Small system or large system?

arnisador

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In another post warder wrote:
you can never have enough in your "tool box".
The context was adding grappling skills to stand-up skills but it brings to mind something I've been thinking about a lot recently.

Is it better to have a big system with lots of techniques or a small system with relatively few? A big system gives many options but with a small system I see two possible advantages: More practice of those fewer techniques, and less hesitation when it comes time to use them because there isn'ta s much choice. My JKD instructor speaks of having the jab "loaded" in the right hand and the cross "loaded" in the left (at a certain range), ready to go.

At some level of experience I believe that most martial artists transcend technique and it doesn't matter as much, but I am curious what others think of a small system with relatively few techniques vs. a large system with many techniques. I mean this within a range--I'm not asking whether, if you have the right hook, you still need some ground grappling, but rather: Is it better to have just the lead jab and lead hook in your system, or to also have in your system a lead shuto, spearhand, leopard's fist, ridgehand, tiger claw, backfist, and so on, and more generally if in a given range it's best to have say one or two strikes, one or two kicks, and maybe a lock rather than many more options.
 
As I've mentioned elsewhere, I'm a beginner so my knowledge is limited. Personally, I think I'd lean towards a larger system. My idea is that a smaller system is limiting, fewer choices of what to do. You're right that you would learn them better, but I'd rather have some experience with more options even if it's only to know how they work so I can defend against them. A larger system would provide that. OTOH, overall you'd have less practice on each technique. What I'd probably do is figure out a subset of moves that suits me (I can naturally do them better or whatever) and practice them more frequently. In general I think that's kind of the way to go -- learn something about as much as you can and then specialize in a few areas. That way you'll be getting a lot of practice on fewer techniques, but you'll also have the knowledge on how the rest works to either use as needed or help you defend against them. Just my opinion.
 
I really think it's a personal issue, dependent on how one learns things. Some people may thrive in a system loaded with techniques; they may have a knack for remembering lots of little details coupled with a 'high-capacity muscle memory'. On the other hand, others will be better with systems that teach relatively fewer techniques. These people may have the creativity to create a lot from the little taught in the system.

These are just too overly simplistic examples. My point is (I have one, somewhere) that I think it all depends on the individual.

Which is the way it always seems to be :D

Cthulhu
 
I think it's a question of principle. If the system uses principle ideas for there training, then your practicing principles. And then it doesn't matter if you have 10 or 300 technincs. But if you think that by practicing 300 different situations, you'll handle everything.... well,.... I don't agree.


/yari
 
IMHO, large or small system it doesnt matter. We tend to specialize in a select amount of all the techniques we learn depending on each individuals body and abilities. If I knew 1000
different techniques I would still tend to keep it simple to what I could personally do best. There are alot of techniques I know but would not work for me. :asian:
 
Do any systems exist where there is finite beginning and end?
 
Originally posted by Yari
But if you think that by practicing 300 different situations, you'll handle everything.... well,.... I don't agree.

I didn't mean to imply that you'd be able to handle *everything* without exception. Is anyone that close to perfect? What I meant was more that by being familiar with more techniques they wouldn't be as much of a surprise if you encountered them in a fight. Something you've never seen before has some shock value, if I can put it that way. You might be caught off guard if someone comes at you with something you're unfamiliar with. The "what the heck was that?" type reaction. However, if you've at least seen it before, you won't be as surprised by it and thus more likely to respond to it well/properly. Does this make sense or am I just making things up because I've never been in a fighting situation?
 
Originally posted by Dronak


What I meant was more that by being familiar with more techniques they wouldn't be as much of a surprise if you encountered them in a fight. Something you've never seen before has some shock value, if I can put it that way.

No , I understand and I think we agree. If you have a base of techniques, these can handle a principle in different situations.


/Yari
 
I prefer a large system in the training process to give a varity of possible conceptual choices of various applications. Next from the large system concepts, i feel breaking down the methods which would work best in confrontation will eliminate a the excess. Next , further breaking down these workable methods into a training profile for violent attack. Finally, examining this training profile against actual violent street attacks and again deleting the most difficult executions and keeping the most efficient, dynamic, devastating, and evolutionary methods to build upon for a continuous variation base! This small system from the large system base offers other possibilities in pulling again if needed. So, the small system is the ultimate outcome! Sincerely, In Humility; Chiduce!
 
im of the opinion that a large system is basically a waste of time, im sorry. if you say you remember ans retain all that you have learnt, im sorry but you are a liar. i personally write down all the combos i do each lesson. i work so i dont always have time to do my fitness regime and work my bag/combos, its either one or the other. hence some of the combos i have learnt at training have been subsequently lost, but i can always go back and look them all up, everything i have done. im a muay thai practitioner so the moves arent out and out difficult, but still require proper technique for full power/damage.
i believe in a real fight you should use the simple things, and i would certainly use the basics (especially because im usually intoxicated on satyurday night :D )
so for me perhaps a left jab/right cross (step in) left hook elbow/right hook elbow something to that effect i would prempt if the situation forebade.
 
I lean more and more toward a "less is more" approach. But, you can make a good art either way, I believe.
 
arnisador said:
I lean more and more toward a "less is more" approach. But, you can make a good art either way, I believe.
I would agree. Sometimes it is just fun and interesting to learn more things, however. Keeps you mentally stimulated. My Sifu has many more things that I would like to learn, even tho I really don't need to. I have plenty as it is. Perhaps eventually you focus on what is best for you and the other things get sort of dropped by the wayside. It is good to be well-rounded, tho, so you are familiar with and can deal with a variety of situations. I think it is easy to become too wrapped up in trying to do everything, however. You can't predict and plan for every conceivable possibility, so you need to trust that the skills you have are adaptable when the time comes. If you have trained properly, you shouldnt have a problem with that.
 
We had a rather lengthy discussion about this awhile back in the TKD forum. There were many opinions supporting either side. My stance has always been, Whatever works for you. There is no "one size fits all" answer because everyones answer is different.

Personally, I subscribe to the "less is more" theory. We do relatively few holds and locks in TKD, but with the basic priciples that we learn, they can be combined in so many different ways, giving you a sizeable variety of applications without having to learn dozens of holds. Also, IMO, it's more practical to do 1 move, 1000 times as apposed to 1000 moves, 1 time. But that's just me.
 
I like to have everything, hence the MMA with occasional bonus of weapons tossed in :D

But, this sort of system shouldn't be isolated. Cross training and looking to more specialized is a must to keep things progressing.

There are benefits and draw backs to both, and in the end it just comes down to what the person enjoys. So if you don't like grappling, don't go to a school that does a lot of it. Don't like boxing, don't go to a school that does a lot of that.

Someone really wants to go all the way (competitive) in MMA (a big system) they should be training in not just the whole package, but going out and finding specialized (small system) coaches to really fine tune different elements.
 
Wow, this is an old thread! Thanks, Flying Crane, for ressurecting it!

I think the answer depends on what you are looking for in your training. For instance, with self defense, I definitely think that less is more. When I spar or when I am forced to rely totally on instinct, I've got a piggy bank of techniques that I'll break into. There are probably only 15-20 offensive techniques that I'd bet my life on in H2H.
On the other hand, if one is training more of the "art" in the martial arts, I think it behooves a practicioner to have a broad base in which to draw from. This, in my opinion, strengthens an artist...like a painter with many colors.
 
Olympic Judokas learn many techniques but specialize in only a few that work best for them. If they only had a few to being with, each person would end up being able to effectively use one.

I think a larger system is better because it caters to a larger audience. More people can approach the system and feel that there's a niche in it reserved for them. If I'm not flexible, I can work on low kicks rather than jump-spin kicks. If I'm heavy, I can specialize in fist work and take advantage of my heavier torso.

I also think the point of the system is relevant. A boxer specializes in three punches: jab, hook, uppercut. For the boxing ring, where those are the only legitimate attacks, that's great. For the street, where everything goes, Krav Maga would be better. Therefore, if your goal is self-defence aimed at the broadest possible audience, make the system large. Sports? Smaller is probably a better choice. My two cents.
 
Loki said:
I think a larger system is better because it caters to a larger audience. More people can approach the system and feel that there's a niche in it reserved for them.
That's a good point. To know a lot gives you more options, which you will whittle down to the few that really work for you. Good to have more options to begin with, tho.
 
Andrew Green said:
Someone really wants to go all the way (competitive) in MMA (a big system) they should be training in not just the whole package, but going out and finding specialized (small system) coaches to really fine tune different elements.
OK, I can see what you mean by this. It's a matter of getting the training to deal with specific types of combat, such as striking range/trapping range/grappling range. Having the training to effectively deal with these different ranges and approaches to combat means being well rounded.

In my own experiences with Tracy Kenpo, I think it goes overboard with the number of self defense techniques it maintains in the system. These are not a matter of dealing with different ranges or approaches to fighting as addressed above, but rather are specific combinations as a prescription to dealing with a specific attack (punch, kick, grab, etc.). The system has way too many techniques, many of which are repetitive, and many of which are downright worthless (in my opinion). In this case, I have cut them away and only kept the ones that made sense to me. Stripped the system down quite considerably, and makes it more manageable to practice.
 

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