Adventures of Darth Daddy

Sunday, November 07, 2004

Martial arts thoughts

The babies have been fine...but have kept me very busy. Been trying to squeeze in some work here and ther eto keep the bank account alive. Tonights thought rant will be about "traditionalism" and the martial arts. (I have been reading another blog about martial arts that prompted tonights topic. The author has mentioned having some physical discomfort at certain activities, but is pushing herself to do better, for the sake of "getting it right". I posted a comment on her site, and figured I post it, and a follow up here on my own site.

Traditionalism can take on many meanings. I declined several dojos, because they weren't "traditional" enough. No one bowed when entering/exiting the mat, attention was lax, no order was maintained...bla bla bla. Traditional, as I mean it tonight, it to say that you must lean something a ceratin way, perform it a certain way, because this is the way that it always has been done. No allowances to personalization, or modification.

A read the last 2 posts from the author, and had mixed feelings. Thinking it was that Im still in the "honey moon" phase of my kung fu training, I let some conflicting thoughts bounce around in my head a while. After reading what Galen had to say, I think that I really agree with that point of view. I'm all for the internal struggle to make your body do what you want it to....and not have it dictate what it wants to do. But there is wisdom in what it may be telling you. If you have a bad knee, then perhaps instead of making a bad situation worse (forcing the knee to work extra hard), it may be better to allow your body to compensate for it. If your horse stance isn't all that deep, and it is functional for you, I think it is better to be effective and comfortable. If you start practicing a deeper stance, and the time comes to use your art in real life, your body may feel more comfortable not going so dep. Rather , using a stance that allows the body to be an effective weapon, but compensate for any short coming you have. I myself have a bad right knee and really sore left shoulder, so I don't mean that anyone is less of a martial artists if they have less than perfectly functioning body parts.

In thinking back, I'll use a high rising block for an example. I remember always being corrected on exactly where it should stop. Not too forward, not too overhead, not to straight, and so forth. It was as if there was one magical way of doing it "right", and numerous ways of doing it wrong. In reality, these factors are a concern, but you also have to factor in the actual attack. If you're so worried (or programmed) to do a block the "one correct way", if may prove ineffective against a strike that is not "perfect".

One of the first things that the sifu told me was that "in kung fu, there are no right or wrong ways of doing something....there are only 'moves'. Where right and wrong come into play is whether or not the 'move' was efective, and did what you wanted it to do." This was ery liberating as a martial artist. Also, this was very enlightening. I saw that there was no "one perfect way" to execute any technique. This doesn't mean that practicing got easier. Quite the opposite. It also meant that because thre were multiple ways of doing it, all ways must be practiced. Instead of practicing the right way to throw one punch, I was now examining the effective way to throw 10 different punches (all with a closed fist).

Im sure there are those that would say that I'm throwing 'tradition" to the wind. Perhaps. I also train in traditional jujitsu (not brazilian or Gracie style). I am a martial artist that can appreciate keeping the purity of an art form for the sake of purity. Try to keep it as uncontaminated, and pass it along to others. On the other hand, I can't see packaging it as a cure all, when it only relives some symptoms. Meaning that I can see how some of the JJ techniques need to be learned because they are traditional, even when I don't consider them very effective. But I'd hate to learn them, and think that I "knew " it all. Cross-training is somethign that I can't recommened enough of. It allows you to see what others are learning, teaching you to "fill in the gaps" in another style, and put much more in your arsenal.

It's very interesting to be in kung fu class, learn something, and see how a karateka would be able to beat that move. I am seeing this a lot in jujitsu class, seing how kung fu would be able to defeat it. Jujitsu emphasizes joint locks, arm bars, and other ways ot using the anatomy of the aggresor against themselves. Several techniques rely on the opponent being rigid. If the opponenet goes soft (or soft, then hard, as in snake style KF), the technique is wasted. It sure is nice not being blinded by a dedication to one particular art. Don't misunderstnad me...Im dedicated to every art I study. I do my best to learn what it tries to teach, and make it work. As a student, there is a kind of responsibility not to learn things half hearted. I study Kung Fu with everythign I can give. I also apply that same amount of deidication when Im in Jujitsu class. (We all know that Teakwondo is a joke, so honestly, I just screw around with that art!!) In the end, when patience is gone, options are no longer avaliable, and the shit is about to hit the opponent will not face a jujitsu student, or a kung fu student, or a kenpo student...but a well rounded martial artist, with a masive bag of tricks, and an ablity to sense when to change styles, and when to use whatever technique. And that , my friends, can open one major can of whoopass when needed.

Well, I've ranted enough for tonight...... at least on that.

More stuff: I got the black hearse insured. As soon as I get some time in the next few days, I will remove all the "stuff" in the backseat/trunk area, and take it for a real drive. Not just around the hood, but TO somewhere. And se if it'll bring me back home when Im done. I bought another valve cover at a junk yard, but it was the wrong size. And after the oil change, I saw that I'm not going to lose a significant amount of oil or pressure out of the small leak on the existing valve cover. Im very excited. If it stays running, I go tSO much internal pimping to do. CD radio with mp3 ability, dvd player, 2 lcd screens for the back seats, 10 disk mp3 changer, a few amps, new's gonna rock! That is, IF it stays running.


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