There’s a Better Way

There’s a Better Way

odoYesterday I was attending a class for teachers when I heard that one of my classmates was studying karate. I approached her and asked her what style of karate she was studying.

She mentioned a style I wasn’t familiar with, explaining it was an Okinawan system.

“Oh, that’s old school,” I replied.

“They’re very big on kata,” she remarked.

I gave her my card, explained what I did, and invited her to visit my website.

I was thinking afterward, “There’s a better way.” In the old school, a student had to learn kata/forms, one right after the other. For some styles, learning and practicing forms is the principal means of instruction. I never had problems learning kata, but I saw some people with poor memories who struggled.

Decades ago Bruce Lee observed that this is “dry land swimming,” like trying to teach how to swim without getting into the water, or how to ride a bike without a bicycle. In the old days when I studied kenpo, a punch or kick was judged by how hard it looked when it was thrown into the air, not by the impact it made with some surface. When we sparred, there were no pads, no gloves, and we pulled our punches and kicks. If you think about it, given that all of my training was in pulling punches, what are the odds that I would continue to pull punches if I was attacked, particularly by surprise?

The last school teacher I met who studied the martial arts began her training after a student in her classroom savagely attacked her. A tiny wisp of a ShorinMatsalady, she was studying one of the old-school, hardcore karate styles. I also remember her saying that training was all cash-up-front, and in hefty sums, especially for the training with a guy who is a big name in the martial arts world.

These hard Japanese/Okinawan styles are punch-based, and the old practitioners disfigured their knuckles with makiwara training so they could punch without feeling pain.

But there is a better way. You can skip all the memorized forms and train interactively. You can train by actually hitting and kicking things, not just beating the air. You can start with weapons, and a woman’s curriculum should be weapons based. Take a small woman and have her fight bare-handed against a football lineman –training or not, she’s in deep trouble. On the other hand, put a knife in her hand, and if the lineman is smart, he’ll take off running.

For years I idolized Japanese and Filipino culture. I assumed that Asians had all the combat wisdom in the world. In time I began to appreciate my American values. Yes, we Americans tend to be an impatient, youth-oriented culture, but one of our strengths is a reliance on the scientific method. I read of one American who studied one of the internal styles of kung-fu. In this style they spent a year learning a certain punch, but he realized he could teach someone the punch in a single day.

Look at the previous post, in which the power of a Thai kick is objectively measured. Can any Okinawan, Japanese, or Chinese system kick that hard? Every single one of these traditional styles has had to adapt in order to be competitive in full contact bouts. The facts point to an incontrovertible truth, that traditional systems based upon blocking are not as effective as systems based upon cover, like boxing.

There’s nothing wrong with studying traditional styles as a hobby or as a means of learning something new or preserving a culture, but when it comes to real-world self-defense, there is a better way.

Makiwara Scars

Makiwara Scars


Extraído de Big Stick Combat.
Leer desde la fuente original.

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