I’m busy putting a podcast together on “banned techniques” and as part of it I want discuss what I’m calling the “rules paradox”.
The Rules Paradox is as follows:
In sports martial arts and in training generally we omit certain techniques because they are deemed “too dangerous”. At first glance this would suggest that omission of dangerous techniques makes a martial art less effective. However, the omission of those techniques permits live practise in a way that is safe and socially acceptable. This live practise develops attributes that ensure the “less dangerous techniques” that remain can be effectively applied. Therefore removing the most dangerous techniques to allow live practise can actually make martial artists more effective.
Of course there is a balance and a scale between the extremes. However, I think it would be safe to say that a person who includes all the banned techniques, but never trains live, will be far less effective than the person who never practises those banned techniques, but who does drill live.
In short, the person who practices live will be able to land their punch, but the person who does not practise live will not have the attributes to land their throat strikes, etc.
Live practise has always been a vital part of my approach to karate and bunkai, and I’m a great believer in including “banned techniques” in a safe way through substitution i.e. grab the belt knot as a replacement for grabbing the groin, touch just above the eyebrows as a substitute for eye attacks, etc. We should also include strikes, locks, throws, escaping, multiple enemies, weapons, dialogue, protecting others, and so on. I’m sure many here think the same and will have similar ways of ensuring practice can be live, safe and as realistic as practicable.
Taking the above as a given, I’d like to focus on the actual paradox itself as opposed to how we navigate it. So this is my proposal for discussion:
“Martial artist can get more effective, not less effective, when dangerous technique are banned from practise because this permits a safe and socially acceptable form of vigorous live practise”
All the best,