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Old 02-06-2006, 09:50 PM   #126
Edwin Neal
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Re: Self-defense art?

ooww peter just give it a few raps on the lid... or practice your yonkyo 'aikido death grip'... actually i cheat with one of those rubber gripper thingies...

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-07-2006, 12:50 AM   #127
Pauliina Lievonen
 
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Re: Self-defense art?

Actually it's a Mom thing. Everybody in my family gives jars to my mom to open. But then again, she can fell trees with her bare hands...

kvaak
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Old 02-07-2006, 03:19 AM   #128
Nick Simpson
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Re: Self-defense art?

'Do i have the right to call him sensei even know he is waiting for shodan.'

Well, you cant call him what he doesnt want to be called. But for some perspective on the above, Im an Ikkyu waiting to take my shodan exam sometime this year (possibly in the summer), I am also the assistant instructor at my dojo. When I teach a class Im reffered to as sensei, even by dan grades, I dont feel entirely comfortable with it, but its just ettiquette and good practise. It's the way things are done here.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 02-07-2006, 03:33 AM   #129
PeterR
 
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Re: Self-defense art?

Hmmm that's interesting.

Is that common?

We often have deshi teach classes where they are not the highest ranked person but it is uncommon for them to be referred to as sensei in that sense (there's a pun in there) by those higher ranked unless they are being referred to a third party that does under rank them.

That's not meant to sound that complicated. Basically sensei implies a certain seniority rather than just who leads the class.

Peter Rehse Shodokan Aikido
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Old 02-07-2006, 04:18 AM   #130
doronin
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Re: Self-defense art?

The thread became very interesting,.. but I would appreciate if someone can explain me why do we expect the "proper" Aikido training to cover the self-defense field in full. I don't mean to question necessity for realistic trainig, but the claims that traditional Aikido training doesn't get you prepared to deal in such fields as groundwork, striking-n-kicking, etc.
As far as I remember samurai were required to acquire the required skills in minimum 5 or 6 martial arts. Which means those martial arts weren't expected each to cover all the field, but rather to specialize on one of the fighting aspects.
For example, I hardly believe Kyudo students expected their art to cover ground work, and those who would care about "self-defence" of those times would propably pick some another art specializing on bare hand and/or sword fighting to complement their Kyudo training.
So why is Aikido different in that matter?
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Old 02-07-2006, 06:08 AM   #131
Josh Reyer
 
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Re: Self-defense art?

Quote:
Nick Simpson wrote:
'Do i have the right to call him sensei even know he is waiting for shodan.'

Well, you cant call him what he doesnt want to be called. But for some perspective on the above, Im an Ikkyu waiting to take my shodan exam sometime this year (possibly in the summer), I am also the assistant instructor at my dojo. When I teach a class Im reffered to as sensei, even by dan grades, I dont feel entirely comfortable with it, but its just ettiquette and good practise. It's the way things are done here.
This would fall under the "acceptance of a certain responsibility" I mentioned in my post. And, am I right in assuming that you are not referred to as sensei off the mat?

As Peter suggests, it is different in Japan, though. Either you're a sensei (and you get called that on and off the mat), or you're not. But then, it's often just a term of address, and doesn't necessarily have all the connotations Justin would like to put into it. I mean, when high school or college students viciously cut down a teacher they hate, they still call him "sensei".

Josh Reyer

The lyf so short, the crafte so longe to lerne,
Th'assay so harde, so sharpe the conquerynge...
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Old 02-07-2006, 08:26 AM   #132
Nick Simpson
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Re: Self-defense art?

Nobody is referred to as 'sensei' off the mat in our organisation. On the mat, the person who is leading the class is called sensei and anyone 4th dan or above is always called sensei when they are on the mat.

'Is that common?'

Nope, to my knowledge I am the only current kyu grade in the organisation who teaches (whether as an assistant or taking a full class). The reason for it being that I am the senior student in my instructors class. When he is on nightshift/injured/otherwise unable to teach he needs someone to take the class for him. So thats where I come in, although other dan grades sometimes attend the class, they are not his students, so I teach for him. It's all official. And stuff.

Our regional instructor who is a 5th dan regularly comes and trains. I still call him Sensei when he is on the mat by the way.

They're all screaming about the rock n roll, but I would say that it's getting old. - REFUSED.
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Old 02-07-2006, 10:07 AM   #133
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Re: Self-defense art?

Quote:
Edwin Neal wrote:
Come on lets not get all full of ourselves here...
the learning curve of aikido ten times other MA??? PROVE this don't just state it...this can be construed as egotistical and often is by people new to the martial arts or other MA... our art is so incredible that it takes a lifetime to learn implies others are so much easier and thus "not as good"...the "basic physical movements" of aikido can be learned in less than a year... does this mean "mastery"? no... does it mean that you "could" use the "basic physical movements" for self-defense? the answer must be yes... does this mean you know everything there is to know about aikido? of course not... People who would make claims that aikido is SOOO incredibly complex must be prepared to back them up... i DO NOT know how to play basketball... if i had up to lets say one year to practice under the guidance of a good coach i could learn the basic rules and physical skills of the game... does that mean i am ready for the NBA or even have a "black belt" in basketball... probably not, nearly certainly not in my case... I am saying that people that say things like it takes too long to be practical, MUST be missing the point of aikido altogether... aikido must be martially viable! If you cannot even protect yourself, you cannot even HOPE to not cause harm to a potential attacker... do i mean everyone will be able to use their aikido successfully in a self defense situation after one years training... no that depends on the situation there are no guarantee's in such a situation with any martial art however long you have studied...
I am willing to accept testimonials... come on folks... tell me your story have you used your "basic physical aikido skills" in any kind of "situation", before you studied for "many years" maybe 10 times more than any other art? my personal experiences tell me that i did in fact have skills that were useful in a relatively short time... but i still have much to learn as well... just because our art is "infinitely" rich doesn't mean it takes infinity to get it...
vs.

Quote:
Ignatius Teo wrote:

Allow me to offer a different perspective of "self-defense". Let's just take the first part - "self". What is the "self"? When you have the answer to that question, then what is the "REAL" self? If you are dead, where is your SELF?

When you can answer that, then we can start to talk about "defense" and why you feel it necessary to defend the SELF....

Often we look outside of ourselves for a panacea that provides some perceivable promise of protection. What we often fail to do, is introspectively look at ourselves. The answer to self-defense or rather the ability to defend one's self, lies not in some external art form, but in the very core of our BEING; external forms are merely a vehicle for expressing the inner SELF.

The question should not be, can aikido [or any other martial art] be a good self-defense art, but rather, if I need to, can I defend my SELF with the art. My question is, do you need to?
Perhaps these are the two extremes in Aikido. Instructors teach differently--some focus on techniques, some on the spiritual aspects, some, unfortunately, on neither. If you talk to the instructor, perhaps he or she can guide you to what would best fit you, even if it isn't aikido.

C
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Old 02-07-2006, 02:04 PM   #134
Kevin Leavitt
 
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Re: Self-defense art?

So why is Aikido different in that matter? (in regards to training for self defense)

I didn't have a chance to read through all the discussion, but since you asked here I will bite.

I think the samurai etc and those that study SU arts had a focus on employing the tactics in a military situation. Therefore they practice only those things that benefited them in combat. As weapons systems and tactics change so do the things they focus on.

The establishment of the DO arts, in this case aikido used this as the base, (SU arts) however the reason for studying the arts is a totally different focus from a DO perspective. Being a realitively young art established in the last 50 years and having the founders students still in charge for the most part only on layer down from O'Sensei...I think aikido is very unique in the fact that it has remained somewhat true to the founders original focus and intent of the DO art of aikido.

Self defense is simply not a strong concern of the DO art that is designed to teach you the "WAY" and not the techniques of self defense.

I could go on my usual disertation about why empty hand MA are really a poor method of self defense, but that is another discussion entirely! Simply put, IMHO, studying these arts if your overwhelming need for studying is to defend yourself is not efficient. There are other things that can be done that are much more better use of your time!
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Old 02-07-2006, 06:52 PM   #135
Michael Varin
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Re: Self-defense art?

Kevin Leavitt said, "I could go on my usual disertation about why empty hand MA are really a poor method of self defense, but that is another discussion entirely!"

Kevin,

Actually, it is not another discussion. Those are precisely the kinds of issues I was hoping people would address. I realize that this thread has become a long one, so here, again, are some of the questions that I posed in my postings:

Is aikido useful in self-defense situations? Why or why not?
What are good self-defense arts?
What aspects of a martial art make it useful or not for self-defense? What are the factors that decrease the time required to be functional from a practical standpoint?
Is self-defense even important?
What do you out there consider to be self defense situations? Or where and in what situations do you expect your martial arts to work for you?
Why do we always think of boxers when we talk about self-defense, real fighting, etc?
What is your opinion on size and defensive capability?
Isn't the proper use of weapons the only thing that offers you a truly overwhelming advantage?
Where does aiki fit into all of this?

I don't expect anyone to methodically answer this list of questions. I just wanted to use them to spark a discussion.

Michael
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Old 02-07-2006, 07:16 PM   #136
senshincenter
 
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Re: Self-defense art?

I'll take a stab at this:

Is aikido useful in self-defense situations?

There is no single Aikido -- not in terms of study, application, or understanding. Thus, this answer has to be "perhaps."

Why or why not?

This answer will have to wait until an example of Aikido is given.

What are good self-defense arts?

This question is misleading. It makes too much of "art." It also ignores the fact that what makes an "art" self-defense applicable is its own transcendence.

What aspects of a martial art make it useful or not for self-defense?

See Burton's list and my small additions to deduce what this might be.

What are the factors that decrease the time required to be functional from a practical standpoint?

In terms of months, the number of weeks one trains; in terms of weeks, the number of days one trains; in terms of days, the number of hours one trains, in terms of hours, the number of minutes one is training (not talking, thinking, debating, etc.)

Is self-defense even important?

Self-defense is important if you are in a self-defense situation. A capacity for self-defense, because of its relationship to the transcendence of the given art, is important because of its relationship to spiritual maturity.

What do you out there consider to be self defense situations?

When you are attacked with physical violence.

Or where and in what situations do you expect your martial arts to work for you?

The whole of my life.

Why do we always think of boxers when we talk about self-defense, real fighting, etc?

I don't, but if I were to answer for the abstract "we," I would think it is because the abstract "we" tends not to have spontaneous training environements.

What is your opinion on size and defensive capability?

Get your ass as strong as it can be, get your ass as skilled as it can be, then if you are facing someone who still requires an even higher work capacity get a weapon and repeat the former. Still, as my Kenpo instructor says, "Some folks are so big, you just got to shoot them."

Isn't the proper use of weapons the only thing that offers you a truly overwhelming advantage?

Sometimes one can establish this advantage without a weapons, sometimes not even a weapon is enough. Nevertheless, a weapon without skilled hand-to-hand skills, plus training, etc., is hardly as effective as a weapon with. Weapon use should never exempt one from training in the martial sciences regarding hand-to-hand combat.

Where does aiki fit into all of this?

Aiki is both the ultimate mechanical advantage and the most mature state of human spirit.

Last edited by senshincenter : 02-07-2006 at 07:22 PM.

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-08-2006, 06:56 AM   #137
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Re: Self-defense art?

Well said David. I agree with almost everything you said. I would like to add to the "good self defense arts." IMHO there are no true self defense arts, there are self defense principles. I believe an art is a study, usually a lengthy process at that. In that regard, martial arts are a study into martial principles which may or may not lend themselves to a self defense situation. As a result, no art is the right choice for a student only interested in self defense. Self defense principles are a way to enhance survivability in these situations. Self defense principles include awareness, adaptability, fitness, strength, ability to improvise, instinct, training, and experience. While this list is not all encompassing, I think it give you and idea.

If you look at the principles of self defense, you can see how Aikido, or any martial art, could fit into some of these characteristics. However, because of the nature of martial arts study, it does not lend itself to self-defense. Most obviously martial arts will help in the training principle and possibly fitness and awareness, depending on your level of study. However things like improvising and instinct are usually not focused on (these are just examples). As a result, ones ability to survive a violent altercation are reduced. Now if an Aikidoka recognizes what principles could apply to self defense and trains on the ones that are missed, like strength or cardiovascular fitness, they could enhance their ability to survive.

The important thing to remember is that the actual physical confrontation is usually the final part of the scenario. There are usually several opportunities to avoid the situation all together by applying common sense self-defense. However when it does occur, it will be fast and violent and the winner is not always the most technically proficient, but often the one with the most will to win.

Gregory Makuch
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Old 02-08-2006, 12:08 PM   #138
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Re: Self-defense art?

I think in my understanding of things, I assume an art to be a study and application of principles. This is why it went unsaid by me. I am thoroughly against the idea of arts being made up of techniques - for example. That said, I'm wondering what you mean when you suggest that there are martial principles that do not lend themselves to self-defense situations (You wrote: "In that regard, martial arts are a study into martial principles which may or may not lend themselves to a self defense situation.") I would have no idea what those principles might be, and I'm wondering if perhaps you are making use of a contrast that I myself would not hold - namely between "self defense" and "martial art." I also wonder how valid that contrast may be when we are talking about principles.

I imagine we have different understandings as to the nature of the martial arts, but that is something I said is most likely to happen - see my first answer. For example, you mentioned fitness and strength, two things that I brought up earlier in this thread and that have raised further discussion. When you mentioned them, it could be read as if you are suggesting these are not part of the martial arts (whereas I implied they should be for all). While, as I said before, it is often not part of many understandings of Aikido, I also implied that there are some Aikido dojo (e.g. my own), as well as some representatives from every art, that see this as very much a part of one's overall training. This is because, for example, one expects practitioners to be on the mat as much as they can - with daily training being held up as the ideal (made up of multiple hours each day). As a result, one is going to get fit and strong, etc., by training and in order to continue training daily in the given martial art. Additionally, when daily training is held up as the ideal, in order to train daily, the practitioner is going to have to find ways to condition his/her body to better deal with the curriculum. As a result, one is going to be motivated - quite directly - to do outside work to increase one's physical fitness (e.g. gaining strength, flexibility, aerobic capacity).

As to the contrast between martial arts and self-defense... My personal opinion is that it is a marketing strategy that seeks to take advantage of two interrelated cases of ignorance and modern culture's dependency upon Fear. The first case of ignorance revolves around the fact that most people suck in the martial arts; and the second case of ignorance revolves around the fact that most people who suck in the martial arts do so because they do not train long enough, or with enough commitment and/or investment. What do you get when you combine these two cases of ignorance: The Self-Defense Industry. However, the Self-Defense Industry itself lies firmly upon an ignorance of its own - one it obtained from the general martial arts population like some sort of STD (i.e. this ignorance came in via the other two cases of ignorance from which it was born). The ignorance of which I speak is that of assuming that introduction means application (i.e. that a technique shown is a technique one can do). After this ignorance is exposed for what it is, I'm sure a new industry will arise - maybe something like in The Matrix - where technology can lend a hand in dealing with the common human tendency to not do work, to want things fast, and to have things go easy. In the future, as need drives the market, I do imagine one day a person can be "jacked in" and few seconds later say, "Uh, I know Aikido." Still, we'll have to wait to see if he/she can actually DO Aikido.

Last edited by senshincenter : 02-08-2006 at 12:11 PM.

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-08-2006, 01:45 PM   #139
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Re: Self-defense art?

Dave,

My interpretation is martial arts, not limiting this to just Aikido, are a study of combat arts. Practice with empty hands as well as weapons (sword, knife, etc), offense and defense. Martial arts are about more than defending oneself, they are the arts of war and intertwined in these arts are the rules that the warrior lives by. What is learned in traditional martial arts schools contains a lot of non-essential ideals for the self-defense student. Many martial art schools focus on techniques derived from classical weapon attacks or on rudimentary attacks to allow students to grasp the concepts. These are often complex techniques which require years to become proficient at; which is precisely why many of us continue our quest.

Self-defense needs to be simple and effective and able to be applied in any environment. I've seen many martial arts students lose in a self defense situation because the environment was not conducive to the techniques they had spent years learning. The police and military both recognize this and have incorporated a very limited number of simple techniques that can be used in many different scenarios from many different positions with any configuration of equipment on. Martial arts do not lend themselves to rapid assimilation and implementation.

While I agree fitness and strength should be an integral part of a martial arts training program, the reality is it is not. If we judge martial arts proficiency on ability to implement the techniques in and effective way, strength and fitness would be crucial. I have worked with many dan ranked martial artists, that lacked the physical strength to be effective. While their mechanics were excellent, their execution was weak. To many martial arts schools do not promote the overall artist, not just techniques.

No arguments on the self-defense industry. Please don't confuse my belief that traditional martial arts are not ideal for self-defense as an endorsement for the self defense industry. It is merely an acknowledgement the martial arts should be supplemented with other applicable training.

Okay, I've ranted long enough, I hope I wasn't too incoherent

Gregory Makuch
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Old 02-08-2006, 03:05 PM   #140
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Re: Self-defense art?

Hi Gregory,

Thanks for the reply.

I can agree that martial arts are about "more" than defending oneself (though I tend to stay away from that quantitative word). However, the part that is confusing for me is that if we are dealing with principles here, and if martial arts contains "more" principles than self-defense, then why is it possible to say that self-defense is not fulfilled by this "more" of the martial arts. That is why I was asking for a specific martial principle that one sees in martial arts but that cannot be used in self-defense training and/or application. I cannot for the life of me think of one right now - not of the top of my head at least. So I am again leaving that question out there...?

Of course, for me, I would not call a moral or social code (even if it supposedly belongs to a warrior class) a martial principle (You wrote: "Martial arts are about more than defending oneself, they are the arts of war and intertwined in these arts are the rules that the warrior lives by."). Perhaps that is where we are talking past each other. For me, a martial principle is something like "clearing the line of attack," "there is more force at the distal end of a lever traveling upon an arch," "the lower your center of gravity, the more stable your base," etc. A thing like "respect your seniors," for example, is a moral or a social principle - not a martial principle for me. For me, martial principles have to do with the structures of human combat - not the structures of human combatants in their social or cultural settings. If you mean the latter, then yes, I would agree, there are things in the martial arts that do not lend themselves directly to self-defense applications. However, we cannot then jump from this position to suggesting that the martial arts does not cover self-defense in full. We can only say what we have said: the martial arts covers more than self-defense (though it covers self-defense fully).

You wrote: "Many martial art schools focus on techniques derived from classical weapon attacks or on rudimentary attacks to allow students to grasp the concepts. These are often complex techniques which require years to become proficient at; which is precisely why many of us continue our quest."

As I mentioned, this is not how I feel we should understand our practice - no as long as spontaneous application is our concern (which must be if you are interested in self-defense)(I feel it must be even if our concern is spiritual). This is a focus on technique - not on principle. Whether our techniques be long or short - attention should be placed upon principle. In which case, it matters not if our technique is long or short because it matters not what are techniques are. The only concern for a technique that we should have is if it is constructed of sound principle - my opinion.

You wrote: "Self-defense needs to be simple and effective and able to be applied in any environment. I've seen many martial arts students lose in a self defense situation because the environment was not conducive to the techniques they had spent years learning."

I would say martial arts fails here because it, like self-defense, has become technique oriented - falling from its principle-based orientation. If the martial arts practitioner was training from principle to principle, all the while seeking to cultivate a spontaneous capacity for embodying those principles, it matters not how the environment changes. This is a very important level of maturity since one can never create a training scenario for every application. And if one is skilled, or if one wants to be skilled, one will have to move beyond the luck and convenience of having his training environments matched by the happenstance of real life. For me, it is not the martial arts that failed these practitioners you mentioned, it is they that failed to live up to the martial arts and its ideals and principles. In other words, we are looking at bad martial artists, not at a case of martial arts being bad.

Additionally, I think this is that STD ignorance of the Self-Defense Industry. It all makes sense if you accept the assumption that learning something is the same as being able to do something. The traditional martial arts rejects this notion - hence, SHU-HA-RI; hence, TAKEMUSU AIKI. Whereas, bad martial artists and self-defense proponents share this in common. In real life, a move is made "easy" or "simplistic" not by its construction but by the body/mind's capacity to remain unfettered while within a state of violence. The idea that there are simply moves out there that once learned you can do them with consistent success and thus consider yourself able to "defend your self," is a pipe dream - a marketing gimmick. If it works for a person, it does so only in the way that a placebo does or otherwise it was luck (or the ineptness of the attacker), not skill.

You wrote: "The police and military both recognize this and have incorporated a very limited number of simple techniques that can be used in many different scenarios from many different positions with any configuration of equipment on. Martial arts do not lend themselves to rapid assimilation and implementation."

My Kenpo instructor is actually a special forces hand-to-hand and knife combat instructor - Michael Robert Pick (10th Special Forces Group, Airborne). I don't want to speak from him, but I can say here that his impression of things is quite at odds with your summary. I can comment for myself however, as I train law enforcement agents on a bi-weekly basis, have taught advanced courses at the police academy, am about to be POST certified though a civilian, and have had things set in motion to have our Arrest and Control program accepted by POST as an advanced program for instructors. I don't want to offend any law enforcement agent out there, but my experience with the implementation of this tactical philosophy is the same as any other officer that is truly honest about his/her training - it is far from sufficient/adequate. George Ledyard gave a great summary of this - I believe it was in this thread, early on - and my experience is 100% in agreement with his: The idea of a very limited number of simple techniques that can be used in many different scenarios from many different positions with any configuration of equipment and that can lend themselves to rapid assimilation and implementation is not what is going on with current law enforcement personal (unless you count dog-piling - which is not officially taught in the academy, mind you). Rather, you have the idea of this glossing over the fact that more training, continuous training, of principle-based martial arts practice is needed (because it is always needed and because one can never get away from this regardless of the claim to have done so).

You wrote: "While I agree fitness and strength should be an integral part of a martial arts training program, the reality is it is not. If we judge martial arts proficiency on ability to implement the techniques in and effective way, strength and fitness would be crucial. I have worked with many dan ranked martial artists, that lacked the physical strength to be effective. While their mechanics were excellent, their execution was weak. To many martial arts schools do not promote the overall artist, not just techniques."

Well some do understand martial arts this way - they train daily and they train hard. They get strong, and they have effective technique. I personally think this is how one should understand the martial arts. The fact that most don't only tells me I'm on the right track - since the masses can never define what comes to us when we seek to leave the realm of mediocrity. Thus, I don't see the martial arts at fault - I see a person's understanding of the martial arts at fault. And because of that, I cannot make the jump in logic that suggests that becomes some folks do not understand the martial arts that those that claim not to do the martial arts are by default correct in their understanding of human combat and thus effective in the application of martial training and martial principle. For me, this is why you are going to see a hell of a lot more physically fit women judo players at the judo dojo then you will see physically fit women training in self-defense at the women's crisis center.

In the end, I think what you consider supplemental training, I consider part and parcel. I guess then it would be up to each of us to suggest why we either keep it separate and/or keep it as a whole.

Good post, thanks so much,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-08-2006, 03:16 PM   #141
Charlie
 
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Re: Self-defense art?

I really must be dense because I have really struggled with this line of thinking…
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My interpretation is martial arts, not limiting this to just Aikido, are a study of combat arts. Practice with empty hands as well as weapons (sword, knife, etc), offense and defense. Martial arts are about more than defending oneself, they are the arts of war and intertwined in these arts are the rules that the warrior lives by...
Am I to believe that if I strive to learn a martial art, strive to become efficient in the ways to wage war and learn the rules of ‘being' a warrior, that I cannot make the next obvious transition to see were the practical application is? This line of thinking [for me] just indicates how fractured people's idea of studying a ‘way' can be. In other words, this is for studying this and that is for studying that.

One can say that the ‘way' teaches you offense/defense and goes beyond just learning to defend yourself but yet you will not be able to apply what you learn in a real application scenario because it is too long and complex. Well then, what is missing from this equation that you cannot make this necessary transition? What allows you to be able to tell yourself and others that the way you practice is martially viable yet you cannot transition from theory to reality?
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What is learned in traditional martial arts schools contains a lot of non-essential ideals for the self-defense student. Many martial art schools focus on techniques derived from classical weapon attacks or on rudimentary attacks to allow students to grasp the concepts. These are often complex techniques which require years to become proficient at; which is precisely why many of us continue our quest…
Yes this can be true. But if you were really training in the ways of warfare you would recognize this and be able to extract what you need from the classics to use in a situation based in reality. Every branch of the services has war colleges where they hold war games. In these schools they take known military situations and conflicts and dissect them. Learn the strategies that are effective and where the mistakes were made. They don't discard what is learned from these exercises and techniques of warfare because they are outdated modes of warfare that don't necessarily apply to today's battlefield. Instead they learn to make them viable for today. Solid military technique remains solid as long as you apply it in a context that remains tactfully sound for that situation [i.e. adaptability].
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Self-defense needs to be simple and effective and able to be applied in any environment. I've seen many martial arts students lose in a self defense situation because the environment was not conducive to the techniques they had spent years learning.
Well that speaks volumes right there doesn't it?
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The police and military both recognize this and have incorporated a very limited number of simple techniques that can be used in many different scenarios from many different positions with any configuration of equipment on. Martial arts do not lend themselves to rapid assimilation and implementation.
And then train in a manner as such that they will be able to use them if necessary. If they take simple techniques and do not train in them correctly [e.g. in the manner that has been debated through out this whole thread] then they will have the same problems that we are debating now.
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While I agree fitness and strength should be an integral part of a martial arts training program, the reality is it is not. If we judge martial arts proficiency on ability to implement the techniques in and effective way, strength and fitness would be crucial. I have worked with many dan ranked martial artists, that lacked the physical strength to be effective. While their mechanics were excellent, their execution was weak. To many martial arts schools do not promote the overall artist, not just techniques.
Then it is not a complete and effective way to study a martial art then is it? Training in this way that produces this result should probably be labeled something closer to what it really resembles, that being a philosophical method of dealing with conflict presented in a pseudo-martial context.

Regards,

Charles

Charles Burmeister
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Old 02-08-2006, 03:18 PM   #142
Charlie
 
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Re: Self-defense art?

Uh Oh...I just posted my respose...looks like David beat me to the punch. Yeah ditto...what he said LOL!

Last edited by Charlie : 02-08-2006 at 03:28 PM.

Charles Burmeister
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Old 02-08-2006, 07:47 PM   #143
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Re: Self-defense art?

Well this has turned into a very interesting thread. Dave, I'm sorry I'm not articulating my principle concept clearer, sometimes my thought process only makes sense to me (at least that is what my wife is always telling me ) I'll address a few things from multiple posts:

Charles wrote, "Yes this can be true. But if you were really training in the ways of warfare you would recognize this and be able to extract what you need from the classics to use in a situation based in reality." This is exactly my point, in a split second of reaction you don't have time to "extract" what is viable. The military has a saying, "train as you fight." This is as applicable to our discussion. The military, and I'm sorry for the repeated references to the military but I think it's appropriate, understands that adding unneeded repetitious movements will cause the body to react that way under stress. The body has a unique way of reacting in conjunction with its conditioning. LTC Dave Grossman's book "On Killing" examines this phenomenon as the desire not to kill is conditioned out of soldiers to increase effectiveness on the battlefield. When you train repeatedly a certain way, you will react that way. So while you may be able to examine a technique in class and extract what is pertinent, in application under stress you will most likely execute exactly as practiced.

Dave I disagree with the statement that a moral or social code is not a martial principle. The Law of War adhered to by (or at least they are supposed to) is very much a part of martial principles. It dictates what are acceptable actions for the warrior.

Now the $64,000 question: First, I think part of our communication breakdown is not in the number of principles, but in the applicability of the principles from one to the other. Do the traditional martial arts teach improvising? Do they address non-traditional scenarios (from you car, sitting at a table, while carrying groceries or luggage, etc)? Are they practiced in confining clothing wearing dress shoes, high heels (stop laughing, for the women students), etc? These are all critical aspects of self defense that are lacking in traditional dojos.

Dave it sounds like your dojo (and from what your web site says) really places emphasis on the total training concept. I believe that is the best way to train. I am not disputing that should be the goal of every martial artist. However the reality is many students are in martial arts for confidence and self-defense and are never given the mental and physical tools to truly do that.

As for the police and military training, there is definitely a transition in training principles. Armed forces and police departments are adapting more hand-to-hand training and more intensive standards. The minimalistic training that use to take place is going away. And I agree that many are taught just enough to get themselves seriously hurt. I hope the area you are in is not an anomaly, but the officers I know are still paying to train on their own because they are not provided adequate training by their departments (including the Massachusetts State Police).

My final point of this post will be Dave's comment about fitness. Dave you used the example of fit women at the judo dojo vs. a "self-defense" course. I agree, however I don't know if that's a proponent of martial arts training or that particular training. I have trained Aikido all over the country and my sons competed in judo. Generally speaking the women who trained in judo were in much better shape than the Aikidoka as well. I'm not trying to offend anyone, I'm generalizing. So I'm not convinced the martial arts is the reason for the fitness, because it is not a consistent standard.

For everyone: I am not advocating for separating fitness and martial arts, or for "self-defense" schools. I am merely pointing out that many train in a manner unsuited for actual self-defense and many don't realize until they are in a violent confrontation (and then its to late). I would like to see the martial artist be able to accurately recognize their strengths and weaknesses.

Gregory Makuch
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Old 02-08-2006, 08:00 PM   #144
Edwin Neal
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Re: Self-defense art?

Do the traditional martial arts teach improvising? short answer yes... if we look at the spectrum of training here we come up with two extremes much talked about in martial arts today the debate of traditional kata type "dead" (non resistant, compliant) training as opposed to more modern realistic, competition type "live" (resistant, non compliant) training... i think this is a false dichotomy... they are both necessary, and training in either exclusively can produce results, but best results are attained by a proper balance and use of the two...
What porportion of training should each have... i want to give equal emphasis to each... one teaches technical proficiency, the other application, one mental focus and clarity, the other spontaneity...

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-08-2006, 09:35 PM   #145
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Re: Self-defense art?

Hi Gregory,

Thanks for the follow-up.

I'll have to be fast about this -- sorry.


You wrote:

"Charles wrote, "Yes this can be true. But if you were really training in the ways of warfare you would recognize this and be able to extract what you need from the classics to use in a situation based in reality." This is exactly my point, in a split second of reaction you don't have time to "extract" what is viable. The military has a saying, "train as you fight." This is as applicable to our discussion. The military, and I'm sorry for the repeated references to the military but I think it's appropriate, understands that adding unneeded repetitious movements will cause the body to react that way under stress. The body has a unique way of reacting in conjunction with its conditioning. LTC Dave Grossman's book "On Killing" examines this phenomenon as the desire not to kill is conditioned out of soldiers to increase effectiveness on the battlefield. When you train repeatedly a certain way, you will react that way. So while you may be able to examine a technique in class and extract what is pertinent, in application under stress you will most likely execute exactly as practiced."

There are several points here that have been glossed over in my opinion:

- The first is a twofold assumption: that "easier" moves are easier to employ in real life altercations, and that martial arts are out there doing these highly complex moves that the self-defense industry does not do. Neither one is true.

Again, the mind is both the greatest weapon and the greatest opening. If the mind is fettered, every move is "complex" in real life. If the mind is unfettered, no move is "complex." In real life, the mind alone makes something easy or complex. This is the whole point of repetition (though it falls way short in the end) -- a point you make. One is trying to get around the fact that all moves are complex within real conditions regardless of the number of components they may contain. That is why they have you do it over and over again in the military. But martial arts don't see this as a problem solved by repetition. It's a problem of the mind being fettered. One is not after doing simple moves over and over again and saying, "See, I can do it now." It's the mind that counts. That's why a Karate reverse punch, which is very complex to achieve in real life conditions, can take one out just the same as a fighter pilot can go through all his/her procedures in the middle of air defenses and still get the job done -- it's all about the mind.

As I said, I'm thoroughly against the notion that a technique learned means a technique done, so you can imagine then that I still don't hold that repetition is enough. When you have repetition alone, you are trying to address a likelihood via the production of a habit. This is fine for grunts who work en masse, and generals that see things in terms of strategic ends or final numbers and not in terms of individuals (like a self-defense proponent should). However, this is one sure what of having your training work against you on an individual basis -- because real life will almost never duplicate your training experience (one more reason to train via principles and to drop the pipe dream of scenario training). Just look what happened in that famous CHP case where repetition and the production of habit was thought to suffice for the cultivation of the unfettered mind -- where officers were trained not to let their brass drop but to catch it and put in their pocket. Additionally, let us not forget that the military, the self-defense industry, and poor martial arts all hold this idea - that repetition leads to spontaneous action in and of itself. This is not a contrast that one can hold between these groups. Thus, I also will repeat here that I find this mistake being made inside and outside of the martial arts - this is a mistake they often share with the self-defense industry. The difference is that the self-defense industry was the first to jump on the bandwagon of "easy moves means easy access to them in real life" while using the martial arts as a contrast. Where the martial arts goes beyond this, where it should, is that it sees all "reaction" as an immature state of training. Again -- hence, Shu-Ha-Ri, mushin, Takemusu Aiki, etc.

Additionally, we have to say that the military is hardly the place to uphold the logic of "train as you fight." All the way to the present, they have been behind serious martial artists regarding bringing as much reality into training as possible. I think it was only in the last decade that they switched to body silhouettes in their firearms training - etc.

You wrote: "Dave I disagree with the statement that a moral or social code is not a martial principle. The Law of War adhered to by (or at least they are supposed to) is very much a part of martial principles. It dictates what are acceptable actions for the warrior."

Well, I can go with us having working definitions for "martial principle" then. You know what I mean and I know what you mean. Thus, I can say, I have no problem saying that moral and/or social codes often associated with "warrior" traditions may have a difficult time directly translating into a self-defense situation. However, I cannot say that strategic and/or tactical principle that one finds in the martial arts is going to not be applicable in a self-defense situations. Additionally, this brings up several points:

- You are holding up the military and the police force as "self-defense" oriented but these organizations have way more moral and/or social codes to confront than the average martial artist that just wants to learn to kick ass.

- Whatever these social and moral codes may be in the martial arts, they are not substitutive for strategic and tactical principles. Thus, just because one may have such social and moral codes in a given martial arts tradition, it does not follow that one does not have sound strategic and tactical principle in that tradition.

- Granted, if one wants to say that such moral and social codes take time away from training in sound strategic and tactical principle, such things in the martial arts could never come close to the time taking away from tactical training in both the military and the police force (which you are upholding). For example, the average police training after the academy out here is 8 hours every two years. I do about 8 hours of training in a day and a quarter.

You wrote: "Now the $64,000 question: First, I think part of our communication breakdown is not in the number of principles, but in the applicability of the principles from one to the other. Do the traditional martial arts teach improvising? Do they address non-traditional scenarios (from you car, sitting at a table, while carrying groceries or luggage, etc)? Are they practiced in confining clothing wearing dress shoes, high heels (stop laughing, for the women students), etc? These are all critical aspects of self defense that are lacking in traditional dojos."

I think there is a jump in logic when one says, "Jon's dojo does not cultivate spontaneity or teach improvisation and therefore self-defense does." It may be true that Jon does not seek to cultivate spontaneity in his dojo, but that makes him fall short of the martial arts. It does not make the martial arts fall short, nor does it lift up the self-defense industry to such training by default.

The fact is that every "premise" the self-defense industry uses today (e.g. fight as you train, simple moves, scenario training, etc.) to sell its goods all came from the martial arts. These are age-old positions and debates that happened long before the self-defense industry came along with its product. Moreover, concerning spontaneity and/or improvisation, the martial arts has the model of Shu-Ha-Ri (and many equivalents) to tell one that if you are not having this stuff be a part of your training, then you are only doing half the picture (maybe not even that).

Thus, the answer to the question, "Do the traditional martial arts teach improvising?" The answer is "yes." Now if you ask, "Does Jon?" the answer is "no." Or, if you ask, "Do most of the modern interpretations of the traditional martial arts teach improvisation?," you may again get a "no." However, here we are dealing with statistical trends and not structural markers. And one cannot structurally dismiss something outright if one cannot show the points being criticized at a structural level. Moreover, one cannot jump from statistical trends on the one hand (i.e. most martial arts schools today don't make improvisation part of their training) to suggesting structural markers on the other (i.e. self-defense does teach improvisation -- it does not, which is why you saw those CHP unable to drop that brass and get in the gunfight). The self-defense industry does not teach improvisation, it only seeks to cultivate a habitual response to a (assumed) likely situation.


You wrote: "My final point of this post will be Dave's comment about fitness. Dave you used the example of fit women at the judo dojo vs. a "self-defense" course. I agree, however I don't know if that's a proponent of martial arts training or that particular training."

Well, my point was that fitness is part of self-defense and that any martial art that aims at self-defense is going to have physically fit people training at their dojo. That was a point I made early on. My last contention regarding this was that you seemed to suggest that self-defense schools (non-martial arts) are filled with these physically fit people -- which is another way that they differ from dojo, and the self-defense school from the martial arts school. My experience with such schools hardly meets this observation -- this was my point. In general, in my experience, self-defense school practitioners make the aikidoka I was critical of earlier look like an Olympic athlete.

You wrote: "For everyone: I am not advocating for separating fitness and martial arts, or for "self-defense" schools. I am merely pointing out that many train in a manner unsuited for actual self-defense and many don't realize until they are in a violent confrontation (and then its to late). I would like to see the martial artist be able to accurately recognize their strengths and weaknesses."

While this may be true, it is my opinion that many more self-defense practitioners -- those who advocate "easy moves, fast to learn," and/or offer repetition and the cultivation of a habit in place of true mushin, and/or that feel a technique learned is a technique one can do, etc. -- far outweigh the number of martial artist in the land of the hopelessly lost.

Please excuse the roughness of this post - gotta run.

thanks,
dmv

David M. Valadez
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Old 02-08-2006, 09:36 PM   #146
Charlie
 
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Re: Self-defense art?

Quote:
Gregory Makuch wrote:
Charles wrote, "Yes this can be true. But if you were really training in the ways of warfare you would recognize this and be able to extract what you need from the classics to use in a situation based in reality." This is exactly my point, in a split second of reaction you don't have time to "extract" what is viable. The military has a saying, "train as you fight." This is as applicable to our discussion. The military, and I'm sorry for the repeated references to the military but I think it's appropriate, understands that adding unneeded repetitious movements will cause the body to react that way under stress. The body has a unique way of reacting in conjunction with its conditioning. LTC Dave Grossman's book "On Killing" examines this phenomenon as the desire not to kill is conditioned out of soldiers to increase effectiveness on the battlefield. When you train repeatedly a certain way, you will react that way. So while you may be able to examine a technique in class and extract what is pertinent, in application under stress you will most likely execute exactly as practiced...
I probably wasn't clear in my sentence structure. However, if you check back on my previous posts, you will find that I am echoing many of David's fine points on the importance of spontaneous training.

That being said, the lessons that forms training provide [i.e. techniques] are absolutely the backbone and foundation of what we learn as a martial way. They, however, are not realistic as far as how they apply in a real situation [unless a situation arises that is perfect for that application] and therefore need to be balanced out with other training tools that point out how the basic structure of the technique fits into spontaneous scenarios. Study of basic technique alone will not cultivate a true understanding of how the martial way that you study applies in reality.

My point was, if you are practicing in a manner that is built on truth, you will then realize that the study of technique is only part of the puzzle. Unfortunately this is precisely the part of the puzzle that many get caught on. Their understanding tells them that the techniques that they study are the end result that you are training for and except this as their truth. This misconception usually comes to light when and if they find themselves in a situation and they are unable to perform in the manner that they thought they ‘trained' for.

I agree, train as you fight. However, even in this scenario has to be built on solid foundations. You can not just train spontaneously and expect it to be effective either. In order to know spontaneous you need to know form and vise versa.

Charles Burmeister
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Old 02-09-2006, 05:20 AM   #147
white rose
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Re: Self-defense art?

I'd just like to say that I teach Aikido and not self-defense. Yes it is a part of it but not the whole reason I train.

One point I would like to make, Uke.

I was attack a number of years ago by two lad in a underpass. I was on my way home from training and had my weapons and all. None of this helped me at all. But when I hit the floor they walked off a little, it was than I saw them turn around and come back. It was to me the fact I was on my feet and telling them my sister hits harder that them, that they walked away saying I was not right in the head.

Yes it could have been a lot worst, and yes by saying what I did may have getting me another beating. But the idea I got up may have put them off, I put this down to being a good uke. A good hard kicking in the dojo teaches you to get back on your feet.

I don't know if anyone else feels the same. I am always shouting at people to get up as soon as it is possible. as the saying goes "those who can teach, those who can't shout".

Dont hit me again Nick I'll wash your smalls
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Old 02-09-2006, 11:00 AM   #148
Edwin Neal
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Re: Self-defense art?

sean you had big pointy sticks and you could not deter two "lads"... come on even someone with no training at all should have a reasonable chance in that situation... like the saying goes... aikido works, yours... not trying to pick on you, but WHY do you think you "failed"... is it aikido's fault, or your sensei's, or your's??? again i'm not trying to be mean or pick, i just wondered what you thought was the reason for this?

Edwin Neal


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Old 02-09-2006, 11:53 AM   #149
Ron Tisdale
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Re: Self-defense art?

Sean didn't fail. He survived.

Best,
Ron

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Old 02-09-2006, 12:12 PM   #150
Edwin Neal
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Re: Self-defense art?

true Ron, but not the question i asked... notice the quotation marks...

Edwin Neal


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