Western Martial Artists/the basis of Difference-I

JOHN THURSTON is back and eager to discuss Western Martial Arts, especially relating to its history.


Western Martial Artists/the basis of Difference-I

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Sat Apr 28, 2007 5:33 am

One has to understand that, again, Western Martial arts and artists were predominately developed in the context of a military entity. We called the artists "soldiers".

No exact duplicate of the way we study Uechi-Ryu will be found, especially in the exact construction of Kata or forms.

However some 'sports' as mentioned briefly on other threads come rather close.

-Sport/stunt fliers often mentally construct their patterns, and then stand and perform, without excessive foot movement or verbal cues, what their bodies and minds 'feel' is an equivalent to the manuevers they intend to perform.

Thus the pilots achieve a mental state which we strive to attain in Kata practice.

-Graeco/Roman boxing has no 'forms', and many Eastern Fighting arts such as Mu Thai, Judo, and Aikido do not, to my knowledge utilize any exact Kata equilvalent.

However 'bag' work, a solo practice, is extensive in many systemsand is indispensible for perfecting grounding, balance, a the particular techniques used.

Sensei Van could perhaps fill us in on the training methods utilized in the training of a 'savate' practitioner.

Thus, to re-state the obvious, an instructor observring a student can correct posture, grounding and impart whatever the he or she deems as necessary to deliver the technique correctly.

Again to restate the obvious, Graeco/Roman boxing considers the "sparring" (ju kumite equivalent) utilized more or less in the same manner and stages of progression that we hope to attain thru Ju Kumite.

To make a long story short for now, and as a generalization, Western Martial arts and artists are swept into, for example, the "Green Machine" their individuality subsequently partially broken and remolded into a soldier who considers discipline is paramount.

I understand that much of this is restating the obvious, but sometime re-examination of what we know has happened to the Western Martial Artist in large page.

Of course martial arts more akin to our system have sprouted in the form of such systems as Sykes-Faibarn's "Defendu'.

It sounds silly but perhaps some sort of the martial art will be injected into "Tai Bo", which we constantly poke at.

I admit that would be a real stretch.

Ironically when we view the East we see ,by conjecture and through propaganda, as made up of sea of mindless machines into which the individual is submerged does not exist, except perhaps in the DPRK.

The high level of submergence into a unit came to be developed and refined starting at the close of the so called "Dark Ages".

Actually one should say that the art of strict discipline is a redevelopment from Roman and, perhaps Merovirgian time frames.

Discipline, rehoned to a fine edge in western armies in the 17th century, brought problems to the Eastern military, where military displine as we know had degenerated.

In such circumstaneces, the Chinese might say that their regime had 'lost the Mandate of Heaven'.

It is hard to maintain strict discipline in the armies of a state whose underlying belief system declares that the regime or dynasty in questionhas lost its legitimacy.

Not being stupid, the nations of the East sought to import Western methods of discipline and weaponry much as shown in the film "the Last Samurai".

At least with respect to Boxing It is possible to make some comparisons between specific hand tecnhniques techniques of Karate Do.

M'sieu Harry has already begun a discussion of Fencing as a martial art.

When, as and if my study of Fencing progresses, I may be able to add to the discussion

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Postby bustr » Tue May 01, 2007 12:30 am

I'm not disagreeing with anything you say John but here is my take. In the West it was fighting events that made money. Alot of folks might assume that they know the skills of boxing or wrestling just from being familiar with the event. There were people like Farmer Burns who offered wrestling as a method of fitness and self-defense independent of the sport but it never really caught on. Familiarity breeds contempt. People prefer exotic things to home-grown things.

In Karate, KungFu, Judo and Jujutsu the method is what was marketed and the competition was just a part of the overall art. They also used different terminology for the method and the event thus making it seem like a more extensive body of knowledge. No one offers lessons in the arts of randori or kumite.

Nowadays No one offers training in pugilism with boxing as a sub-discipline or sporting aspect. The sporting event IS the total purpose of the science.

Nowadays Lucha isn't taught as a multi-purpose art with wrestling (practice or competition) as a component.

People tried to offer them in the past but the public was quicker to bite on jujutsu and karate.
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Postby JOHN THURSTON » Thu May 03, 2007 9:47 pm


I really cannot disgree with you on the points you made.

Should you wish to elaborate your points, or expand using your knowledge, please do so.

This Forum hopes to be in part dependent on the opinions and/or knowledge of others.

Could you elaborate on lucha and randori? I know nothhing about the first, and not much more about randori.

The strength of karate is that I have, for example, an 80 year old student who is not afraid to come to class.

Boxing and Judo clearly rely on the actual combat to acheve 'promotion'.

This is fine, and I think that having some Karate schools that operate on this premise (which there are) would not be a bad idea at all.

We use the cross, straight punch and the round punch as used in boxing as best we can.

In my many sparring matches over 35 years I only once let a punch loose when I did not know it was going to 'get unloaded'.

Any comments on trying reach this concept?


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Postby bustr » Fri May 04, 2007 3:19 pm

Lucha is Latin for wrestling. Randori is wrestling in judo, jujutsu aikido etc. They use a seperate term to denote the dynamic aspect of their arts and consider the formal aspect (kata) to be equally important in achieving the goals of the art which are generally success in self defense, the development of mental tougness, exercise etc.

Boxing and wrestling are totally centered around sparring competition with every training method geared toward success in that field. Attributes such as tenacity, fitness etc. are developed but only to serve the purpose of success in competition.

IMHO sparring is a training method and success in it doesn't necessarily mean a student can defend himself. In my experience there are people who I can easily handle in continuos sparring with light gear but can hold their ground with me in bogu kumite. In other cases the opposite is true. Success in sparring depends on the type of sparring and the students natural tendencies to pick their shots or go ballistic.
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Postby JOHN THURSTON » Mon May 07, 2007 5:19 am

Hi and thanks:

Your insights are helpful. I only briefly studied wrestling and picked up some grappling from Sensei Jack (Summers). Again my study of boxing was brief and the techniques a bit more easily carried over.

It is said that the best wrestler ever was an Indian named "Gama"---"whose upright fighting style" could not be beaten by any Graco/Roman wreslter. (see "Asian Fighting Arts-D. Draeger").

Since this is a "Western Martial Arts and Artists site" I am simply going to adopt Gama as a Western martial Artist.

After all so many arts were derived from the teachings (and learning) of Bodhidharma. Similarly is is strecthing the envelope a bit to view Egyptian Military methods as "western".

Nonetheless since this is the only forum that might point to Egypt and Sumeria as the birthplace of European Military Methods, I guess I will allow myself considerable latitude.

As to sparring--I can almost look at another Fighter and determine quickly a yes, no or a definite maybe as to whether he could be handled by me.

The number of no's is disturbing, but I have kept studying anyway. .

As you noted, success in sparring does not necessarily equate to one's abilility to defend oneself,But having a certain amount of experience seems necessary.

One of the best little books to analyze boxing tecniques was "Inside Boxing" by Floyd Paterson. My copy of this manual of arms was, sadly, destroyed in floods in the spring of '06.

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Postby bustr » Tue May 08, 2007 3:52 am

I think you're right about Gama being a Western martial artist. The Indian sub-continent had substantial contact with the West. On the other hand the West had a huge influence on the East. Bodhidharma himself is thought to have been from Bactria (Afghanistan) and it was the Chan Buddhism that he taught that gave rise to martial arts for art's sake. This article explains it better than I can.


Here you can see how the Greek demigod Hercules became Shukongoshin when Greek mythology was exported to Japan.



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Postby JOHN THURSTON » Wed May 09, 2007 6:04 am


It is clear that your scholarship is very good and superior to mine.

I will read all your recommended articles.

As an aside, it is noted that the basic blade shape of the Nepalese Khukri is shared by the Kopis, the weapon of Alexander's Bodyquard (the "Companion Cavalry")

Cross pollination? parallel evolution.?

I think you are correct regardingthe point that you made that Westerners gravitate toward Eastern martial arts because they appear 'exotic'. But thwy stay in the Dojo for a very good reason.
I think that you also understand that all knowledge IS actually welcome here and is especially welcome when it is imparted in a courteous and thoghtful manner--this is generally the case here so I am preaching to the choir.

In this area I have to dig up a lot of material as well as the articles you recomended as my wrestling andd boxing coaches immediately gravitated toward the most 'apt' students.

GEM will verify that I am a 'tough study".

In most Dojos it is the common practice for the instructor to pay more attention tp the "pugilistically challenged", a methodalligy which gives Dojos a step up for keeping the "tough studies" studying.


Kudos and thanks
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Postby Van Canna » Wed May 09, 2007 3:05 pm

This is an ongoing argument albeit an important one. How and why does free sparring help in ‘self defense’ _

First_ ‘Self defense’ must be defined as it means many things to different people. But I digress.

If we think of self defense in the context of simple engagement [force on force] then it has been proven over time that the best ring fighters were also best at ‘self defense’ _ Why?

Kumite (also known as freestyle or sparring)_ especially in demanding tournaments where contact is allowed_ is a physical and mental challenge in which students test their skills, self-confidence, and self-control _

It gives students the opportunity to develop their reflexes and timing in a controlled environment while engaging in a sport activity.

The best way to practice sparring in the dojo is to expect students to constantly hone body and mind by perfecting their form and using their knowledge of technique in new ways to face unexpected situations, to include the shifting of a continuum from empty hands to weapons.

• Sparring is important to develop the essentials of confrontations _ first, eyes (awareness) reading and pre-empting _

- Second, footwork (ability and foundation)

Third, spirit (willingness to fight) even as you have been hurt.

• fourth, strength (aerobic fitness of the body) and two way impact resistance.

What tournament fighting helps to conquer is:
• Fear
• Surprise
• Doubt
• Confusion

The ones who have fought the tough tournaments know of this.

That type of sparring helps with the student self image as well.

Self-image arises as memory, as a contraction around self discipline and challenges _ overcome in order to ascertain a sense of personal continuity.
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Nice read

Postby Van Canna » Wed May 09, 2007 3:30 pm

Gabe Suarez
The Complete Arsenal – A Concept
We have all heard the old slogan, “Be the Best That You Can Be”. Slogans tend to get tired and worn out, but still, there is often truth in them otherwise they would not be chosen.

When it comes to the world of personal combat we can take that old slogan and apply it to our own development as warriors and fighters.

And before we get into the “I am not a warrior” mentality, when you are fighting for your life of your loved, you are exactly that. If you think of yourself as anything else, you will lose the fight.

The Complete Arsenal is not for the Lowest Common Denominator types, the conscript cops or gun-centric shooters who spend their days in sloth, relying on hardware to save the day.

Yes, such people have value as people, and they do in fact need to know this, but it is their job to pay the price for development. That price is discipline and time. The knowledge is already out there.

The Complete Arsenal is made up of several components. The more components you have a mastery of, the higher your survivability in any given circumstance.

Since we don’t know specifically what a given confrontation will be like, we must train for as many varied possibilities as we can, keeping reality in mind.

Develop and Attitude

Attitude encompasses alertness, willingness to act, and the ability to read a situation. Simply put, if you can avoid being surprised or ambushed, the better for you.

While you can’t be alert 24/7/365, you certainly want to try to be aware of who and what is around you. But beyond that, you want to be able to read and evaluate a situation.

You must be able to profile people you come into contact with and categorize them tactically by their appearance, attitude, and physical actions.

Attitude also has to do with your mental and spiritual readiness to do battle. I have seen guys who wore all the right tactical clothes and who scored great on PT tests and qualification courses, turn into big chickens the moment they were presented with a true unavoidable fight.

Your readiness or willingness is made up of knowing what is happening, conviction about what is right, and an understanding of the rules of engagement.

Do not get bogged down in the legalities of the situation. There are people who are so concerned about getting into trouble with the law they fail to act, even though they know they should.

I have an acquaintance that carried a pistol 24/7/365. He came home one day to see his wife being raped by an intruder.

The intruder was younger, stronger and armed with a knife. My friend drew his pistol and began challenging him verbally as the bad guy closed in knife raised.

The intruder stabbed him multiple times and made his escape without incurring any injury at all from gunfire. In fact, my friend didn’t fire a shot.

My friend could not bring himself to shoot because of fear of the legal system that had been drummed into his head from ill-advised training.

You must win the fight. If you get sued and lose everything, you can regain all of it one day, but you will be alive to do it.

If they put you in jail, you will get out one day, which you cannot do if you are buried in a cemetery.

From running countless force on force drills we know that being preemptive is far better than being reactive. To be preemptive you need awareness of the situation and the willingness to act upon what you see.

Having an attitude doesn’t mean you strut around in your SEAL t-shirt and 5.11 pants looking for someone to beat on. Quite to the contrary, low profile is best because avoiding a fight is better than winning one.

That being said, you want to be specifically deselected by the bad guys because they are profiling you as well.

If you appear to be looking for a fight, someone will take you up on it. Conversely, if you look like Mr. Rogers on his way to the quilting bee, someone will select you as a high return/low risk target.

Low profile, but potentially dangerous is the look you want. The bad guy wants to get paid. He will choose the easiest pay check. If you body language reads “dangerous target/low likelihood of success”, bad guys will choose someone else.

It is important to have avoidance tactics in case they still persist in choosing you.

Much study can be done by reading Cooper’s Principles of Personal Defense, as well as (ever so humbly mentioned) my own Combative Perspective.

Develop Fighting Ability

Without fighting ability, your attitude is an un-cashable check. Fighting ability includes all manner of skills and weapons. The complete arsenal concept would have us look at it in this way – Seek to develop as many skill sets and fighting attributes as your physical state will realistically allow at all likely distance intervals.

While on the topic of distance intervals I want to point out one gun school silliness we hear of all the time. That is to think that you will always be able to stay at stand off distance from an adversary and avoid needing to use anything other than your marksmanship skills.

In a perfect would this would be true, but in real life it is impossible to guarantee.

This means that an able-bodied man should be able to fight with his pistol or rifle at any distance interval likely to be faced from the ballistic limits of the weapon to a face-to-face fight at kissing distance.

He should be able to fight with support weapons such as chemical sprays, knives, and sticks, and he should be able to integrate them into the fight. He should be able to fight with improvised weapons, or weapons of opportunity such as any sharp object or any heavy object.

Finally, he should be able to fight with his hands and feet at kicking and punching range, as well as grappling and ground fighting range. As well, he should be able to transition to weapons at these and any other distance or force interval.

The complete arsenal includes physical conditioning and attribute development such as physical strength, cardio vascular aerobic training, and agility drills.

Now obviously not everyone can be a totally complete fighter. God knows I am not, but we do the best we can.
I cannot ask a student who walks with a cane and has a heart condition to burn out 50 burpees, or ground fight with me for a couple of rounds.

But he can take a true evaluation of his true ability and come up with answers to the combat tasks that he may have to face. The fight will be what the fight will be without any regard for what you can or cannot do physically.

Your job is to have an answer to each task you are presented to solve. The fewer answers you have, the more danger you are in. Simple. But the bright side is that you are only limited by your creativity and tenacity.

For example, I have a student who graduated our Interactive Gun fighting class. He impressed the hell out of me. Why? He is in a motorized wheel chair and only has one hand that works.

I can’t teach a guy like that like I would teach a CrossFit Trained, 25 year old, Recon Marine. What did we do – we took an honest accounting of what he could do.

We found out he could maneuver the chair’s controls faster than an adversary could close on him. Great. Roll away, get some distance and then shoot him to the ground.

He pulled it off on Tueller Drills and scenario drills to the admiration of his peers in class. His arsenal is comparatively smaller than other students, but he knows this and compensates for it. Be the best you can be translates as “Develop as many fighting attributes as you can”.

Develop Applicable Tactics

There is much more to tactics than clearing a house. A very alert person who is a great fighter will still lose if he uses poor tactics in the fight. Tactics get you into position so you can use your best attributes up front at the start of the fight.

Tactics also help you avoid the fight altogether.
A great deal of work has been done on the pre-fight area by men like Southnarc.

Learn how to present a difficult and costly target while being alert to the situation around you. Know what to say and what not to say.
Know how to place your hands to send the right message but also be able to transition immediately to weapons access or empty hand strikes.

This is essential knowledge that anyone can profit from, regardless of physical state.

So develop as many fighting skill sets as you can. Develop as complete an arsenal as you can. When your final exam comes to you, the more you have, the better you will do.
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Great Insight

Postby JOHN THURSTON » Mon May 14, 2007 6:18 pm

Although I am a bit out of the fight scene, my association with Jack, GEM and many other certainly mandated several hundred "Dojo Fights", which is what we all agree is needed.

I fought Bob Campbell at a summer camp. What an honor (seriously) to have him kick my butt. Talk about controlling an opponent!!!

I know this is not "Western Martial Arts" but the door to digress has been opened.

Sensei Campbell's comments to me were brief : "keep working on your spinning back kick (ushiro geri) . I tell most people not to try it."

I mandate sparring in the dojo, even for the 80 year old student (he can do it). I must say I am proud of how they have all fought at their promotionals.

I thank you all for your insight.

Military Shoots start Sunday in Plymouth.

Any takers?
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