Always a problem when differing terms mean different things to different people.
I think that's a large part of it. My definition of "martial arts" appears to by wider and more encompassing that the way Iain uses it. To me...if you are learning to fight you are doing "martial arts", if you are learning to avoid or survive a SD situation you are doing "martial arts". Martial arts is WHAT we do. WHY we do martial arts can then be narrowed down into SD, self protection, fighting, testing ourselves, self improvement, self enhancement, self fullfillment etc etc. In my humble opinion of course.
What prompted this thread was me wondering whether the division Iain makes between the three areas was due to modern martial arts being relatively poor at delivering the two hard areas (fighting and SD) and was in a sense a way of distancing what he does from that "poor" side of martial arts. I think from what he's said that that's not the case (IIRC). But it's a way of more clearly defining what the desired training outcome/s are and keeping it clear what is being trained at any one time.
Bumping this thread -
I had an interesting talk today with a prospective student. (18 and looking for a club to train at while at Loughborough University) At least I thought he was until he decided to tell me all about training ...
Apparently Kyokushin / Enshin etc will never work for real fights as we don't punch each other bare knuckle to the face. And - he assures me - 'you only get what you train for'.
Now I should know better than to argue but he just caught my attention. When he spelt out that anyone who doesn't specifically focus on real combat will 'be out of their depth in the street' I just had to stop him in his tracks.
I waited until he stopped for breath then just said "Have a look at Loughborough's first 15"
"I don't understand"
"Rugby players train for a collision sport with rules and a referee. They don't train specifically for one to one combat or street self-defence, so please explain to me why they're an absolute nightmare to control or knock down"
"Why? Their training might not give them specific SP skills but it makes them physically tough, used to contact and gives them strength levels most martial artists would sell their granny for. The ones I know can handle themselves very well indeed and have a physical bearing that means most people wouldn't want to mess with them.
I suppose I lost a new recruit there but hope this merits further discussion.
There's a great quote in the book 'Bad Science'
'The plural of anecdote is anecdotes, not Data'
I think that holds true in Martial Arts. Someone has a theory and puts it out there, people relay it with a personal story or two to 'prove' it, then all of a sudden it's taken as gospel.
I'm not convinced. If we talk about Olympic Lifting for a moment, most people who improve their Clean & Jerk and Snatch build power that transfers well into their chosen sports. If movements have to be specific how can lifting weights overhead make us better at hitting things at chest level?
But they do. The improvements in things like confidence, self-belief, physical co-ordination, power chains etc etc all start to add up. I think this also applies in seemingly unrelated aspects in MA training. Tough training builds physical and mental hardiness and that can make all the difference under pressure.
Even if we don't punch to the face ...
A book I'd recommend everyone to read.
Nice article in the Times today about the Leicester Tigers training methods. I read it and thought "We (Martial Artists) ought to train a bit more like that"
That'd sort the men from the boys.
I am assuming you mean Ben Goldacre's Bad Science.. excellent book.
In the same vein there is also a great site called Skeptoid run by a guy called Brian Dunning. The site focuses on critical thinking and tackling "pop-culture" assumptions and myths. He has a huge number of podcasts, they are weekly, each is about 10 mins long and he has been doing them for at least 4 years!.... great listening material for long car journeys. Even Martial Arts Pseudo-science has been covered.
[quote=Gary Chamberlain]"Rugby players"
"Why? Their training might not give them specific SP skills but it makes them physically tough, used to contact and gives them strength levels most martial artists would sell their granny for. The ones I know can handle themselves very well indeed and have a physical bearing that means most people wouldn't want to mess with them.[/quote]
Rugby players are also great at avoiding groups while running away from them very quickly. So there is no doubt that rugby can develop attributes that are very useful for self-defence. I’d still say a person looking to develop self-defence skills would be better training in self-defence and not rugby. However, looking for specificity should not lead us to deny cross-over though.
[quote=Gary Chamberlain]Apparently Kyokushin / Enshin etc will never work for real fights as we don't punch each other bare knuckle to the face. And - he assures me - 'you only get what you train for'.
Now I should know better than to argue but he just caught my attention. When he spelt out that anyone who doesn't specifically focus on real combat will 'be out of their depth in the street' I just had to stop him in his tracks.[/quote]
I agree with Gary and I feel the above is faulty thinking as all systems have such training restrictions. No systems punches people full power in the face with bare fists (people would die!). Some styles wear equipment; some styles restrict targets; some styles control punches; etc. All approaches have advantages and limits and I’d suggest a mix of things – where the strengths of one method compensates for the weaknesses of another – is the way to go.
I also feel we need to acknowledge both specifics and cross-over; and that denying cross-over can also be limiting in the same way that denting the need for specificity can be.
They key is to know “what is what” and that’s what I tired to cover in this illustration and podcast: http://www.iainabernethy.co.uk/content/martial-map-free-audio-book
All the best,
I’d still say a person looking to develop self-defence skills would be better training in self-defence and not rugby. [/quote]
Agreed 100%, not least because no matter how tough their MA or SP training, it'll be safer than 80 minutes of being tackled and then trodden on by monsters. I played a few times in my youth and it was - even at Fire Brigade level - just an 80 minute fight.
I simply meant learning specific skills without the brawn to back them up and the aggression to use them makes a very incomplete unit, regardless of whether the end goal is sport, budo or SP.
Sadly, the youtube generation don't appreciate that. Sweat doesn't really show up too well on a small screen.
Something Gary said triggered a response for me. I see "effective martial arts" as "specific skills with the brawn to back them up and the aggression to use them... " and that encompasses martial arts for me (or at least the approach the people who started me out took) - no ideals of self betterment, little or no thought about self protection, it was "do this technique as hard and as fast as you can until I say stop". It wasn't pretty and it wasn't necessarily fun and it hurt - but three nights a week getting my @ss handed to me by big, fit blokes meant I never questioned the martial or the self defence (not protection as defined here) aspects of what I was learning.
"Martial Arts" practice seems to have changed to become all things to all people now - a "self improvement", a chosen sport, a fitness regime and of course a means of self defence... but IMO that's just complicated things.
There are clubs out there that primarily focus on sport, on self protection, on self defence, on fitness and I would suggest people should decide what they want going in, and go to the place that specialises in what they want. If you had a Ferrari you'd take it to a Ferrari garage - you could take it to any old garage, but you might not get exactly what you need. (and if a garage advertises that it is able to do a great job on any type of car, they may possibly be exaggerating....)
But Rugby, Judo, Wrestling and suchlike do have advantages... you have to be fit and you have to be strong and you have to get used to contact... not all karate training can say that any more.
Just to play devil's advocate here:
The philosophical stuff in martial arts isn't new and didn't suddenly appear with gendai budo, you can find reference to all that stuff much earlier in Karate, and in other arts as well. It may find a different (maybe less valid) expresison in the modern age, but I don't believe it's purely a creation of gendai budo or modern thinking.
On the 'self defense' bit, I read alot of answers here that seem to point out the answer to self defense is being large, fit, young, and willing to engage in full contact. certainly there's some truth to the fact that that is going to make someone effective in self defense.
What does it mean for those that are not young, as fit, and not willing or able to go full contact though, surely there are more answers than simply "be young, tough, and do alot of contact things", aren't there? Is there a place for those people, or are phsyical self defense skills out of their reach?
A 230 pound rugby player and full contact karate champion probably isn't gonna fit the profile of someone likely to picked out as a victim anyway, so it seems like a bad answer to say that the path to self defense for everyone is to be that guy. Further, such a person would likely be effective at self defense even with substandard training!
Lyndon - that's exactly how I remember my early training. It may seem old fashioned now and it's not stylish, but it always worked for me.
Zak - I've always believed that being physically robust and aggressive - when required - is the fallback position and still train hard to maintain that.
I think a sure sign of someone who's never had a fight (or fright) in their life is when they tell you that skill alone is the deciding factor. In my limited but violent experience, skill is important but ferocity and weight of attack cannot be ignored.
[quote=Zach Zinn]What does it mean for those that are not young, as fit, and not willing or able to go full contact though, surely there are more answers than simply "be young, tough, and do a lot of contact things", aren't there? Is there a place for those people, or are phsyical self defense skills out of their reach?[/quote]
This is a really important point I think. The fact is, and this relates to what Gary said too, the most people do not train to the level that will give them robust and functional physical skills. There is also the issue that Zach raises that some people are not physically and mentally capable of training in a way that would lead to the development of such physical skills. That’s why the non-physical aspect of self-protection is so important. While almost everyone can make that stuff work; not everyone can develop a knockout cross what will work under extreme pressure.
This is one of the big failings when it comes to “fighting” being confused with “self-protection”. To be an able “fighter” takes lots of work and the physical stuff should always be the last resort anyway. However, if all that is provided is the physical stuff then it’s not going to work for the majority (who don’t train enough or have the natural attributes).
If self-protection training focuses on developing a healthy attitude to personal safety, personal security, threat awareness, threat avoidance, de-escalation, etc then most people will be able to make that work and, regardless of how good a fighter one may be, it’s that stuff (the zone 1 stuff on my diagram) that should be given priority for both practical and legal reasons.
I fully agree that not being there is always the best bet.
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