Wednesday, March 25, 2009

What is the Purpose of Martial Arts?

This video is interesting to me because it represents to me what MMA has started to do to traditional martial arts. In this video Faber is talking about how he was jumped by 10 -12 guys with weapons and all he did was punch kick and throw them. I will give the Faber credit as he was smart enough to know that ground fighting is out of the question in a street fight. However, he had a totally sport mind set. I guarantee you that if my instructor, who is about 55 years old, had fought these dudes, there would have been 10-12 dudes either knocked out, dead, or with a permanent injury. I don't fault Faber for training sport, and then of course, in a fight, he fights sport. That is just what happens. Moreover, I am a strong proponent of having a sport aspect in marital arts as it allows for us to develop timing, accuracy, and power while learning the benefits of sportsmanship. However, I have to say that I have seen far too many people who have forgotten that martial arts is ultimately about surviving life and death encounters, or they believe that MMA is a close enough approximation to a life and death encounter. Either way many martial artists believe the ultimate goal of a martial arts is related to what goes on in the MMA ring. I am sorry, but the first time that someone makes a move towards an out-numbered martial artist with a hammer, broken bottle, or brass knuckles, the next part of the story should involve words like crushed, broke, knocked out, gouged, or poked and not cross, knee, jab, and so on. Faber is easily one of the top 50 of martial arts competitors in the world, if he barely made it out alive due to a sport mind-set, what hope have we?

Monday, March 16, 2009

Padding is Killing Martial Arts

I first started to think about this years ago as I began to wonder why the palm strike has fallen by the wayside in favor of the fist. My guess is that this has come about in part because hitting someone with your fist does not hurt because of padding and wrist wraps that can be used during training. Also, people don't have to fight hand to hand day in and day out for survival so if you break your knuckles you get a cast rather than lose your life because you can't fight the next day.

My next point comes from watching people execute various techniques on youtube, at McDojos, and instructional tapes. People are willing to block heavy kicks with the blades of their forearms. Hammer fists, and bolo forearm techniques are often considered sloppy fighting in MMA circles rather than the harbingers of a broken face (and knuckle savers). I see various iron fist techniques going by the wayside as time goes on. People are willing to take bad angles to low kicks. People are less concerned about center-line kicking because the cup will protect you if you get hit in the groin. However, the rules usually prevent groin kicks anyway.

Now when you throw BJJ into the mix, people think that they can go out onto the street and apply submissions from their backs because they are used to training on a mat.

I have often considered making a video on how to not hurt yourself in a street fight. I can see a long-time McDojo practitioner going out throwing 1 kick, hurting his leg, and being defeated with the opponent throwing no offensive techniques. This should not happen and would not happen if people would take the pads off from time to time in order to figure out what they need to do to protect their bodies when executing techniques.

Monday, March 09, 2009

Is Wing Chun a Religeon Method of Selfdense?

Are Wing Chun practitioners gong to move ahead or live in the past? Isn't that the real question.
I have been concerned about Wing Chun as a whole over the past few years as more information has become available on the web about other forms of Wing Chun. My concern is that practitioners are often more concerned about preserving what Wing Chun was rather than push it into the future. This is evidenced by comments that you see on every message board, video posting site, and magazine criticizing someone for not practicing "real Wing Chun" or "true Wing Chun."

Masters make videos on youtube to demonstrate their chi sao skills as if the barometer of Wing Chun skill is chi sao. In these videos I see Wing Chun practitioners who have taken nothing from boxing in the last 30 year. These great masters along with their pupils ride their chins high (exposing themselves to throat attacks) and never use the highly efficient shoulder defenses and head moments. If we as WIng Chun practitioners are truly holding to our principles then isn't a shoulder shrug, a lowering of a chin, or a shoulder roll a demonstration of true economy of motion?

What it really amounts to is that no techniques can be accepted until such time as a federation head sees enough criticism regarding the styles ability to deal with certain type of technique so he pulls out, “the secret Wing Chun technique,” that is being revealed address people concerns.

In addition, in my 18 years of Wing Chun training, if I have learned anything at all Wing Chun is nothing at all without footwork. In addition, WC is nothing without a good dose of old fashioned boxing covering maneuvers or hard blocking to deal with situations where your mobility has been cutoff by your opponent. Nonetheless, chi sao is over emphasized at the expense of training out of movement and those who advocate the use of boxing covers or hard blocking are dismissed nothing short of Wing Chun heretics who practice a bastardized form of Wing Chun. However, in an effort to codify and preserve "real Wing Chun", I argue that it's chief practitioners have unintentionally turned their art into a sport similar to judo where additional martial arts training is required to use it effectively.

Additional Details
This question has little do with MMA. I am merely pointing out that a style should be effective at the ranges of fighting that its practitioners claim it to be effective at. Wing Chun can be a devastating style or a devastating failure if you don't train properly. In my mind, the goal of Wing Chun is to immobilize an opponent’s weapon or weapons in order to deliver clean unimpeded strikes or offensive techniques.

I am disturbed by the slothing around with no real stance, intensity, or physical exertion during chi sao that passes as real fight training. Especially considering the time that people devote to it. Moreover, chi sao is like a speed bag to a boxer. No boxer would want to go to the fight without getting his bag work in, but no boxer would take bag work to be the point of his training. Yet, in Wing Chun, we have built a monument to our speed bag known as chi sao.