Thoughts on the nature and boundaries of martial arts - split from Training Log

gpseymour

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Aren't two good parents better than one to provide role models, parental care, and often income?
This doesn't require marriage. And, no, two parents aren't always better. There are objectively bad parents out there, too.

As for the rest, it's not really pertinent to my post - even a strawman to start your reply.
 

isshinryuronin

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Sure. I think I've mentioned this before, but in one generation without application, the quality of skill will begin to deteriorate. It's not about the quality of the content. It's about atrophy of skill. Let's take MMA as an example. MMA has a clear application. Let's say I am an elite level MMA fighter. I have a lot of skill and a ton of experience. I am well qualified to open a school and teach students. But I have a change of heart. While I want all my students to be skilled... I don't want them to fight. I discourage them from competing, and limit sparring to within the school only.

So, one generation, I have my best student... trained him as best as I can to do all the things I can do. He's pretty darn good, too. But he's never competed as a grappler or as a striker. Do you think he will be as effective as me? I don't, though if he decides to apply his skills, he may catch up pretty fast.

Now let's say this top student of mine doesn't ever apply his skills, and instead decides to open up his own school, teaching others everything I taught him. He doesn't have any experience of his own, and so he is relying entirely on what he remembers from me. The point is that it's not the material. It's the lack of individual experience. Because when people actually do things, they never do them exactly the way they were taught. They start with the lessons, and then figure out how to make those lessons actually work, which always leads to some degree of personalization.

And so it goes. This is TMA. This is why I'm not at all surprised when I see videos like the WC videos being shared now where individuals are identifying venues in which to apply their styles and pretty quickly developing actual, functional skill. It's the training model that's flawed, not the content. The flaw is that "traditional" styles intrinsically value fidelity over everything else, and fidelity is almost always at the expense of efficacy.


Speaking of food, this reminds me of the Post Roast Principle: The Pot Roast Principle

I agree with most everything you wrote here, so we are not really at odds. I don't think you are knocking TMA as a whole, but just when fidelity to the way one was traditionally taught leads to loss of efficacy, especially over the span of generations. Yes, and I have commented on this in several past threads. It has been a problem leading to all kinds of misconceptions and criticisms.

The Pot Roast Principle is clever and true, fitting in well with this discussion. The solution is 1. for great grandma to have pointed out the application of cutting the ends off. This is the ideal solution, 2. for a granddaughter to wonder why the ends were cut off and question it from a knowing source before this knowledge vanished, or 3. try to figure out on her own why. Some TMA people/lineages have been lucky enough to have had access to one of these solutions, many have not. As I pointed out in my post, if something seems to not work or have no purpose, there's a piece of information missing.

BTW, what happened to those ends? They're the best part!
 

isshinryuronin

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dvcochran

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Sure. I think I've mentioned this before, but in one generation without application, the quality of skill will begin to deteriorate. It's not about the quality of the content. It's about atrophy of skill. Let's take MMA as an example. MMA has a clear application. Let's say I am an elite level MMA fighter. I have a lot of skill and a ton of experience. I am well qualified to open a school and teach students. But I have a change of heart. While I want all my students to be skilled... I don't want them to fight. I discourage them from competing, and limit sparring to within the school only.

So, one generation, I have my best student... trained him as best as I can to do all the things I can do. He's pretty darn good, too. But he's never competed as a grappler or as a striker. Do you think he will be as effective as me? I don't, though if he decides to apply his skills, he may catch up pretty fast.

Now let's say this top student of mine doesn't ever apply his skills, and instead decides to open up his own school, teaching others everything I taught him. He doesn't have any experience of his own, and so he is relying entirely on what he remembers from me. The point is that it's not the material. It's the lack of individual experience. Because when people actually do things, they never do them exactly the way they were taught. They start with the lessons, and then figure out how to make those lessons actually work, which always leads to some degree of personalization.

And so it goes. This is TMA. This is why I'm not at all surprised when I see videos like the WC videos being shared now where individuals are identifying venues in which to apply their styles and pretty quickly developing actual, functional skill. It's the training model that's flawed, not the content. The flaw is that "traditional" styles intrinsically value fidelity over everything else, and fidelity is almost always at the expense of efficacy.
That is a really good way to explained this. That said, it is making some pretty non-standard assumptions. Most schools, TMA or otherwise, pressure test well enough in standard training to factor out much of what you describe. So there would not be as much raw inexperience as you infer.
That was a good bit of someone with little to no TMA experience and a Lot of MMA/BJJ, non-TMA bias.

I encourage everyone to compete or workout at as many schools as they can, if for nothing else to get a broad sampling of partners. At the end of the day that is the main thing you get from local/regional competitions.
 

gpseymour

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That is a really good way to explained this. That said, it is making some pretty non-standard assumptions. Most schools, TMA or otherwise, pressure test well enough in standard training to factor out much of what you describe. So there would not be as much raw inexperience as you infer.
That was a good bit of someone with little to no TMA experience and a Lot of MMA/BJJ, non-TMA bias.

I encourage everyone to compete or workout at as many schools as they can, if for nothing else to get a broad sampling of partners. At the end of the day that is the main thing you get from local/regional competitions.
Steve has repeatedly made the assertion that there's zero application unless you either compete or do something like work in a role that has you using your MA skills. He draws a stark line between sparring in training and what happens in competition - a black and white difference. Interestingly, he has on a couple of occasions claimed that there's no real learning without crossing that line - so learning happens during competition, not in the training hall. Never could wrap my head around that argument.
 

dvcochran

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Steve has repeatedly made the assertion that there's zero application unless you either compete or do something like work in a role that has you using your MA skills. He draws a stark line between sparring in training and what happens in competition - a black and white difference. Interestingly, he has on a couple of occasions claimed that there's no real learning without crossing that line - so learning happens during competition, not in the training hall. Never could wrap my head around that argument.
Agree.
Training is incremental in the the beginning of the journey just as it is also scalar in the advanced areas. Pressure testing, hard drilling, hard classroom sparring, scenario drills/attacks all increase a person's ability to handle real world attacks.
Using the terms tournaments or competition as a qualifier is a pretty poor choice of terms to support the idea that it is the only way to qualify a given MA style. The degree of difficulty and pressure experienced in tournaments is all over the place, up and down the difficulty scale. Even within any one style, including MMA/BJJ. And as soon as it becomes a rules bound venture the dynamic changes; both mentally and physically.
It is very hard to describe the differences in the emotional component between even a very high level rules bound competition and a real world altercation where you do not fully know the other persons ability or intent. It changes everything.
Even in my highest competition level ( 2 away from Olympics) I am certain I was never in fear for my life because I thought the other guy was going to try to literally kill me. Was I being pushed well beyond what I thought my limits were and did I have real fear of being injured? Absolutely. Could I have been permanently maimed or even killed? Yes, it has happened. But the environment did not put that in the forefront of my mind. It was not a precursor to how I was processing things. It did not dictate my decisions.

In my LEO years, I had three knives pulled on me and one person with a gun in their hand (not pointed at me. With the exception of the gun, which became a very protracted encounter which was more talked out than anything, there was little to no time to think about the next move. There was no strategizing or planning. So very, very different from a ring experience it honestly sounds silly to me right now trying to compare the two.
All three knife wielders had intent and came at me. I was cut pretty bad on my hand one time. My gun never came out and we did not carry tazers back then (we only had one for the whole department back then :) ). I had no backup for any of them. Each ended with the assailant in cuffs without a whole lot of fluff.

Not everyone will get it or get there. But having a 'carnal' switch and being able to flip it AND knowing WHEN to flip it is a very, very hard thing to teach. I personally believe it takes more than any classroom can provide. Life, upbringing, surroundings, DNA, all play a bigger a factor than anything a classroom can provide regarding the 'switch'. Not to say it cannot be brought out or brought to the surface with training.
And it is such a slippery slope when talking about it. For many people, having that switch flipped means they go to a mental place where they are going to do some very bad things so it is a very deep well to discuss. I often think these are the instances where a person has not learned to cope with the fight or flight mechanism.
People can do some really crazy and unexpected stuff really, really quick when pushed outside their comfort zone. And again I believe this is scalar based on the surroundings and circumstances.
 

drop bear

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Steve has repeatedly made the assertion that there's zero application unless you either compete or do something like work in a role that has you using your MA skills. He draws a stark line between sparring in training and what happens in competition - a black and white difference. Interestingly, he has on a couple of occasions claimed that there's no real learning without crossing that line - so learning happens during competition, not in the training hall. Never could wrap my head around that argument.

Yeah. But it is a real factor. You would probably have to do it to understand it.
 

gpseymour

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Yeah. But it is a real factor. You would probably have to do it to understand it.
Competition is a factor, true. But it's not a universal factor, and isn't the stark delineation his posts have claimed. I'd argue there's more of a difference between MMA competition and something like a local WT TKD competition than there is between agressive sparring at an MMA gym and the MMA competition.

And the claim that learning only happens if you compete was just bonkers.
 

drop bear

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Competition is a factor, true. But it's not a universal factor, and isn't the stark delineation his posts have claimed. I'd argue there's more of a difference between MMA competition and something like a local WT TKD competition than there is between agressive sparring at an MMA gym and the MMA competition.

And the claim that learning only happens if you compete was just bonkers.

No it is a universal factor. If you compete you will be better more quickly at that thing than if you don't.

And there is a stark delineation between people who compete and people who don't.
 

Steve

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I agree with most everything you wrote here, so we are not really at odds. I don't think you are knocking TMA as a whole, but just when fidelity to the way one was traditionally taught leads to loss of efficacy, especially over the span of generations. Yes, and I have commented on this in several past threads. It has been a problem leading to all kinds of misconceptions and criticisms.

I think a "TMA" training model is very good at teaching culture and forms. So, if doing kata, performing demos, and replicating the system you've been taught as faithfully as possible is the goal, the TMA model is excellent.

TMA as a training model isn't very good at teaching people to perform outside of the system.

And any style can become more or less "traditional" simply by shifting the priority away from replication to the past and instead prioritizing application (which should actually include applying the skills).

The Pot Roast Principle is clever and true, fitting in well with this discussion. The solution is 1. for great grandma to have pointed out the application of cutting the ends off. This is the ideal solution, 2. for a granddaughter to wonder why the ends were cut off and question it from a knowing source before this knowledge vanished, or 3. try to figure out on her own why. Some TMA people/lineages have been lucky enough to have had access to one of these solutions, many have not. As I pointed out in my post, if something seems to not work or have no purpose, there's a piece of information missing.

"Why" is definitely important. Context matters. But real expertise is a product of experience.

BTW, what happened to those ends? They're the best part!

If she's anything like my grandma, she put them in a stew.
 

gpseymour

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No it is a universal factor. If you compete you will be better more quickly at that thing than if you don't.

And there is a stark delineation between people who compete and people who don't.
Yes, at the thing you’re competing in. They doesn’t necessarily mean that thing fits training goals. That’s a different issue.

But on the whole, yeah, competition should sharpen what’s learned in training.
 

Steve

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Steve has repeatedly made the assertion that there's zero application unless you either compete or do something like work in a role that has you using your MA skills. He draws a stark line between sparring in training and what happens in competition - a black and white difference. Interestingly, he has on a couple of occasions claimed that there's no real learning without crossing that line - so learning happens during competition, not in the training hall. Never could wrap my head around that argument.
Kind of. But given your recent outbursts, I'm guessing this is a tantrum and not a sincere effort to engage in the discussion. Or said another way, it would be a waste of time for me to try and explain, because you're not interested in understanding. You're interested in being snarky.
 

gpseymour

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I think a "TMA" training model is very good at teaching culture and forms. So, if doing kata, performing demos, and replicating the system you've been taught as faithfully as possible is the goal, the TMA model is excellent.

TMA as a training model isn't very good at teaching people to perform outside of the system.

And any style can become more or less "traditional" simply by shifting the priority away from replication to the past and instead prioritizing application (which should actually include applying the skills).
A good summary. Sounds like you and I use a similar definition of TMA. There’s stuff in TMA approaches I really like, but I feel there are some better tools that have been developed more recently, and they can really benefit skill development. In some cases, the traditional methods don’t work as well with hobbyists as they might with someone devoting themselves to training an art. I don’t see that same issue with the more modern methods I am familiar with - they suit well in both cases.
 

Steve

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Yes, at the thing you’re competing in. They doesn’t necessarily mean that thing fits training goals. That’s a different issue.

But on the whole, yeah, competition should sharpen what’s learned in training.
Since you're using sharpening as an analogy, let's flesh that out. If we think of martial arts like forging a knife, this is how I see it:

Training alone can create a knife-like object, and in some cases, it's a pretty polished knife-like object. But if you don't temper the blade, it will not hold an edge.

The distinction between application and expertise falls apart a little because this is a product not a skill, but the idea comes through, I think. The key point here is that a knife like object looks like a knife, and may some day become a knife... but it is NOT a knife.

honingskill.png
 

drop bear

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Yes, at the thing you’re competing in. They doesn’t necessarily mean that thing fits training goals. That’s a different issue.

But on the whole, yeah, competition should sharpen what’s learned in training.

It is good to try to match up. But there are benifits regardless.

And even more benifits if the competition isolates potential weak points in your development.

So a BJJ guy probably should wrestle. It doesn't match up. But it does force them to use tools they may not otherwise develop.

Training goals are a different thing. I am not good at MMA. And the reason for that is I don't do the things that are required to be good.

And that is fine. I prioritise sleep ins and pizza over development.

But I am not going to try to make some tragic excuse like I am good. So long as we shift the goal posts to make the training reflect my training goals. That is just ego stroking.

Same with the BJJ guy who doesn't wrestle.
 

gpseymour

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Since you're using sharpening as an analogy, let's flesh that out. If we think of martial arts like forging a knife, this is how I see it:

Training alone can create a knife-like object, and in some cases, it's a pretty polished knife-like object. But if you don't temper the blade, it will not hold an edge.

The distinction between application and expertise falls apart a little because this is a product not a skill, but the idea comes through, I think. The key point here is that a knife like object looks like a knife, and may some day become a knife... but it is NOT a knife.

View attachment 26651
To follow that analogy (though I think it doesn’t hold entirely), a knife that doesn’t keep a sharp edge after use is still a knife. It’s just a less-effective knife.
 

Steve

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To follow that analogy (though I think it doesn’t hold entirely), a knife that doesn’t keep a sharp edge after use is still a knife. It’s just a less-effective knife.
Sure. But you and I disagree I think on what that means. Helio Gracie got old. At one point, though, he held an edge. As he aged, he wasn't quite the fighter he was in his youth.

But it you never hold an edge because you're not a hardened blade, you are just a knife like object.
 

dvcochran

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No it is a universal factor. If you compete you will be better more quickly at that thing than if you don't.

And there is a stark delineation between people who compete and people who don't.
I think this is assumed but not necessarily automatic. I also think most folks here are looking at it from their own personal experience perspective and not as the whole body of people competing. With the exception of people who enjoy and want to get into competition (hand raised) one of the best things tournaments do is expose weaknesses in a persons training. This tangible discovery builds some incredible bridges in the noodle and several times I have seen the 'ah ha' moment in people. Completely changes their mentality in training.
This does not occur as fast or as often in younger students but there are still more positives than negatives.

And again, with the exception of adults in the near no holds barred competitions, it is still a rules bound competition with all kinds of safeties in place (referees and such).

Looking forward, I am concerned that tournaments for younger folks will come under fire at least for certain rulesets. Particularly for striking styles.
Say what you want about it but WT tournaments have some of the most devastating knockouts of any competitive style. Period. There is not a ton of control or ways to limit this mainly because of the nature of the fighting style and what scores. Take a 30-50 pound leg moving rotationally at 40-50 mph tip speed spinning 3 feet away from it's axis and you have a massive centrifugal force. (F=mv²/r) of about about 8,000 newton meters! Take that to the chin/temple full on and it is a lick; even with padding (as me how I know). These number are very average for upper level/age competitors.
Naturally, padding is required but if a lot of younger kids keep getting tagged and going down it is logical to think it will create a stink.
On the other end of the spectrum are the tippy-tappy tournaments. Mentally, they do offer value to folks in things like breaking the ice for performing in front of others, fellowship, etc... Setting forms aside for a moment, while there is usually a combination of aerobic/anaerobic action, which is a good thing, there is little to no sensory based fear of contact or injury. So I am not convinced these tournaments have any kind of value relative to our discussion.
To be clear that have a Ton of value, just not in this discussion.
 
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