Are you fed-up with fancy crap?

geezer

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On another thread on judging forms in tournaments, I read a post that pointed out that sometimes the simplest techniques are, in fact, very complex. I agreed completely. In fact, I would go further and state that "simple" techniques when perfectly executed are the essence of good martial arts, regardless of style. And this is especially true of arts that emphasize practical self-defense. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen a good demo by a well-respected master lose all credibility when he starts to add a lot of flashy crap that would never work in a real situation. And anybody with an ounce of sense who's beyond junior high school can see right through it! IMHO, it just gives the martial arts a really tacky reputation.

So why do they do it? Or more honestly... why do we do it?
 

Steve

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On another thread on judging forms in tournaments, I read a post that pointed out that sometimes the simplest techniques are, in fact, very complex. I agreed completely. In fact, I would go further and state that "simple" techniques when perfectly executed are the essence of good martial arts, regardless of style. And this is especially true of arts that emphasize practical self-defense. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen a good demo by a well-respected master lose all credibility when he starts to add a lot of flashy crap that would never work in a real situation. And anybody with an ounce of sense who's beyond junior high school can see right through it! IMHO, it just gives the martial arts a really tacky reputation.

So why do they do it? Or more honestly... why do we do it?
This is a recurring theme in BJJ. While there are a lot of variations on techniques, it all comes down to armbars, triangle chokes, passing guard and working to improve one's position. Very simple stuff. The difference in BJJ between a Black Belt and a Blue Belt is how well these fundamentals are done, and the speed and facility the transitions from one technique to another are made.
 

Twin Fist

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for the same reason people believe kennedy assasination or 9-11 conspiracy theories

sometimes, if something seems too simple to be true, our minds simply cant or wont accept it.
 

jks9199

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Much of my training is focused on refining and improving my basics. But basics are boring. Refining them is even more boring, because you work many hours for stuff that nobody is going to see and few will appreciate. They'll see the results... but won't understand them.

I guess it just depends on what you're interested in...
 

Rich Parsons

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On another thread on judging forms in tournaments, I read a post that pointed out that sometimes the simplest techniques are, in fact, very complex. I agreed completely. In fact, I would go further and state that "simple" techniques when perfectly executed are the essence of good martial arts, regardless of style. And this is especially true of arts that emphasize practical self-defense. I can't begin to count how many times I've seen a good demo by a well-respected master lose all credibility when he starts to add a lot of flashy crap that would never work in a real situation. And anybody with an ounce of sense who's beyond junior high school can see right through it! IMHO, it just gives the martial arts a really tacky reputation.

So why do they do it? Or more honestly... why do we do it?


Geezer,

I do not think that everyone can see through the flash as you stated. I think there are some that buy into it up front.

Also, the basics are boring, and people think that they can do them even if they have never trained. It just looks easy so it must be easy and therefor no need to practice that as "I can do that".

I have two stories on that issue.

One of my insturctors told be a story of watching the founder teach the art. He taught a technique and this one guy said I Can do that. He never practiced it. While teaching a few weeks later the founder did the technique in sparring and the same student that said it was easy and that he could do it said, "I know that. I don't know that." He knew he shoudl know it. It was simple. But he had not spent time on it so he could not have done it in sparring.

The other was a student of our club that left us after gaining a low middle color belt. He went to another school and within 6 months was given a black belt. From there he went from school to school and would train until he got a black belt and then moved on.

Years later, I was invited to another club as a guest of a student. I had been teaching my art for a while and had black rank. I choose not to wear my black belt but my white belt to show I was coming in open minded and willing to learn. I had no rank in the art in question and I was just checking them out. This ex student of mine was there. He was a black belt in the club. He asked me what I was doing. To told him I was still teaching and studying at the old club. He asked what were we training. I replied, you know, striking 1 through 12 and basics and blocks and putting them all together. He laughed and said, "I mastered those years ago. I guess some people learn slower than others. Give it time you will too." Then he did not speak to me any more. Which was fine. I did not really want to speak to him.



The basics are good. Peoples basics improve and increase over time. My basics today are much better than when I started over 20 years ago. But, I also have more what I call basic to me at my training level and skill set. But even the simplest moves look plain, to people who are looking for something. What they are looking for I have no idea, but to me it seems they are looking for something that they cannot call easy or simple so if they "Master" it they feel better about themselves.
 

grydth

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This debate has been going on in Tai Chi/Wushu circles for quite awhile. It has gotten to the point where many question whether we are even looking at a martial art anymore.... or instead, is it a matt version of ice dancing, or maybe gymnastics?

You see this trend because it wins at so called MA tournaments. Once those events were about fighting and precise katas. Now what are they?

Its impossible to prevent some entrants from showing wacky forms.....but when those get the official blessing of high trophies, what are many to think?

When performance winning forms are so divergent from workable MA techniques, there are multi dimensional problems looming.
 

Shadow tkd

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I agree most of the flashy acrobatic moves done a demos are nothing more than gymnastics and are not going to work in a real fight. However what's considered flashy is different from person to person for instance my friend and I were sparring he has been taught a militant system by his older brother who was a marine and I practice tae kwon do mauy thai and sanda. We were warming up and I told him I had been practicing jumping back kicks which I take from my tae kwon do background, to him jumping back kicks are flashy and ineffective but the second he tried to shoot in for a take down I did the back kick and slammed my heel straight in his face luckily we had on head gear he was out cold for about a good 20 seconds. To him this technique would never work in a fight but what works in a fight depends on the fighter not the technique
 

seasoned

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Much of my training is focused on refining and improving my basics. But basics are boring. Refining them is even more boring, because you work many hours for stuff that nobody is going to see and few will appreciate. They'll see the results... but won't understand them.

I guess it just depends on what you're interested in...


This is exactly how I would define true martial arts or for that matter, any profession that requires us to put our safety on the line in order to preserve others. I train for myself and in some cases to help others more vulnerable. Its not about glory, but a desire to help others, help themselves.
 

LawDog

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Forms / kata should reflect correct multi opponet tactics. So I believe in the "K.I.S.S." principle.
You won't have time to be complicated.
:ultracool
 

Kacey

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"Simple" and "complex" can be deceiving terms. Some of the "fancy crap" is just that - fancy crap - and I agree, it's proliferating at a furious rate.

Some of it, however, is simple techniques in complex combinations - which requires an in-depth understanding of each of the simple techniques within the combination to do correctly. But if you don't know the particular simple techniques within the combination, that combination can look considerably more complex than it really is.

Some of it, too, is not necessarily intended for self-defense, but for other purposes that support self-defense - flexibility, endurance, strength, etc. Jump kicks, a set of techniques frequently discussed when "fancy crap" comes up, fit this category: I'm unlikely to use them in a true self-defense situation, but I practice them anyway, as they require my technique with the base kick to be good, and they improve my overall fitness and leg strength. And yes, some of my patterns have jump kicks in them, which may look like "fancy crap" when the pattern is observed by someone unfamiliar with them. A recent thread about a very gymnastic pattern brought up a similar discussion, here: Can anybody fight like this?

So in some ways, yes, the "fancy crap" is becoming excessive - but one person's "fancy crap" is another person's conditioning. It depends on the purpose of such techniques, and the practitioner's understanding of them.
 

terryl965

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Forms / kata should reflect correct multi opponet tactics. So I believe in the "K.I.S.S." principle.
You won't have time to be complicated.
:ultracool


OH yes Keep it simple and stupid always the best policy.
 

grydth

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I'd always heard it (in the Army) as: Keep It Simple, Stupid!

Making it "... and stupid", seems to add a different spin to it. :)
 

jarrod

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i'll play devil's advocate here & speak up in favor of some fancy crap. aside from being practical, martial arts training should be fun. breaking away from the basics from time to time helps keep things interesting. plus, fancy moves aren't always impractical. take a look at my hero, kazushi sakuraba. he pulled off stuff like "the mongolian chop" & "the flying guard pass" on numerous high level mma fighters, including four gracies. of course, the ability to do these sorts of things depends on having a firm base in fundamentals.

now if someone is demonstrating a bunch of low-percentage, flashy moves & telling people that is what a real fight looks like, you too can know these deadly secrets in 3 easy lessons, blah blah blah...yeah, that's bogus.

jf
 

bluekey88

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This isn't exactly an MA story, but I think it's applicable.

Years ago, i studied piano with a concert pianist by the name of Amerigo Caramuta. This guy was brilliant. He'd played concerts all over the world and he took me on as a student.

Often, I would get frustrated at how hard being a good classical pianist was. As I struggeld with a peice, he sit down and show me what i needed ot do and when he played it was effortless.

One day, I remarked that I didn't think I could ever play liek that...especially difficult, "fast" pieces (in this case the 3rd movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata"). He told me something that changed how I viewed playign music (adn also how I practice MA).
In his heavy Mexican accent he said:

"Ereek, music, thees ees easy. Joo play one note...then joo play thee next note. Eet ees not so hard. Joo think too much."

Making music is "about the space between the notes" and playing each note correctly one after the other. Doing this well, with fpocus and concetration is hard...but it's always about the basics.

The same goes for MA. You do each move, one after the other...with focus and concentration. Punch, Kcik, step, turn....always the basics. Advanced technqiues are often just a bunch of basics put togetehr in interesting ways.

In the end, I think too much and when I stop doing that...my MA (or my music) tends to get better. :)

Peace,
Erik
 

seasoned

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This isn't exactly an MA story, but I think it's applicable.

Years ago, i studied piano with a concert pianist by the name of Amerigo Caramuta. This guy was brilliant. He'd played concerts all over the world and he took me on as a student.

Often, I would get frustrated at how hard being a good classical pianist was. As I struggeld with a peice, he sit down and show me what i needed ot do and when he played it was effortless.

One day, I remarked that I didn't think I could ever play liek that...especially difficult, "fast" pieces (in this case the 3rd movement of Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata"). He told me something that changed how I viewed playign music (adn also how I practice MA).
In his heavy Mexican accent he said:

"Ereek, music, thees ees easy. Joo play one note...then joo play thee next note. Eet ees not so hard. Joo think too much."

Making music is "about the space between the notes" and playing each note correctly one after the other. Doing this well, with fpocus and concetration is hard...but it's always about the basics.

The same goes for MA. You do each move, one after the other...with focus and concentration. Punch, Kcik, step, turn....always the basics. Advanced technqiues are often just a bunch of basics put togetehr in interesting ways.

In the end, I think too much and when I stop doing that...my MA (or my music) tends to get better. :)

Peace,
Erik
Very good point bluekey 88. As with anything we want to excel at, patience is critical. Good analogy.
 

BrandonLucas

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First off, that was an awesome comparison that Erik wrote, as well as the accent. I found myself reading that out loud, and I had to laugh.

But, on topic, there is truth to saying that flash is a matter of perception...so we need to define what is good flash and what is useless flash.

To me, good flash in some of the forms would be multiple mid and high level kicks performed in rapid succession for a combo against an opponent...for instance, a combo of a head level sidekick from the back leg, chest level spin sidekick, 45 degree to the left chin level front kick, and a chest level jump spin sidekick. Those can appear to be flashy, especially if they are done very quickly.

Bad flash would be all of the summersaults and jumping flips...basically, what is referred to in XMA as "tricking". Even in the most creative realistic scenerio, I can't see any of that being used in a real fight...not with a non-compliant, resisting opponent with ill-intentions. It may work in the movies, but it's all make believe.

Now, just to throw this out there, there is a small chance that "tricking" could work in a real fight, but that change is so small that it wouldn't be worth it to even try...and besides, why waste energy flipping and hopping around when there are much easier and solid techniques that can be used for the same outcome that would use less energy?

In the thread that Kacey referenced, I said that my issue with the bad flash is that it's being marketed as what martial arts is all about. Martial arts is not about looking awesome and flying through the air...that's why the term martial is used in its description. It's made for self defense that can stand up in a war-time scenerio.

But those folks who go out on demo teams to promote XMA are leaving the term "martial art" in the description of their "tricking"....and that can be very misleading. And by calling it "Xtreme Martial Arts", it sounds like it's something above and beyond just regular old martial arts...(makes me think of what ECW, or Extreme Championship Wresting, was back in the day, with all of the tables and chairs flying and barbwire used for ropes and people bleeding and what-not). They market it to sound like it's the upgrade of TMA's...and in a way it is. But it's not a useful upgrade in it's application of techniques. It can help in conditioning, but not much more.

But they don't tell you that when they demo stuff. They catch the eyes of all these impressionable people who say "I want to be able to do that", but most of them are wanting to do that for the "cool factor" of being able to flip in the air. They don't fully understand that martial arts is supposed to be used to protect yourself and others around you first and foremost...it's not there to be "pretty", and often times isn't.

As far as competing in tournements with these folks, I just give up. There's no point in my going on the floor to perform Choong-Mu in my plain dobak after some XMA dude with an N'Sync haircut and a multi-colored Mortal Kombat Gi has performed his rendition of the entire fight sequence of Gymkata and adding in a bunch of 540 jump flips. I've been there, and it isn't fun or pretty. It's often downright embarrassing...especially in front of a large crowd. They were all looking at me like I was riding a bicycle down I-75 in the fast lane.

But, I do have to give credit where credit is due. I think that if most, if not all, of these guys were to actually perform a traditional form instead of the crap that they do now for flash, I think that they would absolutely blow everyone away. So, in that light, I can respect and understand why someone would want to further enhance their TMA by practing XMA...but I don't understand why instead of only using it to enhance their abilities, they try to market it as the next big thing.
 
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geezer

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But, on topic, there is truth to saying that flash is a matter of perception...so we need to define what is good flash and what is useless flash.

...I do have to give credit where credit is due. I think that if most, if not all, of these guys were to actually perform a traditional form instead of the crap that they do now for flash, I think that they would absolutely blow everyone away...

I hear what you are saying. To clarify my original rant, I wasn't objecting to the "entertaining" flash of Wu-Shu and XMA, so much as much as when instructors add flashy "cool" moves to their self-defense sequences. A lot of times they start with decent, workable stuff then, just to wow you, they add on flashy moves that would get you killed in a real-life situation. An example would be some of the knife defenses I've seen. 'Irresponsible" is too kind a word to use here. And to be honest, I'm guilty of it too. It's not enough to teach how to possibly survive a weapons attack. I find myself wanting to throw in a disarm, and maybe a couple of cool (but impractical) combinations, and ending in an awesome submission. And what do you know?... it usually works!... in the studio...on a compliant student. I guess it's a matter of trying to keep up with the competition. At any rate, the heads of both the FMA organizations I've belonged too over the years are above this sort of thing. One simply refuses to teach disarms anymore. He's got my respect, but on the other hand, it hasn't helped his business.
 
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