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After few minutes of thought, I have concluded that something is a little bit messed up with the way MA is taught over in the US or at least at my dojo.
Why now a days are things so complicated? I am not talking about throws or kicks are strikes. Some of those are hard, but not very complicated. I am talking about the self defense part. It seems we focus a lot on self defense routines rather than moves which disturbs me.
We have the punch series and the kick series which I can understand, because that is one way of dealing with it, with a pretty few amount of moves. However, in the real world or at tournements that series means nothing. You aren't fast enough to responed with 1 block, a punch, kick, and a mp to the head before he hits you again. It might work because you keeping your oppenent at bay. However, I like worst case senarios.
So why do teach other self defense that is almost impossible to do? Why not focus on basics (strikes, blocks, throws)? Then put in a flavor of self defense for the few things you can't get out of those basics.
Those basics practicely make up everything. If you know them very well, and can use them efectively. Then there is very few self defense moves that you need. Because more than 1 basic move = self defense.
I was just wondering your take on all of this.
the law nowadays is pretty screwed up (over here anyway). you've no idea how many stories i've read about people who defend themselves and they're the ones who end up being fined or arrested while the culprit walks free. for example, i read in the newspaper about a group of youths who were vandalising a mans' home, so he chases after them and manages to corner one of them in a shop. however, HE'S the one who gets into trouble while those thugs walk free.
I am not sure i understand your anwser? and Are you sure you understood my post?
Basics are where its at.
Why would instructors teach fancy stuff.....
Break the boredom or entertain students, show off...they dont know any better.
Combonations and fluidity are important and sometimes making things more complex can make the basics easier.
I understand learning basics, and fluidity for moving smoothly between each basic, and some self defense.
However, I don't get Kata, and a sortof don't get why complex things make basics easier. I see if you learn something in a complex way theoretically it should be easy to break it down, to find the basics in it, and might be a good way to learn it. However, learning them the simple way might be better, or learn them when you need to actually block an attack, like during sparring.
Kata, just doesn't make sense. You can argue it helps fluidity, but it doesn't seems that good. I think if you combined Judo, with Muay Thai, and a bit of karate, you got a whole lot of "self defense".
You could learn throws and grappling like in judo. Muay Thai teaches you the conditioning and fighting in sparring situations. Karate, teaches you self defense. To me you pretty much cover the spectrum with that.
Sounds like the art your in isnt a good philosophical fit for you... maybe you need to move away from Kata and into more free form type stuff?
As for how complexity helps make the basics easier... lets see if this is a decent parallel... Have you ever been driving really fast, say, on a highway? Your cruisng along, in a groove, and feel like you own the road? Then come into town and had to slow down, alot, to say, 25mph? Did the 25mph seem slower than youve EVER driven before? So slow you feel like you can get out and walk faster?
This is the basics/complexity issue. To drive on the highway, fast and with other cars, you have to handle the basics of driving 25mph through town first right? Then, you get into the complexities of driving fast, in traffic, with lanes and curves, and off ramps, and so on. Once youve gotten a decent grip on the complex stuff, when you return to the basics of driving slow through town (the core building blocks of everything you just did) it seems so simple you cant beleive you ever went so slow before.
Carry this idea to martial arts and you have, for example, the following.
Your practicing an outside armblock to standing armbar... it seems complex at first but then you start to get a handle on it. Your instructor says "ok, now were going to drill on how to use this from a sparring position" (or some other new and different thing) and you drill that silly... til your bored and looking for something new. Then your instructor has you go back to the basics of the technique, and this once seemingly complex technique is now so simple, so mundane, that you cant beleive you ever thought this boring thing was ever something that you imagined was "complex". Hell, you could probably do it in your sleep now! Difficult? Bah!
it's just when you started talking about self defence in the real world, i immediately started thinking about how hard it is to defend yourself over here without being fined or arrested, that's all.
as for kata, i feel that it really helps you to build up your self-confidence. i mean, during a grading in one of my classes, a student always has to perform a particular kata in front of everybody else. with every eye in the class watching you, you get pretty nervous yeah? so i think the more you do it then the less nervous you get. know what i mean?
It wasnt the kata, it was the format.
You could have gained that type of confidence from public speaking or theatre.
As for kata not being effective and just doing the basics within the kata...
I dont feel that form of the basics I see in most MA is what I would use in a fight.
I didnt do kata for over a decade.
I started doing it again so youth students could have something to compete in ( there are few and far between grappling tournaments ).
I recently just started teaching a adult Karate class ( including kata).
I stopped teaching Karate to adults cause I just didnt think its what they wanted or needed. That they wanted realistic self defense and that rank and ritual were bunk.
I started teaching it again last month and they love it...including kata.
I think they like the "percission" of Karate.
With Kick Boxing you can get away with being a bit sloppy in form and make up for it with speed, conditioning, timing, guts.
Karate has more defined short term goals...correct form in each technique, Kata, rank requirements.
I think people like the order, structure and predictability...they like it as an art.
They could get much of the same benefits from ballet.
Why not ballet?
I dont know...maybe they like the whole MA mystique, the connectedness to some ancient Asian secret.
When I ask them I usually get respones like " its something I always wanted to do", "I always loved Bruce Lee, Chuck Norris...movies".
Most of those students are women and say its something they wanted to do when they were younger but it wasnt "lady like".
As far as self defense goes I think going with a kick boxing art a grappling art and some non sport aspects ( weapons, multiple attackers, illegal sports moves) training is the way to go.
As has been said before an will be said again...sparring is not fighting.
That is true and you should realize that.
But then again no classroom training is fighting.
Making it harder so it will be easier....
If its applied to muscles its called "super compensation".
If its applied to nerves its called "automaticity".
The driving comparison is a good one.
I had a student who aske if I could apply any sports medicine principles to his other sport...darts.
I wouldnt have considered darts a sport but these guys are pretty serious about it.
I got each memeber of his team some balance boards ( circular board with tennis ball mounted on the bottom).
Had them raise the dart board the extra height of the balance board and practice.
I also asked them to train under distraction, in their case get 2 or more radios and put them on different stations ( tuning out to focus in ).
They all improved.
I like trapping though it doesnt offer itself a opportunity very often
(especially multiple trapping).
I dont do any sensitivity drills with people. I will have them drill technique but as far as anything like a sensitivity drill I just have one person feed strikes and obstructions while the other person keeps trapping. Then I ll have them walk around ( maintaining trapping range) while trapping.
Sometimes Ill have them get in bottom guard and have the otehr person wail away and all they can do is trap.
You are never going to fight or spar and trap for 15 minutes and not be able to hit back.
I like to video tape my people when they spar and they often dont know they did a trap until the look back at the tape.
Going from Muay Thai back to boxing seemed easy. Going from punches, elbows, knees, kicks an throws to just punching was like a vacation.
A short lived vacation once to get hit but easier none the less.
I think we ( at my school) are very simple in technique but pretty sophisticated in our training method...why we do what we do.
The goal is simplicity but it can be a complex matter getting there.
I see where your getting at and I kindof wish I could change Dojo's, just to see the difference of Muay Thai to my Dojo, but there really isn't a place around where I live, in Western Massachuetts.
Also, eaiser isn't also bad. I undertand going from Punches, Kicks, elbows, throws, to just punches is not good, and I wouldn't do that ever, I want it all in there.
I just don't like kata, thats all. I have a good memory so it takes like no time for me to get a kata down. It is just I don't see the actually point.
I read somewhere, that the best thing that will help you in fighting situation is to fight a lot. However, scince that wouldn't be good, we would lose someone each time, sparring is the next best thing. I don't know If I could hold my ground if I ever got in a fight. I can grapple well, compared to my class. Only one student can beat me, but I have never sparred. I have done applications if this happens do this type thing. However, I haven't actually sparred to knw what it is like.
Now, Jeff I see what your say people like the structure, but whatabout bringing the structure to Muay Thai. Not in belts or requirements or stuff like that, but the precission. It won't be exact, but it can be close.
yeah i know you can gain more confidence through other methods, but the kata thing was just a small example yeah?
Both simplicity and more complex sets have good points... It is very likely that - as Waspe pointed out - in most of cases the basics is enough ... But longer sets can be seen as test for both body and mind: you can keep focused for one strike, or two, but how about doing focused and full-hearted all movements of long, complex kata... Also, long set can be seen occasionally as study of theme so to say: the main idea may be very simple, but it is studied from different aspects.. perhaps you could compare to sort of musical improvisation: someone gives a basic theme, another varies it, third makes some more changes..
Perhaps one aspect is that level of understanding: to comprehend one idea (technique, strategy, method..) well is better than have a dozens badly understood ideas messing each other in one's head.
Good, interesting topic.
I beleive that forms help us with many things. Balence, coordination, and technique. Depending on the school that is. If you have a teacher that doesn't understand a technique, or a teacher that is unwilling to help you understand the subtleties of each move, than forms get very boring very quickly. There is always something that my teacher can pick out and help me with. Not only by telling me what I'm doing wrong, but by telling me how to train to fix it. Some teachers only have you repeat the moves for no reason (not that it's a complete waste, think of it as moving meditation). Try doing your forms quickly, slowly, muscles tight, muscles relaxed, or just in place. I beleive that one would fight "in form" if they were truely good. The real world application of the forms is lost on most modern martial arts because we don't practice it with our sparring (our safety regulations have turned to rules than most people use to get points). In old school Taekwon-Do only vital areas were points, there were no pads, techniques had to be within 2 centimeters and with a proper tool. Now you can get a point by grazing the top of the head with your fingertips. :cry: Anyway, I like forms, but still practice selfdefence and sparring. Just unfortunate that they are all different.
i asked my sensei what was the point in kata today, but now i'm having trouble remembering it.... (oh how embarrassing!!) -_-'
"yeah i know you can gain more confidence through other methods, but the kata thing was just a small example yeah?'
Yes...but it wasnt the kata that made the gain, it was facing nervousness of perform in public. Thats not kata specific.
Kata was not originally designed for public exhibition.
Precision to Muay Thai...
Sure we could, there is a form on the jab, cross........
But to say the form is more important than the function wouldnt be accurate.
I do a pseudo rank in Kick Boxing (phases 1-3 and trainer).
Basics to complex....
Its kind of like one of those human anatomy transparent fold overs.
You got the skeleton, then the next layer is like nerves and then organs and then blood vessels / veins and then the skin.
You got your kick boxing basics and thats the skeleton.
Once you can competantly deal with punch, kick, knee, elbow, blocks, counters.....
Then you can add on from there...beat efficiency, sabaki, gunting, trapping....
But if you dont have the basics as the skeleton you cant do any of it.
I have to side against kata as it is commonly used. I once studied Goju ryu karate, and kata is alot of what drove me away. I was marching back and forth across the room all the time doing this kata and that kata, and when I sparred anyone, they always easily fell prey to anything that wasn't karate. I have to believe that this is due to modern teaching methods which drastically over-emphasize form and kata at the expense of spontaneous creativity, as karate was originally effective enough to survive hundreds of years of samurai occupation.
In arts like tai chi, where kata is used as moving meditation (that's what it is whether the practitioners realize it or not),one doesn't need to pay attention to a second party and can concentrate on things like balance, flowing movement, energy flow, breathing, etc. In this way, I have found kata to be useful. The coiling and unwinding actions involved in tai chi have given me a higher degree of balance, sensitivity, and explosiveness than I experienced before I began my practice. I also practice what could be called "short forms", which are very basic, simple one-two movements which are meant to disrupt an attack. A good example is going from a taijutsu water posture to an attack by stepping forward and out with my lead leg while swinging my inside hand under and up to hit the diaphram. With proper timing, this is effective against any number of attacks and results in excellent positioning. (Standing to one side while they are doubled over from the sneak attack!) Any sort of deceptive movement is excellent for this sort of practice, ie. low punches with high punch body english, high feints followed by low kicks to the knees, looking at someone's gut while you hit their throat, etc., etc. This can be done against punching bags or fence posts or whatever is handy; or they can be practiced as two man forms against specific attacks, which is useful for getting the feel of the timing involved. This type of practice has been useful to me against every person I have ever sparred or fought with. In fact, I have never had a sparring match or fight that lasted more than two or three seconds past the initial attack, unless I held back out of respect for my friends or their teachers when I was a guest student. If what you do takes longer than this, your technique is not effective and will make you easy prey for the average joe on the street. So yes, simpler is better. Even Musashi said that we must stick to the basics. Read the chapter in The Book of Five Rings about what he doesn't like about some school's teaching methods.
The simple truth is, the more complex ones techniques, the more likely they are to fail!!!
Tai Chi is more than moving meditation.
It can be very effective MA.
kata is supposed to be fighting an imaginary opponent, i think (but then what are the chances that someone's going to use the exact same sequence for a particular kata when they're fighting someone?)
"-- what are the chances that someone's going to use the exact same sequence for a particular kata when they're fighting someone?---"
That same question can be launched for all basic exercises and sets, too: usually your opponent is a bit different (size, angle of attack, etc.) than what is supposed in ideal set training situation...
Kata can be seen as fighting against imaginary opponents, but also - among other things - learning and studying body mechanics and movements.
I have mixed feelings about kata. I think kata is good for children when starting out so that they can get "muscle memory". For myself, after learning a dozen or so, I got burned out on them. I think kata has it's time and place but has to be shown exactly what you're doing. Some of the examples of what you were doing in certain moves during the kata can be down right ridiculous. When I told my TKD instructor I didn't want to learn anymore kata, he said I couldn't test, which was fine, because I don't really care about having a bunch of stripes on my belt anyway, which was fine with him. So, you basically take what you want from an art and leave the rest, whatever you think will benefit you.
I think the car analogy was great and someone mentioned kata gives students more to do at tournaments if they want to, that is also I think a great facet of learning kata.
After not doing forms for awhile, I started into Kenjutsu and found out that I enjoyed weapon forms, just still have an aversion to empty handed forms.
Oh, and I understand about the whole self defence and multiple movements. But I like to think of it like this: You get the basics down, so you have the shell, the rest is just icing on the cake. Some of the techniques you learn, you many never use, but sure is nice to have them when you need them.
In arts like tai chi, where kata is used as moving meditation (that's what it is whether the practitioners realize it or not),one doesn't need to pay attention to a second party
You need a little more research in this before you go off making such generalities. As Jeff said, it is a Martial Art and their moves do involve other parties. ( parties who many times wish they hadn't been involved in said moves )
Now onto the kata question. I have heard the story from many sources about when the police used to use revolvers. On the shooting range, they would shoot, empty their brass in to their hand and dump the brass into the can, then reload and shoot. During one shoot out, an officer shoot all his rounds, emptied his brass into his hand and walked over to the garbage can. He was shot while walking out from cover. The point here is that people react the way they train. Since then, the police emptied their brass on the ground and kept shooting. Swept it up afterwards.
Kata is a way to put one move after another. To drill into your head that moves are a series. In my system, our "katas" are like most systems one-steps. One throw is a kata. On escape is a kata. So, what we have is a system of just basics. What becomes hard is in randori, I go for one move. If he is thrown, great if not, I end up standing there saying "oh wait, now I have to do something else." Having longer katas, with a series of moves puts that "what now" into your body so that you don't have to think about it. In our system, we put together longer series of moves every day at the dojo. One of the black belts puts them together and we practice. All these more complicated katas give us a different timing, a different flow and different places to go from each of the moves. Now that I have been doing this for a few years, when I am working with someone and the new kata doesn't work out for some reason ( I didn't get him off balance right or throw him to the right place or I let him get ahead of me...) I find my self slipping into last weeks kata or some other kata. When I started, I would stop and back up and try again.
Learn the katas. They are valuable. I have said this before, but it should be repeated. Too many people are too quick to throw something out just because they have not yet come to a place where they understand it yet. Too many people run around quoting Bruce Lee and throwing out all moves they are unable to do because they find them ineffective instead of developing themselves to the point where they can make those moves effective. Martial Arts is more than just learning how to kick @$$. Its about growing and realizing our potential. It just so happens that in growing and realizing our potential, that we can kick some @$$ after 20 or 30 years of study.
Here are some of my most valuable lessons I learned about kata. I was talking with a kung fu instructor that teaches at our dojo. He was talking about how impatient people are when they start Martial Arts, they just want to learn how to fight. They don't like doing his forms because they require you to kick with your legs and toes pointed. And they do this very slowly. I was curious and asked what the object of that kick was, were you kicking with the top of your foot, like an upper cut? or did you really impact with pointed toes? He laughed and said "Heck no! I'd break my toes." Then he went on, in many karate systems they practice all day doing front snap kicks, where you raise your leg with knee bent, then snap the kick. He practices lifting the whole leg, which is much heavier, thus building the muscles much more. He said if he were to kick someone in a fight "you better believe it would be a front snap kick karate style," but since he has been lifting so much weight with his leg, his kick will be that much stronger. Another Black belt I work out with also did a lot of kempo. He was showing me some of his kempo forms where they get real deep in stance and punch or kick while moving across the floor. He pointed out how many people dismiss that kind of training because it is not realistic. But he said ( and showed ) how that kind of low stance work really develops your muscles much more. Its about developing your muscles at the same time as learning the proper kicking form. He also showed how it develops your ability to root into the ground for power. The amazing thing is that he does not have to drop far to effectively root, and he can get there quite fast. ( it looks like he is just standing, but since his muscles know how to root from the deep stance, they can root more effectively when he is standing, especially since there is very little extra weight to hold up now ) These types of techniques are thrown out by many people because they can see no use for them. What these techniques give, takes years to get. Those that throw out these techniques also throw out the power, speed, balance, and precision that they offer.
We, as students, need to be more humble. Trust your instructor, and learn what he asks your to learn. There is a reason he is asking you to do this. We also need to remember that things we are hoping to gain many times, take a lifetime to get. So why do we get frustrated when we can't get them in the first week? Martial Arts is not fast food. And if you can get it in a week, you need to ask for the fries that go with it and then wonder why you didn't simply use the drive thru in the back of the McDojo, they will take your money even faster. ( less of a hassle for you )
What I like about kata is it gives the student something "definate" to practice.
I think it helps to anrrow down waht to practice.
Then again I dont believe in many of those movements.
But it builds body mechanics.
It may build muscle memory but if there is no opponent go give a line to than what is to set off the memory?
I dont think anyone really knows why kata developed.
People can say they know but its just their belief.
I didn't mean to imply that tai chi isn't useful for combat and I didn't say that tai chi is only moving meditation. But, at its core, that is what it is. And, like I said, I have found the movements and excersises from tai chi very useful for learning to absorb and then return and redirect the power supplied by movement towards or against me. It greatly improves my sensitivity to balance and flow.
However, I have yet to meet anyone who can demonstrate anything beyond the warm-up excercises, forms, and push-hands. Maybe I have had a limited sampling of tai chi. I apologize if I offended anyone. But, the fact is that I have never seen tai chi demonstrated against an unknown attack. This, to me, is the test of effectiveness for anyone's practice. Stand at the ready and defend against what comes. It's difficult to do, and somewhat scary, in my opinion; but it teaches a quick lesson. If I wind up on my ass, or have to submit, I have found a weakness in myself that I must work through. But I must see (or feel) it to know it.
It has been my experience that the more kata-oriented ones practice is, the less spontanious and adaptable a person becomes. The only exception I have found is two-man kata, which is excellent for teaching flow and variation, providing that one is exposed to as many variations as possible. Almost no real, committed attack will happen like we have practiced it; and, therefore, every possible attack is a variation with which we must be familiar. Solo kata hardly prepares one for this reality.
Like I say, I am speaking from my own experience. This is the most real teacher to me and the most concrete standard against which I can measure myself. When I come across something which is outside of my experience, it is no longer outside of my experience, because I have experienced it. This is why I believe that most modern martial arts should concentrate more on creativity and less on copying exactly what came before.
Life is endless variation. Combat is a reflection of life. Ones practice should be the same.
I didn't mean to imply that tai chi isn't useful for combat and I didn't say that tai chi is only moving meditation. But, at its core, that is what it is. :D huge misconception...taiji always gets this 'moving meditation' rubbish. The form is concentrated training in body mechanics using the applications of taijiquan. They are simply performed in a sequence to train in moving steps and stances. People often missunderstand relaxation asuming it is purely mental calmness (although this is important) or floppy limbs. Relaxation in the muscles (while maintaining the form or structure in the limbs) enables the taiji martial artists to move at speed.
However, I have yet to meet anyone who can demonstrate anything beyond the warm-up excercises, forms, and push-hands. Maybe I have had a limited sampling of tai chi. I can understand that.... :t2: there is so much crap calling itself taiji that some people are never able to do more than just scrape the surface. Only last night I had a phone call from a woman who was looking for taiji but had ended up at a yoga/tai cheeeee class that was little more than some basic stretching taught by an aerobics teacher :laugh:
I apologize if I offended anyone. But, the fact is that I have never seen tai chi demonstrated against an unknown attack. I'm not offened, but it is a real shame.........a good exponant of taiji is a joy to watch, especially the explosive power. Some of the applications are quite complicated joint manipulations,others are simple avoid and strike, often at the same time. Much of the aim of taijiquan is in uprooting the opponant to place them at a disadvantage.......although I think in very general terms, when confronted with a dangerous situation, everyone fights in much the same way anyway.......a punch is a punch...hopefully those with martial arts training will have the muscle memory to be able to punch in a manner that is structural correct and that itself will lessen the risk of injury....
Most people do Tai Chi for its health benefits ( its claim to fame).
Even most of those who do push hands are not practicing its more combat oriented side.
I see very few people doing, interested or even aware of Fast Tai Chi.
You wont find many people practicing the moves 1 by 1 or doing different combonations outside of a form, or hitting a heavy bag.
When I teach Tai Chi I focus on the health benefits. If we do applications they are done in either kick boxing or grappling. Thos people may be doing Tai Chi an not even know it.
Those who who do Kick Boxing and or grappling as well as Tai Chi will see the connection.
i've never actually seen tai chi being used as a martial art. to defend yourself, i mean. what's it like, i wonder? must be really interesting, since most folk think it's very slow.
i've never actually seen tai chi being used as a martial art. to defend yourself, i mean. what's it like, i wonder? must be really interesting, since most folk think it's very slow.
I think there is a great example of this in the Highlander TV Series. In one episode, after Duncan takes Richy's head, ( hope I didn't spoil that for anyone ) Duncan puts away his sword and practices tai chi. In the end of the episode, Duncan fights empty-handed against a man with a sword, using Tai Chi. It is very interesting to see how those funny looking poses and stances put the practitioner out of the way of the sword and also in a perfect position to attack. Yes its coreographed, but it does illustrate how those forms should be used.
Mandeigh Wells, have you seen this episode? If so, what are your thoughts on the Tai Chi demonstrated in it?
Mandeigh Wells, have you seen this episode? If so, what are your thoughts on the Tai Chi demonstrated in it? Afraid I haven't seen it.....there is a DVD called Taiji Boxer that is an interesting film........its the same guy that choreographed the Matrix from what I can remember.......it is supposed to be taiji and there are some recognisable postures but most of us normal folk don't work on wires, it is a good story though. There are a fair plethora of taiji video's available that have demostrations of applications on them, but they tend to be from more of the specialised shops.......you are more likely to get the tai cheeees videos on the likes of amazon and more mainstream places.
You can train slowly other arts, too... it is surprisingly hard: while doing techs quick you may think that you know them well, but doing slowly shows the difficulties and problems.
You can train slowly other arts, too... it is surprisingly hard: while doing techs quick you may think that you know them well, but doing slowly shows the difficulties and problems. absolutely! By working slowley, paying attention to the mechanics of the move you can then move more accurately at speed to, + its great for the body control.
Do you have any video titles you would recommend? I would definitely enjoy watching tai chi in action. I apparently do lack exposure to a good teacher. All the classes I have sat in on as a guest were warm-up and forms, and never progressed beyond this. I have read The Tao of Tai Chi Chuan by Jou, Tsung Hwa. It was very informative, and his explanations of chi kung and how to use it with the tai chi excercises have been very useful to me. I have suffered massive leg injuries in the past, and these excercises were very useful in strengthening my leg and helping me center my movement when one side of my body is stronger than the other.
I agree with everyone about training slowly. There is no better way of finding the weak points in one's movement. And once we begin to see our own weak points, we can also see them in others. I remember the saying "Train slow to know the fast." I don't remember who said it, though. This type of practice is also good for teaching timing. When we respond is just as important as how we respond, because we must wait for an attack to become commited before we react. Otherwise we are easy prey for sleights and feignts. Also, people are easiest to unbalance right at that time when the attack has passed it's strong phase and must return to yin. Practicing slow makes this timing much more obvious and therefore easier to learn.
But, all of this brings me back to the original question of this thread. Waspe was asking about modern MA training that seems to mostly focus on "self defence routines rather than moves". It sounds to me like he's taking something which focuses alot on kata (be it solo or two-man), and not much on the basic movements and strategies that keep a person alive when there isn't time to think and you must react instantly and effectively on the first try. There is no second chance in a real life encounter. In the first second or two, the victor is decided. The only routines, or kata, which are effective for this are the ones which go "You attack this way and I take you out like this". Anything else will not prepare a person for the suddenness of reality.
Waspe, if your school doesn't do this type of practice, get some of your friends together and do it yourselves. Do this kind of practice slow, work your way up to speed; and try every variation of any technique for it's effectiveness. Find what works best for your own height and build, and find what works best against other heights and builds. And, sometimes, simply designate an attacker and a defender and see what happens. Learn to maintain mushin while you do this, and you will surprise yourself sometimes as to what you can do. That is what I love most about practicing martial arts - those moments when you manage to do something to an opponent that you didn't know you could do, and it was done through timing and sensitivity rather than force and speed.
This, to me, is what martial art is about.
i think that allot of self defense is helpfull for smaller people, women and children. I am 14 and i can put allot more trust in a sweep and a pressure point on a grown man than i can put in one of my kicks or strikes. Not everybody has the strength to knock someone out with one blow.
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