The Arts: Past & Present

MJS

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While surfing the forums, I often see posts which discuss various arts, their techniques and training methods, to name a few things. 9 times out of 10, a clip of an art in question will be posted and more times than not, people will view the clip and assume that what they're seeing is the 'full art' when in reality they are missing a very large portion of what is really contained in the art.

As the discussions continue, we then move onto the methods of training. People basically say or give the impression that unless you're training like they do in MMA, your training is no good.

Now, I'm no Martial Arts historian, but I would imagine that many of the great masters have used their art to successfully defend themselves. I would imagine that would've faced people of all shapes and sizes, people with weapons, unarmed opponents, multiple attackers, as well as grappling type attacks.

I find it interesting, because usually when there is talk of the new flavor of the week, people tend to assume that that art is the end all, be all of everything. It can't be beaten, the students can't be beaten, and its the best.

So, my questions are...

1) If these are survived back then, why would they need to be changed now?

2) Do you feel that an art should be up with the times or are the older methods good enough?

3) Should we as students keep up with the times or would we be fine with the older, traditional methods?

Debates like this have the potential to flare up, so lets try to keep this civil. :)

Mike
 

Steel Tiger

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So, my questions are...

1) If these are survived back then, why would they need to be changed now?

I think that there are two major reasons for modern changes in older arts. The first is that elements are lost and new methods have to be developed to fill in the gaps that have resulted. The second is that a better understanding of biomechanics can result in more effecient training methods and techniques. This is not to say that the old methods were ineffective, simply that they were not as effecient as they could be.

Personally, I like some of the older practices but a lot require more time than I can deveote to them.


2) Do you feel that an art should be up with the times or are the older methods good enough?

Well, as you say, most of the older arts were developed by people who knew they were going to have to fight at some stage so the methods should be good enough most of the time. That being said, improvements can always be made. I do not think that there are any perfect techniques in the MAs.


3) Should we as students keep up with the times or would we be fine with the older, traditional methods?

I think it important to be mindful of both the old methods and the new developments. You don't want to be re-inventing the wheel do you. A blend of the old and the modern I think is best.
 

CuongNhuka

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I'm basicly just going to add to Steel Tiger.
1. Changes aren't really needed. But, it depends on alot of factors. Way back when the folks who came up with this technique, or that technique, or this conditioning method, or that one were revolutionary. I have a feeling that when these people did this, many considered them diverting from the traditional path. Others, probably felt they were adding to the traditional path. In the end, every one those arts is considered traditional know. 2 exceptions, maybe. Jeet Kune Do and MMA. And they have both ascribed to a specific method, and are thus a tradition in many respects.
However, if I were to do some seriously old school conditioning (like Iron Palm, Thunder Palm, Iron Body Training, striking candles, kicking trees, so on and so forth), and enter MMA fights, I may bo win, but I would definitly scare ALOT of people, cause I would generatering a HUGE amount of power, and so on.

2. See the abouve

3. See the abouve.

Ultimately, it takes an understanding of the past, but an eye towards the future. And no matter what, we will never find all there is. So, it will always be possible to develop new techniques, and new ways to condition that technique.
 

Monadnock

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So, my questions are...

1) If these are survived back then, why would they need to be changed now?

2) Do you feel that an art should be up with the times or are the older methods good enough?

3) Should we as students keep up with the times or would we be fine with the older, traditional methods?

Debates like this have the potential to flare up, so lets try to keep this civil. :)

Mike

1. They don't need to be changed. They suited a purpose. If that purpose exists today, then they should still be applicable. Very applicable.

2. Only if the times require a different purpose.

3. If the modern times included being attacked with 10' poles, then we should include defenses for 10' poles. Again, if the purpose of the art does not suit your purposes, you need to change arts.

Not only have new systems emerged, but new training methods. In recent times, the focus has been on self defense, or personal protection. The training methods have become softer to allow the martial arts industry to thrive, by taking in kids, women and the elderly. Surely the training methods have to be cheapened to allow this. (Not that there aren't some kids, women and elderly folk who are tough as nails, but the point being we've specifically put in classes for those ages and genders that previously were not found on the battlefield in order to make $$$). The martial arts have now become the new "activity".

We've removed levels of discipline in exchange for the mighty dollar. Now the student just has to attend enough classes and prance around in a white pair of pajamas for a "test" in order to achieve rank. It's simply laughable, really.

On the other extreme, we have these apes in cages who think that the latest trend is the best art, and a big gold belt is the proof. By looking excessively rough, it must therefor make the practitioner rough. Bigger is better, right? Maybe if we throw in some computer animation, that will help us find the best art. Fight Science, anyone? How rediculous.

It seems the masses are looking for what they want, and not what they need. It's easier to buy a product than it is to actually make something of yourself. Well, they get what they deserve. I wish them well on their search for the bestest art they can find.
 

CuongNhuka

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Monadnock, there is no reason why the techniuqes of old don't have a valid application in the modern world. You sighter defense against a 10 ft pole. That has a valid application in the modern world, on the street, in the U.S. Know what it it? Try defense aginst a Rifle/Shotgun. Keep in mind, you are more likely to be killed by one of those then by someone's fists. The training is there, it's just not made so obvious an "ape in a cage" could figure it out. The secret is to look deeper then the surface. You train in Ken Jitsu. The street application would the fact that the method of cutting with a Katana builds the stregth of the forearm. Which is vital to many punching arts. And there are more then one version of Ju Jitsu which base there disarmed matterial of Katana methods.
 

qi-tah

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MJS Qu 1) If these are survived back then, why would they need to be changed now?

The idea that springs to my mind is the difference between now and then in both life expectancy and the stakes that ppl were playing for. It seems to me that a lot of the "limb hardening" exercises might fall into this catagory... who cares if you damage a few nerves if it helps you keep yr life in battle and anyway, you don't expect to live long enough to suffer crippling arthritis?


MJS Qu 2) Do you feel that an art should be up with the times or are the older methods good enough?
MJS Qu 3) Should we as students keep up with the times or would we be fine with the older, traditional methods?

What does "up with the times" mean though? Shouldn't it be tailored to the individual and their own training goals? (I understand that arts will always be watered down for those who are just looking for an activity to fill their social calander, but i don't really count that as a "training goal" as such!
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I think every part of the arts we study deserves to be examined for practicality, safety, relevence and cultural meaning. We physically test everything we learn anyway, which is in itself a form of questioning. In that process some things will remain and some things will be discarded or modified... very slowly and over a long period of time perhaps, but IMHO, change (and exchange!) is inevitable. :asian:
 

Brian R. VanCise

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Personally I enjoy Traditional arts as well as the modern derivatives. I particularly enjoy seeing how someone has taken something and changed it even if the change is very slight. (variation) I think that both are alot of fun and enjoy training in them as much as possible. A bigger question is what is traditional? We know that many of the current arts that are viewed as traditional evolved in the 1920's through the 1960's. Tae Kwon Do, Tang Soo Do, Judo, Kendo, most Karate has changed it's kicking mechanism to include head kicks (where there were none), etc. Then along came Krav Maga, Brazilian Jiujitsu, etc. Most arts have evolved tremendously in the last one hundred years. Skill sets may be older than one hundred years but alot of arts are pretty modern.
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Yari

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1) If these are survived back then, why would they need to be changed now?
Because with each transistion (passing on) there is a loss of information, and at the same time the person learing is a slight different then the one teaching and also the attacker has also learned something. And that maybe evensoething new, like a gun, chain, knife size and so on.

But saying that, I think that the core in an old proven art would withstand about 80 % attacks for an average person being attack on the street(at least here in Denmark).


2) Do you feel that an art should be up with the times or are the older methods good enough?

One could be tempted to say that your saying old versus new. But your not, and I would say both are valid. Yes an art should be able to follow the times. Weapon restricktions, law restrictions or something else will change the way an art has to handle things. An art that can "survive" should/can be flexible enough to handle todays problems.

3) Should we as students keep up with the times or would we be fine with the older, traditional methods?

Debates like this have the potential to flare up, so lets try to keep this civil. :)

Mike

Yes they should, but I would have to say only when they can understand the consequence of changing a style.
 

CuongNhuka

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Good points CuongNhuka. I think you misunderstood my post though. I do beleive the older arts have validity, even more so than the modern ones.

I think so. You kinda came off like a cynic. Having a bad day Monadnock?
 

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I beleive you have to take the past lessons on with you into the future. Some arts stay in the "past" and do not take into account the change of things. No one is re-inventing the wheel. There are only so many ways to punch someone in the face, kick them in the groin or break a bone. I think you have to adjust the old to fit the here and now. By learning the information from the past you get a leg up by not having to re-learn what someone else has already figured out. We shouldn't train with a sword thinking we will be walking down a modern street carrying one. Learning swords teaches you distance, timing, etc. So even if the sword is not a modern item you can learn a lot by training with one. Of course you could always run into someone carrying one down the street!!!!
 

seasoned

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MJS Qu 1) If these are survived back then, why would they need to be changed now?

The idea that springs to my mind is the difference between now and then in both life expectancy and the stakes that ppl were playing for. It seems to me that a lot of the "limb hardening" exercises might fall into this catagory... who cares if you damage a few nerves if it helps you keep yr life in battle and anyway, you don't expect to live long enough to suffer crippling arthritis?


MJS Qu 2) Do you feel that an art should be up with the times or are the older methods good enough?
MJS Qu 3) Should we as students keep up with the times or would we be fine with the older, traditional methods?

What does "up with the times" mean though? Shouldn't it be tailored to the individual and their own training goals? (I understand that arts will always be watered down for those who are just looking for an activity to fill their social calander, but i don't really count that as a "training goal" as such!
icon7.gif
)

I think every part of the arts we study deserves to be examined for practicality, safety, relevence and cultural meaning. We physically test everything we learn anyway, which is in itself a form of questioning. In that process some things will remain and some things will be discarded or modified... very slowly and over a long period of time perhaps, but IMHO, change (and exchange!) is inevitable. :asian:

I will second that.
 

still learning

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Hello, You may want to consider this? : In the olds days of training, people train for hours and hours, learning things over and over. There training was almost everyday for long periods.

The training was more hard core: they hit each other very hard, kick each other very hard. Develop their body and limbs to take alot of punishment.

They train like "professional's" do today. Modern day, most school's train for only 2-4 days a week and for 1-2 hours only. Hard hitting and contact are not seen anymore.

Even Mr Bruce Lee realize....training is daily and for hours or we lose our sharpness and strenghts. (he once mention he didn't want to live long because of the training).....He thoughts was "CAN I still train like this when I am in the 50's and up?

Black Belt from the past? and today's Black Belt? Do you believe is NOT the same thing? or ?

Aloha
 

CuongNhuka

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I beleive you have to take the past lessons on with you into the future. Some arts stay in the "past" and do not take into account the change of things. No one is re-inventing the wheel. There are only so many ways to punch someone in the face, kick them in the groin or break a bone. I think you have to adjust the old to fit the here and now. By learning the information from the past you get a leg up by not having to re-learn what someone else has already figured out. We shouldn't train with a sword thinking we will be walking down a modern street carrying one. Learning swords teaches you distance, timing, etc. So even if the sword is not a modern item you can learn a lot by training with one. Of course you could always run into someone carrying one down the street!!!!

Actually sword fighting does has modern applications, and not just in things like distance and timeing. An application could also be a knive, or a baseball bat/pipe/stick, depending on the kind of sword, and available weapons.
 

seasoned

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Times are a changing. In this day of instant everything, it is no wonder the traditional way of a lot of things has gone along the way side. Old versus new is a personal chose that is losing ground in this hurry up world we live in. When I think traditional anything, what comes to mind is the old fashion way of doing things in comparison to the new faster way. A very narrow example would be tomato sauce. Years ago it would take all day to make it just right, but now we can buy it off the shelf at any store and it will even have traditional written on the label. Now bringing it back to Martial Arts and the difference I see could be summed up in one word time. You could read any old Karate literature and find a slow process taking place in regards to training and find that even then practitioners were losing focus and quitting out of boredom. But one of the most valued assets anyone can gain from any Martial Arts is character. One way to test character is by demonstrating patience. When we go into a DoJo now a days it should never be their techniques we are looking at first but the way they are interacting with each other. This will be the telling evidence of the true teachings of any DoJo, and the traditional way. Patience and character with the right Sensei will produce the proper techniques, but also a whole new set of tools that you can use in life to better mankind. Sounds easy right, it is, but it takes time. J
 

Monadnock

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Times are a changing. In this day of instant everything, it is no wonder the traditional way of a lot of things has gone along the way side. Old versus new is a personal chose that is losing ground in this hurry up world we live in. When I think traditional anything, what comes to mind is the old fashion way of doing things in comparison to the new faster way. A very narrow example would be tomato sauce. Years ago it would take all day to make it just right, but now we can buy it off the shelf at any store and it will even have traditional written on the label. Now bringing it back to Martial Arts and the difference I see could be summed up in one word time. You could read any old Karate literature and find a slow process taking place in regards to training and find that even then practitioners were losing focus and quitting out of boredom. But one of the most valued assets anyone can gain from any Martial Arts is character. One way to test character is by demonstrating patience. When we go into a DoJo now a days it should never be their techniques we are looking at first but the way they are interacting with each other. This will be the telling evidence of the true teachings of any DoJo, and the traditional way. Patience and character with the right Sensei will produce the proper techniques, but also a whole new set of tools that you can use in life to better mankind. Sounds easy right, it is, but it takes time. J

Nice post. But can you imagine giving students one technique or kata to work on for a month or two. And nothing else. How long would students stay? How many would be left? But what is implied in that sort of teaching is the question, "Why do you need another technique? Have you mastered the first?" People are generally in a rush to learn a bunch of techniques without giving the proper attention and practice to their first technique. And there-in lies the dedication and character development. That will quickly sort out those whore are in this for the long haul.
 

Yari

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Times are a changing. In this day of instant everything, it is no wonder the traditional way of a lot of things has gone along the way side. Old versus new is a personal chose that is losing ground in this hurry up world we live in. When I think traditional anything, what comes to mind is the old fashion way of doing things in comparison to the new faster way. A very narrow example would be tomato sauce. Years ago it would take all day to make it just right, but now we can buy it off the shelf at any store and it will even have traditional written on the label. Now bringing it back to Martial Arts and the difference I see could be summed up in one word time. You could read any old Karate literature and find a slow process taking place in regards to training and find that even then practitioners were losing focus and quitting out of boredom. But one of the most valued assets anyone can gain from any Martial Arts is character. One way to test character is by demonstrating patience. When we go into a DoJo now a days it should never be their techniques we are looking at first but the way they are interacting with each other. This will be the telling evidence of the true teachings of any DoJo, and the traditional way. Patience and character with the right Sensei will produce the proper techniques, but also a whole new set of tools that you can use in life to better mankind. Sounds easy right, it is, but it takes time. J

Good point!

/yari
 
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MJS

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Almost forgot about this thread. There were some great replies, and I'd like to hear more from others. :) As for the questions, I'll give my thoughts.

1) If these are survived back then, why would they need to be changed now?

2) Do you feel that an art should be up with the times or are the older methods good enough?

3) Should we as students keep up with the times or would we be fine with the older, traditional methods?

As I had said, there were many great masters back then, who used their martial arts for self defense. The techniques I'd imagine, were designed for what people would be facing at that point in time. In other words, if the main weapons were a club and knife and the people wore a heavy body armor, then that is what they had to worry about defending against. In the present day, nobody walks around dressed like a Samurai so I would think that it would be good to modify a technique for what one would face today. The technique in and of itself doesn't need to change, but the method of execution could be different.

Some tend to look at a more traditional art, and feel that it serves no purpose in todays world. Why would someone want to train with a sword when nobody walks around with one? Many applications to weapons, can translate to another weapon and even empty hand, therefore, giving it a more modern application. As an example: Modern Arnis has stick and club techniques. Pretty much anything that you can apply with a weapon in your hand, you can also apply empty handed, which now gives the modern time use for said technique.

I'm certainly not against cross training, as I've been doing it for many years. However, I don't feel that one has to abandon their art, just because the new flavor of the month pops up and everyone runs around thinking that its the best and nothing else comes close to it. On the other hand, I don't think that someone with a traditional mindset should turn a blind eye to how another art works.

Mike
 
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