"Your kung fu is no good!" - training and attitude.

Discussion in 'Articles' started by Judah, Aug 22, 2012.

  1. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    A line used by a guy I worked with after a drunken woman had attacked him after saying "karate" a few times with her hands up. She'd rushed towards us and he'd stuck up his foot which she ran onto. She continued to be a pain in the ass and we've eventualy got a copper to take her away.

    How many times have you heard of a martial arts trained person folding in a confrontation? Has it happened to you? People are always arguing the validity of systems/techniques etc, taekwondo comes under fire a lot for this, it's not seem as combat effective, or no good in a street fight. This is because most TKD training involves highly restrictive sparring rules to encourage kicking and most confrontations usually start within arms reach. Far too close for effective kicking above the waist. As a young TKD practitioner I believed that I could kick better lie because of my high kicking ability and that in a real fight I'd just switch to lie kicks as naturally as I kicked high in sparring. In fact before that I didn't like the competition sparring we did in TKD, I much preferred the 1-step style training we did at ju jitsu (Japanese) at that time I felt practising "deadly" techniques under control for "life or death" situations was far more practical for real self defence. It was only when I found I couldn't apply the techniques in free sparring that I started doubting my ability to use them in a real situation. I'd been in plenty of fights and was well aware of the speed of them and the sometimes crippling effect of adrenaline on coordination and sometimes movement in general.

    Sparring in TKD improved as I started losing my fear of commitment and being hit, commitment to attack I mean, it was hard to fully commit with the fear of a counter. That was when I dropped the JJJ, it wasn't working for me and I was gaining confidence in my TKD techniques because they worked in sparring, and I thought I could easily adapt it to "street self defence" by kicking lower. It wasn't until I actually did some kickboxing and got to kick and get kicked in the legs that I realised I was crap at it. My head an body kicks were good because I'd spent years practising them but leg kicking was slightly different and that made a huge difference on my performance. The next big shock was moving from semi to full contact. It wasn't how hard I was getting hit, -at that time by the time you got to black belt competition sparring was practically full contact you just couldn't win by KO- it was how much more effort you had to put into techniques to make them land hard. Distance was slightly different, it took more energy so fitness was an issue, no longer could I wave my foot around flicking out multiple techniques racking up points. All of a sudden I had to throw fewer but harder kicks, I couldn't chase someone with side kicks now because they'd take one then close the range, I had to limit it to 3 maximum so as to preserve power. My hands became much more involved as it took less energy to use them and I could be more consistent with the force of each punch. After a while I got much better at the full contact game which lead me to re evaluate much of what I'd previously learned.

    The main thing I feel I gained from my training and competing was control of my fear, or adrenaline, as that's what it is, a release of adrenaline fuelling fight or flight. You just gotta get it working for you. Competition was for me, the closest thing to combat other than going out on a Friday night to pick a fight outside the local pub. It got my adrenaline going and I had to rely on my most effective techniques, I learnt how to focus and control my adrenaline and what techniques worked for me under pressure.

    I think the saying "you fight how you train" is very accurate, it has been so for me. Every time I've changed the rules I spar or compete under I haven't really changed what I do much I've simply adapted my most effective techniques to suit the situation and in so doing have made them automatic responses. Techniques I don't practice under free, resisting pressured conditions I don't have confidence in and know they won't happen naturally, you must have noticed when sparring, certain things just happen without you thinking about them? That instinctive, automatic reaction is what we're all training towards isn't it? When you just let nature take its course and flow with and adapt to whatever's happening at that time? For me it's the ultimate experience in martial arts, almost being a third party observer to your own actions :) it's also the result of training those actions/reactions/reflexes etc.

    Another accurate saying is "it's the martial artist not the martial art" I'm not saying someone who has trained in only competition TKD is likely to be as effective in an actual fight just because he's a good martial artist. What I mean is a martial artist who approaches combat honestly and examines the faults of his/her art and tried to rectify this either by training with different rules or by studying other systems which use different rules. I myself started with ITF taekwondo rules, then tried full contact kickboxing, boxing, Muay Thai and I've recently added Savate rules. Ok so when I trained in different systems I played by their rules obviously but when my brother and I spar we combine them. It shouldn't be too hard to find someone willing to spar under different rules.

    Of course nothing is going to guarantee success in a self defence situation. Your opponent may draw a blade (or other weapon) changing the game entirely and for those of us who want to compete staying within the rules of play is very important. The effectiveness of any art comes down to the the way it's trained and the attitude if the practitioner, you can train someone in the fiercest system around with full contact training but if he isn't imaginative or able to adapt he'll never be a decent fighter. For people interested in the artistry and history of a system the training doesn't need to reflect actual combat, for fitness purposes the simple fact that martial arts training is good exercise is enough.
    Sherratt, Kevin, Dpendleton and 3 others like this.
  3. darksoul

    darksoul Grasshoppa

    Very good post.

    I've been lucky, I've had the polar opposite of the "folding" happen to me. I stopped training after a nasty knee injury took me out in my late teens and that took me out of the dojo for over a decade. What brought me back, was a confrontation at a bar my band(at the time) was playing at. A couple of guys started giving us grief because they thought we were the reason their friend's band got kicked off the show and one of them attacked me. Not to sound cliche, but it was one of those Matrix moments, I instinctively performed a technique I hadn't practiced in years and took the guy down. Thinking back, I've always trained in a way that was "take the guy down the first punch he throws" and that, I believe, is what saved me. After that, I had an epiphany and realized I needed to go back to the martial arts.

    But I digress. The statement "it's the martial artist not the martial art" is absolutely true. I think I'm a pretty good martial artist and I've taken out TKD guys in Open Sparring. I've also been taken out by TKD guys. I've beaten boxers and have been beaten by boxers.

    One thing I've noticed is calm. The whole jedi mind-set really works in a confrontation.

    Great post, Judah. I really enjoyed reading it :)
    Judah likes this.
  4. WonderingFist

    WonderingFist Disciple of Mind

    I thought that was a really good read.
    I'm not sure what kind of response you were expecting from us since there wasn't really a question posed.

    Though I do agree with what you're saying.

    I did learn in my early fighting years that their's a difference between finishing someone and finishing the fight you're having with someone.
    I picked up quickly an idea that instead of people testing their fighting skills with someone else's fighting skills; you test you and against them. It feels like semantics, until you see the difference in action. You're not really 'fighting'. There's not some specific 'technique', and what I was doing, I could never really articulate until I was fighting in the Pit last year.
    An example of this difference?
    My cousin wanted to spar with me, but he wanted me to just react the way I would in a 'real shit'.
    He took half a step and punched, and I just shot my arm out; over his arm, grabbed his face and took 2-3 long steps before spinning back and kicking him in the calf; and the only reason I kicked him in the calf is because he's family and I didn't want to knee him in the spine.
    There was no specific technique. It was just moving.

    "The martial artist, not the martial art."
    "The way you train is the way you fight."
    "If it's not immediately useful, it's not worth using."
    "Black belt means nothing."
    "Sport means nothing."
    ...etc etc. Different factions carry different slogans...but it all seemed rather....I didn't give a shit what you think. I'm just training in what I'm going to train in, so A) I'll survive when called tested, and B) I won't unhinge and slaughter a few people. That's all.
    Judah, Dpendleton and darksoul like this.
  5. Caneman

    Caneman Test all things.

    I really recommend you read this:
    Medtations on Violence
    by Rory Miller
    - a comparison of martial arts training & real world violence
    Judah likes this.
  6. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    Wasn't looking for any specific response. Just laying out my beliefs on the subject from my personal experience. Some people may not agree with my ideas and others just don't know them.

    I'm glad you thought it was a good read :)
  7. Judah

    Judah fights in tights

    Another good read on the subject is "watch my back" by Geoff Thompson. :)
  8. Master of Nothing

    Master of Nothing Psychotic Pacifist

    Raised by grandparents (WWII generation). Plus in the early eighties, noone in my neighborhood hear of a "mixed" person. So, I got all types of racial grief. I was the kid too stupid to stay down. Then I started martial arts.

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