Is shorinji Kempo effective?

sindu5673

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Ok so I am back into martial arts some 20 years after quitting karate when I was 13. Since I am older now I wanted something different and after researching it I liked shorinji kempo's spiritual side and the good thing there was a dojo very close to my house. So I signed up and started practicing there some 3 months ago. It is a small almost all japanese dojo each session is attended by 5 to 8 students. At first I was pleased by it but I am now having some mixed feelings. First in this dojo students do not do free sparring. Only a couple of black belts free spar every once in a while. All we do is kihon basic techniques and pre-arranged sparring which is very unrealistic and telegraphed most of the time. Also shorinji kempo has no ground game and that is a weakness.
How are we supposed to learn fighting skills if we never actually practice fighting? I understand some will say producing great fighters isn't the goal but would I be only interested in the spiritual thing I would just join a temple. The problem is that like every martial art it has combat pretensions that is doesn't fulfill as it just mimics fighting moves a bit like tai chi chuan. Don't get me wrong I'm not planning on training for cage fight and am all for spirituality but I feel like this is way too unrealistic to me. What do you think? Am I wasting my time?
 
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tshadowchaser

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If you feel it is to unrealistic for you then you are wasting your time in that aspect. If you are there to learn an art and to at sometime understand what can be accomplished once you truly understand all that a technique can do then maybe it is not a waste of time.
If yo are displeased with what is being or not being done in the school the maybe you should leave and find one that is more like what your looking for
 

jks9199

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You ask is it effective? Don't know. It isn't the style at all -- it's the student's choice and training to make the art effective. If you ever have a chance to see a real, combative application of tai chi/taiji -- it might blow your mind. (In fact, it might knock you right out of your socks...) Judo is commonly practiced for sport -- but I've seen people use those same "sport" throws to put a mighty hurt on someone... Free sparring is, in many ways, terrible practice for real violence. Those scripted one-step exercises, if practiced properly in both intent and methodology have a lot of real good tools for preparing to fight. But it does take proper training, by both sides, under proper supervision.
 
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sindu5673

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Thank you for your input. I agree individually the fighting readiness depends a lot on the individual aptitude. However at a global level the style you choose will have an impact on your fighting skills mainly if your art is stance specific (exclusively striking or grappling). How can explain then that in UFC-type events pure grapplers almost always got the upper hand before pure strikers despite sometimes being significantly outweighed? Don't get me wrong I do not see those no bar holders type of events as a mean to an end but it is the closest we have to help figure out what works in a ruleless street combat.
I agree with you pre-arranged sparring is a good introduction to acquire fighting skills. However even if done with purpose those techniques are often irrealistic in nature and telegraphed because you know what is coming up. In the reality you never what your opponent will do and the close exercise to recreate a real situation where the opponent actually fights back in a spontaneous way and is non-compliant is free sparring.
Just my 2 cents
 

jks9199

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Thank you for your input. I agree individually the fighting readiness depends a lot on the individual aptitude. However at a global level the style you choose will have an impact on your fighting skills mainly if your art is stance specific (exclusively striking or grappling). How can explain then that in UFC-type events pure grapplers almost always got the upper hand before pure strikers despite sometimes being significantly outweighed? Don't get me wrong I do not see those no bar holders type of events as a mean to an end but it is the closest we have to help figure out what works in a ruleless street combat.
Grapplers dominated the early UFC events in significant part because the rules and fighting environment was set up to favor them. Another major factor was simply that many fighters had no real preparation for wrestling and grappling. Look now, and the game has changed a bit...

Beyond that -- training approach matters much more than the style. There are, indeed, some styles that are less than ideally suited to actual use. Many of them are recent inventions, and often represent a single person's approach that worked for them. But I can take someone, and teach them some Krav Maga in an a manner calculated to make it ineffective -- and there are those who can teach taiji or even TaeBo or cardio kick boxing in a way that will be effective. (And there are more than a few who can do this better than I can!)
I agree with you pre-arranged sparring is a good introduction to acquire fighting skills. However even if done with purpose those techniques are often irrealistic in nature and telegraphed because you know what is coming up. In the reality you never what your opponent will do and the close exercise to recreate a real situation where the opponent actually fights back in a spontaneous way and is non-compliant is free sparring.
Just my 2 cents

Any training necessarily incorporates a flaw. Unless, of course, your sending your training partners to the morgue or hospital on a regular basis...
 

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These are my thoughts on the matter, which might help the OP frame his own doubts about the system he's training in. Having read up on the origins of karate fighting styles, it seems that in general the systematised karate instruction in various styles today has a lot to do with 20th century Japanese history, particularly post-WW2. Several influential stylists, most notably Funakoshi, inspired this form of training. Generally, it has the following characteristics:

1) Emphasis on dojo etiquette - "budo";
2) Regimented and unified grades and ranking system (coloured belts and dan grades);
3) Absence of free sparring with or without protective gear;
4) Occulted component - closed-door transmission of the combative lynchpins (which are sanchin, weights, conditioning exercises and bunkai).

20th century Orientalists described karate as "stylised", and this wasn't a criticism, just an acknowledgment that in Japan karate was intended to be focused around training group cohesion, discipline and other aspects of budo. If you look at old documentaries about Japanese martial arts, they also refer to karate as "stylised".

stylised - definition of stylised by The Free Dictionary

Even though there were reactions to this approach to karate in the 20th century (for example, Mas Oyama's kyokushin, or Bruce Lee's eclecticism), the 21st century has seen much more reaction towards this attitude to training in martial arts, and that reaction has taken several forms. For example, the UFC you mentioned. The reaction is a little unfair, since post-Funakoshin karate was intended to transmit budo and a reformed Japanese nationalism, rather than to win random fights.

From what I understand, before the new Japanese nationalism, the schools of karate were both fewer and much more basic and combat-oriented. Karate was a minority interest. The author and dramatist Yukio Mishima used to practise karate. As he describes it, karate training involved mostly sparring, without protective gear, in quite a dangerous form. There was no requirement to learn many different katas. There were fewer techniques. The basic rule of karate was kick low (up to the groin) and punch the face. That was the karate lesson in those days. You paired up with your training partner in the dojo and practised this. The basics of power building were emphasised in solo training: isometric contractions and breathing (i.e. sanchin kata) and hitting makiwara. That was it.

Compare that with karate today. They make you learn the sanchin (as late as possible) as a set of movements without teaching what you're really trying to do (build up explosive force, keeping the body protected against blows by tense muscles), and they teach it as late as possible, after teaching you many sets of useless kata that teach bad techniques (the peg-leg roundhouse, the corkscrew punch) that take years to undo.

Clearly, I fall into the "for" camp, in terms of withdrawing from your shorinji kempo school. However, I don't believe there is an easy solution, or that the good old days of more basic fighting karate were better. Efforts to fix it all end up looking like this:

Best of KUDO! - YouTube

So we're free to believe or not believe.
 

Chris Parker

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Ok so I am back into martial arts some 20 years after quitting karate when I was 13.


Cool, congrats on getting back to it.

Since I am older now I wanted something different and after researching it I liked shorinji kempo's spiritual side and the good thing there was a dojo very close to my house.


Okay. The controversy surrounding Doshin So, accusations of "cult" etc might be something to look at, but that's the main thing to consider when looking at Shorinji Kenpo for a "spiritual" aspect…

So I signed up and started practicing there some 3 months ago. It is a small almost all japanese dojo each session is attended by 5 to 8 students. At first I was pleased by it but I am now having some mixed feelings. First in this dojo students do not do free sparring. Only a couple of black belts free spar every once in a while.


Shorinji Kenpo has utilised sparring in various forms over it's history… presently, it employs a form where each side (kenshi) are given a role… one is the attacker, one is the defender… this is for safety, as well as enabling a way to emphasise the "self defence" idea, rather than having a system based on attack. That said, some doin (an alternate term for dojo sometimes used, specific to Shorinji Kenpo) do have a more "regular" free-sparring sometimes employed… but, honestly, it's only really a realistic preparation for match fighting or competition… and that's not the emphasis of Shorinji Kenpo.

All we do is kihon basic techniques and pre-arranged sparring which is very unrealistic and telegraphed most of the time.


Well, Kihon are going to be the basis of any skill you get… a high emphasis on them is a great sign of taking skill development seriously, I'd say. And, as far as "pre-arranged sparring", I'm assuming you're talking about their hokei (short sequences between two partners, with one kenshi acting as "attacker", and the other performing the "defence" as scripted), yeah? If that's the case, I'd ask exactly what you mean by "unrealistic"… do you mean that the techniques aren't realistic in and of themselves, or that you believe the training methodology is unrealistic? In terms of being telegraphed… that's not uncommon in the beginning, at least… as you get better at the methods themselves, ideally it should get faster and untelegraphed… the defending side shouldn't have time to recognise and remember what they're meant to be doing.

Also shorinji kempo has no ground game and that is a weakness.


Why is that a weakness?

How are we supposed to learn fighting skills if we never actually practice fighting?


What do you think you're doing?

I get the feeling that you have a particular image in your head about what "fighting" actually looks like, or training for it actually is… and the simple fact is that the approach of Shorinji Kenpo is different, so you're having a bit of a hard time reconciling the discrepancy between what you think it should be, and what it is. To be honest, I'd remind you that you're 3 months in… so far, you haven't really had much exposure to it at all… you're just getting your head around the basics, let alone having any real understanding of the reasons for the training methodology… and I'd suggest talking to the instructor about any concerns you have in that regard.

I understand some will say producing great fighters isn't the goal but would I be only interested in the spiritual thing I would just join a temple. The problem is that like every martial art it has combat pretensions that is doesn't fulfill as it just mimics fighting moves a bit like tai chi churn.


Yeah… you're looking for something and not seeing what's actually there. But who says that Taiji Chuan "just mimics fighting moves"? There are a few here who might disagree with that comment rather vehemently…

Don't get me wrong I'm not planning on training for cage fight and am all for spirituality but I feel like this is way too unrealistic to me. What do you think? Am I wasting my time?

Okay, then… what are you training for?

Thank you for your input. I agree individually the fighting readiness depends a lot on the individual aptitude.

No, I don't know that I'd agree with that entirely… training methodology is the big part to my mind…

However at a global level the style you choose will have an impact on your fighting skills mainly if your art is stance specific (exclusively striking or grappling).

Well, that's a tactical preference, or a range preference… unless you mean that the art is "stand-up specific"… but yeah, the preferences and methodologies of the system will have a large influence (probably the biggest influence) on tactical choice.

How can explain then that in UFC-type events pure grapplers almost always got the upper hand before pure strikers despite sometimes being significantly outweighed? Don't get me wrong I do not see those no bar holders type of events as a mean to an end but it is the closest we have to help figure out what works in a ruleless street combat.

No, they aren't the "closest we have" to anything other than a pre-arranged match fight with a large list of acknowledged and agreed upon limitations and conditions. It's actually quite different to "ruleless street combat", whatever that is…

I'll put it this way… when, in a UFC fight, have you seen the guys corner jump in and beat the hell out of the opposing competitor? When have you seen someone pull a knife? How about when has a fight started with a sucker punch from behind before one of the competitors knew they were in a fight?

I agree with you pre-arranged sparring is a good introduction to acquire fighting skills. However even if done with purpose those techniques are often irrealistic in nature and telegraphed because you know what is coming up. In the reality you never what your opponent will do and the close exercise to recreate a real situation where the opponent actually fights back in a spontaneous way and is non-compliant is free sparring.
Just my 2 cents

Again, I'd suggest talking to your instructor about things like that… I have answers in that regard for my students, but it sounds like either the training isn't following the principles properly, or, more likely, you're 3 months in, and don't have the experience yet.

These are my thoughts on the matter, which might help the OP frame his own doubts about the system he's training in. Having read up on the origins of karate fighting styles, it seems that in general the systematised karate instruction in various styles today has a lot to do with 20th century Japanese history, particularly post-WW2. Several influential stylists, most notably Funakoshi, inspired this form of training. Generally, it has the following characteristics:

It's not a karate system, for the record… Funakoshi has nothing to do with it.

1) Emphasis on dojo etiquette - "budo";

"Budo" isn't anything to do with dojo etiquette… it is basically just a term for "martial arts"…

2) Regimented and unified grades and ranking system (coloured belts and dan grades);

Which was taken originally from Kano's application of the same in Judo.

3) Absence of free sparring with or without protective gear;

Depended on the system, but in a lot of cases, yep.

4) Occulted component - closed-door transmission of the combative lynchpins (which are sanchin, weights, conditioning exercises and bunkai).

"Occulted"?? Uh… no. Of course, the argument could be made for Shorinji Kenpo in that regard… but nothing you mention here is in any way "occult"… and much of it has nothing to do with Shorinji…

20th century Orientalists described karate as "stylised", and this wasn't a criticism, just an acknowledgment that in Japan karate was intended to be focused around training group cohesion, discipline and other aspects of budo. If you look at old documentaries about Japanese martial arts, they also refer to karate as "stylised".

stylised - definition of stylised by The Free Dictionary

Okay… for the record, Shorinji Kenpo don't actually class themselves as "budo", as they apply that term to classical systems, which they aren't… and none of this really has anything to do with Shorinji Kenpo…

Even though there were reactions to this approach to karate in the 20th century (for example, Mas Oyama's kyokushin, or Bruce Lee's eclecticism), the 21st century has seen much more reaction towards this attitude to training in martial arts, and that reaction has taken several forms. For example, the UFC you mentioned. The reaction is a little unfair, since post-Funakoshin karate was intended to transmit budo and a reformed Japanese nationalism, rather than to win random fights.

Bruce also didn't have anything to do with karate, nor Shorinji Kenpo, for the record… other than having karate-ka as "bad guys" in his movies on occasion…

From what I understand, before the new Japanese nationalism, the schools of karate were both fewer and much more basic and combat-oriented. Karate was a minority interest. The author and dramatist Yukio Mishima used to practise karate. As he describes it, karate training involved mostly sparring, without protective gear, in quite a dangerous form. There was no requirement to learn many different katas. There were fewer techniques. The basic rule of karate was kick low (up to the groin) and punch the face. That was the karate lesson in those days. You paired up with your training partner in the dojo and practised this. The basics of power building were emphasised in solo training: isometric contractions and breathing (i.e. sanchin kata) and hitting makiwara. That was it.

Er… okay… out of interest, what has any of this to do with Shorinji Kenpo?

Compare that with karate today. They make you learn the sanchin (as late as possible) as a set of movements without teaching what you're really trying to do (build up explosive force, keeping the body protected against blows by tense muscles), and they teach it as late as possible, after teaching you many sets of useless kata that teach bad techniques (the peg-leg roundhouse, the corkscrew punch) that take years to undo.

Well, Sanshin Kata is really only in some forms of karate, most notably the Goju lineages, but is also found in a few others… but again, this isn't anything to do with Shorinji Kenpo… which, for the record, is the Japanese pronunciation of "Shaolin Chuan Fa"… Shaolin Fist Method… Kung Fu…

Clearly, I fall into the "for" camp, in terms of withdrawing from your shorinji kempo school. However, I don't believe there is an easy solution, or that the good old days of more basic fighting karate were better. Efforts to fix it all end up looking like this:

Best of KUDO! - YouTube

So we're free to believe or not believe.

Okay… not sure how you came to that conclusion without mentioning or addressing Shorinji Kenpo itself at any point…

For a bottled history, it was founded in the late 1940's (around 48 or 49, from memory), largely as a method of spreading a form of buddhism by Doshin So, a person not without controversy… while it, in parts, has a resemblance to karate, it really isn't the same thing at all. There is a very large grappling syllabus, pretty much nothing like Okinawan kata, a high emphasis on hard contact training in most places, very dynamic embu practices, and more. But karate it ain't.
 

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Thank you for your input. I agree individually the fighting readiness depends a lot on the individual aptitude. However at a global level the style you choose will have an impact on your fighting skills mainly if your art is stance specific (exclusively striking or grappling). How can explain then that in UFC-type events pure grapplers almost always got the upper hand before pure strikers despite sometimes being significantly outweighed? Don't get me wrong I do not see those no bar holders type of events as a mean to an end but it is the closest we have to help figure out what works in a ruleless street combat.
I agree with you pre-arranged sparring is a good introduction to acquire fighting skills. However even if done with purpose those techniques are often irrealistic in nature and telegraphed because you know what is coming up. In the reality you never what your opponent will do and the close exercise to recreate a real situation where the opponent actually fights back in a spontaneous way and is non-compliant is free sparring.
Just my 2 cents

IMO, you're wasting your time. You clearly aren't drinking the kool-aid, and it doesn't seem to be the right place for you. I would look elsewhere for your training needs. However, if push comes to shove, you could ask if you could simply spar with the BBs, since they do it after class.

As to your question, the reason Bjj dominated the initial UFC-type events, Vale Tudo, NHB contests were because of their training method. Its the same training method that Kano introduced to Judo over a hundred years ago. That training method is the removal of techniques you can't train at full power, and the constant training of techniques you can train at full power. So while I can't train poking my partner's eyes out, I can train a triangle choke constantly until I get it right, under pressure, and on opponents who are larger than myself.

The results speak for themselves really. The Gracie challenge is still present, so anyone can step into a Gracie/Bjj school and challenge the head instructor. There is no professional MMA fighter that would dare participate in an MMA competition without knowing Bjj. Martial Arts around the world have had to come up with the answer to the Bjj puzzle, and most of them simply gave up and adopted Bjj techniques into their styles.

I know some people hate to accept the reality, but the proof is clear, evident, and all around us.
 

Chris Parker

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IMO, you're wasting your time. You clearly aren't drinking the kool-aid, and it doesn't seem to be the right place for you. I would look elsewhere for your training needs. However, if push comes to shove, you could ask if you could simply spar with the BBs, since they do it after class.

I'd agree that if the class isn't suiting the OP's needs, then yeah, move on… but, by the same token, three months in in a non-competitive system isn't really much… so I'd advise discussing issues with the instructor first.

As to your question, the reason Bjj dominated the initial UFC-type events, Vale Tudo, NHB contests were because of their training method. Its the same training method that Kano introduced to Judo over a hundred years ago. That training method is the removal of techniques you can't train at full power, and the constant training of techniques you can train at full power. So while I can't train poking my partner's eyes out, I can train a triangle choke constantly until I get it right, under pressure, and on opponents who are larger than myself.

Uh… nope. To pretty well all of that, really.

The results speak for themselves really. The Gracie challenge is still present, so anyone can step into a Gracie/Bjj school and challenge the head instructor. There is no professional MMA fighter that would dare participate in an MMA competition without knowing Bjj. Martial Arts around the world have had to come up with the answer to the Bjj puzzle, and most of them simply gave up and adopted Bjj techniques into their styles.

Sure… but that's one context, which is particularly geared towards such things. Thinking that's the be-all, end-all, or even that relevant/realistic when it comes to "real" violence is not really accurate.

I know some people hate to accept the reality, but the proof is clear, evident, and all around us.

Sure…

Because if you get knocked on your ***, and someone gets on top of you, it would be good to know how to get them off.

It depends entirely on the context and intended application of the system, was my point. You have a tendency to only really ever see a single context… martial arts are a lot broader than that.
 

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Because if you get knocked on your ***, and someone gets on top of you, it would be good to know how to get them off.

I think Brian's thread on Knife violence proves your point pretty well (i'm not going to link it here as it's pretty violent). The guy in the video could have reduced or eliminated his injuries had he known how to get out from under his attacker. He may have even died from his wounds, the video doesn't say.
 

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I think Brian's thread on Knife violence proves your point pretty well (i'm not going to link it here as it's pretty violent). The guy in the video could have reduced or eliminated his injuries had he known how to get out from under his attacker.

Yep. There were several points in that video where the person pinned on the ground actually had control of the knifer's hand, but couldn't get his assailant off of him because his upper body was sitting on his torso. There are several methods to get out of that position, unfortunately, if you never learn how to do it, you have no knowledge of how to get out of that situation. Had he trained Bjj, he would have had hours of such training with a heavier opponent fully resisting him. He would have learned how to get someone off of him from that position who is seeking to do bodily harm to him. It's as simple as that.

Not knowing how to fight while in your back is a weakness. You're not guaranteed to stay on your feet, and sometimes fighting on the ground can actually give you an advantage against a physically stronger opponent. I don't know how much more proof we need.

As that video also shows, just because there are people around, it doesn't mean that they're going to help you either.
 

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I'd agree that if the class isn't suiting the OP's needs, then yeah, move on… but, by the same token, three months in in a non-competitive system isn't really much… so I'd advise discussing issues with the instructor first.

I think 3 months is more than enough time to feel out a style, and see if it fits what you're looking for. I do agree that talking to the instructor might help, but frankly, I don't believe an instructor is going to change their training methods just to satisfy one student. Its worth a shot though...



Uh… nope. To pretty well all of that, really.

Okay......


Sure… but that's one context, which is particularly geared towards such things. Thinking that's the be-all, end-all, or even that relevant/realistic when it comes to "real" violence is not really accurate.

The context is fighting. It's not really complicated. There's a reason people always ask how their style can stop a boxer, a wrestler, a Bjj practitioner, or a MT fighter. No one ever asks how to stop the Ninja or Karate guy.

It depends entirely on the context and intended application of the system, was my point. You have a tendency to only really ever see a single context… martial arts are a lot broader than that.

Again, the context isn't that complicated: An assailant has you on your back and is trying to hurt or kill you. While its desirable to stay on your feet, stuff happens and you might end up on the ground with someone on top of you like that poor fellow at the train station. If you don't know how to get out of that, you have a weakness. Plain and simple.
 

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It's not a karate system, for the record Funakoshi has nothing to do with it.

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the information about shorinji kempo. As it's something I have no knowledge or experience of, I began my post by saying that I thought it would help to frame the OP's objection to his own style, based on observations of what I do know and have experienced at some level. Whether that's useful, I don't know. However it seems all style differences dissolve with the act of fighting, and what the OP seemed most concerned about was the effectiveness of his training. Some types of training are more effective than others.

Regarding Bruce Lee, he was a kung fu practitioner who was outspoken about karate, which he never practised but only observed. That's why I mentioned him. He was an important part of the reaction to Japanese karate in 1960s America, where it was already well established as a martial art system that many people trained in.

By occulted, I mean something that's purposefully hidden from view or not explained not to the uninitiated. There are many examples of this at the core of traditional martial arts. They generally wait until you have jumped some hurdles before giving you the "real" stuff. The justifications given for this are many. From my point of view, if a karate practitioner started with sanchin from their first day in the dojo, they would have more time to build up the foundational power that karate relies on, and would be much more powerful. Other martial arts develop power in different ways. Sanchin, which is also a Japanified kata taken from a school of Chinese kung fu, is an important way to develop power in karate. This occultation is something I see as a flaw in training regimes in traditional martial arts that try to teach too many techniques. Only a few techniques are used in combat. The obvious example is taijiquan. As a martial art, it can work very well. The best exponents have fluidity, speed, agility and power. If they had started with those things and simply added the exceptional techniques of, for example, spear fighting, on top, the same exponents would be even better. The problem is an excess of techniques in all the forms. Karate is guilty of the same malpractice. There is simply no need to string 20 to 30 questionable movements together when you could pick out one or two that work and spend the training time just training those. Yet it's a hoop the karate school makes you jump through, before they even show you the conditioning and power development/control that karate is supposed to rely on. If they didn't do this, there would be little to differentiate it from the martial art style being taught next door. The instruction is ritual, artificially staggered and delayed, and that's the problem some people experience with it. You can learn hundreds of individual movements (that you harbour doubts about) to the satisfaction of your teacher, be awarded grades and rightly doubt your own ability to fight, because you've never had to test any of that. It's faith.

The way you explained it, shorinji kempo sounds better than karate. The OP used the word "kihon", a Japanese word for "basics", and I think this is an important indication of the way in which this Chinese martial art has been adapted to meet Japanese training expectations.
 

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I think 3 months is more than enough time to feel out a style, and see if it fits what you're looking for. I do agree that talking to the instructor might help, but frankly, I don't believe an instructor is going to change their training methods just to satisfy one student. Its worth a shot though…

No, not really… it can certainly be enough for you to figure out if you like the instructor, or the school, but not the style when we're looking at something a bit more traditional and complex than a sporting system. For example, if you were in my classes, after three months you would have maybe seen some 5-10% of the system represented… and that's about it. So you couldn't say you had enough experience to judge, or even comment on the system itself… you simply haven't seen anywhere near enough of it at that point. This is a major reason I recommend discussing things with the instructor, particularly if there are questions along the lines of "why don't we…", or "do we ever…", and so on. The instructor should be able to not only answer, but put the answer in the context of the system itself.

Okay……

I'll elaborate.

No, the reason BJJ, or rather, the Gracies through Royce, "dominated" the early UFC's was a combination of the fact that they set the thing up, it was based on their previous experience (such as things like the "Gracie Challenge"), the floor was preferential for grapplers, and so on. The training method is part of the development of their skills, yep, but it's not really the reason… and is not exactly the same as that found in Judo. Next, the reason Kano limited the techniques was that he was looking to focus it more on the competition side of things, and was in no way to do with not being able to train other techniques "at full power". Additionally, pressure testing, randori/sparring/rolling etc was not really added in by Kano, it was already present in the systems he'd trained in.

So, really, no. To all of it.

The context is fighting. It's not really complicated. There's a reason people always ask how their style can stop a boxer, a wrestler, a Bjj practitioner, or a MT fighter. No one ever asks how to stop the Ninja or Karate guy.

No, that's an incredibly wide and vague idea of a context… "fighting" covers an incredible range of contexts and forms… and you're still missing the point that it's far from the only, primary, or actual context that is being addressed by the system in question.

Again, the context isn't that complicated: An assailant has you on your back and is trying to hurt or kill you. While its desirable to stay on your feet, stuff happens and you might end up on the ground with someone on top of you like that poor fellow at the train station. If you don't know how to get out of that, you have a weakness. Plain and simple.

No, it really is quite complicated. All you're really showing here is that you can only identify with one context/form of "fighting", and are unable to see anything beyond that. If an art isn't designed or intended for a modern, Western assault, or for ground fighting, or anything else you think it should deal with, it's not "missing" anything, it doesn't have a "weakness", it's simply something different. The idea that all arts should deal with the same things is like thinking all movies should be comedies.

Thanks for your comments. I appreciate the information about shorinji kempo. As it's something I have no knowledge or experience of, I began my post by saying that I thought it would help to frame the OP's objection to his own style, based on observations of what I do know and have experienced at some level. Whether that's useful, I don't know. However it seems all style differences dissolve with the act of fighting, and what the OP seemed most concerned about was the effectiveness of his training. Some types of training are more effective than others.

Cool… but observation of an unrelated and quite different system and approach could simply cloud the matter for the OP, which is why I corrected it and pointed out how different they are.

Regarding Bruce Lee, he was a kung fu practitioner who was outspoken about karate, which he never practised but only observed. That's why I mentioned him. He was an important part of the reaction to Japanese karate in 1960s America, where it was already well established as a martial art system that many people trained in.

Nah, I don't think Bruce was that important in that sense… his voice was one of a number, and didn't really add much… he was largely more vocal about CMA… but, to be honest, I disagree with much that he said.

By occulted, I mean something that's purposefully hidden from view or not explained not to the uninitiated. There are many examples of this at the core of traditional martial arts. They generally wait until you have jumped some hurdles before giving you the "real" stuff. The justifications given for this are many. From my point of view, if a karate practitioner started with sanchin from their first day in the dojo, they would have more time to build up the foundational power that karate relies on, and would be much more powerful. Other martial arts develop power in different ways. Sanchin, which is also a Japanified kata taken from a school of Chinese kung fu, is an important way to develop power in karate. This occultation is something I see as a flaw in training regimes in traditional martial arts that try to teach too many techniques. Only a few techniques are used in combat. The obvious example is taijiquan. As a martial art, it can work very well. The best exponents have fluidity, speed, agility and power. If they had started with those things and simply added the exceptional techniques of, for example, spear fighting, on top, the same exponents would be even better. The problem is an excess of techniques in all the forms. Karate is guilty of the same malpractice. There is simply no need to string 20 to 30 questionable movements together when you could pick out one or two that work and spend the training time just training those. Yet it's a hoop the karate school makes you jump through, before they even show you the conditioning and power development/control that karate is supposed to rely on. If they didn't do this, there would be little to differentiate it from the martial art style being taught next door. The instruction is ritual, artificially staggered and delayed, and that's the problem some people experience with it. You can learn hundreds of individual movements (that you harbour doubts about) to the satisfaction of your teacher, be awarded grades and rightly doubt your own ability to fight, because you've never had to test any of that. It's faith.

Okay… the word "esoteric" would be better… but beyond that, there are some very valid reasons that things are kept back in cases… but you need to look to the art itself.

The way you explained it, shorinji kempo sounds better than karate. The OP used the word "kihon", a Japanese word for "basics", and I think this is an important indication of the way in which this Chinese martial art has been adapted to meet Japanese training expectations.

Well, "Kihon" is more closely approximated to "fundamental", rather than "basic"… but to be honest, I can't see the connection between the ideas you're saying and the way things actually happened.
 

Buka

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I'm really enjoying this thread, quite educational (at least for me). And that "best of KUDO" clip that ZamEm posted, that's beautiful sparring in my opinion. That's what I hope all striking arts eventually grow into over the coming years.
 

Hanzou

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No, not really… it can certainly be enough for you to figure out if you like the instructor, or the school, but not the style when we're looking at something a bit more traditional and complex than a sporting system. For example, if you were in my classes, after three months you would have maybe seen some 5-10% of the system represented… and that's about it. So you couldn't say you had enough experience to judge, or even comment on the system itself… you simply haven't seen anywhere near enough of it at that point. This is a major reason I recommend discussing things with the instructor, particularly if there are questions along the lines of "why don't we…", or "do we ever…", and so on. The instructor should be able to not only answer, but put the answer in the context of the system itself.

Needless to say, if you don't like the school or the instructor, you're probably not going to enjoy your time in that style. Also if I want more sparring, and my instructor isn't providing what I'm looking for, its a good sign to move on to a school that provides what I'm looking for.


I'll elaborate.

No, the reason BJJ, or rather, the Gracies through Royce, "dominated" the early UFC's was a combination of the fact that they set the thing up, it was based on their previous experience (such as things like the "Gracie Challenge"), the floor was preferential for grapplers, and so on. The training method is part of the development of their skills, yep, but it's not really the reason… and is not exactly the same as that found in Judo. Next, the reason Kano limited the techniques was that he was looking to focus it more on the competition side of things, and was in no way to do with not being able to train other techniques "at full power". Additionally, pressure testing, randori/sparring/rolling etc was not really added in by Kano, it was already present in the systems he'd trained in.

So, really, no. To all of it.

Except:

1. 20 years after the first UFC matches, Bjj continues to be the staple of NHB competition, regardless of Gracie involvement. No fighter ever enters the cage/octagon without knowing at least intermediate level Bjj.

2.While Kano wasn't the first to introduce randori into the dojo, he was the first to remove the dangerous techniques from the curriculum and emphasize the practice of the safer techniques. This allowed judo practitioners to master safer techniques, while practitioners of older styles languished with antiquated techniques they couldn't utilize in a practical manner.

We saw the results of this practice when Judo defeated several classical Jj schools at the turn of the previous century, and we saw it again at the end of the previous century with the Gracie challenge films and the UFC.


No, it really is quite complicated. All you're really showing here is that you can only identify with one context/form of "fighting", and are unable to see anything beyond that. If an art isn't designed or intended for a modern, Western assault, or for ground fighting, or anything else you think it should deal with, it's not "missing" anything, it doesn't have a "weakness", it's simply something different. The idea that all arts should deal with the same things is like thinking all movies should be comedies.

Again, I'm simply pointing out that being able to get out from under a guy pinning you to the ground is a pretty vital part of being able to defend yourself. I don't get why you're trying to add layers to this that don't need to be added.

That guy in the train station getting stabbed multiple times probably would have fared better if he knew some basic ground fighting. A girl getting taken advantage of while lying on her back by her boyfriend could probably use some ground fighting techniques, A guy who just got tackled from behind by some meathead, and is now getting his face caved in by a flurry of punches probably would benefit from a bit of ground fighting.


Again, not knowing how to fight from that position is a weakness.
 

ZapEm

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Okay… the word "esoteric" would be better…

There are two reasons I chose the word esoteric rather than occult. The first, is that it simply makes no sense to me that a martial arts technique can have both an exoteric and an esoteric dimension, dually. If "esoteric" is applied to an object, it must necessarily have an exterior. If it wasn't a martial arts technique but, say, a religious precept that requires expounding to reveal an inner meaning, then we could say it has an esoteric layer. But if we're talking about, for example, a punch or a kick that has an inner meaning, it doesn't make sense to me.

The other reason I chose the word "occult" is because occlusion means something is deliberately hidden on purpose. There is an actor with intention to hide something. So, for example, if muscular tension, contraction and relaxation is something we want to keep hidden, it's occulted.

A darker side to occultation of this nature in martial arts is that it can potentially be used to harm the unwitting, or to prevent them from reaching their full potential. It seems incredible until you consider human nature. A martial arts teacher can deliberately train his students to be ineffective fighters, so that they can never harm him or his interests. Arguably, a situation like this was present in post-WW2 Japan under US occupation, and Funakoshi and his peers would have had an unclear motivation with respect to whoever they may have seen as the "enemy". I have my own ideas about this, but this is the wrong topic for them.

There are examples of occulted technique sets throughout the Asian martial arts world. The "closed-door" students are entrusted with secrets supposedly giving them extra competence. In general, it seems to be an Asian phenomenon. Someone accomplished in a koryu Iai and Kenjutsu school and kyokushin karate told me once, "there are no secrets". I believe him. It's only a case of hiding and occasionally revealing a trick, which is either a tactic or a training method. There is in fact a famous Eastern martial artist who's made and continues to make extraordinary capital from just a single trick he never gives away to anyone, and this strange magic a just a tactic he's perfected: sabaki. Compare and contrast with Western martial arts, e.g. ARMA. Everything is in manuals, and everything is practised. Only our tolerance for Eastern mysteriousness allows for these waves of obfuscation at the expense of bona fide martial arts students.
 

hoshin1600

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i am kinda enjoying you all going around in circles chasing "heffalumps and woozles",, comical actually.
i would like to make a few points.
From my point of view, if a karate practitioner started with sanchin from their first day in the dojo, they would have more time to build up the foundational power that karate relies on, and would be much more powerful. Other martial arts develop power in different ways. Sanchin, which is also a Japanified kata taken from a school of Chinese kung fu, is an important way to develop power in karate
ZapEm, i am not sure but it seems you may have your sanchin kata knowlege a little confused, or maybe i am confused by your statements. There are 3 basic versions of sanchin on the island of Okinawa (and many more on main land China) which are from the Fujian area of China and are related and similar, found mostly in the Naha te systems. Shorin style systems like Shotokan from the examples i have seen to my opinion are from an early Higaonna version. you seem to be refering to a Funakoshi version since you mentioned his name a few times. in naha te systems sanchin is the foundation kata and the first kata learnt. in both the shorin style and in Yamaguchi goju i do not see any Japanese influence on the kata. sanchin is not a foundational kata in the shuri te systems. Funakoshi only added it to his list because he felt all karate was just karate, sanchin was just another kata to him. so your comment of learning sanchin first seems a bit odd because it is the first kata in naha-te and in shuri-te the kata is unimportant.

Regarding Bruce Lee, he was a kung fu practitioner who was outspoken about karate, which he never practised but only observed. That's why I mentioned him. He was an important part of the reaction to Japanese karate in 1960s America, where it was already well established as a martial art system that many people trained in.

From everything i have read Bruce never commented on karate, he was always refering to clasical Chinese arts which he refered to the "clasical mess"
karate was not well established in 1960. the first karate on main land America that i know of was Robert Trias in Arizona and shorty after George Mattson in Boston, this was 1958. i know Ed Paker was around this time too but i do not know off the top of my head the date on him.
so now my question back to you would be ,what reaction to Japanese karate are you talking about?

Nah, I don't think Bruce was that important in that sense his voice was one of a number, and didn't really add much he was largely more vocal about CMA but, to be honest, I disagree with much that he said.
Chris ,, this is not so much an actual question but more of my reaction....how can you not agree with Bruce Lee the man was a great thinker and way ahead of his time? :) if you want, you can pm me on that i dont want to hijack the thread too far :)


as for everything else you may carry on going round in circles.
 

Chris Parker

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Needless to say, if you don't like the school or the instructor, you're probably not going to enjoy your time in that style. Also if I want more sparring, and my instructor isn't providing what I'm looking for, its a good sign to move on to a school that provides what I'm looking for.

Well, here's the point… there could be very good reasons that there isn't sparring… same as there being very good reasons it might be if it is… my systems don't spar, for example, for a range of different reasons… including that it's considered impractical and highly inefficient for our aims. As a result, talk to the instructor… if you're of the mindset that sparring is essential, and the instructor explains that the system doesn't include it, then make the decision based on that… but if you understand why it's not there, and can come to terms with the fact that perhaps the art knows how it's best taught, then you might find you get more out of it than you might have thought.

The reasons can be as important as whether or not something is there or not in the first place.

Except:

1. 20 years after the first UFC matches, Bjj continues to be the staple of NHB competition, regardless of Gracie involvement. No fighter ever enters the cage/octagon without knowing at least intermediate level Bjj.

Post hoc ergo propter hoc, mate. The environment was designed for it from the get-go, it's safe to apply there, it's one of the dominant ways to score points and win (via submissions etc), so of course it's going to be a large part of it. Again, the fact that it finds a lot of success in an environment that it's designed for is hardly a surprise.

2.While Kano wasn't the first to introduce randori into the dojo, he was the first to remove the dangerous techniques from the curriculum and emphasize the practice of the safer techniques. This allowed judo practitioners to master safer techniques, while practitioners of older styles languished with antiquated techniques they couldn't utilize in a practical manner.

Ha!

Dude… just no. On every single count there. "Languished"?!?! "Couldn't utilise in a practical manner"?!?!

Ha!

We saw the results of this practice when Judo defeated several classical Jj schools at the turn of the previous century, and we saw it again at the end of the previous century with the Gracie challenge films and the UFC.

Yeah… I know the popular story… it's not really the way you're making it out to be here.

Early Judo (Kano-ha Kodokan Jujutsu) was successful in a number of police tournaments… they really didn't go around challenging other systems… additionally, a large part of Judo's success is due to the way Kano got it included in the school system, rather than reliant on the success in such tournaments… they were hardly undefeated, you realise...

Again, I'm simply pointing out that being able to get out from under a guy pinning you to the ground is a pretty vital part of being able to defend yourself. I don't get why you're trying to add layers to this that don't need to be added.

Because you're still thinking that that's the only context that can be intended in martial arts training, or even by the martial arts themselves. It's not. In fact, Shorinji Kenpo doesn't emphasise the idea of self defence at all… especially not in the form of Western violence.

In other words, because you need to understand that there are many, many layers to these things. It's really not as simple as you seem to think it is.

That guy in the train station getting stabbed multiple times probably would have fared better if he knew some basic ground fighting. A girl getting taken advantage of while lying on her back by her boyfriend could probably use some ground fighting techniques, A guy who just got tackled from behind by some meathead, and is now getting his face caved in by a flurry of punches probably would benefit from a bit of ground fighting.

Which is nothing to do with Shorinji Kenpo… which is my point.

Again, not knowing how to fight from that position is a weakness.

Only if it's supposed to be addressed. That's what you're missing.

There are two reasons I chose the word esoteric rather than occult. The first, is that it simply makes no sense to me that a martial arts technique can have both an exoteric and an esoteric dimension, dually. If "esoteric" is applied to an object, it must necessarily have an exterior. If it wasn't a martial arts technique but, say, a religious precept that requires expounding to reveal an inner meaning, then we could say it has an esoteric layer. But if we're talking about, for example, a punch or a kick that has an inner meaning, it doesn't make sense to me.

It's the status quo in Japanese systems, you realise… Omote (the "face", or "outside") and Ura (the "shadow", or "inside") aspects While you might not understand it, it is the norm.

The other reason I chose the word "occult" is because occlusion means something is deliberately hidden on purpose. There is an actor with intention to hide something. So, for example, if muscular tension, contraction and relaxation is something we want to keep hidden, it's occulted.

Er… okay… you do know that "occult" and "occlude" are two different words, yeah? "Occlude" is to obscure, hide, or obstruct… "occult" is a reference to mystical or supernatural powers…

A darker side to occultation of this nature in martial arts is that it can potentially be used to harm the unwitting, or to prevent them from reaching their full potential. It seems incredible until you consider human nature. A martial arts teacher can deliberately train his students to be ineffective fighters, so that they can never harm him or his interests. Arguably, a situation like this was present in post-WW2 Japan under US occupation, and Funakoshi and his peers would have had an unclear motivation with respect to whoever they may have seen as the "enemy". I have my own ideas about this, but this is the wrong topic for them.

Er… okay…

For the record, outside of movies, I've never come across this at all. More realistically, certain aspects are kept back until the student has proven their dedication, skill, aptitude, and so on.

There are examples of occulted technique sets throughout the Asian martial arts world. The "closed-door" students are entrusted with secrets supposedly giving them extra competence. In general, it seems to be an Asian phenomenon. Someone accomplished in a koryu Iai and Kenjutsu school and kyokushin karate told me once, "there are no secrets". I believe him. It's only a case of hiding and occasionally revealing a trick, which is either a tactic or a training method. There is in fact a famous Eastern martial artist who's made and continues to make extraordinary capital from just a single trick he never gives away to anyone, and this strange magic a just a tactic he's perfected: sabaki. Compare and contrast with Western martial arts, e.g. ARMA. Everything is in manuals, and everything is practised. Only our tolerance for Eastern mysteriousness allows for these waves of obfuscation at the expense of bona fide martial arts students.

Extra competence? No, not really. Particular insights? Yep. Ways of demonstrating the authenticity of their ranking? Also yep.

As to "there are no secrets", that's true… but then again, it's not. It all depends on the perspective you're coming from. In one sense, the only "secret" is to continue training and focusing on the kihon (fundamentals)… in another sense, the secrets only become apparent after such training… some systems, such as Kashima Shinryu for example, have no "secrets" in terms of the structure of their system, it's all there in your first lessons… same with Tatsumi Ryu… but the secrets only become apparent much later. That's really the definition of "esoteric", when it comes down to it.

Chris ,, this is not so much an actual question but more of my reaction....how can you not agree with Bruce Lee the man was a great thinker and way ahead of his time? :) if you want, you can pm me on that i dont want to hijack the thread too far :)

Ha, how can I not agree with Bruce? Easily...
 

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