Poll: Tradition or Evolution?

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Talk' started by kidswarrior, Mar 24, 2007.

?

MA: Preserving Tradition, or Continuous Evolution?

  1. 100% Preservation of what the masters handed down

  2. 75% Preservation/25% Evolution with the times

  3. 25% Preservation/75% Evolution for relevance

  4. 100% Continuous evolution to ensure modern effectiveness

Multiple votes are allowed.
Results are only viewable after voting.
  1. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    Do you believe the Martial Arts should be all or mostly preserved intact, the way they were handed down by previous masters?

    100% Preserved?

    75/25 Preservation/Evolution?

    Or, do you believe Martial Arts are a living tradition, and so should be constantly evolving?

    75/25 Evolution/Preservation?

    100% Continuous Evolution?
     
  2. kidswarrior

    kidswarrior Senior Master

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    I realized about 60 seconds too late that it might have been better to leave any numbers out of the choices. Oh well, maybe people could just choose the closest and explain in their posts. :)

    Thanks, all. -kidswarrior
     
  3. terryl965

    terryl965 <center><font size="2"><B>Martial Talk Ultimate<BR

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    ALl arts need to volve at the same time they also eeds to hang on to tradition, so 50/50 split for me.
     
  4. LawDog

    LawDog Master Black Belt

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    Times change and with it laws change, systems within regions change, cultures in regions change, religions within regions change. All of these factors within our modern civilized(?) society will alter the way in which we learn to protect our family, friends, society in general and ourselves.
    *The laws set the strictest guidlines for self defense. You can no longer take a weapon away from an attacker and use it back against him. Your ability to carry weapons for defense has been seriously impacted.
    *In the past many regional areas were known for certain types of fighting skills, like Boxing and Judo. Back then most of the fighters would train to go up against those types of fighters. In many of those same regional areas there now exist many of the newer fighting systems. Now the fighters have to change and adapt to what is now found within their region.
    *Many cultures bring with them their own basic point of view for self defense. There are cultures that are known as blade cultures, gun cultures, stick cultures etc. In one area of Boston there is a culture that is well known for it's in close head butting techniques. So fighters around there must adjust.
    *Religion. a few have a very passive non confrontation belief, some believe and "eye for an eye" an so on. This has to be considered as well.
    My point, because of mass transportation, major culturial movements an so forth the Martial Arts cannot stand still, today it must constantly adapt and change to stay in step to what is happening within your regional area's. A hundred years ago things were different.
    A good martial arts self defense system is regionally oriented not worldly
    :asian:
     
  5. stickarts

    stickarts Senior Master

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    My view is that we should respect, remember, and give credit to where the arts came from yet evolve as necessary.
     
  6. LawDog

    LawDog Master Black Belt

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    Stickarts,
    I agree with you.
     
  7. Adept

    Adept Master Black Belt

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    Preservation of tradition, for it's own sake, is always a waste of time IMO.
     
  8. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    I'm inclined to go with... let's see, if I could quantify it, it would be something like 65% tradition, 35% evolution. But I feel I must clarify just what I mean by this, because at the same time I'm for 100% evolution, without contradiction.

    On the one hand, I don't think people should change something that they don't fully understand; particularly, they shouldn't `correct' something that would work just fine if only they grasped its application properly. The traditional MAs were the result of the fighting experience of real fighters&#8212;in karate, people like Matsumura, Itosu, Chotoku Kyan and Choki Motobu were incredible fighters, extremely dangerous, who did a lot of fighting, though for different reasons, apparently. They and their Okinawan compatriots' criterion was ruthless practicality, and the karate that emerged from their collective experience was a mean, brutal and effective fighting system that had to be seriously disguised before it could be taught in schools. The core of that effective system is still there, in the kata, and it's been rediscovered in a major way during the past decade. But that rediscovery has required the efforts of a lot of very sharp, combat-savvy karateka going over the technical content of traditional kata with fresh eyes. The problem with karate over the past century or so hasn't been with the technical content, but with the way people `read' that content, regarding kata as a kind of dance or meditation or whatever, rather than the summary of fighting techniques that they were constructed to be. So my sense is, you want to hold onto the traditional content as long as it takes you to fully understand it; if you want to make changes to suit contemporary conditions, fine, but you do yourself a serious disservice if you change something without first grasping what it really does and how. So this is the reason for the 65/35 split.

    But on the other hand, it's also clear that the creators of `traditional karate' weren't themselves traditionalists in any significant sense. There's the famous story of how Matsumura, confronted by the fighting skills of a Chinese sailor in Okinawa who held his own against him&#8212;very unusual, apparently!&#8212;offered to help the sailor return to China in exchange for instruction in the latter's combat knowledge, resulting in the Chinto kata. Matsumura couldn't have cared less about where that knowledge came from; he saw that it worked and he wanted to master it himself, period. All of these guys were experimenting and innovating; they cared only about what worked. And one could argue that this is the right approach: keep playing with the system and seeing how it could improved; ironically, that innovative and experimental approach&#8212;Chinese fighting skills mixed with Okinawan tuite methods and, as Iain Abernethy points out, a substratum of Minamoto samurai bujutsu thinking about the unity of combat motions regardless of the striking weapon&#8212;resulted in the `traditional' karate that some people believe should remain in frozen perfection till the end of time. But if the greatest empty-hand fighters of the past thought that utility was the main criterion and that we should always be ready to innovate when the results justify it&#8212;and backed up that view with their own track records in violent encounters&#8212;then we might do worse than follow suit, eh?

    So I think an approach which is both tradition-weighted and fundamentally innovative is the best one to follow. I know it sounds like I'm trying to have it both ways, but I hope what I've said makes it clear that I'm not...
     
  9. LawDog

    LawDog Master Black Belt

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    Exile,
    It took a few readings, I understand your mindset.
     
  10. mrhnau

    mrhnau Senior Master

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    I'll probably go with the 75/25. The human body is not evolving that much. We still have two legs, two arms and one head. I think most of the ways a person can strike or grapple have been discovered and played with. Even so, not every system has that broad of a spectrum. I think each system needs to be analyzed, and where there may be material lacking, those holes filled with material from other arts. Is it still called Karate if you incorperate Aikido concepts? Perhaps not, but I'd call it more effective. (not trying to bash karate :) ) Is that considered evolving?

    Now, if you are talking about MA -in general- evolving, I think thats a pretty slow process and is more 90/10ish...I think thats because the body in general can only be used in a limited number of ways. Sure, new katas will emerge, but more often than not, I see them as piecing together smaller pieces of already existing technique. That being said, Is the development of a new kata truly evolution? I guess it could be... I tend to think of it as an evolution of the teaching technique, rather than the art, but thats just me :) (are the two hopelessly intertwined in most cases?) The truly novel would incorperate the 10% in this situation...
     
  11. jdinca

    jdinca Master Black Belt

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    I went with 75/25. If the art is sound in it's basic concepts and application, then tweaking along the way to keep it current and relavant should do the trick. There is also something cool about learning a 1,000 year old chinese form. To me that's candy to reward me for all the hard work put in on the rest of the curriculum.
     
  12. CuongNhuka

    CuongNhuka Senior Master

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    This doesn't sound like evolution, more like addition. But I get were you're coming form and agree 100%. I don't think anyone could have put it better.
     
  13. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    Some arts are strictly hand or feet arts while others are almost strickly throws. I think in todays world a little of everything is needed in order to understand what the other guy may do
     
  14. stickarts

    stickarts Senior Master

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    Yep. I agree. As time goes on I find myself tweaking my curriculum as I realize weaknesses in it.
     
  15. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Grandmaster

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    That's not true. History is important, and preserving it is not a waste.

    Som martial arts have lost there "real world" applicability. The old sword styles come to mind. Sword fighting, obviously not a useful skill anymore. But preserving the history and traditions is a worthy cause.

    We still have people that can perform many "old" skills which have long since been replaced by more modern methods. But the preservation of them is not a waste of time, it is a window into the past. And history is not a waste of time.

    That said, I practice MMA right now, and that gives 100% evolution.

    Perhaps I am kind of black and white on the matter, but I think if you want to preserve something, preserve it. If you want to evolve, evolve. But the middle ground seems like a weak place. Bound by tradition while trying to move forward.
     
  16. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    well said
    without the past how do we know where to go in the future. Without knowing the past we will only have to rediscover what it once taught
     
  17. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    It is funny as even though I practice several arts that fall into a traditional mind set I am all for evolution. (without the loss of moral guidance and mental training) However having said that I do see where many things from the past that may be viewed as useless by some ie. sword, shield, etc. can readily fall into modern combat and have usefullness now. Who is to say in the future that those skills might even be more useful. We simply do not know at this point. Keep training and progressing. [​IMG]
     
  18. tshadowchaser

    tshadowchaser Sr. Grandmaster

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    you mention sword and shiel those can today be applied to trash can lid and stick so the old would help someone in todays world
     
  19. Brian R. VanCise

    Brian R. VanCise MT Moderator Staff Member

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    No doubt. I am a firm believer in working with the sword! [​IMG] Lot's of applications and believe it or not every now and then their is a nut using one somewhere.
     
  20. exile

    exile To him unconquered.

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    I think Brian's post speaks to Andrew's point, and it ties in with what I was trying to say earlier. It's not so much a matter of being bound by the past as fully exploring the information contained in the modern legacy of many previous generations' worth of trial and error. Until you have good reason to think you really have explored all those possibilities in detail, and no longer need to preserve the older or even ancient forms to obtain further knowledge, getting rid of the traditional form of the art seems very premature—there may be plenty of use still left in it that you haven't yet obtained, as Brian suggests.

    I guess the way I visualize it is this: you milk the traditional forms for all they're worth, and at the same time you try to apply the knowledge you obtain from them in modern circumstances, making adaptations as seems necessary. In a way, the opposition between preservation and evolution isn't the right way to think of it, perhaps. My idea is that you should both preserve the traditional form (as a precious repository of practical knowledge and applications) and evolve the practice of the art (as you test out that knowledge and extend your art to novel situations). They're really two different sides of the same coin.
     

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