I ask you again!

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I ask you again!

Postby Bill Glasheen » Mon May 03, 1999 4:20 pm

I find this thread interesting and frustrating at the same time. I see statements in all that I agree with. I'm confused...why does there seem to be so much concern, Gary?

Early in my karate training I studied a style where we did kata because we had to, and then we basically spent anywhere from a half hour to an hour sparring all the various members of the dojo. It was not uncommon to have a dozen matches per class. I did this for several years. When I came over to Uechi I started with a man who was an awsome fighter. But he was quite a bit more effective and, frankly, a bit more "real" than I was used to. What he would do is considered taboo in most sparring tournaments. Basically he would grab one of my legs and toss me on my butt, or otherwise manipulate me in ways that I could not in point sparring. Very few of us ever engaged in this type of sparring - it is too easy to injure. But it opened my eyes to how one can get very, very good in one venue, only to create tremendous vulnerabilities in another.

The other glaring problem I discovered from poor balance in my training was the tremendous gap between kata and sparring. I can't count the number of criticisms I have heard from people who observe a style and notice this. Why are they doing the kata in the first place? Why not be honest and just chuck them if this is the approach? Many do just fine without kata.

The purpose of kata training - for those who choose to do it - is to make a person fight a certain way. The choreographers of such forms had principles of fighting and body mechanics in mind. Yes, they saw the value of ultimately going free form. But in seeing the limitations of what most do when they play the safe sparring game (and it should indeed be practiced in a safe manner) they chose to add other elements to training that were to COMPLIMENT the free-form mode. The intent was to make the kata guide the sparring.

Gary, you and I will have to agree to disagree. Yes, individual moves in kata can be many things. Yes, if you practice ONE bunkai to a sequence, you freeze the idea in time. Yes, an individual move can be a block, strike, thrust, throw, etc. But for me, this is not a reason to abandon kata dissection. Yes, it is true that we must try to achieve mushin while performing kata whole. But that does not mean that we should ALWAYS be in the alpha state while doing kata practice. I have heard many a great master say over and over again that individual sequences in a form can deserve WHOLE CLASSES. There's a time to make the dust settle, and a time to stir it up again. I view this as a cyclic process that never, ever ends.

One of the reasons I practice the Naha-area styles (Okinawan Uechi and Goju) is because they have yakusoku and bunkai kumite. To me, this is the best way to close the gap between principle (kata) and application (sparring, fighting, etc). Most people are not gifted enough to stay in auto pilot in kata and have the principles osmose into their spontaneous side. For most people, the drilling is necessary. The Okinawans took the first step with their various bunkai and yakusoku kumite. Like great music classics, we can learn about music by studying and practicing them. But I personally believe that most abandon the process there when they should be taking the next step. I would be all for a person coming up with their own version of a bunkai of a kata for a dan test. And next time around, they should come up with a different one - just to show that they understand how kata movement teaches principles and not single specifics.

Carrying the music analogy further, I cite some of the great jazz performers of our time as examples of why we should practice these fundamentals. Some of the best jazz musicians - an artform where one is able to play spontaneously - are the very best-disciplined musicians. But almost none of them got that way by just picking up an instrument de novo and jamming. Usually they did drills and played classics first, for many, many years. And most of the good ones continue this drilling on their own inbetween jamming sessions. Benny Goodman was famous for his ability to jump right into a classical music group and play with the best. And good musicians often will "play" with individual aspects of a classic for their own edification.

And yes, many contemporary rock artists started classically.

To me there is no one single element that prepares me for what is real. It is a spectrum of activities. Yes, sometimes I can practice for "what is real" by even quietly sitting in a chair and reading The Gift of Fear. And I do not read while in mushin.

And because I see the need for a diverse training program, I hang around a lot of good people who have their own specialties, in hopes that they can teach me something about one element where I feel I am deficient.

-- Bill
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I ask you again!

Postby mikemurphy » Tue May 04, 1999 1:23 am

Jake & Doctor X,

Just as an aside, I don't care who the person is, and how much training they have had. It makes no difference in the long run.
I tell my students that you can never tell a fight before it's fought. So why try to tell the future of two ficticious combatants?

As for the knock out by the boxing coach.....
You never know how a punch, kick, etc., will affect a person. Sometimes somebody will take a viscious beating and still be standing there looking at you, and other times, one punch to the right area to the right person at the right time and knock them out, or more seriously kill them. That is why I am so weary of two people (especially kids) fighting each other in school or at the park, or wherever. You can never tell!

Yours in budo,

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Postby Jake Steinmann » Tue May 04, 1999 5:09 am

On the subject of the effectiveness of Boxing as a streetfighting art, I have a little story that I think needs sharing.

About two years ago, my boxing coach got into a very heated verbal dispute with one of his employees. The employee in question was, amoung other thinks, a devotee of 'reality based' fighting, and had won a number of local tournaments.

Somewhere during the arguement, this guy moved like he was going to take my coach down. My coach, having had knee surgery twice, was naturally not eager to have someone crank on his joints.

One left hook. That was all it took. It broke the guys jaw, knocked him out, and ended the fight. All the NHB training and fighting didn't save him.

I'm not advocating boxing as the ultimate martial art (I don't believe such an idocy exists), but I don't think we should underestimate them either.
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Postby Jake Steinmann » Fri May 07, 1999 9:30 pm

My apologies...it was not my intention to start a "my master can beat your master" debate. If I believed in such a ludicrous concept, I never would have started training in Uechi. I have no more interest in such things than anyone else. Rather, my point was that we should not underestimate anyone, regardless of style. I thought (and perhaps misinterpreted) that there was a strong anti-boxing thread running through some parts of this forum, and wanted to speak up for what I believe to be a valid art form.

Again, my apologies for any offense given. None was intended.
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Postby Jake Steinmann » Fri May 07, 1999 9:36 pm

One other thing; Of course, you cannot know how one punch or kick will affect someone. My story was merely that...a story. I'm not trying to say that one thing is right or wrong, better or worse. This is just "some stuff that happened". I thought it might give us all something to think about.

Again, my apologies for offense given.
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Postby gjkhoury » Fri May 07, 1999 11:13 pm

Dear Jake:

I think that you're right on the money; no apologies needed! Actually, you and Mike are saying the same thing, just in different ways.

The Japanese have a saying: "Ue ni mo Ue ga aru". It means, "Even above the above there is an above", or "There's even a top above the top"!

Basically, you're right: If martial arts teach you anything, it teaches you that the next "nobody" you meet on the street just might be the Godan holding your number!

Pass gently among your fellow man and woman.


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I ask you again!

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Mon May 10, 1999 5:30 am

Gary San:

Again, the stories are nice and I enjoyed all the posts.

But, no offense, it is not correct to disregard an answer if is does not produce an acceptable solution to you.

1. Solve the political problems one dojo at a time, starting with one's/your owns, and then a friends.
2. Do Kata to enjoy. (Yin) Keep it the same out of respect or innovate out of the same respect. Honor the man who devised it.
3. Fight (Yang) because it is also fun and only so much can be learned from 2.

I am keeping this post deliberately short so that there is NO misunderstanding and that I am NOT ignoring your question.



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