Avoiding training to fight your own style

Koshiki

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One thing I think we all see all the time across nearly all styles of martial art, is the tendency to learn to fight practitioners of your own style, rather than the general population of the greater world.

Shotokan stylists learn to deal with huge, lunging punches. Taekwondoders may spend an unusually large amount of time learning to avoid, block, jam, or scoop beautifully performed high kicks. We often see Win Chun practitioners training to predict and defend against strikes, traps and what-have-you which have a uniquely Win Chun-ey flavour to them.

It's hard to avoid. If you train at a gym, chances are your sparring partners will have similar training and style to you. Let's take something like push hands competition, with a heavy focus on sensitivity, flow, and maintaining a loose arm contact an control. When both players want to maintain arm contact, well, maintaining that arm contact becomes pretty easy, and the game becomes about what happens when both players want arm contact most of the time.

This leads to complex technique, and deep exploration of concepts from this basic premise, and the idea of exploring your art intensely when pitted against someone with an equally intense commitment and deep understanding is invaluable. The mindset of technique, counter, counter to the counter, counter to the counter to the counter, and so on can develop entire systems within a school that really only work within that school.

But, effective push hands, or more generally the concepts of fluid control and redirection learned from push hands, become dramatically altered when one person wants to play a different game. Against someone who is interested in fighting a mobile game from the outside, snapping off strikes and snapping the back as fast as possible, the ideas which work in the first paradigm falter. The same goes for strikers who encounter grapplers, grapplers who encounter strikers, kickers who encounter people who like takedowns, close fighters who encounter really good long-range strikers, etc.

All of which is a looooong, tedious lead in to my question. Who do you guys avoid the misleading effects of training within a paradigm, of training specifically to beat your own style?
 
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Koshiki

Koshiki

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Open mat.

Definitely the best. BUT, it's hard to run all your training as an open mat. I think it's fair to say, at least from gyms in areas I've lived, that the majority of training even at places with open mats, takes place within the context of a specific style/sport. So, while open mats are great reality checks, it's not quite the same as trying to make sure that all of your training is generally effective all the time.

I'm wondering what steps people take aside from open mat. Open mat is awesome, but I think it might answer a different question, in some ways.

I'm asking "Within your style/sport/system, how do you like to avoid training only to fight against your own system." Open mat is part of the answer, but it basically says, "to avoid that, spar against other styles." It's a good component, but it doesn't solve the problem of the other 75% of your mat/dojo/gym time, where you're training with people who are all learning to move more or less like you do...

I guess I see Open Mat more as more of a reality check from outside the style, rather than an actual training mechanism within the style.

I would however love to see more traditional schools embracing the concept of the open mat.
 

kuniggety

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By training with others learning the same system is how a system is the way it is. Shotokan is the way it is because they train with and against other Shotokan karateka and the same goes for TKD, WC, etc. This is why you've been seeing the growth of MMA versus TMA. I have the deepest respect for TMAs but when you only train with others of your same style then you all have the same short comings in your training. I think the best thing someone can do is invite folks from other schools into your own and train with them. Even in BJJ schools, some fall into the trap of all sport and rely on guards and grips that would be pretty bad if someone was raining blows down on them. I've seen schools address this by saying "bring a mouth piece and some MMA gloves" and let people throw strikes (at 50% power) in the middle of rolling. This is how it was supposed to be trained in the first place (self defense) but has strayed away from that. I think this is what has happened to a lot of TMAs. Once upon a time they were tested in bare knuckle fights and on the battle field but centuries later people are throwing punches into the air instead.
 

Red Sun

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Bare with me, i can't think of a way to make this a short message.

I've thought about this a bit, b/c i've been with a couple of different styles. I end up concluding that if you go from one style to another, if you use your old style (reflex, experimenting) you end up using it 'differently', but it can still work. In boxing, if im worn out and i drop my hands, i flinch into a rising block when something flies at my face... it works, but it cant deal with the successive blows.

If i'd never done boxing, i would have lumped the rising block in with the other traditional stuff you never end up using in sparring. Your art can come out 'automatically' in ways you might not have expected it to, and that's really cool.

TLDR: Yes, it's good to train with other systems! :)
 

Tez3

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One of the annoying things about where we train is the constant coming and going of students as they get posted in, go on deployment and get posted out which means a proper syllabus is really hard for them to follow but on the other hand we do get a lot of different styles coming through which means we do get to experience their sparring and fighting styles. Some of our guys had been training with Americans and Canadians while in Afghan so they brought back quite a bit of wrestling, which is fairly unusual for the UK still.
 
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Koshiki

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Even in BJJ schools, some fall into the trap of all sport and rely on guards and grips that would be pretty bad if someone was raining blows down on them. I've seen schools address this by saying "bring a mouth piece and some MMA gloves" and let people throw strikes (at 50% power) in the middle of rolling.

This is a good example, but I think with many arts it's not as simple. BJJ's paradigm, especially gi, that leads to the super impressive, super technical modern sport stuff, comes from the obvious omission striking and much of a standing game, sometimes to a more or less lack of training of even takedowns. In that case, it's easy to say, "allow strikes, always start standing, you're good."

A lot of traditional arts, say many styles of Karate, train a great deal of stand-up ranged striking, close striking and grappling, takedowns, and even a little rudimentary ground work. It's hard to point to one thing and say "oh, just include X." Everything is already allowed, but the practitioners nevertheless develop a singular style, and then train primarily against that style.

It's also great, as Tez3 says, to have a steady flow-through of students from other backgrounds, but it's not always possible if you're from a less traversed small town, for example...
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I've trained both in a place that had a steady stream of people (a sensei with many martial arts friends with a dojo outside NYC, people would come by and train with us when they were stopping by), and a place that was very stylistic. While I liked the one with the multiple backgrounds, I think you're missing a key part in training in one style. If you are training a style, you want to be training that style, not others. When you are sparring people with the same style, you are training your style more, as you are learning from experience. Any change to include people from a different background would take away from the time you are spending your style, while not including others means that your style is isolating itself. To me, the best balance of these two would be an open mat day once or twice a week, where people from other schools come by and spar/train with you.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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It's also great, as Tez3 says, to have a steady flow-through of students from other backgrounds, but it's not always possible if you're from a less traversed small town, for example...
Something to remember...life sucks sometimes. There are some small towns where there are no martial arts, and some where there may only be one. If it's that important to you to get more training, move to a place with more variety. If you can't do that, as I said, life sucks sometimes.
 

Blindside

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All of which is a looooong, tedious lead in to my question. Who do you guys avoid the misleading effects of training within a paradigm, of training specifically to beat your own style?

Compete in full contact events that are open to a wide variety of styles, and train to beat those other varieties of styles.
 
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Koshiki

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Something to remember...life sucks sometimes. There are some small towns where there are no martial arts, and some where there may only be one. If it's that important to you to get more training, move to a place with more variety. If you can't do that, as I said, life sucks sometimes.

Well, I currently live in Puerto Rico, 4 million people on one small island, so small-town syndrome is not really an issue. When I was in Maine, there were actually quite a few different schools from a variety of Karate, TKD, BJJ, Kung Fu styles, JKD, Kali, Tai chi, and some others, all of which were friendly with each other, so there was a good mix of learning and sharing there as well.

I guess I'm trying to get a general discussion about a specific, nuanced issue I think many styles face.

So yes, an individual can move to a new place with more variety, an individual can compete in mixed-style events, but that doesn't really solve the training paradigm for entire styles of martial art...
 

Xue Sheng

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Use to be a member of a cross style sparing group, about 20 years ago, one of the best learning experiences I have had.

Taijiquan, Xingyiquan, Shaolin Long Fist, TKD, Judo, Aikido, Kempo, Karate, Southern Mantis, etc.
 

Danny T

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We are a multi martial arts training facility with training in Wing Chun, Muay Thai, Pekiti-Tirsia Kali, Combat Submission Wrestling, BJJ, Shotokan Karate, and MMA fighters.
We spar and grapple vs the other arts rather often. We also have open mat sparring with numerous others coming in to spar as well as go to other schools to spar with their guys when invited.
I highly recommend my students to take advantage of the different training methods to work against and to go to other places to spar & grapple.
Just go with no ego and a open attitude to learn.
 

Kickboxer101

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Once every couple months we go to a Muay Thai gym and spar with some guys there and there's a mix of boxers, kickboxers, Thai boxers and taekwondo fighters there
 

JowGaWolf

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One thing I think we all see all the time across nearly all styles of martial art, is the tendency to learn to fight practitioners of your own style, rather than the general population of the greater world.

Shotokan stylists learn to deal with huge, lunging punches. Taekwondoders may spend an unusually large amount of time learning to avoid, block, jam, or scoop beautifully performed high kicks. We often see Win Chun practitioners training to predict and defend against strikes, traps and what-have-you which have a uniquely Win Chun-ey flavour to them.

It's hard to avoid. If you train at a gym, chances are your sparring partners will have similar training and style to you. Let's take something like push hands competition, with a heavy focus on sensitivity, flow, and maintaining a loose arm contact an control. When both players want to maintain arm contact, well, maintaining that arm contact becomes pretty easy, and the game becomes about what happens when both players want arm contact most of the time.

This leads to complex technique, and deep exploration of concepts from this basic premise, and the idea of exploring your art intensely when pitted against someone with an equally intense commitment and deep understanding is invaluable. The mindset of technique, counter, counter to the counter, counter to the counter to the counter, and so on can develop entire systems within a school that really only work within that school.

But, effective push hands, or more generally the concepts of fluid control and redirection learned from push hands, become dramatically altered when one person wants to play a different game. Against someone who is interested in fighting a mobile game from the outside, snapping off strikes and snapping the back as fast as possible, the ideas which work in the first paradigm falter. The same goes for strikers who encounter grapplers, grapplers who encounter strikers, kickers who encounter people who like takedowns, close fighters who encounter really good long-range strikers, etc.

All of which is a looooong, tedious lead in to my question. Who do you guys avoid the misleading effects of training within a paradigm, of training specifically to beat your own style?
This is something that I bring up at least once a month with students. Jow Ga students will never fight another Jow Ga student. So only sparring with each other will result in incomplete training.

To lessen this effect we do sparring invitations, allow students who have trained in other fighting systems to use what that system in sparring provided that that it's not over used, I also try to simulate other techniques from other fighting systems. For example, we don't do high kicks to the head in Jow Ga, but during sparring I will throw kicks at my sparring partner's head so that he or she can learn how to recognize it and effectively deal with the attack.

Just recently the students had a chance to spar against my brother who is a Muay Thai fighter. They did their best to apply Jow Ga, but it was easy to see that they weren't quite sure how to apply Jow Ga techniques against Muay Thai techniques. I even had trouble with the clinch but not that I've been in the clinch a couple of times, I now have a better idea of which Jow Ga techniques I should be using to deal with the clinch. The instructor and I also discovered that one of the techniques that we thought would work, does not work against Muay Thai knees. It wasn't that the Jow Ga technique is flawed. It's just the wrong technique to use against a Muay Thai fighter.
 

JowGaWolf

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A lot of traditional arts, say many styles of Karate, train a great deal of stand-up ranged striking, close striking and grappling, takedowns, and even a little rudimentary ground work.
I do a timed drill were we do sit ups or push ups until the word is giving to attack. Sometimes the fight starts from a fighting position and sometimes it starts from a push up position. Sometimes it's 1 vs 1 or 3 or 4 people in the group where everyone is for themselves which often results in double team. In one situation I was so focused on dealing with the other instructor, that I forgot about my wife, who attacked my face with a kick. My theory about Jow Ga is that I should be able to use Jow Ga from any position, even if I'm off balanced.
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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I guess I'm trying to get a general discussion about a specific, nuanced issue I think many styles face.

So yes, an individual can move to a new place with more variety, an individual can compete in mixed-style events, but that doesn't really solve the training paradigm for entire styles of martial art...
Like I stated in the post before this one, my solution is balance. Balance the amount of training you do in your style with the amount of training you do against other styles. To me, this would be once or twice a week having sparring events against other styles. To someone like my old sensei, this would be having people of different styles coming in to train constantly. There's no universal solution, it just depends on what you/your instructor feels is enough "contamination" of other fighting styles to your own art.
 
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Koshiki

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I do a timed drill were we do sit ups or push ups until the word is giving to attack. Sometimes the fight starts from a fighting position and sometimes it starts from a push up position. Sometimes it's 1 vs 1 or 3 or 4 people in the group where everyone is for themselves which often results in double team. In one situation I was so focused on dealing with the other instructor, that I forgot about my wife, who attacked my face with a kick. My theory about Jow Ga is that I should be able to use Jow Ga from any position, even if I'm off balanced.

That actually sounds like a lot of fun, even outside of the practical benefits...

One thing I remember you saying in an older thread, was that you will give two students differing goals in a match, one to keep distance, one to use take-downs, etc. I've also seen this taken to the level of the instructor calling out random concepts, and having the students, in the middle of the match strive to emulate them, for example, "linear techniques!" forcing everyone to be as direct as possible, or "circular!" at which point the opposite becomes true, or "take the back!" Stuff like this that really forces people to train in ways they are unused to can't be anything but informative.

Like I stated in the post before this one, my solution is balance. Balance the amount of training you do in your style with the amount of training you do against other styles. To me, this would be once or twice a week having sparring events against other styles. To someone like my old sensei, this would be having people of different styles coming in to train constantly. There's no universal solution, it just depends on what you/your instructor feels is enough "contamination" of other fighting styles to your own art.

Heh, people that worry more about contamination that than effectiveness worry me, especially how constantly throughout history most martial arts have been changing. And definitely, open mat is an indispensable tool. Stuff like Jow Ga Wolf is bringing up is more the sort of things I was fishing for.

I mean yes, definitely have an outsider-welcome open mat, but then how do you maintain that open system when you're NOT in an open mat? That's where I see a common failing point, even perhaps at gyms that do welcome students from other styles once or twice a week.

If you're serious, going to several hours of class every week and training diligently outside of the gym, all within your style, the every now and then hour or so of sparring with people potentially from other styles can be easily diluted and forgotten, perhaps?

What steps do people take to ensure that their training with does not include interacting with other styles doesn't become a closed feedback loop?
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Heh, people that worry more about contamination that than effectiveness worry me, especially how constantly throughout history most martial arts have been changing.
Contamination was probably the wrong word. More being true to the style..you need to have some sort of style/personality in your fighting to be effective, and IMO a style needs that personality as well. Having someone else join/an open mat day isn't going against the 'contamination', but if you have too much of it, the style loses its personality.
Stuff like Jow Ga Wolf is bringing up is more the sort of things I was fishing for.
If you're fishing for specific answers, you will be unhappy with any other answers.

I mean yes, definitely have an outsider-welcome open mat, but then how do you maintain that open system when you're NOT in an open mat? That's where I see a common failing point, even perhaps at gyms that do welcome students from other styles once or twice a week.
That's when you're working on your own style. If you have all open mat, like the first dojo I mentioned, you are fighting a lot, learning a lot of basics and counters to style, but you're not able to develop your own.

If you're serious, going to several hours of class every week and training diligently outside of the gym, all within your style, the every now and then hour or so of sparring with people potentially from other styles can be easily diluted and forgotten, perhaps?
Nope. It may be diluted, in which case you may need more than an hour or so of it, but it's definitely not forgotten. You remember what they did, you find answers within your style or with your regular training partners, to respond to it, and next week/next time they come, you try again. If anything, it can give you a goal to work on.

What steps do people take to ensure that their training with does not include interacting with other styles doesn't become a closed feedback loop?
The interacting with other styles IS the step to take to prevent a closed feedback loop. Drills like what Jowga mentions are absolutely useful, but you are still fighting/sparring people with the same base. The only way to fully escape is to spar people with a different base.
 

crazydiamond

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JKD concepts (JKD and Kali) includes multiple systems - its confusing sometimes to me to keep bouncing around from boxing, to WC, to MT, to weapons, to BJJ, or what ever. As some mentioned - our mount and guard practice often has punches coming down at you (16 oz gloves at 20%) .I do appreciate the understanding that the goal is for us to be able to cope with most common fighting styles that could come at us.

We do from time to time the kind of street simulation scenarios where the job is to go over common types of aggression and attacks from non marital artist - street thugs, drunks, etc.
 

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