Hey folks,

Just curious: Do you think that it's better to learn techniques and even the style in which you train using traditional languages for that art (i.e. Korean for TKD, Chinese for Kung Fu, etc.), or just plain ol' English (or your native language)?

There's obvious benefits to the latter, but there are similar ones to the former, I would think, and I just wanted to get a sense of what people thought on the issue.
there's advantages to both i would say...

it's always easier to understand and remember things when they're conveyed to you in your native language...but on the other hand it never hurts to get a little culture in your life...
Do you mean teaching the whole art in a differnt language or just using traditional names for kata and such?
frankly, if I want to learn Japanese, I'll take a Japanese class, not a martial arts class. I've got nothing against foreign languages (I've taken French (high school) and Latin (college) and am in a Spanish class at the moment) but learning martial arts is hard enough without learning another language...

I don't think in this day and age that anyone would deny the value of multilingualism, but you should learn a language for the sake of learning a language, not just a few words to sound cool in karate class (because to people who actually speak the language, you usually just sound silly).

When studying a foreign art I feel you should at least make a minimal effort to studying the terms that go along with it. It is very doubtful you will ever get a useful grasp of the language for conversational sake, however you will be able to penetrate certain aspects of the art more thoroughly just by knowing that much more about the art.

Knowing the meaning of the foreign term often accentuates the actual technique it describes. For example we a have technique that is called yo yunotoru which means roughly to to take out the slack.
Knowing the meaning of the term actually helped me understand the technique more and improve my ability to execute the technique.

Some people feel no need to learn the foreign terms associated with the art they study which I think is turning your back on what might be useful knowledge in the futureyoull never know if it is useful or not unless you first investigate it and gain a working knowledge.

Also, I often see people on these boards that give extremely poor translations of certain Asian martial terms which is not their fault per say since they are most likely only repeating what they were incorrectly taughtwhich is a whole other can of worms.

When studying a subject there is always a certain amount of subject specific language we must learn.
Look at computers for example. There is a whole industry that has invented many new words in just the last 10 years.
These new standardized terms are essential for everyone involved in the industry so they can understand each other when discussing various aspects and subjects.

The same could be said in the MA world since not everyone is capable of the English language. If I go to some dojo in another country that doesnt speak any of the languages I do we can still probably train if we both speak dojo Japanese.i.e. mawashigeri or yakusoku kumite etc
There are a number of nationalities at our judo dojo, many of them visiting for only a short time. That all the techniques are called out in Japanese makes it easy for them to follow.

It is the same for competition, where referee calls are called out in Japanese which makes it easy for everyone. Since the terms are part of gradings, everyone above a certain grade should know them.

It's no different to using French in kitchens around the world.
I don't think the language matters. It is the instructor that counts and the students who study with you.

If you study in a studio which teaches in a foreign language it shows respect to learn as much of the language as you can. On the other hand steer clear of people who want to quibble about words and who show disrespect for your native paraphrase Sean Kelly it's not the yack but the smack that counts.

Originally posted by Bod
It's no different to using French in kitchens around the world.

Or for surrendering for that matter......;)
Originally posted by Kenpodoc
On the other hand steer clear of people who want to quibble about words. Jeff

Im not sure what you mean by quibble.

Originally posted by Kenpodoc
.. and who show disrespect for your native language

Disrespect for your native language in what way?
Is that the same as using words like dejavu or pizza instead of proper English words?

Imagine if Air Traffic controllers and Pilots all over the world decided they didnt want to use English anymore because it just didnt have the same meaning to them as their own language. International Air travel would be impossible.

Using a standardized language is essential to understanding a subject thoroughly.
When you import a subject from a foreign source it must be made understandable to those you wish to teach. There for proper translation and impartation of the material is required.
Many martial arts terms connected to technique are esoteric and require a bit of contemplation to fully understand not only the term but the technique as well and more importantly the entire art.
For example since many people fail to do this we often get idiots running around claiming to be Soke without actually knowing the true meaning of the word making themselves look ridiculous to those that do understand the word and as a sad byproduct cheapen the MA arts in general and ranks as a whole.
what I've been seeing a lot of recently is judges who train in japanese/korean/chinese styles that use the language...but they think everyone else does too. When these judges are referreeing sparring, they're shouting commands in whatever language they see fit, in an open tournament and get upset when the competitors don't do whatever it is that the judge wants. In a closed tournament, fine, use the language of the style. In an open tournament, use the common language of most of the competitors. please. If you have a japanese fighter and a korean fighter, and you yell "stop" in japanese, and the japanese guy stops and the korean guy doesn't, first off, its dangerous, and second off, the korean guy is probably going to get DQ'ed for not following a command he didn't understand in the first place.

So we agree you should learn the language that your instructor teaches in. I also think that you should make an effort to understand the Culture your instructor comes from. that is both a matter of respect and allows for fewer misunderstandings.

Deja vu and pizza are perfectly good american words. Dojo, Dojang, t'ai chi, taiji etc. etc. are all perfectly good American words. I have a problem with Instructors who disrespect the culture they are teaching amid. Americans who move to Japan need to learn and understand Japanese language and culture. Japanese who move to America should make an effort to understand American Language and culture. Respect is a 2 way street.

I also have problems with people who think that they or their art is better because of the language they speak.

Americans tend to be judged on a different standard. We are often accused of being the ugly american but as a culture we accept much more variety than has been my experience elsewhere. I tire of the English, French, Japanese, Germans,Canadians, and others coming here and complaining that we are coarser, ruder, etc. etc. I respect their cultural and language differences but expect the same in return.

actually, I think a lot of them complain not because they come here, but because we go there, and then disrespect their cultural differences... I was watching a home video of my friend's visit to the eiffel tower, and there was this American guy standing on the sidewalk shouting "doesn't anyone speak any f-ing english around here!? are you all a bunch of idiots or something?" my friend and I were practically rolling on the floor laughing our arses off when she showed this vid, and we were saying "no wonder they think we're rude and obnoxious and ethnocentric...if THIS guy is what they're seeing!" If the guy wanted to communicate in France, he should've learned a few phrases in French, starting with "Parlez vous Anglaise?" (SP?) Although I'm sure the French meet many wonderful american travelers, it's the rotten ones they remember, just as its the rotten few foreign tourists we remember, rather than the many who come here and truly make an effort to experience American culture with an open mind.
Good posts all around. Thanks for responding, all (and keep 'em coming, of course! :p)

In response to the question from Elfan, I mean either/or. Using the language while in the class for everything, and/or simply using it to name katas or other minimalist choices. I was trying to get a feel for whether you felt it useful or valuable to incorporate the language of a given art form's country of origin (or some other language, which is less likely, but possible) into training and instruction.

Thanks again all! For once, one of my threads on MA has gotten some responses! Woohoo!
I actualy like lerning the language of assosiated with the arts I do but I run into a large problem. I realy suck at learning new languages. So often after little time I progress farthing in my skill then my ability to interpret the words used. That then becomes disapointing becasue suddenly you get thrown into the position were I are unable to practice as well becasue I get confused on what you are doing. When you add testings in then I realy get into trouble..

If you are seeing a language problem at tournaments, that is the fault of the organizing organization. All referees and judges should attend a short seminar before the tournament where those things are laid out...a judge or referee who won't abide by the expected guidelines should be dismissed from the tournament.

You can't plan for a tournament without laying the groundrules for the officials who will be "assisting."

Also, a list of tornament rules (with language used for commands) should be given to all competitors...they should sign a statement saying they will abide by the rules...

I recall a story of a kenpo student who was at a trounament where they were giving the commands in a language he did not speak. The ref said somethign so the kenpo student figured he should do the salutaion, actually it was the command to to begin the match. When the other person attacked him the kenpo student grafted to a punch, knocked him out, and finished the salutation without missing a beat.
It's not necessary of course, but it does help to know key terms and if your instructor is a native speaker in that language, it helps you to communicate a bit better with him although he knows more English than you know whatever.

And Chinese on kung fu... That is a very difficult thing, as Chinese is somewhat of a broad term, as it houses a lot of variations. For instance, Hong Kong uses Catonese, which is like what a drawl is in English, it doesn't sound right versus the mainland language.

And so many styles use different terms. Hell, depending on the region and era and art, they even have a different name for kung fu.