Sports vs Traditional in terms of Self Defense

drop bear

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I don't think I've ever had the opportunity to compete in the "masters" division for older athletes. I started BJJ in my mid 30s, but the sport was new enough in my area that there weren't enough people for a separate division even for white belts.

These days there are enough people for masters divisions at the lower ranks, but not so much at the upper ranks. My last BJJ competition was at brown belt in my late 40s. The only match I won was against the 35-year old. All of my other opponents were in their 20s.

Boxing on the other hand is massive for the oldies strangely enough.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Boxing on the other hand is massive for the oldies strangely enough.
I can hang with some of the younger boxers in the gym doing friendly sparring. But I can tell that I wouldn't have the cardio or durability to have a chance against them in a real boxing match if we were going 100%. (I'm talking about the serious competitors here. I could probably take the younger casual hobbyists.)
 

Dirty Dog

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I can hang with some of the younger boxers in the gym doing friendly sparring. But I can tell that I wouldn't have the cardio or durability to have a chance against them in a real boxing match if we were going 100%. (I'm talking about the serious competitors here. I could probably take the younger casual hobbyists.)
Honestly, this is one thing that has always appealed to me about HEMA/SCA/Etc. You can be competitive even if you're not a 20-something athelete.
 

drop bear

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I can hang with some of the younger boxers in the gym doing friendly sparring. But I can tell that I wouldn't have the cardio or durability to have a chance against them in a real boxing match if we were going 100%. (I'm talking about the serious competitors here. I could probably take the younger casual hobbyists.)

A lot of our competitive boxers are masters. Once we started churning them out. I guess we created a trend or something.
 

Tony Dismukes

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A lot of our competitive boxers are masters. Once we started churning them out. I guess we created a trend or something.
Honestly, even if I were to massively build up my conditioning to a competitive level I don't think I would want to do more than friendly sparring in the boxing arena at this point in my life. My brain cells are slowing down enough as I get older anyway, I don't need additional head trauma to potentially make it worse.

(I probably end up with more than a healthy number of head collisions in my Sumo practice, but at least those are generally inadvertent.)
 

Monkey Turned Wolf

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Honestly, this is one thing that has always appealed to me about HEMA/SCA/Etc. You can be competitive even if you're not a 20-something athelete.
Something I've been curious about with this-and I don't think anyone can actually directly answer it at this point in time-Is HEMA something you can be competitive at an old age because of how the styles themselves are (like kendo is per hyoho), allowing technique to do that great a job of dealing with slowed reflexes/speed/strength, or is it something where there aren't enough people, and not enough athletes at a high enough level of fitness, allowing people that otherwise wouldn't be competitive, competitive

And yes, that is the mother of run-ons. Just finished work and don't feel like going through and fixing it.
 

Dirty Dog

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Something I've been curious about with this-and I don't think anyone can actually directly answer it at this point in time-Is HEMA something you can be competitive at an old age because of how the styles themselves are (like kendo is per hyoho), allowing technique to do that great a job of dealing with slowed reflexes/speed/strength, or is it something where there aren't enough people, and not enough athletes at a high enough level of fitness, allowing people that otherwise wouldn't be competitive, competitive

And yes, that is the mother of run-ons. Just finished work and don't feel like going through and fixing it.
In my experience, there are multiple factors (as is usually the case).
Most of my experience is SCA, so I will use that as an example.
There are multiple combat styles practiced. I am most familiar with two.
What the SCA refers to as heavy weapons is, essentially, medieval warfare-style. Heavily armored combatants using heavy swords, polearms, etc.
Rapier combat is done with armor intended to reduce the chance of injury from a broken blade. Weapons range from modern foils and epee to schlager and other heavier rapier-style blades.
In both styles, technique is, I think, the most important factor, though strength does play a somewhat larger role in the heavy weapons combats. I've known people to be extremely competitive in the heavy weapons combat well into their 50's, and I've seen 60 year olds do well at rapier.
Technique is key, but I also think those years of experience make it easier to bait your opponent into doing what you want, or to anticipate their moves. Which obviously makes it easier to counter.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Something I've been curious about with this-and I don't think anyone can actually directly answer it at this point in time-Is HEMA something you can be competitive at an old age because of how the styles themselves are (like kendo is per hyoho), allowing technique to do that great a job of dealing with slowed reflexes/speed/strength, or is it something where there aren't enough people, and not enough athletes at a high enough level of fitness, allowing people that otherwise wouldn't be competitive, competitive
The answer is yes.

Yes, the nature of the art and it's sportive competition aspect are such that skill and experience can compensate significantly for athleticism. The weapons act as force multipliers, so that even a small woman can deliver a blow which would be disabling to a large man. Since most HEMA competition (unlike Buhurt) is simulating unarmored dueling, we are hitting just hard enough that we could inflict serious damage with a sharp blade, but not trying to take our opponent's head off. (i.e. Excessive force is disallowed.) This means that strength beyond a certain point gives diminishing returns. Also since most competitions halt the action after each point, cardio endurance isn't as necessary. (Speed is still important.)

But also, yes, the sport is relatively young and a niche interest. We don't have a huge talent pool compared to Boxing or Wrestling or Olympic fencing. Most practitioners are amateur hobbyists, not dedicated athletes. The HEMA community is still in the early decades of technical development and we have a long way to go both in determining the most effective approaches to technique and training. As we develop higher standards of training and knowledge becomes more evenly distributed, then I expect to see athleticism as a greater predictor of success than it is now. That said, I suspect HEMA will offer a longer competitive career than Olympic fencing. This is because something like longsword fencing allows a significantly greater number of techniques than something like foil fencing, giving more value to experience and skill relative to pure speed.
 

Tony Dismukes

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What the SCA refers to as heavy weapons is, essentially, medieval warfare-style. Heavily armored combatants using heavy swords, polearms, etc.

In both styles, technique is, I think, the most important factor, though strength does play a somewhat larger role in the heavy weapons combats
I think that SCA heavy fighting requires less strength compared to Buhurt or real-life historical armored combat due to the rules. Excessive force is discouraged. Blows are counted that realistically would not penetrate armor if delivered with a sword and there is no advantage given for hitting harder than the local standard (unless you're up against a real rhino-hide, I suppose). Grappling is disallowed.

From the perspective of having a widely accessible recreational sport, I approve of these rules. I just don't think they are a good representation of actual armored combat.
 

Dirty Dog

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I think that SCA heavy fighting requires less strength compared to Buhurt or real-life historical armored combat due to the rules. Excessive force is discouraged. Blows are counted that realistically would not penetrate armor if delivered with a sword and there is no advantage given for hitting harder than the local standard (unless you're up against a real rhino-hide, I suppose). Grappling is disallowed.
Very true. There are a number of rules in place that are intended to make the sport safer. In the heavy weapons, for example, attacks distal to the elbow or knee are not allowed. And regardless of the armor actually worn, everyone is assumed to be wearing light armor, essentially light maile, and fighters are encouraged to control the force delivered. Injuries still happen, but considering you're essentially bashing your friends with a club, they are relatively uncommon.
From the perspective of having a widely accessible recreational sport, I approve of these rules. I just don't think they are a good representation of actual armored combat.
I think they're reasonably good for the assumed armor. But there is an inherent disconnect because you cannot actually fight in the armor you are assumed to be wearing; light maile would never pass.
 

drop bear

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From the perspective of having a widely accessible recreational sport, I approve of these rules. I just don't think they are a good representation of actual armored combat.

I read somewhere that a Gambeson is actually quite protective.

 

Hyoho

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Thanks this is interesting
I totally agree that weapons reduce the emphasis on speed and strength and increase the emphasis on skill and experience - hence Im sure competitors have a longer shelf life
Im curious to understand how much this dynamic changes things though. Weapon arts still require fast movements of the body, quick reaction times etc all of which decline with age
So for example in kendo do they allow competitions that are open in terms of age and grade (if higher grades require a certain age)? And if so are they dominated by the older folk?
Based on a cursory look at the fencing Olympic medalists its clear that folk in their 20s dominate
Well it's allowed but Japanese tend to do everything on a similar age basis. So when you watch certain ages you have specific expectations of what you will see in terms of skill. Older people fight each other but mostly it's them that are judging and organizing. It is the younger ones that tend to do most of the competition.
I did not mean to infer that the "touches" are love taps, any more than "no or kiss contact" point karate matches are devoid of painful strikes. I was just differentiating that the katana in iai-jutsu is designed primarily for cutting techniques, as opposed to the more direct impact contact seen kendo, though both arts share the emphasis on skill and allow senior citizens to maintain a good level of activity.

My main point was that in other forms of fighting brute strength can overcome technique. Not so in kendo or some other weapon arts. I would be hesitant to face a 250 pound power-lifter in empty handed combat. I would count myself more his equal if we both had shinken, or guns for that matter.
If we did actually lay it on it would be very bad. So we do pride ourselves on trying to keep contact down a bit. I clearly remember my sensei once hitting me where I was not protected and immediately bowing off in shame. We can get get stuck into each other by mutual consent. Done quite a lot in police dojo.
 

Dirty Dog

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I read somewhere that a Gambeson is actually quite protective.
In terms of penetration, sure. But if you don't want your ribs broken and bits shoved into the squishy inside bits... not so much.
And for combat systems using blunted weapons, that's much more the concern.
 
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Nobufusa

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Hi Chris, sorry for taking so long to respond to your comments. Firstly I want to thank you for taking the time to share your extensive knowledge with us. For that I am very grateful, and I always look forward to reading your posts and comments. You wrote a lot to think about, and have profoundly impacted my understanding of the marital arts in general, and it wouldn't be the first time you have done that either. So without further ado, I would like to comment on some of your points, I don't disagree with any of them, but some of your comments incite further inquiry from me. I hope you won't mind.

\

The point is, John is creating a false argument by not actually presenting two different approaches, but by presenting a simplified single side, and an imagined, false, and vilified "other" approach, when there is no real base for his comments. Probably the worst of all of this, though, is the idea of "theoretical knowledge"... if we're talking classical arts (and that's the context of the OP, really), then the knowledge is absolutely not "theoretical". In fact, it's codified knowledge based in experience... the reason we don't need to spar to test is that it's all already been tested...
Yes, precisely, I was asking in the context of classical arts. In The Book of 5 Rings, Miyamoto Musashi wrote that many styles in Japan at the time had devolved into, to paraphrase him, useless theatrics, showmanship, and over stylization. Those weren't the words he used, but as I don't have a copy with me at the moment, I am paraphrasing. This leads me to the conclusion, that it is very likely that the styles that he criticized but did not openly name in his wind chapter, were, at least, some of the Koryu that still exist today. We don't know precisely which Ryu he was talking about, but it's perhaps anybody's guess that he was talking about Ryu which survived to the modern day. This would mean that, if those styles still exist, they are likely to be no more useful, than they were in Musashi's day when he criticized them, as there have been no recent significant pressures in Japanese history to reaffirm the the practicality of the styles.

"Nothing will prepare for the intensity of a genuine altercation better than combat sports." Really? Nothing? Well, it's a good thing we insist that all security guards have at least a few years in a sports art, then! What? We don't? How about the military? Police? No? Hmm... what do they use as primary training and teaching methods? Pre-arranged drills and scenario training? You don't say?

A lot of security guards are fat and out of shape, I am not sure if I would look to them as a model for training. As far as the military goes, the military is a very broad description of various jobs and specialties. Their training is diverse as the people are. Jocko Wilink, who is one of the world's foremost public figures with special operations background, and real combat experience is a staunch advocate of Brazilian JiuJitsu. He expresses a similar sentiment here and in other videos.


His consistent message is that any grappling style is the best place to begin martial arts training, followed by sports striking like Muay Thai and Boxing. Again, since we are talking about the military, Jocko Wilink would probably the premier example of pinnacle military training with real world experience.
 

drop bear

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A lot of security guards are fat and out of shape, I am not sure if I would look to them as a model for training. As far as the military goes, the military is a very broad description of various jobs and specialties.

I did a meme that is my view on security guards and martial arts.
 

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