Skill Synergy - What skills make you a better martial artist?

Orange Lightning

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I've been thinking lately about ways to improve my footwork. It occurred to me to try to get into dancing of some sort. Irish dancing maybe? After all, Bruce Lee was a champion Cha Cha dancer.
Anyway, while thinking about ways to improve my footwork, it also occurred to me that, at one time, my footwork was greatly improved by running through some woods. Lots of hills and fallen trees and such. Needed fast and strong footwork to move through quickly.

It never occurred to me before that one of my hobbies improved my martial ability.
So, how about you all? Any skills or hobbies that make you a better martial artist?

Doctors? Artists? Does knowing human anatomy make you a terminator?
Guitarists? Engineers and plumbers? Do your strong forearms make you better grapplers? Harder blocks? Better weapon control?
Dancers? Indeed, more fleet of foot? Better body control?
Other sports? For obvious reasons - Soccer/Football? American Football? Basketball? Rugby? Tennis?

Conversely, how does martial arts make you better at other skills? Besides, you know, what martial arts instills in a person and all that. I mean strictly in the physical sense.

I think martial arts has deteriorated my action movie watching skill. xD
 

Flatfish

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This is pretty obvious but anyway:
My regular gym workouts have become more influenced by what I want to improve in my MA, so I have heavily gravitated towards progressive calisthenics and conditioning and it's paying off in the MA. More balance, strength and gas.
 

Argus

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Great thread idea!

Hmm...

As far as the physical side of things goes, I feel that I'm a bit advantaged in being disadvantaged - I'm really thin, and not particularly large. So, basically, I have to learn good technique to make something work. Muscling doesn't tend to get me anywhere when my training partners are twice my weight.

My other advantage, if I have one, I would say is my learning style. If you're familiar with Jungian Functions in psychology, my two strongest functions are Introverted Thinking (Ti), and Extroverted Intuition (Ne). Basically, what that means is that I'm in my head all of the time, and when I'm not, I'm using my intuition in an outward sense to connect things and understand the principles behind and related to them. This does put me at a bit of a disadvantage in the learning stage at times, because I tend to take in things in an abstract way, and I tend to miss the details of how something is being done when it's demonstrated. But in the long run, it helps me to cultivate a broader understanding of a subject that goes beyond just the content; essentially, putting that content in a larger context, and understanding when and how to apply it.

Introverted Thinking tends to be disadvantageous when I'm practicing something in the moment, because it simply doesn't keep up with and take in what's going on. This is mostly apparent when practicing new material which, because I'm not familiar with yet, I can't just apply intuitively, but rather have to think through the steps. When I'm well practiced in the material involved, and the practice itself is more free-flowing, though, my intuition serves me very well in applying what I've practiced. Conversely, though, Ti comes in handy when I'm practicing in my own time, because I can effectively analyze the nature of material that I've learned, as well as how I go about practicing, understanding, and ingraining it. It allows me to live a very examined life, and consciously form (and reform) habits in a deliberate way, rather than just doing so haphazardly -- and that's something I apply often even outside of Martial Arts, mostly to remedy my inherent absentmindedness.

It's interesting to see how people with other personality types learn and practice Martial Arts, too. I notice that a lot of my more Sensing (rather than Intuitive) dominant classmates have a much easier time picking up complicated techniques and sequences, and have a good memory and eye for detail. In contrast, I can often watch a technique be demonstrated a dozen times, and still not remember the sequence or pick up the basic movements. But, they tend to be a little slower to realize how things relate to one-another, and recognize larger principles at play. Essentially, our strengths are the opposite. That's part of the advantage of training with a wide range of people, I suppose.
 
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Orange Lightning

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@Flatfish - I wouldn't really call that a hobby or skill, but sure. :)

@Argus - I am exactly the same way. A little shorter than average and lithe. Absent minded. Stuck in my brain, but highly analytical and extremely focused when I'm mindful about my task, to the point of fault when I exclude other things from my attention that I should be aware of. "Overthinking it" many people tell me. And I thought I was the only one. xD
Also not a hobby or skill, but interesting and helpful nonetheless. Seems we are birds of a feather in multiple ways. Thanks for sharing. :)
 

Buka

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I've always been a bundle of fast twitch fibers. Had a lot of success in track and field before M.A. Speed was an advantage in Martial training and fighting....at first. Didn't matter much as I trained with better fighters, who just had their way with me. It took some years to refine and apply a quick initial movement to what I found to be more imporatant, timing and general knowledge of fighting.

Conversely (from the OP) the very first thing I noticed, which was pretty damn shocking to me, was when someone tossed me something. Keys, a ball, a frisbee, a lighter, a tool, whatever. I just put my hand up and caught it. Didn't really think about it, just put my hand up. Still kind of blows my mind to this day. Hardly ever miss, as opposed to before, when I would have needed a big basket.
 

Argus

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@Argus - I am exactly the same way. A little shorter than average and lithe. Absent minded. Stuck in my brain, but highly analytical and extremely focused when I'm mindful about my task, to the point of fault when I exclude other things from my attention that I should be aware of. "Overthinking it" many people tell me. And I thought I was the only one. xD
Also not a hobby or skill, but interesting and helpful nonetheless. Seems we are birds of a feather in multiple ways. Thanks for sharing. :)

We're a bit of a rare breed, but we're out there: INTP - Wikipedia the free encyclopedia :)

Ah, so you were looking more for hobbies and physical skills, right?

I'm not so sure that there are many physical skills that actually help my martial arts. I'm not a very physically active person outside of MA's. But, I guess I would argue that certain training and hobbies have enhanced my ability to learn skills such as martial arts, even if they're not a physical example. IE, I've learned to speak Japanese with a fair degree of fluency, and also taught myself several programming languages. The kind of learning process involved in both of those activities is very similar to the process of learning a martial art, I find: they're all centered around ingraining skills and understanding systems. So, I'm not sure if that counts.

But, I have noticed many benefits of practicing Martial Arts. For one, what Buka just mentioned:

Conversely (from the OP) the very first thing I noticed, which was pretty damn shocking to me, was when someone tossed me something. Keys, a ball, a frisbee, a lighter, a tool, whatever. I just put my hand up and caught it. Didn't really think about it, just put my hand up. Still kind of blows my mind to this day. Hardly ever miss, as opposed to before, when I would have needed a big basket.

I also share this experience, and so do several Martial Artists I've talked to. I find that when I accidentally drop or knock over something, I automatically catch it without thinking. And it's kind of astonishing how quick and accurate an automatic response it is. But, conversely! I also notice that when I haven't been practicing much, I become rather slow to respond to things, and don't get that response. I guess MA training serves to keep spatial awareness and reflexes sharper in some capacity.

It helps me a bit in other ways too. I apply many of the skills, habits, and principles that I learn in Martial Arts to driving, shooting, improving my posture, and even a bit of gaming. I suppose driving and gaming might subtly help my Martial Arts as well, in that in both cases, it's a great way to study how people behave and practice reading and working with their intentions. That ability to read and work with the other person's intent is something that I often apply in Martial Arts as well, and I think it's definitely a more generalized skill that you can develop and practice in all aspects of life where other people are involved.
 
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Orange Lightning

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I've always been a bundle of fast twitch fibers. Had a lot of success in track and field before M.A. Speed was an advantage in Martial training and fighting....at first. Didn't matter much as I trained with better fighters, who just had their way with me. It took some years to refine and apply a quick initial movement to what I found to be more important, timing and general knowledge of fighting.

Conversely (from the OP) the very first thing I noticed, which was pretty damn shocking to me, was when someone tossed me something. Keys, a ball, a frisbee, a lighter, a tool, whatever. I just put my hand up and caught it. Didn't really think about it, just put my hand up. Still kind of blows my mind to this day. Hardly ever miss, as opposed to before, when I would have needed a big basket.

That is indeed an interesting bit about the catching. I find that sort of thing very interesting. Those reflexive moments that aren't planned reflect how you're actually likely to react.
I'm arachnophobic. So when I see a big spider pop into my vision, I put my hands up, take a step back, and take a stance. xD

Remember that whole "natural weapons" thread I made a while ago? What you just said reminded me of something that partially inspired it.

I know this guy. No martial training. In fact, no athleticism of any sort. But he had these reflexes that were....mind boggling. I first noticed it when we were really young and we would wrestle. Whenever I did a mock striking motion toward his torso, he had this automatic, circular, flinging reaction that he could do at any time almost instantly with either arm. Blocked anything I tossed that wasn't serious. Didn't matter low or high, how fast, or how many. Blocked it all. A circular motion...a gross one, but reminiscent of the circular blocking methods his dad could employ with epic speed.
Again, he could also catch the tiniest thing thrown quickly with crazy quickness. But could barely catch a tossed ball or throw it. As far as I understand it, instincts and reflexes don't pass from just one generation to the next. Not that quickly. But....man. Makes me wonder.
 
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Orange Lightning

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We're a bit of a rare breed, but we're out there: INTP - Wikipedia the free encyclopedia :)

Ah, so you were looking more for hobbies and physical skills, right?

I'm not so sure that there are many physical skills that actually help my martial arts. I'm not a very physically active person outside of MA's. But, I guess I would argue that certain training and hobbies have enhanced my ability to learn skills such as martial arts, even if they're not a physical example. IE, I've learned to speak Japanese with a fair degree of fluency, and also taught myself several programming languages. The kind of learning process involved in both of those activities is very similar to the process of learning a martial art, I find: they're all centered around ingraining skills and understanding systems. So, I'm not sure if that counts.

But, I have noticed many benefits of practicing Martial Arts. For one, what Buka just mentioned:



I also share this experience, and so do several Martial Artists I've talked to. I find that when I accidentally drop or knock over something, I automatically catch it without thinking. And it's kind of astonishing how quick and accurate an automatic response it is. But, conversely! I also notice that when I haven't been practicing much, I become rather slow to respond to things, and don't get that response. I guess MA training serves to keep spatial awareness and reflexes sharper in some capacity.

It helps me a bit in other ways too. I apply many of the skills, habits, and principles that I learn in Martial Arts to driving, shooting, improving my posture, and even a bit of gaming. I suppose driving and gaming might subtly help my Martial Arts as well, in that in both cases, it's a great way to study how people behave and practice reading and working with their intentions. That ability to read and work with the other person's intent is something that I often apply in Martial Arts as well, and I think it's definitely a more generalized skill that you can develop and practice in all aspects of life where other people are involved.

Wow. That wikipedia page......Wow. Fascinating. Nailed me.

The ability to learn programming. Hm.... Well, I would definitely say the mental skill is the same, the physical mastery is a different variable. As are the psychology, instincts, reflexes, etc., that go with fighting. But the ability to understand them, I would agree is the same.
And here was me thinking my computer networking skills didn't apply. :p

The reflexes! Gotta love the reflexes! Sometimes they crack me up. Ever hold a colinder in front of you and a ladle over your head in response to some sound that ended up being a bird taking off?
I round kicked a guy in the throat in my sleep once. Apparently. Said he thought he was going to die. I must have been dreaming or something. xD
Almost back fist loved ones in the face? xD
It's been a long time since I've almost accidentally hit someone. Now my response is much more wired to get ready and identify the threat and target. Thank goodness.

Gaming? Perhaps. I more so see martial arts helping your gaming than gaming helping your martial arts. But I would be lying if certain things about MA didn't just click after spending a lot of time getting better at a game.
If a game has enough depth, it's awesome to be able to apply a strategy from MA to a game. And quite often, it works pretty well I find.

Reading intent? I wanted to put "behaviorist" as example in my OP, but I don't know what a "behaviorist" actually does or how easily they could employ it in normal life. Reading intent or studying human behavior? Didn't know.
Anyway, I would also agree that being able to read people could make you a better fighter. But reading people's fighting intentions is a different I think. Some of it is on accident. Some on purpose. Some a facade that leads to a trap. And stuff like body language and facial expression is going to be totally different too. Besides things like "oh they're telegraphing a kick" what kinds of things can you intuit?
Personally, I try not to do too much peering into other people's intentions. I mean everyday stuff. Not MA. To an extent, sure. Do I think about it all the time? Sure. I think I'm usually right. Mostly. But to think it for a certainty....sometimes, when you're wrong about a person's thoughts or feelings, or have to heavy feelings about how things should work and that everyone should know, you can think a dynamic exists that doesn't. Positive or negative. People can think you're angry, sad, disrespectful, bored, or flirting even. xD
 

Argus

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Wow. That wikipedia page......Wow. Fascinating. Nailed me.

The ability to learn programming. Hm.... Well, I would definitely say the mental skill is the same, the physical mastery is a different variable. As are the psychology, instincts, reflexes, etc., that go with fighting. But the ability to understand them, I would agree is the same.
And here was me thinking my computer networking skills didn't apply. :p

I think my linguistic example (Japanese in my case) example is a better comparison than programming, though. Programming is more systems building, analysis, and exercising logic -- which all do have some place in martial arts. But human language is practiced and applied in a more comparable way to the skills you utilize in Martial Arts. Speaking a language has to be innate. Intuitive. Spontaneous. Through practice, you have to not just learn, but ingrain and habitualize every aspect of the language in order that it comes out when you need it: vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, etc. -- it all need to be there, on the tip of your tongue when you need it, and you don't have time to stop and think. So, you practice technique. You practice form. You drill yourself. And you gradually test it by engaging more and more in conversation, on a broader range of subjects and in increasing depth as your skill permits. Pretty soon, you're thinking in an entirely different language, with an entirely different framework for viewing, expressing, and thinking about the world, and you're able to use it as your own. There's a lot of parallel in the method of practice, growth, and application, even if there's not much physical carry over. I'm sure there's some kind of neurological rewiring that goes on in all of that too, so who knows, there may even be some physical carry over as well :D

The reflexes! Gotta love the reflexes! Sometimes they crack me up. Ever hold a colinder in front of you and a ladle over your head in response to some sound that ended up being a bird taking off?
I round kicked a guy in the throat in my sleep once. Apparently. Said he thought he was going to die. I must have been dreaming or something. xD
Almost back fist loved ones in the face? xD
It's been a long time since I've almost accidentally hit someone. Now my response is much more wired to get ready and identify the threat and target. Thank goodness.

Wow. Remind me never to sneak up on you :p

I tend to error on the side of freezing until I'm cognescient of what's going on. But, I do find my training comes out in response to certain stimuli. Occasionally, someone will do something I don't expect in Aikido, for example, and my initial reaction as uke will be a Wing Chun one, and not an Aikido one :p That did actually save me from a bit of an overzealous nage once, though.

Gaming? Perhaps. I more so see martial arts helping your gaming than gaming helping your martial arts. But I would be lying if certain things about MA didn't just click after spending a lot of time getting better at a game.
If a game has enough depth, it's awesome to be able to apply a strategy from MA to a game. And quite often, it works pretty well I find.

Yeah, definitely. I hesitated to mention games because I'm sure a lot of people will frown upon my comparing that experience to martial arts in anyway, and for good reason. But, human nature is human nature, and I do think that games serve as a good way to become familiar with how people behave in certain contexts. I'll expand on this a bit in the driving example that I'm about to give, since it's essentially the same thing, just in a different medium.

Reading intent? I wanted to put "behaviorist" as example in my OP, but I don't know what a "behaviorist" actually does or how easily they could employ it in normal life. Reading intent or studying human behavior? Didn't know.
Anyway, I would also agree that being able to read people could make you a better fighter. But reading people's fighting intentions is a different I think. Some of it is on accident. Some on purpose. Some a facade that leads to a trap. And stuff like body language and facial expression is going to be totally different too. Besides things like "oh they're telegraphing a kick" what kinds of things can you intuit?
Personally, I try not to do too much peering into other people's intentions. I mean everyday stuff. Not MA. To an extent, sure. Do I think about it all the time? Sure. I think I'm usually right. Mostly. But to think it for a certainty....sometimes, when you're wrong about a person's thoughts or feelings, or have to heavy feelings about how things should work and that everyone should know, you can think a dynamic exists that doesn't. Positive or negative. People can think you're angry, sad, disrespectful, bored, or flirting even. xD

Hmm... I'm not sure that I defined that well. It's not as if I'm trying to read the other person's mind, but rather, I'm paying close attention to their behavior, and the obvious intent of that behavior? For example, when I'm driving, I look at the cars around me and how they're behaving to stay a step ahead and navigate traffic safely and efficiently. Some drivers are short-sighted reactionists, some are patient or impatient, some are docile and slow to accelerate, slow down, or react to things. Some people are deliberate and predictable, singaling and leaving room for error when easing into a lane, while others are dangerously "jerky" and bolt across several lanes without any warning. It's not hard to stay a step ahead by observing how people drive, and foresee how the situation is about to develop -- whether that's a potential accident, or an opening for you to move over, or someone who's going to cut you off, etc. I try to stay a step ahead in this way, and "flow" with traffic, positioning myself so that I can slip in where I need to and not cause others to have to react to my actions.

In martial arts, and even in my gaming example, this manifests itself in a similar, but slightly different way: I try to respond to behavior, and perceive if a motion is committed, what it's aimed at, or what direction it's committed to, and what actions it's likely to flow into. I kind of employ a "counter" mentality, but all the while intuiting where things are going a step ahead. It's not that I'm anticipating and thinking "he's going to do X next", but rather I'm being aware of his position and timing, and trying to match my own to that. For example, perhaps I've gotten to the outside, and he's got to re-face me. I know that I can likely get to the outside on his opposite side and counter if I step offline to the other side as he begins his motion to face where I am now. I try to match my timing in such a way as to counter simultaneously, so that I'm there right as I need to be, and that requires a bit of intuiting. That kind of thing, basically. This is in contrast to, how I find a lot of people approach driving or martial arts in either a very "reactionary" or "imposing" kind of way, if that makes sense.
 
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crazydiamond

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If I understand the question right - because I am an engineer I tend to focus on a great deal of analysis and problem solving and research. I think people forget how many good martial artists are good at this - studying and thinking and rethinking a problem and finding what works for them.

As far was what Martial Arts has done for me on a physical side - I think it does a good job in stitching together individual traits - from strength to endurance to flexibility into one physical action. Grand Unified Theory.
 
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Orange Lightning

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I didn't put too much thought into your linguistic example before. I see it now.

I hesitated to mention games because I'm sure a lot of people will frown upon my comparing that experience to martial arts in anyway, and for good reason. But, human nature is human nature, and I do think that games serve as a good way to become familiar with how people behave in certain contexts. I'll expand on this a bit in the driving example that I'm about to give, since it's essentially the same thing, just in a different medium.

Behavior? Hm. I was thinking about how games can be relevant in a strategic sense in some cases. I forgot about behavior. :p
I agree with that too. It kind of depends on the game, but they can show how people think and behave in certain contexts. Oddly enough.
We could kind of write a book about just that though. Quite a bit to discuss.

If you're intuiting behavior and responding based on it, isn't it still reactionary? Or do you mean reactionary in a shallower sense? Reacting just to physical movements and not intent?
 
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Orange Lightning

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If I understand the question right - because I am an engineer I tend to focus on a great deal of analysis and problem solving and research. I think people forget how many good martial artists are good at this - studying and thinking and rethinking a problem and finding what works for them.

As far was what Martial Arts has done for me on a physical side - I think it does a good job in stitching together individual traits - from strength to endurance to flexibility into one physical action. Grand Unified Theory.

Problem solving? Definitely. Good point.

The question isn't so much what martial arts has done for you physically. It's what other skills, jobs, hobbies, etc. have given you physically, and now that we're at it, mentally, and how that helps your martial arts. As well as how your martial arts improves your other skills.
For example. Does Grand Unified Theory help your engineering?
 

dcj0524

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I used to do parkour a for a couple years before I began training and it really helps my take-down defense/recovery as well as footwork. Parkour develops balance and improvisation so it helps that too.

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Limasogobudo

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Their are a number of things I used to help aid my training...

Working out at the gym
soccer
Hak ee sack (still make my kids play it in class for a short warm up)
Yoga
Chi Gong
Cleaning the house

everything you do in life their is a art for it and in life it self is a art that we paint everyday to show a better picture of the world.
 

dcj0524

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Their are a number of things I used to help aid my training...

Working out at the gym
soccer
Hak ee sack (still make my kids play it in class for a short warm up)
Yoga
Chi Gong
Cleaning the house

everything you do in life their is a art for it and in life it self is a art that we paint everyday to show a better picture of the world.
What's a chi gong

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Orange Lightning

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@dcj0524 - Out of all the things I thought parkour would improve, I never thought take down defense. In retrospect, I know a wrestler who is both an excellent wrestler and seems pretty good at parkour. He's ridiculously ripped too. He says all his strength comes from pushups, situps, wrestling and parkour. Never lifts weights.
If you saw him, it would be hard to believe. :p

@Limasogobudo - Nice list. :D Hak e sak seems like a great idea for a warm up. I kind of forgot about hak e sak. Maybe I'll take it up again.
By the way, did anyone watch the FIFA world cup the other day? I don't normally watch soccer, but that was awesome. The foot work was incredible. I kept thinking, they need to do all that fancy footwork, move, run, AND kick and keep the ball. Amazing.
 
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Orange Lightning

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Swinging an axe! Seems obvious in retrospect.

Occasionally, I chop firewood. Not all the time, but not rarely. And the easy with which I can wield the axe is high. Smooth, accurate, powerful. Even big double sided ones are easy. Almost more so because I'm used to that length. Although it's definitely a big part, it's not so much the strength and conditioning that makes it easy as it is the proficiency of wielding a stick...with a sharp bit at the end. Economy of motion you might say. Efficacy, more so than strength.

And it's funny sometimes, because I'm not that big of a guy. So on the off chance that people see me chop wood, it really catches them off guard seeing a relatively small guy chop so quickly and for so long without getting fatigued. xD
 
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