

    heres my take on it....

    i did Karate for 12 yrs, then got into Geoff Thompsons Stuff and through him got Into Richard Dimitris stuff. amongst all that i tried various arts, kickboxing and boxing for 6 yrs, judo, ju-jitsu, Krav maga looked at other stuff as well. it has been said on here and i have to agree that i look at people that train in traditional arts as the same as those that practice medievil war reinactments.

    if people say they train traditonal martial arts and then say we do this as well then why is it still traditonal? mmmm strange.

    thing is.. i also know guys that only do Traditional arts that i would not want to fight, faking tough bastards. i also would not change a thing about my karate training because it still is a passion for me and i have applied some of it in realistic scenarios....but ...then... i dont know many people that trained karate like i did..it was not a flashy sport style.

    you will be banging your head about this one for ages mate Shocked
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    Jonny Figgis

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Jonny Figgis on Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:01 pm

    Thanks Al and Les for your responses. Both of you have hit on what I think is one of the main points here...it depends how the arts have been taught.

    I have trained with some Kempo practitioners who are tough and train hard...you get to work on some real character development and will power with these guys and then you find others who are style and no substance...same with other MA I have trained in.

    I think if the style has been taught properly and not watered down, then Al certainly has a point about doing techniques to the point of failure...unfortunately for a lot of students nowadays (just from my own experience) they are not getting that kind of training so don't get back to test their resolve!

    Al, I remember when I first heard Geoff saying that "Self Defence begins with defence against the Self" I didn't really get it at first. Then I started thinking more about it and it makes total sense. It should be the first thing that's said to all newcomers and then said every week and drilled into people. There is not enough of this part of the training and it is the hardest part (for me anyway) as it represents to me my fears, my excuses and the Selves that I've yet to confront. In many ways it's more self development than self defence and sometimes that is hard to express to students who are coming to you to learn 'techniques'...just the physical...how do we effectively get students interested more in their personal development and explain that the physical is a smaller part of the equation? I think that will be my next post! :-)
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    Al Peasland
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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Al Peasland on Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:21 pm

    Hi Jonny

    If you're a good instructor you can often get people thinking about personal development and self-awareness without them realising it - unless of course, that is something that they are keen to do anyway.

    if we look at just the physical confrontation aspect, having self-control and a knowledge of the "self" is the only way we are going to be able to walk away/avoid trouble and not have the fight with our own ego eat us up afterwards.

    If ego gets us into trouble then, by mastering control of that, means we will be able to avoid alot of the physical confrontations that we spend the majority of our time learning to physically overcome.

    So for me, training is a great paradox. I train techniques so that I can improve my chances of physically defeating any attacker. Whilst, at the same time, I train the metaphysical aspects so that I have better self control in order to over-ride ego and other emotions and avoid conflict alltogether.

    My early years were all spent training in a tough environment with Geoff, when at the time, I thought that was how you had to train in order to be physically tough.
    It was quite some time before I realised that the mental toughness it developed was actually the more powerful tool.
    Thanks to Geoff's teaching, I grew in the metaphysical area without even realising it Wink
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    Jonny Figgis

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Jonny Figgis on Mon Dec 15, 2008 6:28 pm

    That is a great answer Al....thanks so much for that. I suppose I just feel and sense sometimes that students come in with certain expectations and just want to work on the physical, they are just itching to get stuck in but the metaphysical side of it is an area that affects all aspects of our lives and because of that it interests me a lot more and would be something that I would want to delve into more when I began teaching more for Aidan and with my own classes. I am still learning a lot about the teaching side of it (which is huge!) so all information is great to receive...thanks again for your reply :-)

    PS. working on the book and it's shaping up nicely!!
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    Steve Rowe

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Steve Rowe on Mon Dec 15, 2008 9:53 pm

    It's the person and not the system. Everyone trains in their own way and we share what we learn and adapt what we learn from others. I train in traditional Wado Ryu Karate and traditional Yang Family Tai Chi, both are eminently useful for the street. I teach many security personnel, doormen, european police self defence instructors and special services, my instruction is pure tai chi.

    I think people find an environment that suits them, but at the end of the day they're either going to step up to the plate in training and life or not.
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    Peter Skillen

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Peter Skillen on Mon Dec 15, 2008 11:28 pm

    Much of what we practice in the real world scenarios comes from traditional we owe a lot to traditional arts...
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    Disco Fingers

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Disco Fingers on Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:05 pm

    Peter Skillen wrote:Much of what we practice in the real world scenarios comes from traditional we owe a lot to traditional arts...

    I agree.
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    Jonny Figgis

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Jonny Figgis on Tue Dec 16, 2008 12:56 pm

    Thanks everyone for all your insights. I love the traditional arts however two things have popped up that made me post this topic (1) the fact that some traditional MA instructors do not teach with reality in mind, that is fact and (2) I hear RBSD instructors saying to forget your traditional martial arts, they don't work...I've heard that first hand a number of times. I think Steve Rowe answered it well when he said "It's the person and not the system"...it is down to the instruction given and not the system itself so basically it's down to good instructors who truly know their art.

    Thanks again for your comments, they've helped me with what I have been struggling with for some time. Very much appreciated.
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    Les Turpin

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Les Turpin on Tue Dec 16, 2008 7:39 pm

    what bugs me is the amount of instructors that say

    " we do a traditional style" then say " we also include MMA and kickboxing with some other stuff, it has a bit of judo and jujitsu in it as well "

    i am like.... "so its not traditional then is it. your not actually following the true traditions of the art you teach, you have basically bastardised the traditonal art. "

    why dont they just call it something else.
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    Jonny Figgis

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Jonny Figgis on Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:28 pm

    That's an interesting comment and a topic all in itself...

    For instance, what do you make of Kajukenbo, developed in the 1940s in Hawaii and is a mixture of karate, judo, kenpo and boxing (see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kajukenbo) it's said to be one of the first 'mixed martial arts' but they seem to consider themselves 'traditional' martial artists...they have set traditions, katas, self defence techniques etc. etc.

    What do traditional people make of this kind of martial art?
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    Les Turpin

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Les Turpin on Tue Dec 16, 2008 8:47 pm

    like i said... i agree with calling it something else.

    they are not saying they are doing trad karate but have taken from 4 other arts what they feel works for them.

    i guess that is traditonal Kajukenbo...its been around since the 40's.

    after how many years is an art considered traditonal? is it considered traditional while it works in the society or era that they practice it? will it be a realistic system in 20 yrs time?

    traditional arts to me are the basis of what we do. if they are not considered effective nowadays then that is purely evolution. if i used a tetley teabag in the tea ceremonny i reckon people would be screaming at me for not being traditonal but i am being more efficient.
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    Steve Rowe

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Steve Rowe on Tue Dec 16, 2008 9:01 pm

    Evolution is a part of the tradition in martial arts, thus we have concepts like 'shu ha ri' - learn the basics, adapt them to suit yourself, then be free from all 'technique' when you've mastered the 'principles' behind them. 'Aikido', learn 'kiai' (the harmony of breath, blood, energy, movement, mind and spirit) through technique until you have natural kiai in every movemnt until you become a person of 'Aiki' - thus Aikido = the way of becoming a person of aiki. All good TMA's have a similar ethos.

    I think you are mixing up 'classical' with 'traditional', classical is to practice something from a fixed point in the past, traditional is to follow the ethos laid down by the founders.
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    Peter Skillen

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Peter Skillen on Wed Dec 17, 2008 3:14 am

    I teach kickboxing, a bastardised version of kickboxing and i also teach street defence one is a progression from the other..I also feel that all fighting arts have to progress thats how they came about.

    Dave Turton

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Dave Turton on Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:12 am

    without deliberately being pedantic and argumentative.. but I have researched many systems over the last 45 years and it seems to me that in all arts, the 'tradition' is to EVOLVE anyway , not stagnate.. so everyone who adds or adapts their core art IS being traditional
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    Jonny Figgis

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Jonny Figgis on Wed Dec 17, 2008 12:47 pm

    "I think you are mixing up 'classical' with 'traditional', classical is to practice something from a fixed point in the past, traditional is to follow the ethos laid down by the founders."

    Steve, I think you're right...thanks for pointing that out to me. I'll have to remember that while discussing this with people as it comes up a lot!
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    Les Turpin

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Les Turpin on Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:04 pm

    not sure what to make of that statement really, its like a 'get out clause' for trad arts that are not on the cutting edge, so to speak.

    so if you practice a traditional art its ok to add and takeaway from the foundation to suit todays fads or society. in essence that is great and how it should be...but...

    at what point is a trad art watered down enough to no longer be traditional as practiced by te founders..

    just throwing things out there guys Smile
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    Steve Rowe

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Steve Rowe on Wed Dec 17, 2008 8:15 pm

    Les Turpin wrote:not sure what to make of that statement really, its like a 'get out clause' for trad arts that are not on the cutting edge, so to speak.

    so if you practice a traditional art its ok to add and takeaway from the foundation to suit todays fads or society. in essence that is great and how it should be...but...

    at what point is a trad art watered down enough to no longer be traditional as practiced by te founders..

    just throwing things out there guys Smile

    When they lose their ethos and founding principles.

    terryg

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    Using trad

    Post by terryg on Wed Jan 14, 2009 1:25 pm

    Hi Jonny.

    Your question has bugged me for thirty years and I have some thoughts at present.
    These are my thoughts from experience and I in no way intend to put forward a view that they are better than any one elses or indeed that my own views will remain constant.

    Starting with my main background Karate. Karate training keeps you fit. strong and supple. Improves reactions, teaches timing, distance, rythm, gives you an arsenal of powerful kicks and punches, all absolutely brilliant for any fighting experience. The problem is you haven't had any fighting experience until the drunk in the pub punches you in the face, and you don't know how your going to respond, or how to use what you've learned in a real situation. When i started training in thai boxing, I got in the ring and sparred, I immediately found that when I blocked a kick with a gedan barai I got punched in the face, not a fist stopping in front, but a punch in the face. I quickly learned to cross block at the the same time as gedan barai and my opponent was surprised to get a punch in the face. I found that I was using inside block all the time effectively, and outside block never. Little slaps as you do in Karate sparring when your more "advanced" and have abandoned all you've practiced for the last three years (making you wonder why they taught you that way) will not block a powerful well placed kick which is intended to hit you. So my advice in learning how to use your Karate in the street is to get down to your local thai boxing or kickboxing club and do some sparring. However, don't abandon everything you've learned, rather try to use techniques you've learned against your opponents techniques. Also remember in karate one of the main things you should be doing is grabbing and twisting (hikite) to unbalance your opponent while you punch and kick him, which you can not do with gloves on. As for using aikido or ju jitsu, you will find that if you hit your opponent in the head or lower ribs just before your technique they will be easier to apply. Kicking people in the pressure points in the inside of the thigh takes a lot more skill. Aikido guys who are aghast at this suggestion preferring to use finesse I refer to Budo by Morihei Ueshiba. Something we used to practice at my own club was sparring with the winner being the first one to knock down or throw his opponent with kicking and punching allowed, good technique who cares the guy on the ground loses.

    As for protective gear, a gum shield and a ball box, maybe shin guards. You can't prepare for real life covered in protective padding.

    Eric Forsythe

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Eric Forsythe on Wed Jan 14, 2009 4:00 pm

    the 'tradition' is to EVOLVE anyway , not stagnate.. so everyone who adds or adapts their core art IS being traditional

    Thats the way I see it as well Dave. The old masters done it when they realised the gaps in their skills and believe if we are cross-training and venturing into different things (once you have got a good base in your own system) then you are being "Traditional".

    All the best,

    Eric
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    Jonny Figgis

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by Jonny Figgis on Tue Jan 20, 2009 6:51 pm

    Hi Terry, Eric and everyone else who posted here...

    Thanks for your thoughts on this topic, it's forums like this that cut out some soul-searching and help you in the right direction. I'm going to go back to my 'traditional' class tonight and discuss this in more detail and see what people think. I've printed off some points from this topic....thanks for your help!
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    maija

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    Re: Traditional MA Training - How Relevant Is It Nowadays?

    Post by maija on Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:31 pm

    I had a good old rant about this on another forum, as this question quite interests me.
    Of the arts I've trained, Bagua was developed as a Bodyguard art, Eskrima as a tribal/family self protection as well an intertribal war art. Same with the small amount of Silat that I've done. Toyama Ryu was the Naval officer sword curriculum, so a battlefield art in essence with elements for dealing with ambush and for dueling.
    They were all originally reality based - they were meant for real world usage where the outcome mattered ...ALOT!
    I truly believe that much has been lost, mostly due to misunderstanding by students and no doubt some intentional misleading by teachers over the years. I also believe the information is there to be found if one has an understanding of context (history, culture, weapon availability, usage etc), and tactics.
    I love the ethos of Eskrima as told to me by my teacher. He said "I'm not teaching you, I'm showing you what I do. You are teaching yourself and when I am gone you take what you know and make it yours". He believed that this was the way to keep the art relevant and alive and involves keeping the MIND engaged, exploring reality and separating fact from fiction.
    Of course if I'm an idiot then the art does not survive or gets watered down, and that's my responsibility to hold .... Which is of course why I'm here trying to do exactly that !!

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