A hunch about sparring emphasis and real-violence denial in the MAs

HM2PAC

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Getting out of the house to train was (1) probably very complicated to manage and (2) a source of recreation, not something they wanted to kill themselves over.

Excellent point.
 

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And I think it's far more common than the other attitude: that people will do whatever they have to, no matter how 'dirty' and hard-edged, to give themselves that survival advantage.

I don't disagree with this at all but I would add the extra facet that you can never know what someone will do with their training until they are called upon to do it.

Consider the hypothetical situation of you having travelled back in time to the mid '80's (1980's, cheeky so-and-so :D) and told me, Quantum Leap style, that "You will walk down that street in five minutes, fearfully turn down that alleyway on the right and, shortly after, break that chaps arm and that other chaps leg". Quite simply I would not have believed you. Indeed I might well have been quite offended :). The mental image I held of myself did not have that level of violence in it.

But that's what happened - even now I sometimes have trouble admitting to myself it was me that did that. The point I'm getting at is that I would have argued until I was blue in the face that I was not a violent man and I would rather turn the other cheek under almost any circumstance ... then I found the 'other' circumstance where first came fear, then a moment of disbelief followed by realisation of what was about to happen to me ... and then training took over and I was safe (ish :)).

So your training needs to be 'Real' and grounded in something other than point sparring. "You fight like you train" is a truism so it is up to the individual and their instructor to make sure that that training embeds within itself that what you do in class is learn to apply the techniques where and with what strength you choose. Robotic Kata or those aimed at tournaments will not do. Point sparring, that is engaged in without the full realisation that the power and target you should use in the real world is what you learn in your kata, is a waste of training time (when it comes to actual conflict).
 
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exile

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Long time ago this guy, Jeff Cooper, wrote about initiative and how a person who desires something will go to extremes to obtain what they are after. They will almost kill themselves for it.

So do not blame the emphasis on sparring, instead embrace the fact people want those pieces of ribbon and instead offer a more realistic sparring match with say, no kicking allowed to the head and light 'point' kicking allowed to the knees and shins!

Deaf

Well, I'm not really trying to blame anyone; I'm just trying to see where certain tendencies have arisen from. I'm certainly not blaming the nation-states that push a MA agenda whose primary motivation is their own glory on the world stage, and I'm not blaming people who would prefer not to contemplate the horrible unpleasantness of a physical fight for survival, and who therefore gladly embrace the 'civilized-sparring' program of their schools. I don't share either set of priorities myself, but that's fine, because in my own school, I receive training that does satisfy my own interests in CQ combat training where the reward is that you're much more likely to walk away intact from your encounter (and your attacker, inevitably, is much less likely to be able to do the same).

But I can't really see offering trophies for the kind of training where you learn to impose maximum damage on your attacker to incapacitate them in the shortest possible time. There is one overwhelming reason to train that way: if you think your life or at least health will depend on it. And if so, you're not really going be doing it for external glory; you're going to be doing for the same reason that people take CPR courses—to preserve life. Really, I've no desire to induce people to view the MAs the way I do, and as John pointed out above, the fact is, for most people the reality is that their lives probably won't ever depend on their hand-to-hand combat skills. I don't want to convert people to my perspective, so long as I can get the kind of training that I value—but I have been curious about the behavior of MA students for a long time, and as a MA teacher have wanted to get a kind of handle on just what motivations are involved there, along the lines of my OP.

Consider the hypothetical situation of you having travelled back in time to the mid '80's (1980's, cheeky so-and-so :D) and told me, Quantum Leap style, that "You will walk down that street in five minutes, fearfully turn down that alleyway on the right and, shortly after, break that chaps arm and that other chaps leg". Quite simply I would not have believed you. Indeed I might well have been quite offended :). The mental image I held of myself did not have that level of violence in it.

This is the kind of event which, I'd argue, makes training for that little bit of extra margin of safety worthwhile. No, it probably won't happen—and no, you probably won't get in an accident driving on your way home from work. But you put the seatbelt on anyway, because if you do have an accident, the difference between having your seatbelt on and not having it on will likely be catastrophic. Even an unlikely outcome is worth preparing for, that is, if the risks of not doing so include absolutely unacceptable costs....
 

Gordon Nore

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...Yes TROPHIES. Many a martial artist will put in lots of extra hours to win that piece of plastic and stone that most trophies are made. Not only martial artist but just about any competition where someone gets 'little bits of ribbon'...

I witnessed this phenomenon at the one and only competition I ever attended. There was a published rule at this event that any competitor in any event had to wear his or her highest rank. So if you were a black belt in ju jitsu and a blue belt in karate, you wore black belt. I realize there are problems with this kind of ruling, but that was the rule.

In this tournament, I competed in two events: sparring, which I placed, and self-defense. The latter was a demonstration event, in which competitors brought their own uke and performed a pre-established routine. Two divisions: black belt and and all-kyu. As a green belt I was in the latter.

The competitors who placed all came from the same school. Two wore white belt with black stripes; the third, who placed first, had an orange belt. His performance, in particular, was quite stunning. Later the same day, I saw this gentleman wearing a brown belt and his two classmates in black. According to the rules, two of the winners were competing in a lower division. His win, though legitimate since it was all-kyu, seemed slightly dishonest since judges were supposed to believe that he was in the earlier ranks.

One of the judges, an imposing middle-aged karateka, questioned the young man about his sudden change in rank. He just looked away and snickered. As I was lining up to get my trophy engraved, I mentioned this to another competitor I was chatting with. He said that he had seen senior ranks put on lower belts, get the trophy, and then have it engraved with whatever they wanted to show off at their school.

As I was leaving with my son, my sensei, and classmates, we watched this group load trophies and water-base punching bags (also handed out as prizes) into a van. Would have been a great Myiagi v Kobra Kai dojo moment in the parking lot, but we just went home with our little trophies.

Heck, I have FOURTY of them (trophies) on the walls in my gun room. Yes I've been a trophie hound for years. Most shooting but three of them are martial arts ones. I put in lots of extra effort to get that good. And that's the benifit of competition and 'sparring emphasis'.
So I won't be visiting your trophy room unless invited. :)

So do not blame the emphasis on sparring, instead embrace the fact people want those pieces of ribbon and instead offer a more realistic sparring match with say, no kicking allowed to the head and light 'point' kicking allowed to the knees and shins!
Very good point, Deaf.
 

Xue Sheng

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I've been wondering for quite a while about why it is that TKD and increasingly Karate emphasize a curriculum built around tournament sparring—the amount of time and training energy devoted to learning spectacular but highly street-risky complex kicks, with emphasis on high targets, for example. My own experience is that most adults, and a fairly high percentage of kids, do not seriously entertain ideas of themselves as tournament competitors, and more than one TKD student has told me that they have no interest in watching competitive TKD or karate—they just don't have any interest in participating in the sport form of these arts.

Recently an explanation for this apparent paradox has begun to suggest itself to me, and I'm trying to think it through carefully. My idea is that MA schools emphasize tournament-based curricula because, in a nutshell, people are fundamentally averse to training for self-defense against real violence, because that kind of training pretty much forces you to accept that you are vulnerable to that kind of violence—something a lot of people seem anxious not to accept. And it's true, the odds for most people of encountering serious street violence are probably well below the odds of getting into a car accident. But if you don't want to train for potentially deadly personal violence, what are you doing MAs for?

A tournament combat-based curriculum is a perfect solution: all of those violent movements you're learning now have a raison d'礙tre, without your having to contemplate fighting for your life. Even though you may not have any interest whatever in competing, you get to use the kihon techs you learn in a way that gives them some applicability—even though everything we know about the history of these arts makes it clear that their intended purpose was something far more destructive than the uses they're put to in a match context (to the extent that they appear at all). I'm not saying that this is why large national organizations—the Korean TKD directorate, for example, or the Chinese government—emphasize competitive or 'spectacle'-based forms of their respective national MAs; for those entities, I don't think there's any doubt that national political and economic ambitions are by far the main driving force behind tournament TKD and modern acrobatic Wushu. What I'm suggesting is that the clientele for these MAs are happy to accept this kind of emphasis because, at some level, they'd rather be training for a kind of sport activity they have no intention of getting seriously involved with than training for violent, dangerous street encounters with their physical survival at stake—because they do not want to think about the possibility of such encounters.

So the bottom line, on this view, is that the increasing sportification of the high-profile MAs is the outcome of a kind of tacit bargain struck between the large national sponsors of these MAs on the one hand and their largely violence-averse customer base on the other. The idea is, we'll teach you some martial-looking moves and techniques and give you a chance to use them, in a context which isn't nearly as dangerous as what could happen to you should you find yourself facing a sadistic bully or drunken defective in a parking lot some evening. And in exchange, you'll gladly accept a sport-based version of the art, even with some largely decorative elementary self defense largely unconnected to the kata/hyungs/xsings of the art, 'glued on' so to speak, and more or less disconnected from the rest of the curriculum. The conclusion you're driven to, if you accept this picture, is that the current arc of MA history is powered by the paradoxical situation that most people learning it do not want to contemplate the necessity for open-ended destructive violence in their own self-defense.

So my question is, does this hypothesis, this hunch, really, have any kind of ring of truth to it? That's the first question. And the second is, if it does have some truth to it, then what are the real motivations for people to study MAs, if they are neither interested in sport competition nor anxious to immerse themselves in practical self-defense methods that require them to consider the real possibility of street violence?

What say you?

First I will admit right here I have only read the above post and none of the responses. I will read them later but I did not want any of them to change what I wanted to say. Not that what I have to say is any great thing it is just I feel I need to say what I am thinking here.

Exile

I do not disagree with anything you are saying but, and I seem to be saying this a lot lately on MT and in the world off the web, but from what you wrote I would say you have a much higher opinion of people that I do, looking to a higher reason such as aversion to violence. Nothing wrong with sports competitions, nothing wrong with fighting in a ring and if that is what makes one happy then that is great. It however can be a far cry from a real live violent confrontation where there is no air conditioning, no perfectly flat surface, no perfect lighting, no referee and no rules. But I am not saying if you only fight in the ring that you cannot fight in the street. Quite the opposite, you likely have a better chance than someone that has only done light traditional sparing or 2 person forms that has never really been hit. But because you fight in a ring is no guarantee that you will be ready for the bezerker that comes at you outside.

The sportification to me is a few things. To some extent (and I believe this to be small) there is a fear of uncontrolled violence. However watch some of the Sanshou tournaments in China and you will see they can be plenty violent. Watch a muay Thai match in East Asia and again you will see a lot of violence. Another contributing factor, and I believe this to be larger is “reward” you get a whole lot more rewards for fighting in a ring than not. Whether that be medals trophies, belts, adulation form fans and friends, or just a hearty pat on the back forma fellow fighter or student for doing your best. Another factor (and this one will likely get me into trouble) is lack of patience. It takes a long time to train traditionally and do much of anything by comparison to some senior students in your class. And yet another factor (and this too will get me into trouble) is ease of learning. Doing MA for sport in most cases is limiting your striking area, types of strikes needed as well as the number of things you need to learn if you are working outside the box. And lastly (or at least for me right now) there is an overwhelming lack of qualified teachers to teach anything BUT the sports side of things.
 

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that people will do whatever they have to, no matter how 'dirty' and hard-edged, to give themselves that survival advantage.
Being a Kenpo student, this is what is taught at my school. We have a sparring class every Monday, and do a lot of attacking back and forth.
For adults, (13 and up) this starts from day one. My Sifu states his rationale as wanting to be sure that he can feel safe walking down a dark alley with any of us, and not worry he may have to out run us. The two cardinal rules of sparring at our school are : 1 You're gonna get hit
2 It's gonna hurt
All the adults at our school spar, most every week.
In EPAK Kenpo, a large (huge really) proportion of techniques include what most people would consider "dirty" fighting i.e., shots to the groin, eyes, throat, etc. The emphasis at our school is on survival. Martial Arts is defined differently by different people, for some, it is a system that has great beauty, almost like dance. For me, it is about being able to efficiently disable one's attacker without sustaining harm myself.
 
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exile

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...from what you wrote I would say you have a much higher opinion of people that I do, looking to a higher reason such as aversion to violence.

XueI think we're on the same page in most respects here. When I say aversion to violence, you have to understand that I'm not saying that I'm ascribing a humanistic nobility to most people that makes them disdainful of violence in general on lofty grounds of principle. I wish it were true, but our own recent history makes it clear that it ain't so. What I'm talking about is something a lot closer to fearfear of uncontrolled violence, fear of being hurt, and being so anxious not to have to picture yourself in a situation with that kind of violence as a real possibility that you basically deny the need. It's like, during the Cold War, I routinely avoided thinking about nuclear weapons, and tried hard to put their very existence out of my mindbecause it was too scary to think about them. That's what I'm getting at when I refer to aversion to violence...

Being a Kenpo student, this is what is taught at my school. We have a sparring class every Monday, and do a lot of attacking back and forth.
For adults, (13 and up) this starts from day one. My Sifu states his rationale as wanting to be sure that he can feel safe walking down a dark alley with any of us, and not worry he may have to out run us. The two cardinal rules of sparring at our school are : 1 You're gonna get hit
2 It's gonna hurt
All the adults at our school spar, most every week.
In EPAK Kenpo, a large (huge really) proportion of techniques include what most people would consider "dirty" fighting i.e., shots to the groin, eyes, throat, etc. The emphasis at our school is on survival. Martial Arts is defined differently by different people, for some, it is a system that has great beauty, almost like dance. For me, it is about being able to efficiently disable one's attacker without sustaining harm myself.

This is my view too, and I think that there's probably a substantial 'base' in Kenpo for whom that's true as well. I'd suspect that it's a higher percentage of Kenpo practitioners than the comparable figure for TKD or Karate practitioners who feel that way. Kenpo, Krav Maga and serious San Shou devotees in CMAs likely don't come under the scope of my OP commentsand I'd guess that violence-denial types leave those kinds of arts early on.
 

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Interesting topic!! I'm glad this one got started...

I started training in ITF TKD in 1993. I had already been in TKD for a year when the first UFC came out, and it blew up in a big way with me and all of my buddies. It was the first tournement that we saw that could be considered almost 100% reality based! We were pumped beyond belief!

At that point, when UFC 1 came out, I had already been to my first open tournement...it was a huge event....and placed 1st in forms and 4th in sparring, which was the stop-match point style sparring that I loathe.

Now, I've said this before on the TKD forum...when I envision a tournement, I envision the tournement from Best of the Best...in terms of sparring, anyway. It wasn't entirely reality based, but it was full contact and the match didn't stop to score points.

Anyway, in regards to the OP, I have a big problem with schools that train primarily for the sport side of TKD or other arts. (TKD is the only art that I'm familiar with that trains in a sport side and a traditional side, so I can't really speak for any other art). The issue I have is that these schools are not there to teach anything other than how to win a game played using watered-down techniques. In the instances where full contact is allowed, only certain moves score against your opponent, and those moves have to be eye-catching as opposed to effective.

What I mean by that is that I can kick my opponent in the head on the side using a roundhouse kick with very light contact and a point will be awarded to me. But if I punch my opponent in the midsection hard enough to knock the breath out of him and stun him, no point is awarded because the point isn't "obvious".

This mindset teaches the wrong thing about TKD: it's teaching that in order to be effective, the techniques must be clear, attractive, and do not necessarily have to have force behind them to matter.

Don't misunderstand...it's not that I don't agree with tournements, per se...instead, I disagree with schools that concentrate most of their time and energy on how to be effective in a tournement situation as opposed to how to be effective in a real situation.

Sure, if you're in a school that's going to compete in a few tournements, then it would be best if the school spent some time training in how to be effective in that situation, but that should not be the basis of the cirriculum.

As far as why people attend these schools and participate only in tournement style TKD, I have no idea. I've never subscribed to that mentatlity, and I therefore cannot understand why someone would join a martial art for the sole purpose of competing. I know and understand that everyone joins a martial art for different reasons that are personal to them...mine was because I was tired of being the fat kid who got picked on.

I do understand the feeling of needing to compete. There will always be people who need to see how they stack up against others in certain situations. I don't mind competing every now and then. But at the end of the day, I know that what I've been taught is not used soley as a purpose of winning a tournement.

And, I know I've been longwinded here, but let me ramble just a little farther...I think that tournements took a wrong turn sometime in the late 80's and early 90's, as far as the rules and mindsets. If you look back at the tournements that were around in the 60's and 70's, when martial arts was beginning to be popular in the United States, they were far and away different from what they are now. That, to me, is where the problem started. Somebody figured that the old-school tournements were too dangerous somewhere along the way, and the tournements became watered down as a result...so much so that the teaching styles of schools had to change to compensate for the rules.

Ok, I'm through. Thanks for letting me ramble.
 

Xue Sheng

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Xue—I think we're on the same page in most respects here. When I say aversion to violence, you have to understand that I'm not saying that I'm ascribing a humanistic nobility to most people that makes them disdainful of violence in general on lofty grounds of principle. I wish it were true, but our own recent history makes it clear that it ain't so. What I'm talking about is something a lot closer to fear—fear of uncontrolled violence, fear of being hurt, and being so anxious not to have to picture yourself in a situation with that kind of violence as a real possibility that you basically deny the need. It's like, during the Cold War, I routinely avoided thinking about nuclear weapons, and tried hard to put their very existence out of my mind—because it was too scary to think about them. That's what I'm getting at when I refer to aversion to violence...

Gotchya, I do believe we are on the same page. But a competition can also be a violent thing, however I will say it is a type of controlled violence, or at least as controlled as violence can be. So I do believe you are making a good point here.

Don't misunderstand...it's not that I don't agree with tournements, per se...instead, I disagree with schools that concentrate most of their time and energy on how to be effective in a tournement situation as opposed to how to be effective in a real situation.

Agreed.

I was once a member of a CMA school that was invited to a TKD school to spar. When we arrived we were told we could only strike certain places, no holding, no locks, etc.

It was at that point I refused to spar. Later their teacher asked me why and I told him I trained CMA and he expected me to fight like I trained sports TKD for the ring and I didn't, his rules effectively took out 85% of what I was trained to do. He said nothing and walked away. What I did not tell him is that I had prior training in TKD and even based on that I could not fight the way he wanted.

This is where I fully believe it has more to do with the teacher than the student. However the student is not absolved of responsibility since they choose to stay and do not look beyond what they are being taught.
 
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However the student is not absolved of responsibility since they choose to stay and do not look beyond what they are being taught.

Yes, and this is a big part of what I was trying to get atit's not really accurate to lay blame (as a lot of us who want our MA to be a self defense systemfor real fights that we're unlucky enough to find ourselves inare inclined to do) on the MA orgs themselves. There is an active collaboration between students who would much rather not picture themselves having to react with only milliseconds left to a potentially terribly damaging attack, on the one hand, and orgs whose bread and butter is the 'sported down' version of the art. They need each other. The student needs the org, and its competition-rules-slanted curriculum, to help them feel that their training really is martially meaningful, and the org needs students like that, lots, in order to promote a version of the art in which sport competition is high-valued.

I don't blame the org for pursuing its own interest; if blame is to be laid, it's far more appropriate to blame such orgs for constructing absurd legendary histories having nothing to do with the documented factual base that careful historians without any institutional axe to grind have assembled after decades of examining primary sources. That is blameworthy, yes.

But so far as the other is concerned, there is a kind of mutual benefit that is exchanged between the student and the org, and it's worth examining, not to establish fault or point fingers, but as part of our understanding of the unique status of contemporary MAshow different, even alien, that picture is from the role of traditional MAs in the traditional societies that created them. The anecdote that Rich provided in his earlier post is utterly baffling, I think, unless we really get our mind around the possibility that a very large number of people who study MAs, or are considering MAs, are not only unhappy about the idea of real fightingand what normal person isn'tbut cannot bring themselves to face the possibility that the art they're learning could be their lifeline if they had to face violence like that. They cannot bring themselves to contemplate the possibility in a vivid enough way to think of the system they're learning as a combat system that could help them protect themselves under critical conditions, is what I'm more and more thinking. They just can't stand picturing it, they don't want to think about it.

Way back in the day, you had no choice. Violence was a very common part of ordinary life. As someone pointed out earlier, we do live in a much safer society, so far as the likelihood of destructive violence finding us on a day-to-day basis. And we don't really want to think about the off-chance, in most cases, I think...
 

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Yes, and this is a big part of what I was trying to get atit's not really accurate to lay blame (as a lot of us who want our MA to be a self defense systemfor real fights that we're unlucky enough to find ourselves inare inclined to do) on the MA orgs themselves. There is an active collaboration between students who would much rather not picture themselves having to react with only milliseconds left to a potentially terribly damaging attack, on the one hand, and orgs whose bread and butter is the 'sported down' version of the art. They need each other. The student needs the org, and its competition-rules-slanted curriculum, to help them feel that their training really is martially meaningful, and the org needs students like that, lots, in order to promote a version of the art in which sport competition is high-valued.

I don't blame the org for pursuing its own interest; if blame is to be laid, it's far more appropriate to blame such orgs for constructing absurd legendary histories having nothing to do with the documented factual base that careful historians without any institutional axe to grind have assembled after decades of examining primary sources. That is blameworthy, yes.

But so far as the other is concerned, there is a kind of mutual benefit that is exchanged between the student and the org, and it's worth examining, not to establish fault or point fingers, but as part of our understanding of the unique status of contemporary MAshow different, even alien, that picture is from the role of traditional MAs in the traditional societies that created them. The anecdote that Rich provided in his earlier post is utterly baffling, I think, unless we really get our mind around the possibility that a very large number of people who study MAs, or are considering MAs, are not only unhappy about the idea of real fightingand what normal person isn'tbut cannot bring themselves to face the possibility that the art they're learning could be their lifeline if they had to face violence like that. They cannot bring themselves to contemplate the possibility in a vivid enough way to think of the system they're learning as a combat system that could help them protect themselves under critical conditions, is what I'm more and more thinking. They just can't stand picturing it, they don't want to think about it.

Way back in the day, you had no choice. Violence was a very common part of ordinary life. As someone pointed out earlier, we do live in a much safer society, so far as the likelihood of destructive violence finding us on a day-to-day basis. And we don't really want to think about the off-chance, in most cases, I think...

I agree with what you're saying about the organizations, to an extent. I think an organization should be held at least partially credible for the issues...hence the WTF supporting TKD in the Olympics. The rules that are in place, from my understanding, (and I could be wrong here), to create a more aesthetically pleasing match in addition to safety regulations. Not that the WTF only concentrates on sport sparring...but the fact that they promote it as hard as they do would indicate that they have a large interest apart from the SD aspect of TKD.

As far as living in a less-violent society...this may be true to an extent...no, we don't live in fuedal Japan, and the need to learn how to use a pitchfork to defend yourself against people trying to raid your farm isn't as relevant (it could be in some places, though). But the need to know how to defend yourself will always be there.

I think it was said in an earlier post, and I agree 110%: if someone joins a martial art, what other reason could they possibly have other than learning how to defend yourself??
 

Xue Sheng

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They cannot bring themselves to contemplate the possibility in a vivid enough way to think of the system they're learning as a combat system that could help them protect themselves under critical conditions

I once had a job that put in violent situations way to regularly and I will admit right here I tried not to think about it much until it was over. Afterwards it appears I had little choice. I tried very hard to not ever think about a confrontation prior to it happening and I rarely spent time thinking about anything I trained failing me. This however was not so much because I had so much confidence in my training and ability it was more to the point that if I thought about it to much I would begin to doubt my ability and that would impair what I needed to do, doubt is dangerous when in danger. And I do not think that is all that uncommon in similar jobs. However I will admit after awhile I got so fed up with idiots I no longer cared either way, I just wanted them to go away. So if someone never has to deal with that I can easily see where thinking about it will cause you some REAL issues and self-doubt and a training for sport is by far much more controlled and less fearful I would imagine

Way back in the day, you had no choice. Violence was a very common part of ordinary life. As someone pointed out earlier, we do live in a much safer society, so far as the likelihood of destructive violence finding us on a day-to-day basis. And we don't really want to think about the off-chance, in most cases, I think...

This is very true, there is much less chance of a group of Mongols galloping into your city and attacking that is for sure. But in the world today the likelihood of day to day violence depends on where you live. But I would speculate the average person is much safer now than they were when the majority of these MAs appeared on the scene.
 

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To me the answer to why people train in schools that don't teach real SD is that they don't know that they are not learning SD. Think about it. How many times have you heard someone say "don't mess with so and so, he's a BB so he can really kick some a**"? Much of the public thinks that training in any MA automatically trains you for the street. And the instructors of many classes don't tell them otherwise. In fact I would venture to say that many actively encourage this view of their classes, even though they know the truth to be otherwise.
 

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Excellent thread Exile and I've really enjoyed reading everybody's posts. I would agree with your hunch/theory. I would also add that a big pull for some people is that they can live out their fantasy of being a master of martial arts. It is less about true self defense and more about fulfilling daydreams and "acting the part" or amateur dramatics for some. And to be fair, why not? If they are having a good time then leave them to it. As long as when the time comes they are able to distinguish between the fantasy and reality. I don't mind admitting that there are times when I am in my boxing class that in my head I am no longer a mild mannered nurse but Rocky Balboa!! But this doesn't mean I'm going to climb into the ring against Vitali Klitschko as I know the difference between a daydream and reality!

It is interesting all the different reasons that people have for doing MA's. I first started my TKD class looking for fitness combined with self defense. I was lucky that my instructor was very self defense orientated and really developed my desire to learn more and more reality based techniques. Unfortunately once I got past my novice belts he had to follow the organisations syllabus (TAGB) a bit more and teach me more of the spinning and complicated high kicks. Other people who had started about the same time as me then became very excited and motivated (these impressive kicks perhaps fulfilling personal dreams and fantasies of being Bruce Lee?) whereas I personally began to lose motivation and was always anxious to get back to pounding pads with my elbows and practicing using the blocks contained in patterns as escapes from wrist grabs etc.

This is why I amicably left my TKD class and joined a pure reality based system. As unlike in my boxing classes I wasn't looking to indulge a fantasy but to learn only practical self defense. Fitness is still a big draw but I feel that is a large part of self defense anyway.

Please be aware that I am in no way art bashing. There are people in my old TKD class who I would totally be able to kick my backside and defend themselves. My old instructor spends a lot of time on true self defense applications. It's just that the high kicks were not for me (probably due to me finding them very difficult to achieve!). That is the beauty of martial arts there is a style for everyone.
 

Deaf Smith

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I witnessed this phenomenon at the one and only competition I ever attended. There was a published rule at this event that any competitor in any event had to wear his or her highest rank. So if you were a black belt in ju jitsu and a blue belt in karate, you wore black belt. I realize there are problems with this kind of ruling, but that was the rule.

Gordon,

Yea in IDPA some guys who are master class in say, Stock Service, will shoot in the sharpshooter class of 'Enhanced Service' class and yes pick up the trophy so there shooting school will look good. Seen that before!

I stopped competing in martial arts cause I hit 4th dan. Didn't even think of getting a low ranking belt in another art so I could pick up more. Heck I felt just competing in the black belt division was a cool honor! And master class division of the IDPA the same way.

But then I have no school, shooting or otherwise, to display all these bits of plastic I have.

And yes, you can view my dusty collection. I actually threw away several of the smaller ones cause there just wasn't any room left and they were low class 'C' stuff I had. And then I'll talk your ear off telling you all the stories behind them, hahahaha. And I won't stretch the storys... well maybe a little! Did I tell you about me fighting the top ninja street fighter from Japan one handed?

Deaf
 
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exile

exile

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Terrific posts all round, folks! :asian:

I certainly don't want to give the impression that I think everything can be reduced to this 'silent agreement' I've suggested between combat-averse students of the combat arts, on the one hand, and the increasingly sport-promotion-focused MA associations and orgs on the other. The idea that a lot of people may well be under the illusion that their Olympic style sparring practices train them to deal with a seasoned bar brawler definitely deserves to be factored into the mix. And the fact that a lot of people's whole idea of street violence is based on the choreographed fight scenes they see on television or in movies adds a whole extra dimension of unreality to their understanding of just what brutal physical conflict in street situations is like. No one factor is going to be be able to explain the weird disconnection between most people's actual training on the one hand and the extreme nastiness of 'the pavement arena', as Geoff Thompson calls it, on the other...
 

Gordon Nore

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Gordon,

Yea in IDPA some guys who are master class in say, Stock Service, will shoot in the sharpshooter class of 'Enhanced Service' class and yes pick up the trophy so there shooting school will look good. Seen that before!

Pathetic.

And, of course, I hope you and everyone else understands when I tell that story, it's not an indictment against participating in a martial sport. I think wanting to compete is as legitimate as any reason (self-defense, fitness, aesthetics) for participating in a martial art. Some people just want a trophy without the messiness of following rules and playing fair.
 

Gordon Nore

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...No one factor is going to be be able to explain the weird disconnection between most people's actual training on the one hand and the extreme nastiness of 'the pavement arena', as Geoff Thompson calls it, on the other...

Well said.
 

Deaf Smith

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Pathetic.

And, of course, I hope you and everyone else understands when I tell that story, it's not an indictment against participating in a martial sport. I think wanting to compete is as legitimate as any reason (self-defense, fitness, aesthetics) for participating in a martial art. Some people just want a trophy without the messiness of following rules and playing fair.

I agree Gordon. I love to compete and I feel competition, expecially at the big table, well, you live more in a day than many people live in a lifetime.

Deaf
 

Gordon Nore

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I agree Gordon. I love to compete and I feel competition, expecially at the big table, well, you live more in a day than many people live in a lifetime.

Deaf

Deaf, I have to tell you, I witnessed some dastardly things. My son was in the boys/girls, orange to blue, for nine and ten year olds. Because of one unruly parent who was egging his kid on -- his sensei was doing the same. Because it was a kid's event, late in the day, they only had three officials, not five to cover all the corners. This kid, pretending to pop another kid on the top of the head, turned his hand, and poked her in the eyes, but the judges didn't all see it. My teacher was in terrible quandry, having my son compete in the event he was asked to help judge. He actually held back on awarding Tucker points, which was the best thing to do in the circumstances.

With the other kid, he kept calling warnings for excessive contact. The irate parent stormed out on the floor, and flicked my teachers belt at him, telling him to take it off. I should point out that the majority of families and children were absolutely shocked at this viciousness; though, sadly, officials brought to resolve this pretty much just walked away.

Now the good part. The adult division, especially the older competitors, were really great to watch and participate with. I was fighting men 35-41, green to brown, so, as a forty year old green belt, I was lower ranked and older, fighting guys who fight all the time. They were tough as nails and absolute gentlemen.

I was second up to fight, having just watched one fella have an out-of-body experience from a roundhouse to the head. I'm dead, I thought. I got up for my first fight, and my opponent spanked me like a foour-year-old at K-Mart, but I got some points. The ref says to me, "You ok to fight again right now? -- you're fighting for third and fourth place."

This guy nails me right in the bread box and hugs me after he won. "You didn't make it easy on me." I've never been volunteer in competitive sports -- they had drag me through that in school, but that was my first and only sports trophy. And it felt fantastic. People who really train for this and really give it their best are to be respected. IMO

My tournament legacy...
Fourth Place Sparring
Mens Senior Kyu
2000 Ontario Open Provincial Karate Champs

So, yeah, I do get the excitement of competing.

Now I'm old enough to go back and fight in the Jurrassic Division, over 45. Maybe I'll do that one day.
 

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