Training in your native language vs. the art's language

Gerry Seymour

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I don't think it's true that it's more accurate to use the original-language names. If students don't know that original language, the words don't have the same meaning to them they had in the original country. I study a Japanese-originated art. They spoke Japanese in the original dojo...because it was in Japan. We still use some Japanese terms (probably about the same percentage you do), making loan-words out of Japanese words we don't have a good synonym for. So we teach students what the word means in our usage (quite likely not quote what it would mean to a native speaker). Some of them are quick convenience - "shizentai" is barely shorter than "normal stance", but somehow is clearer, since it can't be confused with other uses of the word "normal". "Aiki" is useful because it represents an entire concept, so becomes shorthand for all that, and we'd have to invent a new word to use if we didn't use the Japanese term.

But all our named techniques are in English - interestingly, this comes from the students in the Hokkaido dojo asking Richard Bowe to translate the Japanese names for them, because it was apparently kind of cool to them to speak some English in the dojo.

I like the mix. I get a little frustrated when someone who doesn't actually speak a language pontificates about the meaning of words. They'd be fine if they stuck to simply explaining how the term is used in their school. When I go to a school where they still use all the Japanese words, it's probably not much more confusing than someplace that uses all English words, but not the same terms I use.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Yeah, don't count on that...

There is a HUGE difference in pronunciation between practitioners and instructors who don't have the actual language background and are simply using it as a terminology.

In class, that's no issue at all.

In visiting other classes where it's a terminology and not a language, it's probably no issue at all.

Talk to a native (or fluent) Korean speaker - and what you think is you saying "side kick" might actually be "debase the beef canoe" (Buffy reference ;))
Agreed. I think the original-language terms can help if a group from different languages comes together, but it's not as helpful as it might seem. The French don't mispronounce their Japanese terms the same way Americans mispronounce them. All that said, they are a bit more likely to be recognizable.

But yeah, some of them will come out...with a different meaning. I had to learn to pronounce "pizza" differently when I was visiting a friend in Portugal. She could understand what I was referring to, but apparently our pronunciation is their word for "cock". And not the kind normally found pecking around in the farmyard.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Were very heavy on Japanese terminology. All counting is in Japanese, all moves are said in Japanese (and often times immediately followed by the English term for it). As we progress in rank, the English terms for most things are dropped. My CI starts virtually every class the same way after the stretching - Yoi. Right foot back, zenkutsu dachi, both hands down. Mae keiogi/front stretch kick. Ichi, ni... Finish those, then the next kick in Japanese. Then hand techniques. With the kids, hell always say the Japanese immediately followed by the English. With the adults, hell occasionally say the English after theyve been around for several months. Funny thing is, theres a bunch of techniques that Im not quite sure if the lower ranks know the English for them, or at least a standardized English term for them.

When I first started in my first karate organization, I thought it wasnt necessary and didnt see the point. I also thought great, not only do I have to actually learn how to do it, now Ive got to learn the names for it in Japanese too. Im pretty good with languages, at least Latin based ones, so it wasnt too bad (even though Japanese isnt Latin based). It did cause a little anxiety, but not much. If I had it in my head that I wasnt good with languages, it wouldve been worse. I grew to like it. I honestly wouldnt feel right if we didnt use them now. Something would be missing.

The Japanese terminology really helped me out recently. I went to our founders dojo for a class a few months back. Nakamura was born and raised in Japan, but has been here in the IS since about 1966. His accent is still very heavy and hes pretty hard to understand at times. Combine that with an echoey dojo, and the only thing I understood at least half of the time was the Japanese terms. I understood 99% of those easily, and the ones I didnt was because he pronounced them a bit differently than Im used to. Hearing his pronunciation wasnt too difficult to understand what he was saying though.
Apparently, your posts are a bit echoey, too. :p
 

Gerry Seymour

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With the Japanese or Okinawan language, it is vital to use those terms.....but only if you understand that language :p

But seriously, there is a need to use the native language because regardless of what one you use , meaning is lost in translation.
There are important nuances and in its native language that concept can be distilled down to a single word. So I will use the Japanese or Okinawan word. Besides lacking any direct English word I then have to make up my own words like INTELLMODUS. :woot:... and I seem to make people laugh.
But that same meaning is still usually lost when it's used by someone who doesn't know the language. They adopt the term with whatever understanding they have of it, and it's usually an incomplete understanding. Basically, the loan word becomes the word used for the translation - even though it's ostensibly the same word.
 

Gerry Seymour

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Tell that to the karate, aikido, and judo practitioners on this forum :p
I think the issue is that they often have no other term to use for it. I only know two terms for kote gaeshi - that and "Front Wrist Throw". The former is more likely to be known by others on the forum, since I know nowhere outside NGA the latter is used.
 

Gerry Seymour

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I originally learned in a Kawaishi based jiu jitsu system. Kawaishi grouped techniques together, then numbered them. Back breakfall is number 1, side breakfall is number 2, etc. Very little in the way of Japanese terminology. When I switched to judo, had to learn the terminology in Japanese. If you think using native terminology will help when you visit Japan , as an example, you never learned the Japanese terminology from a French Canadian sensei who learned them from a Dutch sensei.
I feel for you. I learned my original Japanese terminology (Judo and Shotokan Karatedo) from a Frenchman teaching at the local college. Guy had a very strong French accent, even in his Japanese. I was fortunate that I was used to it, since he was also my dad's primary rock climbing partner at the time, so I spent a lot of time around him.
 

Gerry Seymour

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To describe a throw, "hand motion + leg (or body) motion" should be proper.

A hip throw can be named as:

- waist control hip throw.
- under hook hip throw.
- over hook hip throw.
- head lock hip throw.
- back head pushing hip throw.
- ...
I think I know what most of those are, but I'm not sure. I'd still need a description to be sure. At least two I can't picture, so would need either a longer description or a picture.

We all have learned terms and methods of description that seem clear to us. They often aren't, to people who have a different background. My descriptions tend to work very well for people who have deep experience in NGA, but I'll lose them sometimes when I start using Judo descriptions and terms, or if I use terminology from Aikido. Same goes for the other direction on any of those.
 

JR 137

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Yep, dojo was always heavy on Japanese, I picked it up pretty quickly and understood it. And I definitely prefer it!

I like it as a way of standardising it too, so that if you travel to a different country and train, they'll still use the one language for techniques and it'll be easier to catch on.
Seido has dojos all over the world. During events like our 40th Anniversary get together, we had teachers from other countries teach a class in their language. There was Italian, Polish, Jamaican Patois, and a few others. I havent attended any, but I know people who have.

Everyone I know that took one of those classes thought it would be pretty difficult, but they said it wasnt. Interestingly enough, mae geri is still the same thing :)
 

Tony Dismukes

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When i watch, say ,the Japanese grand pre, ( F1) i ,by the mysteries Ofkodi, log on to a live ( and free) stream from japanese tv, with Japanese commentary, at first i thought this might be a problem, but no, english technical terms were every where,

So it Went, dadadada, pit stop, dadada over take, dadada new tyres, so if they can manage that and understand ut they should do the same for karate and use the english terms ibstead of clInging on to a dead language, better for every one i think
I find it amusing that when I watch Russian MMA matches its common to hear the color commentary chattering away in Russian with bits of English interspersed: round kick, front kick, right cross, etc. I would think that the Russian language would have equivalents for those terms.
 

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But that same meaning is still usually lost when it's used by someone who doesn't know the language. They adopt the term with whatever understanding they have of it, and it's usually an incomplete understanding. Basically, the loan word becomes the word used for the translation - even though it's ostensibly the same word.
yes im sure your right. but thats why i said that people do not take new English words seriously. for some odd reason Japanese words are ok to learn meanings for but it just feels wierd to make up words in English. i use Doohicky and thingamajig quite frequently.
 

Gerry Seymour

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yes im sure your right. but thats why i said that people do not take new English words seriously. for some odd reason Japanese words are ok to learn meanings for but it just feels wierd to make up words in English. i use Doohicky and thingamajig quite frequently.
Yep. The loan words feel better. Heck, one of our techniques is "Pulling the Head Down from Under the Arm". I really wish I knew the Japanese term for that sucker - it would have to be easier to say.
 

hoshin1600

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Yep. The loan words feel better. Heck, one of our techniques is "Pulling the Head Down from Under the Arm". I really wish I knew the Japanese term for that sucker - it would have to be easier to say.
i think the Chinese phrases are pretty good. you could call it . the snake grabbing the mellon.
 

Mark Lynn

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In the style of American of American Karate/TKD that I came up under, I learned the Korean terms for ready position, attention, bow, and the names for the blocks and forms. But a roundhouse kick was a roundhouse kick, a reverse punch (a cross punch) was a reverse punch and so on. Later on attending seminars in JKD; I learned names for techniques for Wing Chun, later on studying Wado I learned names for techniques in that art. All of this in the 80's.

Fast forward into the 90's and add in more cross training in the FMAs but most of these lessons (from seminars and such) came from American Filipinos or Filipinos from the Philippines who came here to the states or who came to visit and they generally used English terms.

Taking notes I would always try and use the original languages terms to describe the techniques, and teaching I would try and use the original languages I heard the term in thinking I was paying respect or honoring (in a small way) the culture from which the art came from.

My view kind of changed when I worked with a Korean, and Filipino and they had no clue what I was saying and when I tried to correct to the proper pronunciation from them teaching me it I just couldn't get it right. On top of that when I had Chinese or Korean students in class and here I am the instructor butchering their language, I gave it some serious thought and figured I was doing more harm than good. So I went to Attention Bow, up block, down block, etc. etc.

I figured me saying Tex Korean, Tex Japanese, Tex Chinese, or Tex Tagalog just wasn't the way to go. English is what I feel most comfortable in and what I can explain the arts in best.

To be honest it really only causes me problems when I working with my association's students; for example when over seeing them do forms and the students expect me to use terms in Japanese for attention, bow, start, stop, etc. etc. Yeah it is somewhat embarrassing as a senior instructor to tell the other lower ranked instructors that I'm sorry I don't use the Japanese names anymore, but I explain to them how I didn't come up under a Japanese instructor to learn how to pronounce the terms correctly and I feel I'm doing a disservice by speaking Tex Japanese and they seem to understand my view.
 

Mark Lynn

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For the most part I teach in English.
There is some terminology used in Thai for Muay Thai and Chinese for Wing Chun but for the most part it is English.
The only reason we use the different language is for either historical aspects or the term is already a recognized term in most all martial art circles. For example 'teep' for a foot jab and 'hubud lubud' or 'segand lebo' for tie-untie flow drill.

I agree, I tend to do the same for the name of drills and forms. Yet some people get upset when you use Hubud lubud instead of Hubad lubud (both refer to the same drill). I once asked GM Remy Presas about the terms Hubud lubud, and Sumbrada (both FMA drills). For Hubud he got a strange look on his face and said "naked, to reveal (making the motion of like opening a shirt or bath robe), untie" So the actions of tying and untying the hands for the drill kind of make sense in naming it or using that term. Although other serious practitioners of the FMAs hold out it is Hubad not Hubud.

Sumbrada was another one, we called it the Six Count drill (in Modern Arnis) and it was a counter for counter drill. Remy told me again kind of confused why I was asking "Shadow, like a street light" (casting a shadow at night). Again I can see where Sumbrada as a base drill is like a shadow since both players are doing the same actions, now at higher levels where it gets free flowing that meaning breaks down, but as a name for a type of drill or drill series it stands.

I was training with another American born Filipino learning his system of escrima and he told me we were going to spar and he starts doing Sumbrada, I stopped him and said "oh you're doing Sumbrada", he laughed and said "you and Kevin have a name for everything" (referring to my assistant instructor who was also learning from him and how we had terms and names for all these different drills and such). Although we started out in Sumbrada we then broke out and free flowed.
 

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