What Defines a System?

Highlander

Green Belt
Joined
Aug 4, 2010
Messages
179
Reaction score
73
Location
Kentucky
If you broke your system down to the very core. What defines it as a system? What makes a movement part of the system (or not)
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
29,491
Reaction score
10,188
Location
Hendersonville, NC
That's going to differ depending upon who answers the question, and to some extent upon what system/style they're talking about.

To me, a movement can be part of any system, so long as it doesn't violate the principles of that system. And sometimes, even if it does. Most systems have a core set of principles, then some techniques and such outside those principles that fill gaps (gaps you'd have if you refused to go beyond the core principles). So, if you defined the core principles of a system, you'd still be able to (and probably want to) include some things that violate (or at least don't follow) those principles.

Let's use my primary art (Nihon Goshin Aikido) as an example. As the name implies, it's an aiki-oriented art. But I don't think (nor does anyone I know of in the art) every movement must be an aiki movement, and some can be direct force-on force. We tend to focus on not using strength in practice (so it's held in reserve, rather than depending upon it), but I don't think that's at all unique to NGA or the aiki arts (though the approach taken is different from most).

So, what makes something NGA to me? That's going to get either a vague answer or a range of answers. If it works, and doesn't seem overly complex, I think it fits in NGA. If it allows flow from one movement to the next, I think it fits NGA. If it can be used in an aiki manner, I think it fits NGA (though I'll also train/teach it in a non-aiki manner). The real guage, for me, is about feel. Some things just don't "feel" like NGA to me.
 

wab25

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 22, 2017
Messages
1,338
Reaction score
1,189
To me a system is defined by two things. The first is the core principles and strategies. The second is the method of transmission. What process do you use to develop and transmit these core principles and strategies? Every art teaches blending with your opponent. But Karate, Judo, Aikido, Jujitsu, BJJ all go about teaching that idea using different methods. They also address it at different times during their curriculum.

The trick to creating a system, is collect a good set of principles and strategies, then collect a good set of techniques that can be used to develop these ideas and finally figure out a process that can be repeated, to teach the techniques to the students in a way that they learn the principles and strategies that you started with. If they only learn the physical techniques, you created a library of separate techniques. Actually, you created a subset library of techniques. If you can get them to understand the principles and strategies through physical techniques... you open a door for the student. The student is no longer bound by your subset list... They can use whatever technique they need (or want). Because they understand the principles and strategies, they can understand how to fit whatever technique they need (or want) into the framework of the system. Finally, this process needs to be repeatable. Its not much of a system, if it can't be transmitted to others.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
15,196
Reaction score
4,853
Location
San Francisco
It is based on principles that are used consistently. The techniques in the system are expressions of the principles, not just a random collection of tricks.

The principles allow for expansion of the body of techniques outside of the formal curriculum, as long as they are built on those principles.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
15,196
Reaction score
4,853
Location
San Francisco
Interesting. I wrote my response before I read the previous two responses. Looks like we are consistent in our thoughts.
 

wab25

Master Black Belt
Joined
Sep 22, 2017
Messages
1,338
Reaction score
1,189
The principles allow for expansion of the body of techniques outside of the formal curriculum, as long as they are built on those principles.
I really like this statement. If you have really learned the "system" you have the principles that allow and encourage that expansion. If one person can't get to that point... it's one person. But, the majority of the students should get to that point... that is what makes a good system. How repeatable it is, says a lot about the quality of the system.
 

Buka

Sr. Grandmaster
Staff member
MT Mentor
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
12,752
Reaction score
10,111
Location
Maui
I'll probably be thinking on this question all day. That will probably be fun.
 

Flying Crane

Sr. Grandmaster
Joined
Sep 21, 2005
Messages
15,196
Reaction score
4,853
Location
San Francisco
I really like this statement. If you have really learned the "system" you have the principles that allow and encourage that expansion. If one person can't get to that point... it's one person. But, the majority of the students should get to that point... that is what makes a good system. How repeatable it is, says a lot about the quality of the system.
Thank you.

What I think is important to understand is that in its own unique way, the training in a martial system is a form of physical education, which knowledge ought to have applications beyond the prescription solutions found within the formal curriculum. A student who has learned his lessons well ought to be able to apply the principles to movement that might not even look like a proper technique, but can still have devastating effect. Likewise, such a student ought to be able to learn techniques found in other systems, and see if he can use the technique with the principles that he is familiar with. If so, then that technique can have a legitimate place within his system.

My system is a primarily non-grappling method. But I could apply our principles to grappling techniques, and those techniques could legitimately become part of the system as I practice it, and as I may teach it to others. Nothing is off-limits as long as it can function on those principles.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
29,491
Reaction score
10,188
Location
Hendersonville, NC
- Principle,
- Strategy,
- Training method,
- Testing method,
- ...
Interesting. I never thought of testing method as defining a system. Within an organization, it tends to be moderately (or more) consistent, but outside an organization, testing methods can be highly variable - more dependent upon the instructor's approach.

Some of the same can be said for training method, but @wab25 did a good job outlining how the core transmission method (distinguished from individual drills) is actually a part of the system.
 

jobo

Grandmaster
Joined
Apr 3, 2017
Messages
9,762
Reaction score
1,514
Location
Manchester UK
If you broke your system down to the very core. What defines it as a system? What makes a movement part of the system (or not)
I think your thinking to hard, if your getting into philosophy, then ....?

but they are to the most part variation on each other, either because they have been copied or by the simple expedient that if you design a system as an efficient way of hurting people, it will have much the same elements as another efficient system for hurting people. theres only so many variation of what you can do with the human body. if an art looks nothing like any other art, then theres questions to be asked on its efficacy
 
Last edited:

Christopher Adamchek

Purple Belt
Joined
Oct 1, 2018
Messages
353
Reaction score
167
Location
CT
- Principle,
- Strategy,
- Training method,
- Testing method,
- ...
very nice, i would also add techniques types (kicks, throws, strikes), and technique emphasis (twisting, forward, pulling)

I like the testing method part, putting techniques into action can mean a lot of difference
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
29,491
Reaction score
10,188
Location
Hendersonville, NC
very nice, i would also add techniques types (kicks, throws, strikes), and technique emphasis (twisting, forward, pulling)

I like the testing method part, putting techniques into action can mean a lot of difference
I think those variations fit within the principles and strategies categories, Christopher. I teach NGA differently from most instructors, because I emphasize directness as a principle. So we hit more, since that's often the most direct, effective response. It also fits into the strategy I teach, which is more around controlling the situation than just responding to it.
 

Kung Fu Wang

Sr. Grandmaster
MT Mentor
Joined
Sep 26, 2012
Messages
13,687
Reaction score
4,322
Location
Austin, Tx/Shell Beach, Ca
I like the testing method part, putting techniques into action can mean a lot of difference
If A can take B down by "single leg" within 1 minute, A wins that round, otherwise A lose that round. Test this for 15 rounds and get the result. You can replace "single leg" by "side kick", "foot sweep", "head punch" ... This method will force students to develop 1 technique at a time.
 

Gerry Seymour

MT Moderator
Staff member
Supporting Member
Joined
Mar 27, 2012
Messages
29,491
Reaction score
10,188
Location
Hendersonville, NC
Some system (such as ACSCA) requires tournament record as part of the ranking test. This policy will force students to compete in tournament.
That makes sense, though I'm not sure...is that part of the system, or part of the organization? If someone taught the same material outside that organization, and didn't require the tournament record, does it become (by definition) a different system?
 

Buka

Sr. Grandmaster
Staff member
MT Mentor
Joined
Jun 27, 2011
Messages
12,752
Reaction score
10,111
Location
Maui
Some system (such as ACSCA) requires tournament record as part of the ranking test. This policy will force students to compete in tournament.

I used to use competition as a requirement for Black Belt. Because if you were going to teach what we did you had to have a basic understanding of competitions to help any students who might be interested.

I wouldn't do that now, though. Unless it was MMA.
 

Danny T

Senior Master
Joined
Sep 5, 2002
Messages
4,258
Reaction score
2,293
Location
New Iberia, Louisiana USA
A System is set of detailed or specific methods, procedures, or routines used to carry out a specific activity, perform a duty, or solve a problem.

A System has an organized structure that consists of interrelated and interdependent elements (components, entities, factors, members, parts etc.). In the martial arts it would be the principles, concepts, exercises used for specific attributes to be use for a particular aspect of fighting or development of the body and mentality toward physical conflict. These elements are in constant influence of one another (directly or indirectly) to maintain the activity and the existence of the system, in order to reach the goal of the system.

Systems have inputs (teaching/instruction), outputs (practicing the movements and drilling), feedback mechanisms (pressure testing), and are repeatable from one individual to another or a group of individuals. And a System stops functioning as designed when an element is removed or changed significantly for it is the elements of the system working as a whole allowing the understanding, interpretation, and performance of the specific activity, duty, or solving of a problem.
 
Top