Aliveness, Pressure Testing, and Proving Your Art: Revisited.

MJS

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This seems to be a hot topic, as you can read about it everywhere you look. Someone is always talking about the things that I mentioned, comparing one art to the other, talking about training methods, and what supposedly works and does not work, etc. So, I thought I'd start this thread, to serve as my opinion as well as a bit of a rant. :ultracool So...pull up a chair, grab a nice cool drink, and please feel free to join in, vent, rant and give your opinions. One thing that I do ask: Considering this can be a hot topic, lets try to keep the flames on the mild side.:ultracool

Aliveness: I never really heard the term used much during my training, until right around 1993, with the birth of the UFC. That seemed to be the straw that broke the camels back, so to say, because soon after, people really started to re-evaluate their training. Things that were at one time looked at as great moves and techniques, seemed to be shattered, once this second look took place. IMO, I think that aliveness in ones training is a key aspect. Movement and realistic attacks certainly give a different feel to what you can and can't do, as well as what you thought was a viable technique. Something about standing stationary compared to training like you may face outside the dojo just seems a bit more realistic. This is not to say that a static 'drill' isn't important, but you need to be able to apply things from that 'drill' into actual movement. Otherwise, what good is it? Why train something over and over and over, if you aren't going to be able to pull it off when you need it? Many times, we hear someone say, "Well, this move worked 90 yrs ago, so it still must work." or, "Well, my instructor can do it and he says it works, so it must work." Well, I wasn't around 90 yrs. ago, and I'm not built like my instructor, so all that is moot IMHO. If it worked 90 yrs ago, great!! If it works for my inst, great!! But, I need to make damn sure that its going to work for me, if and when that time comes. It may never come, but I want to make sure that when I reach into my bag o' tricks, I pull something out that I know is going to work for me. :)

Pressure Testing: This is right up there with the aliveness. It goes hand in hand IMHO. There comes a time in ones training, when you need to turn up the heat a little, not only testing yourself, but what it is you're trying to do. Can you pull off move "A" when the person is really trying to hit you? Can you pull off move "B" when the person you're working with is actively resisting you and not just letting you pull the move off? IMHO, if you're not testing from time to time, you may be in for a rude surprise.

Proving your art: Hmm...we see this all the time. People run around issuing challenges, walking around with the 'big head', cocky attitude that what they do is the best, everything else sucks and if you don't believe them, well, lets get onto the mat and I'll show you. This is the one thing that I think is a thorn in the side of many arts. Its the one thing that I really don't like. As far as I'm concerned, I'm really not interested in proving anything to anyone. If you think you know what my art is like, what TKD is like, what Hapkido or Ninjutsu is like, just by watching a youtube clip or my favorite....because someone else said its no good, then more power to you. I have better things to do than run around challenging people. The only person I prove things to is myself. The folks that I describe above will be in for a surprise because they most likely don't know what those folks are capable of doing.

For myself, I'm happy with my training. I've done Kenpo for a little over 20yrs now, I cross train in Arnis and BJJ. I do my best to keep my training alive and as real as I can get, of course within reason. :) Nothing irks me more than when I'm running thru techniques and someone goes to choke me and instead of a choke, I'm getting a shoulder massage. The massage can come afterwards from my wife, when I done training. ;) Right now, I want to feel those hands on my neck. When you're punching, punch me. If I don't move or block and get hit, oh well, its my fault, but its keeping my training real. :) Sparring is another aspect I love to add in. I spar weekly with my instructor. Just this past week, we changed it up a bit and added in some clinch work and ground work. And who says Kenpo guys can't fight on the ground!:ultracool

So...thats my rant. Those are some of my opinions on training and how I train. What I'm looking for now, is feedback and viewpoints from everyone else!:ultracool How do you train? Do you feel that the things I listed above are important, or not really necessary for your training? Let the games begin! :) If you feel you agree, cool! If not, don't attack me, attack the argument and show that those things are not really key to ones training.

Mike
 

exile

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Saw nothing to disagree with in any part of your post, Mike. It's true, we've seen this ground covered from almost every possible angle, many times. Almost always, when someone brings up these matters as a way of dissing someone else's art, or all other arts, or whatever, the discussion either never gets down to specifics or else consists of anecdotes (sometimes in the form of YouTube and other video links) that prove exactly nothing about the arts in question.

Which is a pity, because there are some really useful discussions that probably never take place once everyone's energies are channelled into trying to debate things that, over and over, turn out to be undebatable. For example, take `live' training. There's a lot of interest now in realistic combat simulation based on applications of TMAs; this is a big thing with the British Combat Association, and Iain Abernethy and others in that movement have book chapters and videos devoted to bunkai-jutsu training and detailed advice on how to `scale up' alive training to the point where it's realistic enough to give you good reason to be confident of your ability to defend yourself in a violent street encounter. But there are a host of details that emerge as soon as you start trying to be specific about all this. Take muchimi, for example, a crucial part of combat applications of kata, where realistic bunkai make it clear that a hand which delivers a strike will have to quickly become a gripping/controlling hand for the next move, which will involve a strike by the other hand (or a leg). But that requires dexterity from the striker and attachment points—places to grip—on the attacker's body, and if everyone is gloved and suited up for maximum protection, then there's a good chance this essential technical element will be largely sacrificed. So it looks as though you are going to have to make do with a lot less than optimal protection if you want your `alive' training to itself be optimal. What's the ideal tradeoff point—how much protection should you be willing to give up to ensure realistic training, but no more than that amount? It's like the standard question in medicine: what's the optimal dose/response tradeoff for any particular drug?

That's the kind of question that I think is genuinely useful to pursue, rather than the typical Chimera of MA superiority that we've all gotten heartily sick of, I think...
 

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Excellent topic for discussion.

When discussing training and training methods as well as their successfulness we must first acknowledge; What is the training for? What is the goal? Martial Art and the training of it has, today, become more than having the ability to fight successfully. For many, myself included, it is about being able to successfully defend ones self in a physical confrontation and good physical health. With many others it is about sport and the camaraderie that comes with it. Some, it is about competition with the athletic prowess it takes to do the gymnastic aspects of the forms competitions. For some it is strictly about exercise and health. Many youngsters are there simply because it gives them someplace to be after school. Martial arts are all this and much, much more.

So, first answer; Why are you training and then what is your expectation within the training? It is only after that is established that you will be able to define the proper training program, coaching and methods. Over the years my goals for training have changed and the methods used for that training has also changed based upon what my final outcome was to be.

If my training is to be a Ring or Cage fighter then the method of training will be considerably different than it would be for a forms competition. If I were training only for self defense there would other facets within my training compared to forms training. If I were only training for health and toning of my body then my training would most likely Not consist of sparring and resistance or pressure type training.

Just a few thoughts.

Danny T
 

Kosho Gakkusei

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If your art is sport oriented it's natural course for aliveness and working under pressure is to jump into the fire of competition. On the other hand MA for the street is a whole other animal. Too many people think that what is really only sport level competition is a litmus test for what is effective and what works under pressure. Let me preface what I will say that I cross train in competitive arts such as Judo, Combat Sambo, & MMA but my primary art, Kosho Shorei focuses on self defense with options ranging from no-touch escaping arts to grappling controls (locks & throws) to devastating striking. I do the sport arts for fun and because I'm still young enough where my body can still take the punishment. The sport arts tests me but I don't think it would be realistic to say it's a reflection of what it's like on the street. If I'm threatened or attacked on the street my attacker is not likely to assume a boxing stance and begin circling with probing jabs or straight lefts. More likely I'll encounter a wild haymaker or sucker punch with the intent of taking my head off. More likely I'll be grabbed from behind or just plain bum rushed. It's very likely the assailant will have a weapon.

Exile brings up some interesting points pertaining to "live" training for street applications.

For example, take `live' training. There's a lot of interest now in realistic combat simulation based on applications of TMAs; this is a big thing with the British Combat Association, and Iain Abernethy and others in that movement have book chapters and videos devoted to bunkai-jutsu training and detailed advice on how to `scale up' alive training to the point where it's realistic enough to give you good reason to be confident of your ability to defend yourself in a violent street encounter. But there are a host of details that emerge as soon as you start trying to be specific about all this. Take muchimi, for example, a crucial part of combat applications of kata, where realistic bunkai make it clear that a hand which delivers a strike will have to quickly become a gripping/controlling hand for the next move, which will involve a strike by the other hand (or a leg). But that requires dexterity from the striker and attachment pointsplaces to gripon the attacker's body, and if everyone is gloved and suited up for maximum protection, then there's a good chance this essential technical element will be largely sacrificed. So it looks as though you are going to have to make do with a lot less than optimal protection if you want your `alive' training to itself be optimal. What's the ideal tradeoff pointhow much protection should you be willing to give up to ensure realistic training, but no more than that amount? It's like the standard question in medicine: what's the optimal dose/response tradeoff for any particular drug?

I'd like to add to what exile is saying, concerning live training, considerations must be taken as to techniques that compromise the integrity of the attackers skeletal structure. It is not possible to utilize full speed and intesity without causing serious damage with these techniques regardless of protective padding. For example strikes to the attackers joints with grappling controls applied. Proper use of the principles of my art, Kosho Ryu, will usually end up putting the attacker in positions where he can not brace himself and the effect of the defenders strikes are distributed into his skeletal structure. At full speed damage is done to the spinal collumn, hips, and legs. Take the following post as an example:

Hanshi used to carry around a picture in his wallet to show folks the pitfalls of doing the stuff at speed.
He told an uke to throw his 2nd punch slowly; because of the nature of the way kosho works, a lot of pressure is put on the legs, back and neck.
This gent threw the punch too fast and ended up with a compound spiral fracture of the tibia......it was gruesome.
I've been on the receiving end of the speedy stuff........I hurt for days afterward. I made sure the 2nd time I did it was at the end of the class so I could relax after getting hit.

_Don Flatt
 

Darth F.Takeda

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Good subject.

I agree you need some alivness and some form of sparring or scenario training for self defense.

One problem I find is that many think that MMA is the be all and end all in MA effectiveness, but they dont suckerpunch, use knives, guns or bludgeons or multiple attackers in the cage.

And I agree, some techniques can not be done full on and all out because they do terrible damage to the recipient. Many in the MMA camp will say BS, if you can train it full on then it;s not going to work.
You cant prove it to them untill you do it to them, and then when you do, your the jerkl because they are hurt.

I love MMA as a sport and think that much of the techniques and training methodology is great for SD, but overlooking traditional combat arts is sad, as more and more of the real fatal arts are marginalized in many people's preceptions. It makes it hard to bring people into the Dojo.
That said we have converted many MMA, Boxing and BJJ practitianers over to our Dojo, but of coarse, we pick their brains for things that we find relevent.
 
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MJS

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Saw nothing to disagree with in any part of your post, Mike. It's true, we've seen this ground covered from almost every possible angle, many times. Almost always, when someone brings up these matters as a way of dissing someone else's art, or all other arts, or whatever, the discussion either never gets down to specifics or else consists of anecdotes (sometimes in the form of YouTube and other video links) that prove exactly nothing about the arts in question.

Which is a pity, because there are some really useful discussions that probably never take place once everyone's energies are channelled into trying to debate things that, over and over, turn out to be undebatable. For example, take `live' training. There's a lot of interest now in realistic combat simulation based on applications of TMAs; this is a big thing with the British Combat Association, and Iain Abernethy and others in that movement have book chapters and videos devoted to bunkai-jutsu training and detailed advice on how to `scale up' alive training to the point where it's realistic enough to give you good reason to be confident of your ability to defend yourself in a violent street encounter. But there are a host of details that emerge as soon as you start trying to be specific about all this. Take muchimi, for example, a crucial part of combat applications of kata, where realistic bunkai make it clear that a hand which delivers a strike will have to quickly become a gripping/controlling hand for the next move, which will involve a strike by the other hand (or a leg). But that requires dexterity from the striker and attachment pointsplaces to gripon the attacker's body, and if everyone is gloved and suited up for maximum protection, then there's a good chance this essential technical element will be largely sacrificed. So it looks as though you are going to have to make do with a lot less than optimal protection if you want your `alive' training to itself be optimal. What's the ideal tradeoff pointhow much protection should you be willing to give up to ensure realistic training, but no more than that amount? It's like the standard question in medicine: what's the optimal dose/response tradeoff for any particular drug?

That's the kind of question that I think is genuinely useful to pursue, rather than the typical Chimera of MA superiority that we've all gotten heartily sick of, I think...

As always, great post! :) Yes, it does seem that there has to be a trade-off. Depending on what you want to do, will of course depend on how much gear you will need/not need. For light to medium contact, I'd say a pair of MMA gloves, which will allow more hand movement as well as grip ability and a mouth piece would suffice.
 
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MJS

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Excellent topic for discussion.

Thanks! :) I'm hoping to keep it going.

When discussing training and training methods as well as their successfulness we must first acknowledge; What is the training for? What is the goal? Martial Art and the training of it has, today, become more than having the ability to fight successfully. For many, myself included, it is about being able to successfully defend ones self in a physical confrontation and good physical health. With many others it is about sport and the camaraderie that comes with it. Some, it is about competition with the athletic prowess it takes to do the gymnastic aspects of the forms competitions. For some it is strictly about exercise and health. Many youngsters are there simply because it gives them someplace to be after school. Martial arts are all this and much, much more.

Good points. You can put me in the same category as you. I'm primarily looking for SD. IMHO, I think that part of the difference in views, stems from people not being able to or not wanting to seperate the reasons. I think that many times someone hears the word Martial Arts, and the first thing they think of is SD, not weight loss, inner peace, etc., etc. So they may not be able to understand why people who train, don't train in a realistic fashion.

So, first answer; Why are you training and then what is your expectation within the training? It is only after that is established that you will be able to define the proper training program, coaching and methods. Over the years my goals for training have changed and the methods used for that training has also changed based upon what my final outcome was to be.

If my training is to be a Ring or Cage fighter then the method of training will be considerably different than it would be for a forms competition. If I were training only for self defense there would other facets within my training compared to forms training. If I were only training for health and toning of my body then my training would most likely Not consist of sparring and resistance or pressure type training.

Just a few thoughts.

Danny T

Can't disagree with any of that. :)

Mike
 

tshadowchaser

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Some of what we do can be practiced full out but muchof what many people do can not. Do you want someone throwing eye jabs, groin grabs, stomps to the knee, or useing a knife all the time just to prove your training is real?
contact sparing and multiple attacks are great but there still must be a stoping point in this type of training or the local hospital will get to know you and your students very well.
 
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MJS

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If your art is sport oriented it's natural course for aliveness and working under pressure is to jump into the fire of competition. On the other hand MA for the street is a whole other animal. Too many people think that what is really only sport level competition is a litmus test for what is effective and what works under pressure. Let me preface what I will say that I cross train in competitive arts such as Judo, Combat Sambo, & MMA but my primary art, Kosho Shorei focuses on self defense with options ranging from no-touch escaping arts to grappling controls (locks & throws) to devastating striking. I do the sport arts for fun and because I'm still young enough where my body can still take the punishment. The sport arts tests me but I don't think it would be realistic to say it's a reflection of what it's like on the street. If I'm threatened or attacked on the street my attacker is not likely to assume a boxing stance and begin circling with probing jabs or straight lefts. More likely I'll encounter a wild haymaker or sucker punch with the intent of taking my head off. More likely I'll be grabbed from behind or just plain bum rushed. It's very likely the assailant will have a weapon.

Can't disagree, although I'm sure some could find reason to. Youtube and video seem to also play a part in that litmus test. "If you don't see it in the cage......" is the typical reply. Tell that to the many people who have used their art to save their life, and I doubt they walk around with a camcorder on their hip so they can film their assault. Like I said in my OP, if someone needs to use YT as the deciding factor, more power to 'em.



I'd like to add to what exile is saying, concerning live training, considerations must be taken as to techniques that compromise the integrity of the attackers skeletal structure. It is not possible to utilize full speed and intesity without causing serious damage with these techniques regardless of protective padding. For example strikes to the attackers joints with grappling controls applied. Proper use of the principles of my art, Kosho Ryu, will usually end up putting the attacker in positions where he can not brace himself and the effect of the defenders strikes are distributed into his skeletal structure. At full speed damage is done to the spinal collumn, hips, and legs. Take the following post as an example:



_Don Flatt

Agreed again! :) Of course, I find it interesting how some can say that if thats the case, then there's really no way to know if it'll work. Well, I wonder if while those people are practicing, they break their partners arms, dislocated their knee, etc. They could turn around and say, "Well, it has been proven and its on tape." Oh God, the tape line again. :) Well, like I said in my OP...if it worked way back when or for someone else, great. However, I need to know its going to work for me.

Mike
 
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MJS

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Good subject.

I agree you need some alivness and some form of sparring or scenario training for self defense.

One problem I find is that many think that MMA is the be all and end all in MA effectiveness, but they dont suckerpunch, use knives, guns or bludgeons or multiple attackers in the cage.

And I agree, some techniques can not be done full on and all out because they do terrible damage to the recipient. Many in the MMA camp will say BS, if you can train it full on then it;s not going to work.
You cant prove it to them untill you do it to them, and then when you do, your the jerkl because they are hurt.

I can't add anything to this. Great post!!!

I love MMA as a sport and think that much of the techniques and training methodology is great for SD, but overlooking traditional combat arts is sad, as more and more of the real fatal arts are marginalized in many people's preceptions. It makes it hard to bring people into the Dojo.
That said we have converted many MMA, Boxing and BJJ practitianers over to our Dojo, but of coarse, we pick their brains for things that we find relevent.

Likewise, I love MMA too. I fully enjoyed UFC 75 last night! Whats even better, is my wife sat and watched it with me!!!!:ultracool And she doesnt even train! I credit MMA for the changes that I've made in my own training. However, I also keep in mind that nothing is the end all-be all.

Mike
 

Kosho Gakkusei

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Agreed again! :) Of course, I find it interesting how some can say that if thats the case, then there's really no way to know if it'll work. Well, I wonder if while those people are practicing, they break their partners arms, dislocated their knee, etc. They could turn around and say, "Well, it has been proven and its on tape." Oh God, the tape line again. :) Well, like I said in my OP...if it worked way back when or for someone else, great. However, I need to know its going to work for me.

I was just watching a video tape on the bunkai of the kata Passai (Storming the Fortress) and it involved using the movement from the Kata to reposition & lock the attacker up in such a way that you can target your strikes with the exact trajectory you would use for board/brick breaking. For all intents and purposes you could practice the repositioning and locking under very live conditions but not the finishing strike. I guess that would be a good reason to work your board breaking capabilities because if you practiced and became adept at the positioning and powerful in your breaking then you would be very confident in this working for you. BUT technique of that nature would only be useful for extreme situations where possibly killing or seriously injuring your opponent is appropriate. So again can't in good concience use it in sparring, competition, or post it on youtube.

That brings me to another point. The whole youtube phenom. Plus sides: the ability to see some samples from all different kinds of martial arts and the ability to promote your art. Down Side: the emergence of armchair martial artist.

Many arts talk about keeping the "deadly" manuevers secret and only teaching to students that make certain qualifications. There's a number of reasons for it. Number one, as a teacher, you are somewhat responsible for how students use what you teach them. Some teachings can not be given to those who don't have the character and will not use them responsibly. What level would that be if ever at all? Some things were reserved to only be taught to the next Soke of the system. So what teacher in good conscience could post the secrets to utilizing moves that could be deadly on youtube? In that case the only thing that would appear to work would be what works in MMA fights or street fighting that has been caught on camera. So we end up with people jumping to conclusions because they're too lazy to dedicate the time and effort to learn something of value beyond the current popular opinion.

_Don Flatt
 

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Many arts talk about keeping the "deadly" manuevers secret and only teaching to students that make certain qualifications. There's a number of reasons for it. Number one, as a teacher, you are somewhat responsible for how students use what you teach them. Some teachings can not be given to those who don't have the character and will not use them responsibly. What level would that be if ever at all? Some things were reserved to only be taught to the next Soke of the system. So what teacher in good conscience could post the secrets to utilizing moves that could be deadly on youtube? In that case the only thing that would appear to work would be what works in MMA fights or street fighting that has been caught on camera. So we end up with people jumping to conclusions because they're too lazy to dedicate the time and effort to learn something of value beyond the current popular opinion.

_Don Flatt


There are No Secrets! There is only movement and the understanding of the possiblities withing the movement. All of the 'Secrets" are hidden in plain view. One only needs to be taught what to look for.

Danny T
 

Kosho Gakkusei

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There are No Secrets! There is only movement and the understanding of the possiblities withing the movement. All of the 'Secrets" are hidden in plain view. One only needs to be taught what to look for.

Danny T

Indeed. The best way to hide something is in plain sight. The best place to put it is right on the coffee table because the thief will look everywhere but there.

_Don Flatt
 

Bigshadow

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There are No Secrets! There is only movement and the understanding of the possiblities withing the movement. All of the 'Secrets" are hidden in plain view. One only needs to be taught what to look for.

Danny T

I agree with that! Developing the eyes to see is what takes so darn long! :)

Also, I am cautious when people start talking about discounting things that do not work. I have seen folks complain about things not working or that things won't work and it is simply they have not really learned what it is that they think doesn't work. So they make a decision to throw it out or discount it before really understanding it. This impatience will impede their growth and cause them further frustration.

MJS, great post, I agree.
 
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