Adventures of Darth Daddy

Thursday, August 11, 2005

Perfect martial art techniques

I read a blog entry over at In the Dojo, asking the relevance of strength vs technique in karate training. The "head" teachers were away, so lower black belts split the class time, and taught a lesson. One focused on technique...the other on strength and endourance. Below is my responce to her entry. (A cop out , I know...but I typed a lot, and put some thought into cut and pasting we gooooooo)

Very intersting questions..

Maybe the non-Shotokan didnt really have anything to teach - OR, he was incapable. Some people are great artists...but cant teach worth a damn. He also may have wanted to focus on the physical side of karate, if he felt that it was an issue "neglected" othertimes. If I had a "pet issue", I'd run with it if given the chance.

Strength Vs Technique. I gotta go with technique,s but it's not that simple. Simply knowing a technique is not enough---being able to perform it at yoru worst..not THATS the point.

ex 1: In my jujitsu class, during tests, the student is worn down. It is not enough to simply demonstrate that you know the technique, you also must show endourance, spirit to continue, and the ability to use technique OVER strength. The only true way to do this is to take your strength away..thus the test becomes grueling. A friend and I recently went over (accurately) all the techniques needed for our rank, and did so (taking turns so each of us did the same techniques) in 15 minutes. But our tests (one person) take an hour.

Ex 2: While training with a very gifted Judoka, he said that in Japan, judo classes are around 2 hours long. The first hour is workout - to make you sweat and tire you out. The second our is actual Judo with jujitsu, the best way to teach Tech is better than Strength is by removing the students strength. (He also said that at the end of class, students would take off their obi, fold it in half, and hold it up---if sweat did not drip from the belt to the floor, they were embarrased, and looked down upon by other students. (wow--one day, I WILL have my belt drip).

On another thought, it seems that Shotokan is the hardest (of one of) karate style. Strike a strike, and so forth. It seems that strength would be a neccesary component of training.


OK----another martial arts thought. Getting something PERFECT.

I have read on In the Dojo about practicing on getting the "perfect backfist (uraken)". Likewise, I read on Karate Talk (July 21, 2005) how she really felt bad after a hard session....she received a lot of critique (or critisism) on techniques that she thought she had down pretty well. (I hope neither bloggers mind me referencing their entries.....I dont plan to critisize, only to expand on their thoughts).

When I started in kenpo karate, I had a similar mindset. Practice-practice-practice---seeking to finally get it "right". After years of practice (and some years of not practicing), I found myself adding Kung Fu to my arts. In Kung Fu, you practice, just as much (maybe even more) on your techniques. But the interesting ideology is that you don't practice to get it "right"..that is futile. You practice it to feel comfortable (or competent) no matter how you do it. Rather than seek one way, you explore many ways, many angles, many one technique is not practiced ONE way, but rather many ways. I fear that training to do it "just right" (and here I speak of punches, kicks, blocks and strikes) means that you also will require the pefect scenerio to do it again----something you wont get every practice, and definitely not on the street.
In my Muay Thai class , we've started out learning a series on techniques. Strikes were done to the air. When we started to strike a heavy bag, it felt different. When we partnered up, and the target was moving, we no longer controled the distance from our strike to the target. Sometimes, the punch got jammed, other times I needed ot extend it a bit to connect. Each punch was a lesson.....I didnt try to get the person in any predeterminied, practiced, (rehearsed) distance.

Im open to anyones comments on this. I feel that my eyes have been opened to a whole world of application and training--hopefully, I havent stumbled across some kung fu mumbo jumbo and have taken it to heart. I don't mean to praise the kung fu, and put down other arts.....but the lessons from my KF class are applicable to a lot of the other arts I study. (I exclude jujitsu and judo , as these often times must be done right (a certain way), or they will not work).


Comments on Aikido....

I start off by admiting that I have never trained in the art...but I am intrigued and one day will.

I picked up a book called Aikido basics (Phong Dang and Lynn Seiser). To quote the book..
" Hitsory teaches us that such victories (victory on the battlefield) are short lived, however; they only lead to more fear, resentment, and eventually retaliation. The goal of aikido is victory over self, rather than victory over others".

Ok---lets begin------victory in the battlefield may be short lived...but only by those who LOST on the battlefield. For those who achived victory, life is pretty good.

Secondly, I can understand that an art wants you not just to learn it, but to reach inside yourself and develope as a person. But to say that the goal is victory over self...come on now...Ive never tried to kick my own ass. Its tended to be OTHERS that tried that...THAT'S who I needed victory over.

Another point I raise regarding the Circular Pivoting Step called Tenkan. The book states "Uniques to aikido, the tenkan, or circular pivoting step, is the most powerful footwork (ashi-sabaki) pattern in the aikido repertory." It IS very effective, but is not unique to aikido. Jujitsu has the same move, just doesnt use it as much perhaps.

Origin of aikido - How can you study over 200 martial arts (as this book states), and claim that you you didnt take your art form another, you were born with it, and developed it over time. Are you serious? Is this just another pissing contest amoung the arts? "I took it from jujitsu, but I refuse to give them credit: (My quote...not from the book or O'Sensei.)

Again, I mean no disrespect to aikido practitioners. I admire the art, and one day soon hope to train in it. It's the almost religious philosophy that I have a hard time with. Seems kinda upity....elitist even.

This art whoops ass. Brutal and effective. I dont think Id want to train in this art exclusively. You can do so and be a very effective fighter....there just doesn't seem enough room for "art" in it. But fo rthose karate people reading this, think of how much your elbows and knees are under-utilized in your art. Imagine going to karate class, and they saying "Tonight, we are focusing on elbow and knees". Now, there is much more to Muay Thai than just elbows and knees. But Id have to say taht my karate has benefited from Muay Thai training.......better use of my weapons (elbows/knees), better footwork, more powerful round house kicks , and better stamina. I'd definitely recommend that anyone who trains in karate, and can do so, cross train in Muay Thai. The benefits (to you and your other arts) will be great.


Ok Ive rambled enough on martial arts....on to family matters..

Let's see----Lance started clapping (for the fist time) a few days ago. He says "bubba" for Logan, "Mama" for mama, and "Abba" for me. I guess it still means father (If my catholic memories serve me right), so Im cool with that.His first word was dada--Im sure he'll pick it up again later.

Logan is getting too big too fast. And man, can he talk your ear off! He loves construction equipment (backhoes and cranes), and is resmerized by choochoo trains.

The wife : seems to hate my guts. She has been treating me like a retard for the last 3 months. I ask her simple questions, and only get arguments. She tried to convince me that it would take $20,000 to replace the transmission in her 1999 Dodge Caravan. No typing error there, folks, $20,000. The blue book is only $6,000. But she heard it from a mechanic (a second cousin who is in the used car business), so what the hell do I know. She traded it in, and now had a 2005 Town and Country (minivan). She seemed to go out of her way to exclude me from any of the desicion making process. I now wonder whether she bought the car to compensate for an unhappy life. Our house is small (and getting smaller every day since we had kids). My income is almost nothing...since becoming an at home dad. Our house is cluttered, it's been hot, and I apparently have done nothin to amuse her the last few months. Being me sucks right now. I was talkign with a friend at the dojo, when I realized that my kids and my arts are all I really have. I love my kids unquestionably. I love being a dad. I love being a primary caregiver. I don't love being treated with neglect and contempt by my wife. She may be in a depression (over her weight, her job, the house, our financial situation...who knows?). But being married to her is not a happy thing righ tnow.. It's more like having a sometimes really mean roommate. Things are good when they are at work, and sometimes when they are home....but then the sparks start flying. (Oh, and dare I mention that they aren't puttin out, but dontcha dare bring any girls home). Maybe I shouldn't have typed that. I am loyal. I have not. But I have thought about it. I have needs.

Ok - enough open heart info stuff.

We both now have a town and coutnry. Her's is a 2005 minivan.......mine is a 1977 hearse. BOTH are Chrysler Town and Country's. Kinda cool.

Too hot to type any more...need drink......need snack......need late night movie.......

(Ps. If you made it to the end...thanks. At least leave a "I made it all the way" comment so I know you were here. Thanks


  • At 10:40 AM, Blogger CV said…

    Well, interesting. Just one detail: the strength and endurance-black belt was also shotokan, but not from our organisation. His shotokan is much more stright - our is influnced from China and more circlemovements.

  • At 3:09 AM, Blogger Geoffrey Busbridge said…

    I made it to the end. :)
    AIKIDO: I haven't read the book either, but I have a few things to say in response to your review.

    There is some Aikido in my training. Sensei Dixon went to train with the biggest Aikido camp in Toronto for a while and brough back all sorts of neat knowledge. However, what I understand about the art is filtered through sensei's karate and my own background. I never exclusively work aikido, and my philosophy lines up with it only through coincicence.

    I would say that the quote is pointing out that so long as we are the way we are (fallen, or just naturally selfish, petty, and violent), no single victorty in battle will be perminant. The true victory is when we defeat our own negative desires.

    I don't know about you, but there are times I want to do something or say something that I know is wrong, or at least I know it will have a damaging effect those around me. Not wanting to put words in the writer's mouth, I'd say they meant that the battle against my negative self is the more important one. Victory in that field allows us to weather physical victory and defeat with grace and meaning.

    As to the rest, well, I should probably read the book before I comment.
    MUAY THAI: I did some kick boxing near the start of my martial arts journey. I believe it was Americanized and watered down (the class was a bunch of slacker teenagers, so what did I expect?). None the less, I did glean a few of the cooler aspects of kick boxing, and I understand and appreciate the difference between what I did and what MUAY THAI does.

    The difference is this: MUAY THAI is bad-ass, and kick boxing is the little brother of bad-ass.

    One big thing; from what I understand, serious MUAY THAI is very damaging to the fighter. You end up producing a fighting machine, but the machine can only run for so many years before it breaks down. I believe it's three years as a ring fighter before you have to quit. Deadly, deadly art, but I don't like the consequences. Karate might be slower, but at least I'll still be able to walk without arthritis when I'm 50.
    I'm really sorry to hear about your problems with your wife. It sounds like you need to talk, if you're not already. I hope things get better soon.

  • At 8:15 PM, Blogger Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., MFT said…

    I appreciate the mention. At least you got our names right.

    I am alwasy curious about people who post a negative critique of something they admit they never studied but look forward to someday.

    Lynn Seiser, Ph.D., MFT
    Sandan Tenshinkai Aikido
    Co-author of Aikido Basics, Advanced Aikido, and Aikido Buki-waza (weapons techniques).

  • At 11:00 PM, Blogger Darth Daddy said…

    Wow - a note from the author of the book I quoted. I feel honored to have her stop by. I would like to reply (elaborate further) on this topic, so I'll dedicate my next blog entry to it.
    Since writting the original blog entry, I've split my blog. My martial arts experiences are now at

    I encourage you to stop by for my further thoughts.



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