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Old 09-09-2008, 05:00 PM   #1
Heretic
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Default How to Learn Martial Arts

Martial Arts are simply an art form. Some are for sports while others are life and death. You may think you cannot know them but by spending many hours in a school, or intense training but this is not true in my eyes. A novice who has trained very well in one or two key moves may out-do someone who has practiced years at many moves.

This is my view of the arts. It isn’t the right or only way as I don’t think there are limits at all, and I also firmly believe that the martial concepts will just continue to evolve. Therefore I will not say that one art is better than another because I think that is bunk. It is the person that performs the art and not the art itself, and people don’t have such limits. I do have personal opinions on what is better of course and that is why I think it is fun to discuss because I learn from it still.

I will say that my preference is the older arts because I feel most of the western arts and even some of the eastern even miss out on the finer aspects that I appreciate more. My contention is that there are many systems and they all seem different but they are not. They are styles developed off a core set of ideologies, and in older times certain families saw these core ideologies and developed their own system based off them.

Even you or I can create our own art from these core principles.

Core Ideologies:

Yin and Yang, Breathing, Stance, Palms, Boxing, Chin Na, Ukemi, Mind

Yin and Yang – this is a very deep subject and the basis of religion so I will not go too deep into it. In regards to the arts yin is the soft side and when used in fighting it can be associated with diverting energy or just moving out of the way. Gravity is a good example of yin as it is a calm force that is ever present in a natural state. If someone throws their fist at you and you grab the arm and pull them in the very direction they are punching, it sends them flying…this is yin, you are not fighting the gravity but add to their own gravity and they cant contain it and they go off balance. Yang on the other hand is like lightning, it moves from the ground up against gravity, in other words it the guys punch is a yang style of fighting. It is the application of force to oppose and not to compliment.

Hard and soft arts are basically defined by how much yin or yang is applied in the art. All arts have some of both, but most predominate towards one or the other. The easiest way you can determine if it is hard or soft is to look at the stances. Hard styles have static stances most of the time while soft arts are more relaxed and fluid. Static stances tend to generate a lot of internal chi as a shield to blows while the relaxed ones allow for the externalization of chi as a weapon. It is a subtle difference though as being relaxed is common, it is the movements from the stance that allows you to tell. The use of tight tense muscles combined with force is hard style.

Breathing – this one is pretty basic as there is very few differences in how to breath in the arts. When I first started to learn about breathing it was a shock because I found out I had been breathing wrong my whole life, and it is a very difficult thing to correct because we do it without thought or focus. We tend to hold our breath when we exert ourselves, even when we sit down, bring a fork to our mouth, walk, and worse when we work out. The arts teach you to breath out when you exert force. The breath is very connected to the chi and it is very difficult to externalize chi unless you push a lot of air out of the body, the better you get, the less air you have to expel. This is one of the reasons you are taught to yell when striking in the arts.

Stance – this is the dominating place power comes from. A good stance is immobile to force that is applied to the line the stance is on, in other words you can be in a stance that can’t be broken, but if one were to push you from another angle you are fully vulnerable to being knocked down. Every art and sport uses it to define the strength it takes to withstand the force of another. You can even use stances as an attack called a “check” by moving into someone stance and then tighten yours up and they go flying.

Most arts have stance exercises and thee are unlimited stances. There are stances that are even applied when you are on the ground. Some stances are so difficult you have to train the body for years before you can even find strength to withstand force while in it such as one legged stances. Kicks are a bad idea unless you have stance.

One of the primary methods of advancing a stance from hard to soft is called sinking, which also radically strengthens a hard stance. Imagine approaching a bathroom scale and using just one foot to try and exert pressure on the scale to see how much weight you can apply. When you put both feet on the scale and push down into the ground with both your feet, and the scale measures a higher weight, you are sinking.

By being able to do it consistently a 100 pound person can get on a scale and sink then hold it, and the scale will measure 110 pounds consistently (for instance). Someone good at sinking can stand in a normal posture with no stance, then sink and he is considerably harder to push over from any direction.

Palms – this is basically the posture the upper body is in while in a stance, striking or even in meditation. Some people confuse palm with the position of the hands, and yes that is part of it but the whole upper body is the palm. Iron palm and other hand training techniques are not palms although they contain palms. For instance in bagua there are 8 palms, each representing a certain posture. Each posture can be used in a yin or yang fashion and you can even use both, which is called the tai chi palm because it contains both yin and yang. Notice that Tai Chi Chuan is almost always using yin with one hand and yang with the other because this is the core of the system.

Boxing – also called the pugilistic arts, and it looks as if it is simply striking with the hands all the various ways you can imagine. It is more than that because it is the core of most of the holistic practices in the arts. Acupuncture, acupressure, and Dim Mak are good examples of what is employed via the pugilistic art. You can use an accupoint for hurting as well as healing. The pugilistic art is about the physics of a punch as well as the location and the desired effect. IMHO this is the most deadly part of the core principles as the rest are supportive. Hurting with accupoints is a yang practice while healing with them is a yin application. Professional boxing is mean, and it uses these principles in a controlled setting. Most people think martial arts and boxing are separate, but I disagree.
Kicking is also part of the pugilistic arts in application. Fa Jin is a manner of boxing that could easily become its own core principle were it not for the fact that it is simply a style of boxing.

Chin Na – this is simply grappling, locking, and throwing. There is a chin na forms for every part of the body. Finger, wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder, neck, head, back, waist, leg, feet, and some that involve the whole body. Each of these categories has many many different applications in chin na. Squeezes are also a part of chin na and are really mean, and the accupoints are used almost always. Grab a hold of your love handles and give it a good squeeze and you will see what I mean. It’s really painful.

Ukemi – the art of falling down and getting up. Good for any art, necessary in some. Drunken boxing and sage monkey kung fu are really good examples of Ukemi as a combat art. Aikido, Ju-Jitsu, and judo (and others) teach it because it is necessary to perform the art safely.

Mind – anything philosophical that is a basis for an art or enhances an art is a mind art. Most people wouldn’t think there is mind kung fu, but Jeet Kune Do in my mind is more a philosophy than a separate art itself. Yet is it wicked and it changes an art once applied. Comba-Tai is another mind art which concentrates on strength, timing, agility, and resourcefulness (STAR) which can be applied to an art to change it as well. But of all the mind arts I think Satki is the coolest because it is a system of reading or transmitting intent. The body advertises a strike by the first shift of weight or lifting of an arm. Satki is more like telepathy which allows you to see beyond the body and predict an attack based on the intent of the attacker. Now I know it sounds weird but I a master of Satki can make you back up or away or even attempt to block a strike even though he makes no physical move to do so. Qigong, meditation, chi cultivation and manipulation are all parts of mind kung fu as well.

These are the core principles that I see making up the martial art world. If you see that I forgot one please post and correct me. If you know of some other core you yourself have experienced please please post it because I want to know it too.

There is an unseen world to the martial arts world called the Holistic arts. I am sure you can spot them in these core principles, if not ask away and I can help if I am able.

I am a Peace Seeker and in no way someone who goes out to look for a fight. Fighting is nothing less than a last resort because life is precious. I will be happy to answer questions, offer advice, and argue a point. If the demand is there I can lay out a small, medium, and high end goal plan on how to gain a foothold on any of these core principles barring the ones that can take a lifetime. Please take not that some of the techniques require supervision by someone who has already mastered them to learn them safely, but this is a more rare than not.
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Old 09-12-2008, 11:03 AM   #2
Colin
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Hi Heretic

Thats's a very informative & well thought out post

I have been studying various martial arts for over 25 years and teaching them for the last 15 years.



At present I hold Dan grades in 3 arts:
  • Choi Kwang Do (3rd degree)
  • TaeKwanDo - not sport TaeKwanDo (1st degree)
  • Aikido (1st degree)
Although CKD is my preferred art & very realistic in regards to self defence, I am currently working my way through the Krav Maga syllabus.

As you no doubt know Krav Maga was designed by Imi Lichtenfeld as a simple effective method of self defence and is currently used by the IDF (Israeli Defence Force), FBI, and various other agencies & police forces. Literally translated Krav Maga means close combat.

It can be learned very quicky,by all ages and sexes as opposed to, sometimes years to master a traditional art. Infact that was one of the main reasons it was adopted by the IDF.

If the current global situation does go bad, I feel members would gain more benefit & confidence training in this system, as opposed to the traditional varieties you and I are trained in.

Do you have any thoughts on this?
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Old 09-13-2008, 10:50 AM   #3
Heretic
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Default Re: How to Learn Martial Arts

I like Krav Maga. Looks like a fast, inside art that focuses on grounding opponents quick. It is simple, flexible to the practitioner, quick yet powerful, improvisational, and the technique is more utilitarian and pragmatic rather than bound by a pre-defined structure, and ritual.

Quote:
If the current global situation does go bad, I feel members would gain more benefit & confidence training in this system, as opposed to the traditional varieties you and I are trained in.
I haven’t studied Krav Maga enough to teach it. If things go bad I doubt I will teach it with any kind of confidence. I have other stuff to offer though. I am not sure what I could do here and now other than write stuff up in case people want to read it. What did you have in mind with the Krav Maga?
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Old 09-15-2008, 07:50 AM   #4
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Default Re: How to Learn Martial Arts

I have practiced Hung Gar Kung Fu for 7 years and it has changed my life. Not only has kung fu taught me to fight but also to meditate and how to apply 'mind over matter'. I was mugged a few months back and if it were not for the self defense skills i learned i could be dead right now, you never know. As far as learning martial arts from a website or a book or a movie or instructional video... i dont think its possible. You have to be taught by example and repited practice. There just isnt a shortcut for experience. Thats not to say that any information is useless but if anyone is really interested in martials arts I believe the best thing to do is to join a school that is available to you. No one discipline is better or worse than any other its really all up to the individual.
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Old 09-15-2008, 09:30 AM   #5
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I think the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga is very effective. I have trained in this art and found though that while it is great for younger people, it can be a little hard on the body, and in time may introduce limitations.

I am currently studying Systema, it is a Russian Martial Art used by some Special Operations. Systema has a nice balance of soft / hard principles and teaches ones body to repond to any scenario and not just react with techniques.

As it is not well known, schools can be hard to come by. Anyone interested in checking it out should go to http://www.russianmartialart.com/ for more info.

Cheers.
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Old 09-16-2008, 03:22 AM   #6
bennett
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Default Re: How to Learn Martial Arts

Heretic (or others) - I keep getting emails from "Captain Chris" Pizzo of Close Combat Company - I guess he promotes a street fighting style (?) taught by video. See links for example: http://closecombattraining.com/cctraining/cctbribe.html , http://www.closecombattraining.com/ . I don't know much about this, having very limited martial arts experience. Do you think this has any value?
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Old 09-16-2008, 04:16 AM   #7
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Has anyone ever heard of or uses Target Focused Training (TFT)?
Please bare with me, I am not a Martial Artist, but I think it is a form of Tai Kwan Do and JuJitzu (spelling on these?).
Uses a lot of the Yang energy.

Thanks for this thread.
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Old 09-17-2008, 01:43 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Estarr View Post
I have practiced Hung Gar Kung Fu for 7 years and it has changed my life. Not only has kung fu taught me to fight but also to meditate and how to apply 'mind over matter'. I was mugged a few months back and if it were not for the self defense skills i learned i could be dead right now, you never know. As far as learning martial arts from a website or a book or a movie or instructional video... i dont think its possible. You have to be taught by example and repited practice. There just isnt a shortcut for experience. Thats not to say that any information is useless but if anyone is really interested in martials arts I believe the best thing to do is to join a school that is available to you. No one discipline is better or worse than any other its really all up to the individual.
I LOVE Hung Gar, especially the 5 animal system portion of it because it makes it so diverse. It was one of the very first arts I studied at length so I have a certain extra fondness for it. It is also a very difficult art and just some of the static stances alone are excruciating for the novice who is not in shape. It is also second generation Shaolin Kung Fu and the Shaolin are in my eyes one of the pinnacles of the martial art experience.

These monks would train all their life from a very young age so that the body can be trained before it started to develop limitations of muscles and tendons that atrophy from lack of use. They use what some would call bazaar methods to strengthen, bones, muscle and even internal organs to withstand punishment and endure some of the techniques they would employ at higher levels that simply cannot be performed until the much of the body has been conditioned sufficiently. A lot of the traditional arts rife with culture and older technique are like this.

I agree with you in that it is better to learn in a school, but it isn’t all that necessary unless you want to excel at the arts and explore the older arts which can take a lifetime to perfect because you continue to condition the body which in turn opens more new doors of attainment. The more the art relies on technique rather than concept, the better off you are in a school. But there is so much you CAN learn on your own, it is still staggering to the novice.

Like you said above it all depends on the individual and what they want out of it, their drive and desire to know, that makes a good fighter, and not the particular art they prescribe to, although each art has only a limited amount of martial observation to give a person IMHO. One should find the art that answers the problems that brought them to learning the arts in the first place. When you take a class these days you are simply paying someone to show you how to stand, punch, and kick etc. and eventually you get the “feel” for it and then you just start observing technique and plugging it in to what you have learned like a cook does with a recipe.
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:20 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aurora GFX View Post
I think the Israeli martial art of Krav Maga is very effective. I have trained in this art and found though that while it is great for younger people, it can be a little hard on the body, and in time may introduce limitations.

I am currently studying Systema, it is a Russian Martial Art used by some Special Operations. Systema has a nice balance of soft / hard principles and teaches ones body to repond to any scenario and not just react with techniques.

As it is not well known, schools can be hard to come by. Anyone interested in checking it out should go to http://www.russianmartialart.com/ for more info.

Cheers.
I have to agree that Krav Maga, as well as ANY “hard” art will in time reveal limitations. To me it is because, given enough time, unless the body is constantly being trained or maintained limitations will occur naturally. Whenever you have an art that is based on direct forces and blows that are based on external strength alone, limitations will be observed, but this is also true for just about any art, or at least portions of that art.

Not all Krav Maga is based on this though so there is still some worth in it to the elderly. Hard arts are naturally hard on the body, and conditioning is necessary. Just about every art on the planet is a mixture of soft and hard tech, so there will always be something there for those who cant produce alot of linear force for whatever reason.

I looked at Systema a few years back and I like it as well. I am especially fond of the Systema breathing methods as they are quick and easy to learn compared to the complexity found in Qigong, which is by far better yet requires more dedication.

IMHO all the arts including Krav Maga and Systema as well as the other arts taught to the military across the globe are very similar, because they all are answering the same problems. They all seem to be based on closing the distance and putting someone down as fast as possible, with some excusive bonuses found in each, especially the silent methods.

They all have different names, but are so similar it is easier to point out the differences than it is the plethora of similarities, and rightly so as they serve the same need and usually under the same circumstances.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:11 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by bennett View Post
Heretic (or others) - I keep getting emails from "Captain Chris" Pizzo of Close Combat Company - I guess he promotes a street fighting style (?) taught by video. See links for example: http://closecombattraining.com/cctraining/cctbribe.html , http://www.closecombattraining.com/ . I don't know much about this, having very limited martial arts experience. Do you think this has any value?
I have only just looked at this guys site so bear with me if I misinterpret his art through my lack of in-depth study on it. This guy is promoting simple pugilistic techniques. He avoids the what if scenario by observing concept alone. The concept is an easy one, or at least a basic concept to the intermediate artist. I think this is how he can say that just one hour of it can change the way you consider an attack.

This concept is to use violence and not just defense, which in my eyes is what every self defense class does anyway. Pain is the great equalizer, not size, weight, or even knowledge. Anyone can do the basics if they just devote a little time to learn the concepts, and apply them with at least SOME technique.

There are tons of concept based arts, but I just call them philosophies under which any art can be used in conjunction with. Jeet Kune Do is a philosophy and a strong one, but by itself it is worthless. The better and more diverse your system is, the more powerful your Jeet Kune Do will be. Bruce Lee built it on top of Wing Chun Kung Fu and it would “look” different under a Shotokan Tiger system.

Pugilistic systems are based on accupoints even though some arts don’t observe them enough. If you like the nervous system, accupoints, and how to use it in the arts, I would suggest Dim Mak as a good study because it is a system based on accupoint targeting holistically. The same points can be used for healing and damaging a person.

This guy is simply teaching a very basic ridge hand striking method, which is GREAT for novices, but to me lacks a lot of discussion about stance so I hope he talks about this later on in his courses. He is selling quick and easy, and that’s probably all you will get out of it, and that’s all you may want out of it so it’s all good. Just don’t expect a well rounded experience out of this art. He also hawks his wares like a snake oil salesmen which just turns me off to start with, but that is a subjective observation and not a technical one.
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Old 09-17-2008, 03:48 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DoctorTony View Post
Has anyone ever heard of or uses Target Focused Training (TFT)?
Please bare with me, I am not a Martial Artist, but I think it is a form of Tai Kwan Do and JuJitzu (spelling on these?).
Uses a lot of the Yang energy.

Thanks for this thread.
TFT seems like another close combat street savvy art as advertised. It relies a lot on Chin na, or a lot of grappling, locks and throws. Chin na is awesome and is in just about every art to some degree. I DO have to tell you that I don’t like going to the ground on the street. It just opens you up too much because you can’t move out of the way if needed. The best block to any strike is simply not being there. If there were 3 guys on me, the last thing I want to do is go to the ground and wrestle with one while the other two are just waiting for a chance to hurt me.

The same goes for kicks, no matter how good I am at them, I would not use them in multi-attacks and probably not on the street at all unless it was a finishing move. They ARE devastating though and it is hard for the novice and even the intermediate practitioner to abandon them. There is a big argument on what does or does not work on the streets, and many people usually blame the art and not the practitioner concerning effectiveness.

Tae Kwon Do is heavily reliant on foot work and even a black belt can get owned on the street because it takes a very long time to become resilient, and learning some one footed stances would really increase your effectiveness. A kick is vastly more powerful than a punch in terms of physics, and I have also seen some very well trained practitioners of Tae Kwon Do who can handle multi-attacks in an impressive way by using feet alone.

I think a lot of good arts get a bad reputation as street arts simply because they take so long to learn, and most of the people who try this stuff on the streets are no better than intermediate performers of that art, so it is no surprise that people label them as bad street arts.

Most people who have mastered an art simply would not get in a street fight, unless they like to fight, and look forward to these situations. I can’t explain why but to tell you that there is a world of things you can do phycologically to play on your attacker’s fear, once you have conquered your own. There are so many other techniques that can be performed that are far removed from physical harm that will let the enemy know that they better not pursue an altercation with you, but this doesn’t always work of course.
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Old 09-17-2008, 04:01 AM   #12
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Thanks for the posts guys and keep them coming, I could talk about this stuff for days and days without stopping. I will probably make some other posts on certain aspects of the arts I find interesting that can be communicated over the net and absorbed for use.

I can tell you with certainty that just about every move found in these arts like Krav Maga, Systema, TFT and countless more “streamlined” arts can be traced back and found in so many other older arts. They are not original, they are not new. They are just explained in a way that can be applied to today’s needs. This in no way means they are copycat arts though, because it is the system that defines the art and not the moves.

My original post contains all the ingredients found in all the arts. And like a chef, the artist can observe and taste a culinary creation, define what is in it, and how it was made by what he already knows, and has been exposed to, and then he can replicate it.

Like a good culinary delight, the first time a chef makes it, it is awkward, and may not come out as expected, but with perseverance and dedication, a good chef and recreate a recipe and make it over and over once he has figured it out. But you DO have to know the basics of cooking first before you can do this.
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Old 09-17-2008, 02:47 PM   #13
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Thank you Heretic! Much appreciated!
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Old 12-30-2009, 10:30 PM   #14
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Hello, noob here, just wanted to put in my two cents:

I agree with what Heretic is saying. There is no martial art, only artists -- expressing what they have been taught. There is no dispute that with our society's general trend towards peace, many teachers have lost the ability to teach combat effectiveness. All that being said: Nothing beats a well-qualifed and certified instructor. Please look carefully for instruction before you sign up anywhere. Look around at different places, arts, etc.

I have a bit of a different categorization than Heretic: A good martial arts teacher ought to be able to teach you-

1) Conditioning: Physical strength, balance, and stamina should all improve under proper teaching. Mental conditioning should also improve; the ability to recognize aggression, make choices under pressure, and endure adversity should also be heightened under proper instruction.

2) Ettiquette: A fine honing of ethical standards should take place under proper tutelage. This first takes the form of standard dojo dos n' don'ts. Later, deep discussions regarding what is right and wrong and how to handle oneself while representing said art. It's highest level is a heightened ability to get along well with others, even total boors.

3) Technique: A syllabus should be given to students, to let them know what's ahead. Differences in geography, history, and environment account for slight differences to every teacher's art. A good teacher will use learned techniques to increase a students ability to defend themselves. A good teacher will keep in mind your physiology to adapt technique, if needed, for you. A good teacher will not be secretive, political, or otherwise show favor to any student over another.

Look around for what's right for you. Get names of instructors, and google them...make sure they are legit.

Anyways...
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