Cataloging grappling techniques

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I'm curious how people would break down grappling techniques. This could be for the purpose of listing what techniques you want to practice or you want to include in your school's curriculum, for the purpose of writing a manual to preserve your art's legacy, or to post instructional videos and documents online for students to view. How would you catalog or categorize a grappling art?

For example, if I were to dump my knowledge of striking techniques, it would probably break down into:

---
Strikes
:
  • Fist Strikes
  • Open-Hand Strikes
  • Kicks
  • Other (knees, elbows, head, etc)
Blocks
  • Guards
  • Arm blocks
  • Leg blocks
Stances
---

There's a few other things in there, but you get the idea. Striking is, however, fairly simple in this regard. There's a reason why grappling rules are so much more complex in tabletop RPGs than striking rules. A strike is like a drumbeat - instantaneous and ready for the next beat to be hit. Grappling is more like a string instrument, with a lot more ways you can manipulate the note. (That's not to say striking is easier. Drumming is definitely difficult. Just that striking is easier to catalog).

So with grappling, how would you break things down? Different categories I can think of include:
  • Standing vs. Ground
  • Attacking vs. Escaping vs. Reversing
  • Control, Transition, Takedown, and Pin or Submission moves
Strikes can generally flow one after the other in any order, but with grappling there's a little bit of an order to things.

So if you were to take an art like wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu, or aikido, how would you catalog your techniques?
 

Kung Fu Wang

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So if you were to take an art like wrestling, judo, jiu-jitsu, or aikido, how would you catalog your techniques?
The Chinese wrestling techniques can be cataloged as:

Four Sides

1st Side:

頦(Ti) - Forward kick,
(Cuo) - Scooping kick,
蝎(Zhan) - Sticking kick,
(Zhuang) - Trunk hitting,
(Kao) - Advance squeeze,

2nd Side:

敶(Tan) - Spring,
(Tiao) - Hooking kick,
蝥(Chan) - Foot entangling,
(He) - Inner hook,
(Tao) - Inner knee seizing,

3rd Side:

蝛(Chuan) - Firemans carry,
(Jian) - Foot picking,
瘝(Chong) - Inner kick,
(Gua) - Inner heel sweep,
(Dao) - Inner sickle,

4th Side:

(Bie) - Break,
(Liao) - Back kick,
(Kou) - Knee seizing,
(Qie) - Front cut,
(Xiao) - Sickle hooking,

Two Doors

Front Door:

(Ning) - Wheeling,
(Qin) - Pressing,
(Lou) - Spine lock,
(Wen) Lifting,
(Chuai) Overhead,

Back Door:

(Gou) - Back sickle,
(Bao) - Back raising,
頧(Hong) - Shoving,
鋆(Li) - Back inner hook,
(Kuai) - Leg bending lift,
 

oftheherd1

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How does the grappling art you study categorize techniques? In the Hapkido I studied, first, we were mostly defensive. For that reason, we looked at defenses. We didn't concentrate of striking techniques as such, but rather defenses against different strikes. Same for kicks, knife defenses, sword defenses.
 
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How does the grappling art you study categorize techniques? In the Hapkido I studied, first, we were mostly defensive. For that reason, we looked at defenses. We didn't concentrate of striking techniques as such, but rather defenses against different strikes. Same for kicks, knife defenses, sword defenses.

A single technique on the test is really multiple techniques strung together. For example, it might be to apply a motorcycle grip (that's our name for it anyway, because the pain is caused by moving your hand like you're revving a motorcycle engine) and then break the elbow. Another technique might be to gain a wristlock, take the person down, and then break their wrist. Another might be a figure 4 and a different wrist break.

The curriculum covers the combination of techniques from start to finish. You do get a sense of how to modify the techniques and string them together in different ways, but that comes with time. You learn new ways of doing things at the higher belts that you can then string into your arsenal.

But it's definitely not a way of cataloging individual techniques.
 
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The Chinese wrestling techniques can be cataloged as:

Four Sides

1st Side:

頦(Ti) - Forward kick,
(Cuo) - Scooping kick,
蝎(Zhan) - Sticking kick,
(Zhuang) - Trunk hitting,
(Kao) - Advance squeeze,

2nd Side:

敶(Tan) - Spring,
(Tiao) - Hooking kick,
蝥(Chan) - Foot entangling,
(He) - Inner hook,
(Tao) - Inner knee seizing,

3rd Side:

蝛(Chuan) - Firemans carry,
(Jian) - Foot picking,
瘝(Chong) - Inner kick,
(Gua) - Inner heel sweep,
(Dao) - Inner sickle,

4th Side:

(Bie) - Break,
(Liao) - Back kick,
(Kou) - Knee seizing,
(Qie) - Front cut,
(Xiao) - Sickle hooking,

Two Doors

Front Door:

(Ning) - Wheeling,
(Qin) - Pressing,
(Lou) - Spine lock,
(Wen) Lifting,
(Chuai) Overhead,

Back Door:

(Gou) - Back sickle,
(Bao) - Back raising,
頧(Hong) - Shoving,
鋆(Li) - Back inner hook,
(Kuai) - Leg bending lift,

I'm curious to learn more about this.
 
OP
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What is your goal here? Are you unhappy with how your art groups the techniques?

I like to write things out. It's how I help myself connect things together, and how I figure out what I don't know. If I can't write it out, then I don't know it and I need to learn it. Or I may list things that I realize I haven't practiced much and it will help me remember to practice those.

So I can write our techniques the way we do them in the curriculum and that's fine, but if I group them in a different way it may make more sense to me, and I may see things I didn't before.
 

hoshin1600

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the art you study will dictate how you categorize things. most likely there is already a method they use. i would suggest using that. now if the style borrowed stuff from other arts or you yourself are trying to integrate things into your style then its up to you. do what you like.
however how you categorize things within a style should not be a whimsical matter or not without deeper thought.
this ties into an another thread about creating a style. how you categorize things will dictate how you think.

how your brain processes the information will have a major impact on the retrieval process when your actually in a fight. think of your brain as a storage mezzanine. how fast and effective can your mind find the information it needs under stress?
your categorization will also dictate the how fundamental pieces link and work together with other pieces.
lastly, your category system should be a reflection and result of the systems underlying philosophical framework.
how you categorize the world around you truly changes how you see the world. imagine how different the world must be to a dog who sees the world divided up by scent, categorical thinking is the fundamental difference of ideology between communism and capitalism.


Why We Divide OurselvesCategorical Thinking and A Lazy Brain
A general law of least effort applies to cognitive as well as physical exertion. The law asserts that if there are several ways of achieving the same goal, people will eventually gravitate to the least demanding course of action. In the economy of action, effort is a cost, and the acquisition of skill is driven by the balance of benefits and costs. Laziness is built deep into out nature.

Daniel Kahneman

The dark side of categorical thinking
"Categorical thinking is ubiquitous, but there are more elemental structures hidden underneath. Knowing these structures will decrease lock-in and bias and increase critical thinking, problem solving, and creativity as well as emotional intelligence"
 
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the art you study will dictate how you categorize things. most likely there is already a method they use. i would suggest using that. now if the style borrowed stuff from other arts or you yourself are trying to integrate things into your style then its up to you. do what you like.
however how you categorize things within a style should not be a whimsical matter or not without deeper thought.
this ties into an another thread about creating a style. how you categorize things will dictate how you think.

how your brain processes the information will have a major impact on the retrieval process when your actually in a fight. think of your brain as a storage mezzanine. how fast and effective can your mind find the information it needs under stress?
your categorization will also dictate the how fundamental pieces link and work together with other pieces.
lastly, your category system should be a reflection and result of the systems underlying philosophical framework.
how you categorize the world around you truly changes how you see the world. imagine how different the world must be to a dog who sees the world divided up by scent, categorical thinking is the fundamental difference of ideology between communism and capitalism.

Ok.

So how do you categorize them?
 

Tony Dismukes

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I'm to the point in my training where I do less dividing and classifying techniques and more understanding them as just situational applications of a small number of basic principles.

If I do organize them into different buckets, how I do that depends on what my current purpose is for such a classification. Typically I might put together a group of techniques applicable for a particular situation (for example, escaping full mount). On the other hand, I might put together a group of techniques from different contexts that use a common movement pattern to show how they are all connected.
 

wab25

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I really like what you are saying Honshin...

how your brain processes the information will have a major impact on the retrieval process when your actually in a fight.

But I don't think "retrieval" is the right word here. Sure, many times you will be in a situation, where there is a technique that fits. But far more often, you will be in situations where none of your formal techniques fits. You will have to make it up as you go. In this case, you need to rely on the principles you learned and create ways to apply those principles. Many times, there will be more than one solution... which solution you use will be determined by how you see the problem and how you understand your principles. This goes directly to what you are saying about how the way you categorize the techniques, effects how you see them.

This is similar to how when people watch the same Shotokan kata... one will see the blocks and strikes, someone else will see the joint locks and escapes and someone else will see the throws. (even if you see all 3, you saw and recognized one first)

This is why I agree with you about categorizing the techniques in the way your system does. A system is not just a catalog. A system is organized in a way to give you a lot more than just a list of fancy things to do.
 

hoshin1600

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wab25

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i am using "retrieval" in the neurological sense. it is the common nomenclature in that field.
That makes sense... that I don't know the neurological use of the word. Thanks for clarifying. (I like learning new things)

I still insist that I like and agree with the points you were making...
 
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That makes sense... that I don't know the neurological use of the word. Thanks for clarifying. (I like learning new things)

I still insist that I like and agree with the points you were making...

You've got memories in your subconscious, and you've got memories in your conscious mind. There are vast amounts of things you know, but you only recall what is appropriate for the situation at hand.

It's like a computer. Computers have the hard drive and RAM. The hard drive can store information while it's off, the RAM loses all its information when it's off. The hard drive is also much bigger (i.e. my hard drive has 218x the space as my RAM). But RAM is a lot faster. What your computer does is store most of its data in the hard drive (subconscious mind) and then store the data that's being used in the RAM. This is why it takes a long time to load a game (loading it into RAM) but once you start the game, it runs smooth. Until the next load screen.

There's another correlation here is the continued development of processors, along with the development of technique in the form of muscle memory. Processors haven't really gotten any faster in the last ten years, in terms of their clock speeds. 3.0-3.4 GHz for a consumer processor and 3.6-4.0 GHz for an enthusiast processor have been the standard as long as I've been building gaming PCs. But a processor today is significantly faster because it has better algorithms and processes. It's more efficient because it's manufactured on smaller scale technology.

The same happens with your body. You might have the same strength as before, but as you increase your muscle memory with a technique, you can do the technique better and more efficiently. Part of that is the efficiency, but it's also an upgrade in how your brain processes the situation.

Being able to think of the techniques in different ways, for example cataloging them different than I was taught, I feel is a way for me to see different paths from one individual technique to the next.
 

Buka

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Having them written down and categorized is probably a good idea. Nice to have a record somewhere. I always enjoyed the old fashioned Karate books with all the pictures, like the ones Mas Oyama had. I would imagine every single technique in Kyokushin Karate is in them.

Early in Martial Arts careers we learn techniques, a whole bootload of them. And patterns and combos and theories and principles and history and applications and positions and stances and so on and so forth. Picture yourself in a waiting room, you look at that table with all the magazines and there you see a book on some style of Martial Art, doesn't matter which one, or if you ever heard of it. And in it is a categorized list of every single thing in that particular Art. And it has pictures! You know you're going to pick it up. And you ain't going to end up reading no People magazine that day.

And the reason I bring that up is as a reminder. Don't let the categorizing, the recording, the theory or the whatever to take up more of your time than the gut busting hard training that we all must do. Training in Martial Arts isn't supposed to be easy. Awesome yes, easy no.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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So how do you categorize them?
Here are the principles used in the Chinese wrestling.

(Si) - Tearing
撏(Beng) - Cracking
(Tong) - Striking push
銴(tun) - Hand pushing
(Zhou) - Elbow pressing

(Gai) - Covering hands
(Lou)- Pulling hands
(Yao) - Body-shaking hands
(Dao) - Reverse arm-holding
(Dou) Shaking

(Fen) - Separate hands
(Ye) - Hand tucking
撘(Yin) - Arm guiding
(Peng) - Arm raising
(Jia) - Elbow Locking

(Quan) Under hook
(Chao) - Over hook
(Mo) - Wiping
(Pian) Head circling
憭(Jia) Clamping head

(Zai) Helmet removing
(Wu) Face covering
(Su) Forehead push
憓(Zhui) - Sticking drop
(Lao) Leg seize

(Huan) Neck surrounding
(Tuo) Chin pushing
撠(Feng) Throat/waist blocking
(Sa) - Casting
憌(Piao) - Floating hand

You can categorize Chinese wrestling in many different ways.

1. 4 sides and 2 doors. - For example, you can attack your opponent from the "back door" with many different techniques.
2. principles - For example, you can use "separate hands" principle in many different ways and apply different techniques.
3. entering strategies - For example, you can use "arm tuck, arm wrap" entering strategy to apply many different techniques.
4. ...

Which method is better? IMO, to go through 1, 2, and 3 can help you to understand your MA system in more detail.
 

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