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Old 04-22-2010, 11:08 PM   #1
DonMagee
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Control in the martial arts.

I've been thinking about control lately and how it applies to martial arts. Control can be easy to define in some cases and very hard to define in others. For example, in judo or bjj I can define control as the ability to control and submit/throw your partner without injuring them. This means that I can spar with a beginner and move slowly but at the same time keeping them from hurting me. Even when I defeat them I protect them from harm. This could be done by slowly finishing a armbar or controlling their fall to allow them a softer landing.

Control in arts that include striking however seems very different. When I first started striking in martial arts it was in Taekwondo. We were told that control was the ability to tag your opponent without harming him. Eventually as the schools affiliations changed we were told real control was stopping just short of actual contact. Eventually I came to aikido and found the instructor there would flash strikes that stopped again inches from the face. He never mentioned control in striking but it was a familiar sight to me. The uke/nage relationship was slightly different. We were told to throw a solid blow that would move though the target. The blows speed might vary depending on the skill of your partner, but it was on him to move or be struck. Due to the nature of the attacks however this was basically a non-issue. Either you were moving off the line of a overtly telegraphed punch/chop/haymaker or you were flashing a feinted strike to some region of the human body and having uke react to that.

It was this flash that was taked about often. The idea was with intent you did not need to strike to get a reaction. This would lead a lasting impression on me as something of value.

Most recently I have taken up the art of boxing. Here I have learned control as a completely different thing. Here control is done by just throwing less punches or just throwing them a little more telegraphed. For example, when sparing someone better than myself I may find myself reeling from a few well placed jabs. Control in this case is not finishing me off with the right hand, but circling around and giving me time to recover and continue the round. Likewise control is showing me I have a big opening by slipping and landing a solid shot to the ribs, but not following that up with another hook/uppercut/cross. This allows me to learn from my mistakes, but pay for them as well. This is something that I can ever remember happening to me in a striking art like Taekwondo. You get the wind taken out of your sails by a hard swift shot, you remember to keep your hands up and close up that hole he just used.

So this got me to wondering why this is so different. Good striking should be good striking. Yet everywhere I go I seem to see some different definition of the word control when it comes to hitting people. So this is my take.

Stopping short leads to bad habits. While it would take a lot of skill to throw a shot with big power and proper form and stop it one centimeter off the face, you mostly see guys throwing pulled strikes with improper form to generate power when sparing tip tap. Obviously this is going to build bad habits where you pull your punches when you really want to hit something with full power. This game is even worse when you consider that if they did throw all their shots full power but stop them short more people would get knocked out by walking into a shot they didn't see coming and taking a full blast kick. When I was in Taekwondo sparing partners would walk into a kick on accident all the time. They were rarely really hurt and the teacher would say "watch your control". If I was really throwing that kick properly and they walked into it not expecting to get hit (it is tip tap sparing) they should have been rocked.

Even more bad habits get built by defining control as no touch. As I get better at striking I can tell if a strike is in range and is a threat. If a kick or punch is not even in the distance to hit me why should I react to it? How do I know if I blocked/slipped/dodged an attack that wouldn't have hit me if I didn't move? This is even true in tiptap sparing. If I try to slip a punch and it grazes my head, do I really know I slipped it or did he pull it?

I think my boxing gym might have it right. Real control is throwing your shots properly, intending for them to hit, and intending for them to hurt. This builds good habits. If I'm trying to dodge or slip and I mess up I will get immediate feedback by a nice dose of impact to my body. This is truth in training and honesty. I can learn the limits of my body, how to read the attacks and learn what to deal with and what to ignore. My old Taekwondo teacher would say that training like that has no control. I think the control comes in the form of reading your partner and knowing just how much he can take. Keeping him on that edge and pushing him to grow better and stopping just short of sending him down to the mat for a nap.

How would this relate to my aikido example? Well in that case if the instructor feinted an strike you were meant to raise your hand to defend. He would then grab that and do something with it. As I have gotten better in training with the hard hitting form of control I find that I don't react as much to things I know will not hit me. Truth in training would require them to learn to deal with this reality in some manner. Real truth in training would require me to ignore their feint (if I was not affected by it, a feint done properly will affect you) and attempt to reverse their technique.

In any case. I just wanted to get peoples thoughts on what control is in reference to martial arts.

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-23-2010, 03:27 AM   #2
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Good topic Don!

I think how you've framed control in the examples above, of course, is defined around "rules" of the various martial sports.

While it may seem that boxing has it right, and I would agree with your assesssment for the most part, it too is not complete or has gaps. Can't thumb to the eye, the discourage clinching, grabbing, pummelling, elbows etc....all things that you would do in a real fight that simply are not allowed in boxing. Heck even the boxers stance gives away alot of tactics. While it is good for boxing, it is not so good for reality and I can always tell when I line up with a boxer based on how he stands and adjust my fight strategy accordingly.

That said, I do believe you have a good perspective for sure. The fact remains that people are going to default to the habits that they have developed in practice.

For the reasons mentioned, is why I am a big advocate of how we train in the Army these days. We spend a great deal of time discussing this very subject.

BJJ and grappling offers a very good base to learn the principles of control and how to regain dominance and get back to your feet.

However, it is not complete, and the sport of BJJ does not provide a good fight strategy involving weapons, multiple opponents, or striking (while it does and CAN address these things, the main practice of BJJ does not).

Muay Thai I think has a good balance of striking (atemi), even better than boxing, since it allows for a wider range of freedom in the striking range.

Judo and Greco Roman have the takedown area down solid....there is much you can learn from these two sport based practices.

The point is, I think, that everyone has to develop there own strategy for training and fighting, it is really an individual practice.

In the end though, I think you need to develop scenario based training that effectively measures how well you would do in those various scenarios and provides you a decent feedback mechanism to evaluate yourself constructively, showing you your weakenesses etc.

This is rarely seen, of course, due to a multitude of reasons, liability being the biggest I think, also followed closely by marketing.

Lets face it, most of what we need to know in martial arts to be "effective" can be learned in a fairly short timeframe, and as you know, being "in shape" counts for alot of this, more than most would care to mention.

We simply would not fill dojos on a daily basis, year after year, if we were indeed 100% honest and only focused on being effective and developing control.

A third factor I think, is that alot of folks are simply not emotionally prepared to deal with the reality of what they are going to face. Having a guy ambush you, rage on you totally and beat the crap out of you is not many folks idea of a good time.

I think the notion in most martial arts is to develop and refine slowly and to enhance the "positive" qualities of the individual through a longer term process.

Which, IS a definition of "control" as well, albeit, a much different one than what you are discussing here.

Anyway, these are my thoughts. I know the "marketing" one will be controversial, but I think it is important to mention as most of us have to make a living or at least have some degree of sustainment to have a roof to train under and things that interest us to come back to everyday.

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Old 04-23-2010, 05:08 AM   #3
Mark Jakabcsin
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Don,
Interesting topic. Two quick thoughts before I run out the door.

With regard to striking: There is additional types of control found in Systema. The ability to strike and cause specific results takes a large degree of control, especially in motion. Examples: strikes that cause uke to gain energy, strikes that make uke focus deep inside himself, strikes that make uke feel his own organs, strikes that break uke's form, directional striking (this is were you strike lands but the sensation goes in a specific direction inside uke's body like spiral up/down), or one of the most impressive is a very light touch that causes a very deep reaction that makes uke shut down. The other side of this coin is the control needed to receive these strikes and recover quickly.

With regard to emotional control: Control in technique is one thing but the ability to remain constant in the face of chaos is a vital form of control. Aggression tends to bread aggression, not just in fighting but in everyday life. Someone snaps off a harsh unwarranted word at another and frequently it causes a like response. This is a lack of control/awareness of the self by the second person. The first person controlled the second person's emotional state. Weakness. Training gives us the opportunity to study ourselves, our weakness and our ego. Play/spar with someone of lesser ability, go half speed and study the changes in self, especially when the lesser is winning. Did you speed up or at least feel the desire to speed up? How does it feel to be dominated by someone of lesser ability? What are the physical affects on the body (tension patterns)? What are the emotional affects? An honest reflection is frequently telling and difficult.

Take care,

Mark J.
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Old 04-23-2010, 08:19 AM   #4
DonMagee
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Kevin,

I used boxing as an example because I've been spending a lot of time there. But I could easily use MMA training. While the strategies and techniques would change if I was sparing in a MMA club rather than a boxing club I would still need to throw my shots with the same intent.

I am of course in agreement with you that the less limited our ruleset is the better we become at 'fighting'. But I think the concept I'm trying to convey is more general. I guess it's just reinforcing the belief I have that in order to get good at punching people in the face you have to punch people in the face.

I just think that no matter karate, boxing, mma, etc that style of 'control' that I described is important to developing real skill in that area, whatever it may be. The rest is just rules, environment, tactics, and strategy.

I don't really want this to evolve into a discussion of aliveness however. I guess what I'm working out is the view people others have on what they are doing when they try to strike a training partner. Truth in training stuff. If you are on the mat with a partner of equal skill or higher and you throw a shot to his stomach, what would happen if he didn't move or react? Would your shot hit him and explore the ramifications of a stiff shot to the gut? Would you pull it and see if he responds? Would he just ignore it and use that time to falsely reverse you?

If it is not appropriate to throw 'real' shots then why? How can truth in training be realized without real techniques?

- Don
"If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough" - Albert Einstein
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:11 AM   #5
Aikibu
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Great Topic Don and all of the replies are spot on...

Some things just have to be felt in order to be understood and hitting being hit is one of those things...

I look forward to reading more on this from you guys/gals.

William Hazen
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Old 04-23-2010, 09:30 AM   #6
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

My own bits culled off the top for why it's valuable to get some experience in this (and agree with the tenor of the discussion thus far):

1) Someone trying to hit you is not going to automatically unbalance themselves when they do it

2) The gulf between someone trying to hit you and someone intentionally missing in practice is ENORMOUS

3) If you aren't training to deliver strikes with balance, power and intent (meaning, really trying to hit), then your ability to respond to someone with that capability should definitely be questioned

4) When someone is really trying to hit you, expect multiple strikes and combinations from different angles - sometimes the intent of the first strike, even when powerful and balanced, is to set you up for the second, third, fourth, or . . the guy sneaking up behind you with the 2x4.

5) It's really eye-opening to spar with someone that's just as comfortable kicking your legs at one distance, jabbing at you with hands when you move closer, throwing hooks and uppercuts when you move closer and then short punching or throwing knees, elbows and stomping when you clinch (not to mention happy to throw/take you down, mount you and pound on you some more). Scary, even. But very valuable to experience if you're interested in how your stuff works empty handed in less restricted settings.

6) A funny thing - when I got back into boxing some years back what actually helped me a lot was the weapons work I'd done as it gave me a much better feel for controlling the distance and ring. As such, I could better stay outside the reach of someone with longer limbs (which is most everyone) and muck with their timing to set up my own entries into combos . . unfortunately, once they learned my timing, I'd have to adapt . . but that's its own very valuable lesson to learn, too . .

That's all for now.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:48 AM   #7
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

I think this is one of those elephant in the room discussions that organized martial arts will have to have as societies become more "civilized." How does a combat art preserve its viability without actual combat? The general observation is that without the experience of fighting, combat training becomes a contrivance of simulated scenarios. After a period of times, the art loses the meaning for the contrived scenarios and we are left with choreography.

As this observation relates to striking, I believe those arts that have contact striking will hold advantage over those arts which choose to eliminate contact striking in the realm of "viable" fighting arts. Aikido curriculum for most does not include matched fighting, contact striking, or even opposed resistance. As such, that puts aikido at a disadvantage in fighting scenarios where the focus of the engagement is not on "do" (the pursuit of self-improvement).

The argument posed by many in aikido is sacrificial to the other arts, "we do not need to be actual fighters; aikido is about self-improvement." We do not often discuss why we cannot advocate both martial viability and personal development.

For aikido training, the role of atemi is fundamental to controlling the human condition during engagement. We should advocate [at minimum] competency in striking in our curriculum, regardless of what rules we enact for safety. It is unfortunate to see aikidoka after aikidoka abandon aikido as a resource for learning to strike; however, I believe there are few (and fewer) competent fighters in roles of teaching in aikido.

As for control, I believe that control is the influence over something. Striking is the influence of behavior modification through either the perception of bodily harm or bodily harm manifest. So for me, "control" implies my behavior influenced another's. If I punch falsely and do not modify my partner's behavior, I am not in control.
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Old 04-23-2010, 02:51 PM   #8
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Quote:
Don Magee wrote: View Post
Kevin,

I used boxing as an example because I've been spending a lot of time there. But I could easily use MMA training. While the strategies and techniques would change if I was sparing in a MMA club rather than a boxing club I would still need to throw my shots with the same intent.

I am of course in agreement with you that the less limited our ruleset is the better we become at 'fighting'. But I think the concept I'm trying to convey is more general. I guess it's just reinforcing the belief I have that in order to get good at punching people in the face you have to punch people in the face.

I just think that no matter karate, boxing, mma, etc that style of 'control' that I described is important to developing real skill in that area, whatever it may be. The rest is just rules, environment, tactics, and strategy.

I don't really want this to evolve into a discussion of aliveness however. I guess what I'm working out is the view people others have on what they are doing when they try to strike a training partner. Truth in training stuff. If you are on the mat with a partner of equal skill or higher and you throw a shot to his stomach, what would happen if he didn't move or react? Would your shot hit him and explore the ramifications of a stiff shot to the gut? Would you pull it and see if he responds? Would he just ignore it and use that time to falsely reverse you?

If it is not appropriate to throw 'real' shots then why? How can truth in training be realized without real techniques?
Hey Don,

Yes, of course I agree 100%...you have to train punches etc as real as possible for them to matter and to get good at them.

We can work alot of that out on Pads etc of course, and I agree, we have discussed the whole aliveness issue enough and Matt Thornton does a good job of demonstrating the concepts of the differences on his videos.

I have been training the very thing you are discussing down with my unit in Florida using Blauer gear with a buddy of mine and plan to do more when I get down there.

Actually just bought a HD video camera and tripod and I am hoping to be able to film alot of our training over the next few months since I will have alot of time on my hands getting ready for my deployment. Hopefully this will be what you are looking for.

We are working on tactical aspects of engaging guys that want to hurt or kill you with empty hands, knives, sticks, and guns from a CQB perspective and we are trying to keep it near as real as possible.

It is interesting when you inject the weapons or the chance of weapons how it changes things.

I hope I am able to do some video.

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Old 04-23-2010, 02:53 PM   #9
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Great post Jon!

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Old 04-23-2010, 08:51 PM   #10
Janet Rosen
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Thanks to Don for starting the thread - interesting comments too.

Janet Rosen
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Old 04-25-2010, 07:11 PM   #11
phitruong
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

quoting from Dune

"He who can destroy a thing has the real control of it."

how many of us have the will to destroy another, be it physically, mentally and/or emotionally? sometimes, illusion can be very real.
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Old 04-25-2010, 07:23 PM   #12
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

WIth the right circumstances and situation...it is necessary unfortunately.

Will to me implies "want to". I never want to...but sometimes it is necessary.

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Old 04-26-2010, 05:03 AM   #13
SeiserL
 
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
So for me, "control" implies my behavior influenced another's. If I punch falsely and do not modify my partner's behavior, I am not in control.
Excellent point.
Control implies control/influence over something or someone.
Control over self + control over other = control.
Perhaps that implies a connectedness.
Well said. Compliments and appreciation.

Lynn Seiser PhD
Yondan Aikido & FMA/JKD
We do not rise to the level of our expectations, but fall to the level of our training. Train well. KWATZ!
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Old 04-26-2010, 09:43 AM   #14
Erick Mead
 
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
How does a combat art preserve its viability without actual combat? The general observation is that without the experience of fighting, combat training becomes a contrivance of simulated scenarios. After a period of times, the art loses the meaning for the contrived scenarios and we are left with choreography.

As this observation relates to striking, I believe those arts that have contact striking will hold advantage over those arts which choose to eliminate contact striking in the realm of "viable" fighting arts.
The only quibble is that striking arts tend to seek strikes to the exclusion of what opportunities are presented in actual advantages. Counting coups is just as easy a trap, too. Takemusu (whether of aiki or something else) is the ideal and aiki is a good road to that state. Anticipate nothing, exploit everything...

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
Aikido curriculum for most does not include matched fighting, contact striking, or even opposed resistance. As such, that puts aikido at a disadvantage in fighting scenarios where the focus of the engagement is not on "do" (the pursuit of self-improvement). The argument posed by many in aikido is sacrificial to the other arts, "we do not need to be actual fighters; aikido is about self-improvement."
Which is, I think we agree, a position of BS on stilts.

When human beings ceased to be predatory animals then self-improvement will not involve making us better at doing violence -- until then it does. A woman writing in the journal First Things made this point about the development of young men. --
Quote:
"The desire to commit violence is not the same thing as the desire to commit evil."
We would all be better human beings to remember both sides of her point.

Quote:
The problem is not that the boy's hand itches for a sword. The problem lies in not telling him what they are for, that they are for something—the sword and the itch alike. If I had told my aggressive little son not, "Be gentle," but, rather, "Protect your sister," I might, I think, have had the right end of the stick.
Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
For aikido training, the role of atemi is fundamental to controlling the human condition during engagement. We should advocate [at minimum] competency in striking in our curriculum, regardless of what rules we enact for safety.
I make it a point when folks come into our dojo to see to it that they hit me, competently -- hard enough that I am uncomfortable -- then 1) I know they can strike honestly and correctly, and 2) they know that even the instructor is prepared to bear getting hit -- if things work out that way. I figure if my ego is so big it iust keeps getting hit all the time -- my body will understand the need to make it much smaller...

Quote:
Jon Reading wrote: View Post
If I punch falsely and do not modify my partner's behavior, I am not in control.
Amen and Hallelujah.

Last edited by Erick Mead : 04-26-2010 at 09:51 AM.

Cordially,

Erick Mead
一隻狗可久里馬房但他也不是馬的.
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Old 05-18-2010, 02:59 AM   #15
Robert Cowham
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
6) A funny thing - when I got back into boxing some years back what actually helped me a lot was the weapons work I'd done as it gave me a much better feel for controlling the distance and ring.
Our kenjutsu has kata with fukuroshinai (heavier fully leather covered shinai than say kendo variety) which allow for various techniques involving body contact. Also, as you start getting better, the speed/power goes up, and being clonked on the head (or perhaps elbow because you didn't clear the line) is a good wake up call that you were too slow, or your alignment wasn't right (uke needs to judge what is appropriate here - why seniors traditionally take uke role).

When practicing with bokken/bokuto that also helps concentrate the mind - you generally want to avoid being hit with those...

Recently had a class being shown the "spicy" version of kihondachi kata with bokken. Normally done at a slightly safer distance, but in this case close which also develops your ukemi skills!

I like Diane Skoss's article "Why women should wield weapons":

http://www.koryu.com/library/dskoss4.html
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:25 AM   #16
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

I think the pure essence of the Martial Arts from long ago was to have control of yourself-through training your body to retain a balanced state in yourself. It was this state that produced so much centered power that you found normal people were far more easily controlled by your own movements and will, in lue of their own. I think all of the stories and legends about incredible control and power were all based on this principle. Including the mental control of distance and precursors to centered movement.
Interestingly enough how many times have we read of the legends going off to train by themselves and of power and skill they developed...all while the many thousands of practitioners who spent years learning more techniques became nothing more than budo wallpaper from which these men...stood apart.
It is a different way to look at control and power, but perhaps it was actually -thee way- it was supposed to be looked at in the first place, regardless of venue.

Dan
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Old 05-18-2010, 07:57 AM   #17
Budd
 
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Hi Dan,

I agree with you vis a vis the conditioning routine - you need to spend some dedicated time just conditioning those strengths . . how to condition "what" seems to be what's partly in debate here on aikiweb, between different styles, cultures, yadda yadda - since there's been so much secrecy between methods and approaches.

On top of that, I don't think you'd disagree that the next challenge becomes about how to apply those different strengths back into a martial arts practice, whether it's a sporting martial art (MMA, which I'm probably most curious about and hope to be getting back to soon after next kid and more time working basics), traditional martial art, etc. I understand what you're saying that there's fundamental strengths that serve any milieu or outlet, but I think there's a "break-in" period as well - especially if you're walking in cold somewhere new.

Of course, the converse of that is that if you haven't spent the requisite time getting at least the basic skills of IS then it is a moot point and you're just going to be doing the activity at the school/gym (which may be great or not-so-great). I'll be curious to see how things work out in the next few months as I've been trying to let go of a lot of things while building up new stuff from the inside out. I expect some conflict and then when I first get hit or competitive will be curious to see if I slip back into old habits, go for the win, or keep my head and try to stick to my game plan.

Robert,

I like Diane's article, too. I liked training weapons with her even better!
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:29 AM   #18
DH
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Quote:
Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
Hi Dan,

I agree with you vis a vis the conditioning routine - you need to spend some dedicated time just conditioning those strengths . . how to condition "what" seems to be what's partly in debate here on aikiweb, between different styles, cultures, yadda yadda - since there's been so much secrecy between methods and approaches.

On top of that, I don't think you'd disagree that the next challenge becomes about how to apply those different strengths back into a martial arts practice, whether it's a sporting martial art (MMA, which I'm probably most curious about and hope to be getting back to soon after next kid and more time working basics), traditional martial art, etc. I understand what you're saying that there's fundamental strengths that serve any milieu or outlet, but I think there's a "break-in" period as well - especially if you're walking in cold somewhere new.

Of course, the converse of that is that if you haven't spent the requisite time getting at least the basic skills of IS then it is a moot point and you're just going to be doing the activity at the school/gym (which may be great or not-so-great). I'll be curious to see how things work out in the next few months as I've been trying to let go of a lot of things while building up new stuff from the inside out. I expect some conflict and then when I first get hit or competitive will be curious to see if I slip back into old habits, go for the win, or keep my head and try to stick to my game plan.

Robert,

I like Diane's article, too. I liked training weapons with her even better!
As far as MMA goes you have heard me say it here many times and in person. "MMA is the great equalizer." and that includes freestyle weapons. Anyone can get tagged in a fight, and you can win, then lose against the same guy in the same day "S_______ happens!"
I see IP/aiki and fighting as two sides of the same coin. I don't want to do either- without the other, but others certainly can and do it well.

What to train and how to train it and how to use it is an interesting discussion in a lot of places. Ask around and read and we find that the real experts do not all agree on just what is not necessarily useful in fighting.
What if very powerful demo movements are crap in grappling?
What if some of their prized moves are actually like amatuer hour against a good grappler who will read them like a book?

So other than partaking in more noise on the internet I see it as a personal choice and testing. I see it as a conditioning and use question, and they are not all the same.
Cheers
Dan
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Old 05-18-2010, 08:59 AM   #19
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Understood - and I would pose the use question in a more granular fashion, really . . in terms of . .

Goals for training (generic):

Martial efficacy as determined by X criteria - MMA, grappling, fencing, felony street fights, etc.

Health and Wellness - How do I feel doing this training over time? This is more in terms of assuming you can conduct clinical self-assessments rather than thinking along the lines of "being in touch with your feelings".

Compatability with my life - i.e. a lot of purists expound on the notion that you give up whatever in order to train or be part of something. While I agree that nothing worthwhile usually comes without hard work and sacrifice I somewhat dispute the notion that you MUST give up everything to purloin knowledge at the feet of some master. This ain't feudal Asia and that mentality is far too easily abused by roleplayers and fakers.

That's before you ever get into the topic of Internal Strength . . the two schools of thought that I primarily see are . .

1) This is adhering to how "this stuff" is commonly understood across a spectrum of martial arts with the roots and source being found most "purely" in the sophisticated neijia forms practiced in China

2) This is how "this stuff" makes you more combatively effective through how I was taught and the innovations I made and transferred/trained into these outlets (DR, aikido, MMA, weapons, etc.)

I don't think 1 and 2 need to be mutually exclusive, however I don't think you can use 1 to justify 2 nor vice versa . . they are different things. If you're speaking towards internal power as trained along the lines of "six harmonies full banana neijia" . . then there's certain standards you're pursuing, defining or following. If it's a different martial art - then look to the source of the art (Cultural, primary exponents, parent arts, etc.) and their most common applications.

If you are training internal power as a skillset to apply across a spectrum of combative arts and have broken away from a "single-source" model, then while you are no longer bound to the "single-source" model as an art, you are more bound by the source of information (teacher, club, group, etc.).

Either way, I think a clinical discussion about some of the pros and cons of each can be fun - but ultimately doesn't change a whit how you actually practice it and apply it in your life/school/gym/etc.
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Old 05-21-2010, 07:07 AM   #20
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

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Budd Yuhasz wrote: View Post
........snip
That's before you ever get into the topic of Internal Strength . . the two schools of thought that I primarily see are . .

1) This is adhering to how "this stuff" is commonly understood across a spectrum of martial arts with the roots and source being found most "purely" in the sophisticated neijia forms practiced in China
Hi Bud
I think that contrary to all the talk, there is no one, NO ONE who knows how "these things are commonly understood across the spectrum of Martial arts."
There may be amateurs who will more or less "tell you" they get it all, across the spectrum of martial arts, because they have some power and understanding, but none of them have ever presented a convincing argument to me that they know the full spectrum of martial understanding. I know some real experts who would run from being associated with that claim.

What we know, is that there are ways that IP/ aiki is trained, what it feels like and is used. Critical to that is that IP/aiki can be used quite differently by different people. IP/aiki is discernable as weird and different; some guys are more ghosty than others, others are more focused on power and cast aways, others more evading, while others are more controling and invading/while evading, etc. What is not so popular is that once known, we can see or feel and test some rather accomplished men who are obviously only using only part, or feel or see others using some good stuff-if only partially well trained, and still others who are far more developed.

Quote:
2) This is how "this stuff" makes you more combatively effective through how I was taught and the innovations I made and transferred/trained into these outlets (DR, aikido, MMA, weapons, etc.)
There are certain things you are going to look for in IP/aiki that have to be there, but the ways to train it or develop it are not all the same. Of course there are different methods and different accents in movement and use in different arts the key though is that a lot of it is based on some common and necessary elements, but some isn't. Mores the point, they have different accents in critical movement and use. What has not been discussed is how where and why various internal aspects drive, and join with certain external movements or "rules" that prevent a host of structural flaws, and/ or build some rather profound physical changes that are excellent for fighting with weapons or without.
In other words "connecting the body" -while potent- is not a panacea for all the movement issues that ail the typical MA person.
It's why I continually state this stuff is not "all the same."

Quote:
FWIW, I don't think 1 and 2 need to be mutually exclusive, however I don't think you can use 1 to justify 2 nor vice versa . . they are different things.
Interesting.
On what basis would you say #1 and #2 are different?
And where and how do you see them as the same?

The clinical discussion
I don't think there really ever was any. I think many of the "so called" clinical discussions have been "around" the topic with very little actual information. Some information has been borrowed from some "surprising" sources and later used for some "surprising" people's training. Okay, fine. What is NOT okay is when the source was later denied, misquoted and mischaracterized and then that information suddenly became what certain people knew and were doing all along. Oh well, just Budo…..right?
I haven't met the guy here (or in person) worth calling an expert in all the martial arts yet. He may know his shtick right well, but there are some seriously good alternates and spins on things out there. I keep hoping that as more and more senior Budo teachers and men who can really fight get involved with IP/aiki, there might be a better level of honesty, integrity and character involved in these discussions.

Almost forgot the topic.
IMO, control begins with controlling yourself, it is really the only way to control others, and you will never do it as well as someone who has an understanding of IP/aiki. The more that "energy use" is balanced within us, the less likely we are to get "caught." I have found that for many in the aiki arts-including most of the teachers I have met- they are clearly still in need of working on that.

As you have noted, Budd, this training sure can be good, clean fun if you have the right attitude. I like Meik Skoss's admonition, "Where all just bums on the budo bus," hopefully sharing experiences and insights. I look at all of this more like a collaborative and grand experiment and exchange.
Good luck in your training.
Cheers
Dan
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:09 AM   #21
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

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Dan Harden wrote: View Post
What has not been discussed is how where and why various internal aspects drive, and join with certain external movements or "rules" that prevent a host of structural flaws, and/ or build some rather profound physical changes that are excellent for fighting with weapons or without.
Dan
Dan, would you be open to discuss the "structural flaws" ? and under what circumstances would those flaws expose? thanks.
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Old 05-21-2010, 10:15 AM   #22
Budd
 
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Hi Bud
I think that contrary to all the talk, there is no one, NO ONE who knows how "these things are commonly understood across the spectrum of Martial arts."
There may be amateurs who will more or less "tell you" they get it all, across the spectrum of martial arts, because they have some power and understanding, but none of them have ever presented a convincing argument to me that they know the full spectrum of martial understanding. I know some real experts who would run from being associated with that claim.
Hi Dan,

No, agreed, most everyone that I talk with acknowledges their amateur status with regards to "this stuff". I think the really big dogs are probably amused by the gains and spins that have been made in training by the amateurs, but I'm also curious if it won't get to a point where they clam up more when they see people chasing after them up the mountain. Would actually be a great problem to have in some ways.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
What we know, is that there are ways that IP/ aiki is trained, what it feels like and is used. Critical to that is that IP/aiki can be used quite differently by different people. IP/aiki is discernable as weird and different; some guys are more ghosty than others, others are more focused on power and cast aways, others more evading, while others are more controling and invading/while evading, etc. What is not so popular is that once known, we can see or feel and test some rather accomplished men who are obviously only using only part, or feel or see others using some good stuff-if only partially well trained, and still others who are far more developed.
That all makes sense - I can feel quite a bit in some and am getting better at noticing where people are holding tensions with local muscle. At the level at which I've been working of late, I'm looking more at "purity" as opposed to worrying about application, too much. But to your last point, as I transition more back into that space, I'm hoping to be able to bring the clinical perspective to spend more time "listening" to what's happening in me under pressure and how different types of responses affect the other guy. Also, playing with levels of being strong, powerful, ghostly, etc. . . which to me is all about control in the martial arts responding to changing environmental factors - as opposed to control being the "setup" of all the pieces in my favor (also a good skill, but probably already the chief "combative" training in places that don't really spar).

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
There are certain things you are going to look for in IP/aiki that have to be there, but the ways to train it or develop it are not all the same. Of course there are different methods and different accents in movement and use in different arts the key though is that a lot of it is based on some common and necessary elements, but some isn't. Mores the point, they have different accents in critical movement and use. What has not been discussed is how where and why various internal aspects drive, and join with certain external movements or "rules" that prevent a host of structural flaws, and/ or build some rather profound physical changes that are excellent for fighting with weapons or without.
In other words "connecting the body" -while potent- is not a panacea for all the movement issues that ail the typical MA person.
It's why I continually state this stuff is not "all the same."
I don't think there can be such a thing as a "panacea", there's far too much individual obsession, effort and work to be done. If it were as easy as being given a silver bullet to fire, I think there would be a lot more people with high level IS skills. I am going to be curious to see how your efforts in training people results in folks with repeatable higher level IS skills - beyond the people that regularly come to your barn (renovated, huh? Nice!) - but the folks you give work to do and can see a couple/few times a year .. how much can you drive them versus demonstrate how they have to own and obsess over it? And yeah, no disagreements that this stuff isn't all the same . . But even the stuff that's traditionally been withheld I don't think will be a panacea to those that don't do the work.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Interesting.
On what basis would you say #1 and #2 are different?
And where and how do you see them as the same?
I see them being divided in that you have the basic conditioning of the body/mind (how you strengthen the legs/middle/back, etc. for example and coordinate with intent to direct forces along those power clusters) . . then you have the application of this into a martial art, free fighting, basic every day tasks, whatever .. I think at some level when you aren't thinking about technique, the lines will blur as the body will carry itself appropriately regardless of the external input (within limits, etc.) . . this is where I see them as becoming exactly the same - at some point your body/mind moves the way they do according to the "rules" you've built and trained over time. To your point, I can definitely see how some methods may be more appropriate for certain "containers", depending on the goals, etc.

The biggest risk - and the reason at my foot-in-door level I keep them separated - is that too soon into the "application" threshold without having developed the body foundationally to carry itself a certain way, is that the exercises geared more towards mimicing the form (or in sparring, which is more telling, abandoning the form once you've reached a certain level - but until then, flailing around somewhat trying to impose a grasp of order in increasingly chaotic situations) I found myself reverting to older habits and finding conflicts where I wasn't progressing in the foundational "stuff. So, it's just my cleaner break right now. Perhaps in a year or two I'll feel differently.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
The clinical discussion
I don't think there really ever was any. I think many of the "so called" clinical discussions have been "around" the topic with very little actual information. Some information has been borrowed from some "surprising" sources and later used for some "surprising" people's training. Okay, fine. What is NOT okay is when the source was later denied, misquoted and mischaracterized and then that information suddenly became what certain people knew and were doing all along. Oh well, just Budo…..right?
I haven't met the guy here (or in person) worth calling an expert in all the martial arts yet. He may know his shtick right well, but there are some seriously good alternates and spins on things out there. I keep hoping that as more and more senior Budo teachers and men who can really fight get involved with IP/aiki, there might be a better level of honesty, integrity and character involved in these discussions. ]
That's the desired state, for sure. I think because of the reletave "immaturity" of mainstream practice of "this stuff" it still is something of a niche topic. So, there's the serious seekers, the joiners, the tourists, a whole range and mix. As you've said, in person, demonstrating what you can do - resolves quite a few of the "ifs and maybes" discussions . . but then I also hold out hope that the maturity of these discussions in more mainstream (relatively speaking, Aikiweb only represents a fraction of Aiki practitioners) areas will gain some traction as well - if for no other reason than to shine a beacon for those that may be serious inquirers into the topic. Interesting times right now and I expect them to only get more so.

Quote:
Dan Harden wrote: View Post
Almost forgot the topic.
IMO, control begins with controlling yourself, it is really the only way to control others, and you will never do it as well as someone who has an understanding of IP/aiki. The more that "energy use" is balanced within us, the less likely we are to get "caught." I have found that for many in the aiki arts-including most of the teachers I have met- they are clearly still in need of working on that.

As you have noted, Budd, this training sure can be good, clean fun if you have the right attitude. I like Meik Skoss's admonition, "Where all just bums on the budo bus," hopefully sharing experiences and insights. I look at all of this more like a collaborative and grand experiment and exchange.
Good luck in your training.
Cheers
Dan
Yeah, I keep looking at it as an ongoing filtering process . . who is genuinely seeking, who is available for information, who is willing to communicate, etc.? There's so many tangential aspects of who you ask, how you conduct yourself, how you train it, how it incorporates into what you're already doing - what you have to radically change. I think two inhibitors out of the box are 1) Assuming you're already doing sorta "this stuff" and that what you learn is just an add-on 2) Not figuring out how to ferociously critique every single thing you are doing (the antithesis of "yeah, I sorta get it and will get better with repetition and practice").

Anyways, good discussion, thanks.
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Old 05-21-2010, 02:26 PM   #23
DH
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

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Phi Truong wrote: View Post
Dan, would you be open to discuss the "structural flaws" ? and under what circumstances would those flaws expose? thanks.
Well I think everyone has their own opinions

There are too many to cover well, but Major ones IMO:
Shoulder driven power; lifting, separating, pulling or drawing down, (easy to see, easy to read easy to overcome and manipulate)
Hip driven power (easy to read in fighting and the basis for most throws)
Tight groin and hips (see above)
Not moving from the center (which makes it easy to read you while fighting as you constantly have to shift, one side to the other to fire-off anything; kicks, strikes, throws)
One side weighted (see above)
Not understanding central axis and how it supports itself in unified movement
Turning from the hips (although it is used in ICMA and many of the new JMA as well)
Extending or pulling-in, in unsupported single-side muscle driven movement with the hand and feet on the same side to power which opens you up for double weightedness
Always using the elbow and hand together
Always using the foot and knee, together
Isolation in movement
Not understanding how to use the body to counterweight itself under various pressures in all angles.
Tucking the sacrum (personal opinion, I think it is leaves the body vulnerable and there is a better way)
Letting power into your structure at contact points then training to physically move your whole body around it, as well as letting power in and then...tying to manipulate it after. While these are more of a "use" issue, there is a conditioning method to change how you manage force, so I would place it as a structural weakness or vulnerability for a lot of people as they just could not switch over by choice.

Mind you thats just my opinion
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 05-21-2010 at 02:30 PM.
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Old 05-21-2010, 08:30 PM   #24
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Dan Harden wrote:
"There are too many to cover well, but Major ones IMO:

Hip driven power (easy to read in fighting and the basis for most throws)
Tight groin and hips (see above)
Not understanding central axis and how it supports itself in unified movement
Turning from the hips (although it is used in ICMA and many of the new JMA as well)"


The tight groin and hips is one of my problems and something i have tried in vain to sort out. Though i have noticed that by practising Hong Junsheng's foundation work my hips feel like they are being stretched. Though frankly at this moment i am not sure if this is a the hips opening up or creating more tension in them. This is also a problem i have when wanting to issue force, a couple of days ago my teacher had me place my hands on his chest and then asked me to issue force. I found that the more i though about it the less i was able to do it, where as if he suddenly put pressure on me then i was able to bounce it back. The problem was after some time he said "That's good! Now do it on someone else!" As soon as another person was standing in front of me my mind froze up again and it was back to square one. Issuing and turning the hara/dan tian is really becoming a problem for me.

In terms of moving from the central axis does this clip give an indication of what you are talking about? Though the clip isn't so clear as people get in the way. In between people touching him (Li Chugong), you can see him showing some movement.

http://www.56.com/u71/v_NDk0MjIxODA.html

"Tucking the sacrum (personal opinion, I think it is leaves the body vulnerable and there is a better way) "

This is interesting as the majority of ICMA say to do this. Though my own teacher says not to do this as it will creat tension in the groin. Instead he says we should simply allow it relax down.

"Letting power into your structure at contact points then training to physically move your whole body around it, as well as letting power in and then...tying to manipulate it after. While these are more of a "use" issue, there is a conditioning method to change how you manage force, so I would place it as a structural weakness or vulnerability for a lot of people as they just could not switch over by choice."

Again this is something i tend to do. When someone pushes on me i try to channel the power down to the opposite side and then bring it back up, which i feel is slow and inefficient. When you say "there is a conditioning method to change how you manage force" in what way does this management of force differ to the one mentioned above?

Allan

Last edited by AllanF : 05-21-2010 at 08:43 PM.
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Old 05-22-2010, 06:50 AM   #25
DH
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Re: Control in the martial arts.

Hi Allen
Just quick, I gotta go train myself.....
It is the action of LC moving his waist and winding that powers his legs either sinking and in or rising and out in the video. If you watch around 1:35 or so you see him moving from the center but his hips (which hardly move) follow and are led by the waist. Now watch the guy in black to his left mimic him. He is moving from where? His hips. He will never get the same type of power and he will be more easily off lined (or in grappling, thrown) through them for his effort.

I have specific things I have people do to loosen up their hips from their waist but you already are in China and have a teacher to draw from. What is he telling you to do....more forms?

Tucking the sacrum is what I call "all-in" you are loading the legs on both sides, then you need to turn them or rotate around a line. You can see it in how some people move. You can also see it in some popular exercises people are doing right now. It has power and good up energy but it is more "fixed" than what I'm interested in. What is interesting is that in hip movement at any point in time you are on one side of that line.
It can also leave you in that popular (and in my opinion ill advised) "one legged army" everything goes to one path to the ground feel. FWIW, it's anathema or counter productive to good Japanese weapons work as well.
I like the two feet working together to twine around the middle myself. Think of it like two paths to the ground, instead of one -always working around like a DNA model one foot to the other hand.

With the sacrum neutral or even going slightly backward you can sink in the groin, then rotate "around the central line" making THEM work around that line and leaving them open to being off-lined, all while you are splitting the energy left / right, up/down, in/ out and turning. That way you can power the leg down and out or up and out, or cut a line drawing down and bisecting the body line and rotating (say a Naginata) and cutting up on the opposite side. Doing that with the hips is way to slow and can leave the end of the spear more open for countering.
Since I have fought with both methods one from my youth, and one in the last twenty years, I would offer that through experience (and failing repeatedly while learning) the later method is a better way to go in freestyle fighting, with various weapons and empty hands in modern venues.
Cheers
Dan

Last edited by DH : 05-22-2010 at 07:04 AM.
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