Martial Arts

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Anyone here train Martial Arts? Years ago I did TaeKwonDo and now I am looking for a new style to help me get back into shape. Took my first Tai Chi class the other day and had a good time. I've also stopped by a Karate school.

I'd be interested to hear what anyone's experiences in martial arts have been.
 

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I've been training in jujutsu for nearly four years and I love it. It's done wonders for my fitness and stress levels, plus I've made some very good friends.

Japanese-style jujutsu (as opposed to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) is a close martial art that can be seen as a precursor to other styles such as judo and aikido. It has the joint locks of aikido, the throws of judo, and adds in a dose of strikes and holds to make it more all-round. It's often found as a self-defence style rather than a competition style due to the nature of the techniques.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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The best years of my life. Unfortunately, I came in later than most people do (late 20s) and my body had to adjust. My physio initially said to quit because my body was too tight, even though I was already always active, but I just did the exercises he gave me and after a couple of years I was good as gold.

I started taekwondo in 1996, and have rarely missed a class in 23 years (work / illness being the only reasons, not feeling like it has never been an option). Have since done loads of training with other styles to augment the skill set, mainly hapkido, krav maga and boxing (boxing is not generally viewed as a martial art by boxers, but it’s a fighting discipline so I do classify it as such). Some other stuff too.

I did very limited competition training. Most of my focus was on the stuff that was illegal in tournaments anyway. Whenever I see news footage of street fights, the first thing that I notice is how amateur the brawlers are, even the ones who are winning. Like Count Adhemar says in Knight’s Tale: “Technique: rudimentary.” As in anything else, there are tricks to the trade that set the pros apart.

I loved every aspect of the discipline, made some great friends and the best part was being able to attempt any other physical activity because the fitness foundation was already there. It was a big boost to my confidence and I always had a great sense of well-being. On those occasions when I have needed to use it (rarely, and mostly because of the job I had), while not being in ideal circumstances, due to the nature of the beast, it did validate the time that I put in.

A lot of people don’t relate to the physical side of it. Thousands of classes and dozens of reps per hour aren’t for everyone. The only down side to it, for me, is that my body hasn’t been able to adjust to aging as well as I would have liked. These days when I train too hard, my elbows get inflamed when I do push ups and I have an old groin tear that is aggravated by sit ups. I also have knee problems and a back injury that predates my training, plus a few breaks / dislocations / concussions that I picked up along the way. And of course I am not able to compete with the young guns anymore. It’s frustrating, but that’s because I can’t perform as well as I would like, nor recover as quickly.

Like anything, there are risks. Do you avoid driving a car because of the risk of crashing? Do you refuse to submit to agents / publishers because they might reject you? Some things you just do because you need to do them.

If I had my time over again, I would do this aspect of my life the same. No regrets.

As much as I love martial arts, if your primary motivation is to get into shape, especially if you are 30+ and certainly if you are 40+, I would suggest something low impact. Swimming is probably the best option.
 
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I've been training in jujutsu for nearly four years and I love it. It's done wonders for my fitness and stress levels, plus I've made some very good friends.

Japanese-style jujutsu (as opposed to Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) is a close martial art that can be seen as a precursor to other styles such as judo and aikido. It has the joint locks of aikido, the throws of judo, and adds in a dose of strikes and holds to make it more all-round. It's often found as a self-defence style rather than a competition style due to the nature of the techniques.

It's a terrific style and well balanced. When I was in college I trained a semester of Jujitsu and got an orange belt, so I do hold rank even though it has been a long time. One great thing about Judo and JJJ is learning to fall. I know it's not why most people train but learning to fall correctly has helped me when I fell a couple times outside of the dojo. The other day I tried my first BJJ class and didn't like it nearly as much as JJJ.
 

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The best years of my life. Unfortunately, I came in later than most people do (late 20s) and my body had to adjust. My physio initially said to quit because my body was too tight, even though I was already always active, but I just did the exercises he gave me and after a couple of years I was good as gold.

I started taekwondo in 1996, and have rarely missed a class in 23 years (work / illness being the only reasons, not feeling like it has never been an option). Have since done loads of training with other styles to augment the skill set, mainly hapkido, krav maga and boxing (boxing is not generally viewed as a martial art by boxers, but it’s a fighting discipline so I do classify it as such). Some other stuff too.

I did very limited competition training. Most of my focus was on the stuff that was illegal in tournaments anyway. Whenever I see news footage of street fights, the first thing that I notice is how amateur the brawlers are, even the ones who are winning. Like Count Adhemar says in Knight’s Tale: “Technique: rudimentary.” As in anything else, there are tricks to the trade that set the pros apart.

I loved every aspect of the discipline, made some great friends and the best part was being able to attempt any other physical activity because the fitness foundation was already there. It was a big boost to my confidence and I always had a great sense of well-being. On those occasions when I have needed to use it (rarely, and mostly because of the job I had), while not being in ideal circumstances, due to the nature of the beast, it did validate the time that I put in.

A lot of people don’t relate to the physical side of it. Thousands of classes and dozens of reps per hour aren’t for everyone. The only down side to it, for me, is that my body hasn’t been able to adjust to aging as well as I would have liked. These days when I train too hard, my elbows get inflamed when I do push ups and I have an old groin tear that is aggravated by sit ups. I also have knee problems and a back injury that predates my training, plus a few breaks / dislocations / concussions that I picked up along the way. And of course I am not able to compete with the young guns anymore. It’s frustrating, but that’s because I can’t perform as well as I would like, nor recover as quickly.

Like anything, there are risks. Do you avoid driving a car because of the risk of crashing? Do you refuse to submit to agents / publishers because they might reject you? Some things you just do because you need to do them.

If I had my time over again, I would do this aspect of my life the same. No regrets.

As much as I love martial arts, if your primary motivation is to get into shape, especially if you are 30+ and certainly if you are 40+, I would suggest something low impact. Swimming is probably the best option.

Thanks for the advice. I am pushing 40 so I am in that age group. I was really looking for Tai Chi but ended up looking around at other styles too. I like training MA in part because of all the friends you make as you stated. It's a lot more fun to get exercise working with people than running on the treadmill. Stuff like that is too isolating for me. One reason I got away from training was because of leg and back soreness that would linger for days after class.

So you do more traditional TKD it sounds like. When I trained it it was sport based but I have heard that traditional TKD is more self defense based and a more rounded style. What would you say the biggest differences are between traditional and Olympic TDK?
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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Yes, I met a lot of people who became friends via my training and I still hang out with them even if most of those that I started with only trained for a handful of years. I never sought to become one of the honchos, but when I did that was another group of people (instructors in other towns and cities) who also became friends. Not all of them of course, but the ones who are… well, let’s just say that we have some interesting history (some funny stories, and others not so funny but still good to reminisce about).

The training motivation is the same for me as for you: I need other people to train with for it to be enjoyable (bashing one another counts as such LOL). In preparation for my black belt test I took a gym membership and I trained every weekday for six months for two hours after I finished my day job (milkman – lots of running and lifting): treadmill, bikes, weights, aerobics, everything. That was in addition to the training I did in class and the training I did at home with some of the others. After I completed the test I renewed my gym membership for a year and then quit after two sessions. I just can’t train indefinitely without a partner.

I’ve been out of the loop for a while now, but when I started teaching TKD it was splintered along tournament and self-defence lines. You’d think that the two were similar, but no. And both branches claimed to be traditional forms of the art (with the other being rogue), but I think I know what you mean. To answer your question: the main difference with what I do compared to tournament (Olympic) competition is that, for me, it’s that the competitive stuff on TV is batshit boring to watch. Most of the time it’s just two people facing off waiting for the other person to make the first move. Because it’s largely a point scoring format, the requirement becomes speed related at the expense of everything else. In order to avoid over-extension, punches often become taps (same point value for either). Yes, there are occasional KOs from some people who take risks, but most of the fights I saw were very limited in that regard.

A lot of people found the first TKD style I signed with to be really boring, the same as I am bored by tournament formats. I suppose that some things are like that? To me basketball is crap to watch but heaps of fun to play. My early MA training was similar; it was rooted in learning just a few kicks and blocks and so forth, and we drilled those things and not much else in every single class. The people who quit did so because they didn’t feel as though there was enough variety in the syllabus, but I can tell you that those basics became a really strong foundation and they are still my go-to when I spar. The best fighters that I ever saw were the ones who had only one or two techniques; they weren’t very creative, but they sure as hell knew how to execute. To me the appeal was the simplicity, because I needed it for my weekend work (bouncer).

When I first started training, I was told that we were forbidden from competing because “Taekwondo is a martial art, not a sport.” LOL, I still remember THAT conversation! My best friend asked our examiner something along those lines and copped an absolute bollocking for his “insolence” and the entire class was subjected to a gruelling punishment drill as a lesson in respect. To reinforce the ban on thinking of TKD as a sport, I found out a short while later that two instructors in another town had entered a tournament to see how they would go against strangers from different disciplines. Unfortunately for them, they finished first and third and the news of their success travelled fast. Both of them were expelled.

I trained in a few different styles. Some schools forbid participating in organised competition and others required it for advancement, but it was never really my thing. I’m not a traditionalist by heart (that’s an entirely separate conversation) but I did enjoy learning all of the cool stuff that would have been too dangerous to try in a competitive environment; there are enough accidents as it is with proper supervision. Also, a lot of TKD principals are not well versed with reality. I remember one in particular who refused to acknowledge wrestling / judo / MMA as valid because “people who are proficient in TKD are too well balanced to ever fall over.” What he meant was that he didn’t know any ground grappling (TKD is primarily kick / punch / block – floor fighting is for riff-raff) and so he forbid anyone from learning about it. Screw that attitude! My advice to anyone is to stay away from people who say those kinds of ridiculous statements and go and find someone who is willing to teach you what you want to learn. I have sometimes been called a jack of all trades and master of none, which is meant as an insult, but of which I am extremely proud.

You’re nearly forty? Sorry, man, you are screwed. My body packed it in when I turned 44; the last six years have been one long yearning look in the rear-view mirror. Ten years ago I used to have an informal rule for my class: anyone aged 30+ need not try to keep up with the drills for the late-teens and twenty-somethings. It seemed like a good rule at the time, but unfortunately I didn’t then realise how grim it was going to be in the years ahead.

I think that maybe tai-chi would be something that I may yet gravitate towards when I finally hang up my gloves. It would be familiar territory for me and as long as there is a group environment and someone telling me what to do (in a non-domestic context) then that would be quite appealing.

Sorry about the essay.
 
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onesecondglance

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It's a terrific style and well balanced. When I was in college I trained a semester of Jujitsu and got an orange belt, so I do hold rank even though it has been a long time. One great thing about Judo and JJJ is learning to fall. I know it's not why most people train but learning to fall correctly has helped me when I fell a couple times outside of the dojo. The other day I tried my first BJJ class and didn't like it nearly as much as JJJ.

Yeah, learning to break fall properly is extremely useful. I'm always surprised when I hear that not all MA classes teach it - most disciplines have some takedowns in them, if not proper throws, and it makes training a lot easier on your body if you don't hit the ground like a sack of rocks every time...
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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Agreed. Last year I was doing some fencing with a friend of mine and foolishly trod on a post that had just been debarked. Those things are slippery AF and I went arse-over-head backwards down the hill. A cute little backwards roll and flip saw me back on my feet. After my friend stopped laughing he asked how I had managed such a weird feat. Embarrassing and cool all at the same time.
 

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Yeah, have your little laugh at my expense!

I learned to break fall on a concrete floor covered in rough carpet. Not my idea, but the master I learned from was a bit old school with his methods. He figured that I’d learn faster if the floor was hard, but all I got out of it until I’d figured it out were a whole bunch of bruises and some carpet burn. Funny in hindsight, not so much during…

And the payoff after all of those hours? This: I didn’t hurt myself when I fell over on a mountainside.

It hardly seems like a profitable enterprise when you look at it like that.
 

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Yes, I met a lot of people who became friends via my training and I still hang out with them even if most of those that I started with only trained for a handful of years. I never sought to become one of the honchos, but when I did that was another group of people (instructors in other towns and cities) who also became friends. Not all of them of course, but the ones who are… well, let’s just say that we have some interesting history (some funny stories, and others not so funny but still good to reminisce about).

The training motivation is the same for me as for you: I need other people to train with for it to be enjoyable (bashing one another counts as such LOL). In preparation for my black belt test I took a gym membership and I trained every weekday for six months for two hours after I finished my day job (milkman – lots of running and lifting): treadmill, bikes, weights, aerobics, everything. That was in addition to the training I did in class and the training I did at home with some of the others. After I completed the test I renewed my gym membership for a year and then quit after two sessions. I just can’t train indefinitely without a partner.

I’ve been out of the loop for a while now, but when I started teaching TKD it was splintered along tournament and self-defence lines. You’d think that the two were similar, but no. And both branches claimed to be traditional forms of the art (with the other being rogue), but I think I know what you mean. To answer your question: the main difference with what I do compared to tournament (Olympic) competition is that, for me, it’s that the competitive stuff on TV is batshit boring to watch. Most of the time it’s just two people facing off waiting for the other person to make the first move. Because it’s largely a point scoring format, the requirement becomes speed related at the expense of everything else. In order to avoid over-extension, punches often become taps (same point value for either). Yes, there are occasional KOs from some people who take risks, but most of the fights I saw were very limited in that regard.

A lot of people found the first TKD style I signed with to be really boring, the same as I am bored by tournament formats. I suppose that some things are like that? To me basketball is crap to watch but heaps of fun to play. My early MA training was similar; it was rooted in learning just a few kicks and blocks and so forth, and we drilled those things and not much else in every single class. The people who quit did so because they didn’t feel as though there was enough variety in the syllabus, but I can tell you that those basics became a really strong foundation and they are still my go-to when I spar. The best fighters that I ever saw were the ones who had only one or two techniques; they weren’t very creative, but they sure as hell knew how to execute. To me the appeal was the simplicity, because I needed it for my weekend work (bouncer).

When I first started training, I was told that we were forbidden from competing because “Taekwondo is a martial art, not a sport.” LOL, I still remember THAT conversation! My best friend asked our examiner something along those lines and copped an absolute bollocking for his “insolence” and the entire class was subjected to a gruelling punishment drill as a lesson in respect. To reinforce the ban on thinking of TKD as a sport, I found out a short while later that two instructors in another town had entered a tournament to see how they would go against strangers from different disciplines. Unfortunately for them, they finished first and third and the news of their success travelled fast. Both of them were expelled.

I trained in a few different styles. Some schools forbid participating in organised competition and others required it for advancement, but it was never really my thing. I’m not a traditionalist by heart (that’s an entirely separate conversation) but I did enjoy learning all of the cool stuff that would have been too dangerous to try in a competitive environment; there are enough accidents as it is with proper supervision. Also, a lot of TKD principals are not well versed with reality. I remember one in particular who refused to acknowledge wrestling / judo / MMA as valid because “people who are proficient in TKD are too well balanced to ever fall over.” What he meant was that he didn’t know any ground grappling (TKD is primarily kick / punch / block – floor fighting is for riff-raff) and so he forbid anyone from learning about it. Screw that attitude! My advice to anyone is to stay away from people who say those kinds of ridiculous statements and go and find someone who is willing to teach you what you want to learn. I have sometimes been called a jack of all trades and master of none, which is meant as an insult, but of which I am extremely proud.

You’re nearly forty? Sorry, man, you are screwed. My body packed it in when I turned 44; the last six years have been one long yearning look in the rear-view mirror. Ten years ago I used to have an informal rule for my class: anyone aged 30+ need not try to keep up with the drills for the late-teens and twenty-somethings. It seemed like a good rule at the time, but unfortunately I didn’t then realise how grim it was going to be in the years ahead.

I think that maybe tai-chi would be something that I may yet gravitate towards when I finally hang up my gloves. It would be familiar territory for me and as long as there is a group environment and someone telling me what to do (in a non-domestic context) then that would be quite appealing.

Sorry about the essay.

It's amazing how many people involved in martial arts say ridiculous things like that. There is a ton of bad information being passed around and I don't appreciate it when someone shits all over another style. If someone is going to do that though I think they should at least know what they are talking about. I've heard so many people say that traditional martial arts are useless in the real world because you don't train against people who resist. That's just all bullshit. There are probably schools out there that don't teach TMA (traditional martial arts) very well and if you don't do the techniques correctly they won't work. But that is true of any style. An elbow lock done wrong in Brazilian Jujitsu won't work any better than doing it wrong in Karate. I studied TMA for a couple years and when the techniques are done correctly they work against resisting opponents. I've experienced this both giving and receiving. It's unfortunate that this has been spread around for so long, even by people who have a large platform to try and dismiss TMA as being bunk. It gives TMA a bad rap and it's irresponsible to spread that message because it is not true.

In the example you cited it sounds like the guy just couldn't do it so he decided not to value it. A lot of the negative stuff is said based on insecurity. People go around dismissing other styles they don't know about or can't do just to feel better about themselves. I think cross training is a great idea if that is what someone is looking for. To dismiss it I agree is the wrong attitude. At least for me. And I don't cross train.

I share your feelings with watching sport TKD. Though I would extend it to all sport martial arts and fighting sports like boxing and wrestling. It just doesn't interest me. Not saying they are not good or what I like is better or anything like that. To each their own. If someone feels that sport martial arts are what is best for them then go for it. I simply didn't get into martial arts for that reason.
 

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Yeah, learning to break fall properly is extremely useful. I'm always surprised when I hear that not all MA classes teach it - most disciplines have some takedowns in them, if not proper throws, and it makes training a lot easier on your body if you don't hit the ground like a sack of rocks every time...

When I took TKD we spent almost no time working on falls. There was only one class we worked on it and that was for a short amount of time. Even though it's a standing and striking style I still think it would be useful. Styles like Judo, JJJ, Hapkido, and probably many others require you to learn how to fall and roll correctly if you want to learn them.
 

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It's amazing how many people involved in martial arts say ridiculous things like that. There is a ton of bad information being passed around and I don't appreciate it when someone shits all over another style. If someone is going to do that though I think they should at least know what they are talking about. I've heard so many people say that traditional martial arts are useless in the real world because you don't train against people who resist. That's just all bullshit. There are probably schools out there that don't teach TMA (traditional martial arts) very well and if you don't do the techniques correctly they won't work. But that is true of any style. An elbow lock done wrong in Brazilian Jujitsu won't work any better than doing it wrong in Karate. I studied TMA for a couple years and when the techniques are done correctly they work against resisting opponents. I've experienced this both giving and receiving. It's unfortunate that this has been spread around for so long, even by people who have a large platform to try and dismiss TMA as being bunk. It gives TMA a bad rap and it's irresponsible to spread that message because it is not true.

In the example you cited it sounds like the guy just couldn't do it so he decided not to value it. A lot of the negative stuff is said based on insecurity. People go around dismissing other styles they don't know about or can't do just to feel better about themselves. I think cross training is a great idea if that is what someone is looking for. To dismiss it I agree is the wrong attitude. At least for me. And I don't cross train.

Agree 100%. One of my friends runs one of the most professional academies that I have ever seen; he is incredibly dedicated, is almost sixty and has been training ever since he was fifteen years old. When we were training in the same system together we were both still relatively junior instructors and had a lot of time for one another. But one of the things we weren’t allowed to do was learn a different style (an instructor was expected to have loyalty to one style only, anything else was viewed as a conflict of interest), so he signed up for hapkido in secret and learned far more than the rest of us were learning. He asked me to do it with him, but I couldn’t afford to travel a day each way every couple of months for a weekend training session. Within about a year he went from a person who I used to beat up for fun, to someone who was far better than I ever was.

One of the things he took away from it was that some things are so technical that they literally take years to perfect, and until they are done just right they are useless. One wrist lock in particular was one that I could never see why he was so invested. This thing required precision in every angle, every rotation, and if it was out by a few millimetres it just didn’t work at all. He spent four years working on that one technique, and then one day he asked me to come over for dinner (false pretenses LOL) and he told me to grab him and he dropped me on the spot until I squealed. I’m a lot bigger than he was and he kept me pinned to the floor until I told him that he was better than I was, which was kind of funny because we would never have said or done anything like that in front of our students but when it’s your friends you just have some fun instead. (Plus I got a free meal, so totally worth it.) Personally, I don’t have the patience to put in the time for something like that, though I do have some favourites that most people don’t pick up easily. The human body is so vulnerable, just a bundle of nerve endings that beg to be poked and twisted in all kinds of ways.

The master who I talked about earlier was a complete jackass. He had so many problems with too many different people for it to have been anyone else’s fault but his. He was capable, but his world view was that rank equated to the right to disregard everyone else. The last time we talked it was quite the conversation, one that I will never forget. But most people in the industry are not like that, though all of us know enough ignoramuses who are. I think it’s just a jock mentality, which does fly in the face of all of the oaths of humility and integrity that get drummed into us. All of that is pretty hypocritical; either people are decent or they aren’t, and being able to fly through the air or mop the floor with multiple opponents, is not an indicator either way.

I don’t really view cross-training in a negative light. Much as I love the simplicity of TKD’s core syllabus, I absolutely love the complexity and extreme mentality that you get in krav maga. Pretty well every technique is designed specifically to disarm an assailant, and then either maim or kill him. Some of the weapon defences are beautiful, but those sessions normally leave you banged up for a week or so. What I liked most about those classes was that a bunch of us from all over the place landed in the same room (only a few of us knew one another) and then we would partner up and not care if we hurt the other bloke (where “hurt” does NOT equate to “injure”). You just go home and have a hot bath and rub yourself up with Tiger balm, and don’t care if you’ve inflicted the same on a stranger. You aren’t friends so their feelings don’t matter. That only worked with professionals, though. We’d have never been as unsympathetic to newbies.

The good old days. I really miss them.

Sorry, another essay. Sometimes I just love talking about this stuff with people who share an interest.
 
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I started aikido twelve years ago, at the age of 41, after a decade of being essentially sedentary (I had a previous life in SCA fighting). Still at it several nights a week, and I have no plans to stop. One of the things I really appreciate about the lower-impact ("soft" vs "hard" is the wrong way to frame it, IMO) is the number of people I see in their seventies and beyond still training. Their practice may not be as rigorous as when they were younger, but they can still mix it up!
 

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When I took TKD we spent almost no time working on falls. There was only one class we worked on it and that was for a short amount of time. Even though it's a standing and striking style I still think it would be useful. Styles like Judo, JJJ, Hapkido, and probably many others require you to learn how to fall and roll correctly if you want to learn them.
Our aikido dojo is in a really out of the way spot, kind of in the woods; in order to get a little more visibility, about three years ago we started doing outreach classes a couple of nights a week at a nearby school that mainly teaches BJJ and kickboxing. I've done some crosstraining with them, and one of their kickboxing instructors has really taken to the aikido - to the point that now he's working with the owner to revamp the self-defense portion of their curriculum with what he's learning from us. :)
 

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I love aikido's focus on movement, extension, and projection - it makes such a difference to seemingly "soft" techniques.

We have an aiki master who comes along to our jujutsu classes - he shows us higher grades how they'd do the (less violent) aikido-version of the technique, and we notice all sorts of tiny bits that hugely improve the jutsu version. Aikido gets a lot of flak for not being street suitable, but for me it's like high end restaurant cookery: perhaps it doesn't seem that relevant when you've got nothing but two eggs in the fridge, but watch what one of those high end chefs can do with those eggs...
 

Maze Runner

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It's a fun way to stay in shape. My first exposure to fighting arts was when I was a little kid. My father had been a prizefighter so I learned to snap the jab and throw a straight right hand before I knew any better. The left hook gave me a lot of trouble at first. Funny, 'cause a ripping left hook was my dad's signature punch. I trained in shotokan karate for a few years in my 20s at Hidetaka Nishiyama's school near downtown Los Angeles. I trained with other instructors at first, but what I remember about the Sensai's classes was the repetitious attention to minutia. I trained at Benny "The Jet" Uriquidez's Jet Center and that's when I think I was in the best shape of my life. I still think actual sparring, full contact or not, is one of the very best exercises. One thing that struck me with the karate training was that I learned how to beak down complex movements so I could master them one bite at a time, which I guess was why Nishiyama spent so much time on detail. I played football and baseball in HS, for instance, but basketball always alluded me until training in martial arts. Now I was hittin' from all over the court, nothin' but net! Ha, not really. But I was a lot better than before. I don't train at a dojo anymore, but I have a heavy and a speed bag in a garage we don't use and I've been putting more time in there lately. I might go back to traiing eventually, but I honestly don't know if I'm up to that kind of rigorous training anymore. Also, when I was at the Jet Center I got tired of being hurt all the time. Nothing serious, but something always hurt. Like the time we were repeatedly trading kicks to the leg on a day that my partner had forgotten to bring his shin pad.
 

edutton

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what I remember about the Sensai's classes was the repetitious attention to minutia... I learned how to beak down complex movements so I could master them one bite at a time
So much repetition. And always, always going back to fundamentals. We have a brand new student who's even older than I was when I first started, and the other day he said he felt bad about making us all go back to the beginning. I just laughed and told him to ask Sensei when the basics stop being important. :D
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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So much repetition. And always, always going back to fundamentals. We have a brand new student who's even older than I was when I first started, and the other day he said he felt bad about making us all go back to the beginning. I just laughed and told him to ask Sensei when the basics stop being important. :D

This. Once I was part of a group who were training on a cricket oval and someone asked if we could do some black belt training, by which I presume they meant some advanced activities. Needless to say, we spent the majority of the next hour doing basic line work for the length of the field, not changing to a new technique until we reached the opposite boundary.

I’ve never understood why people don’t like repetition. Do you always look both ways before you cross the road? Repetition. Do you get dressed in the morning? Repetition. Do you greet people the same way? Repetition. Does everyone on this forum write? Repetition. Do you do the same drills in your MA class all the time? “God, how boring.” Inexplicable.

I’ve got a problem with my ears (my wife would agree LOL) that means that if I roll too much I feel badly disoriented for days, nauseous would be the best description (a result of chronic ear infections as a kid). So no BJJ / judo / aikido / hapkido other than the non-rolling components. When I made enquiries a long time ago, I was told that I was not allowed to learn the syllabus for the next belt until I had done the requirements for the first level, which included rolling. So that was the end of the line for me. What I learned came from seminars and training camps, where we all self-regulated as far as was practical.

So much of the training we used to do was harmful to your health. To desensitise your shin from heavy contact we did what was called stripping, whereby you rolled a coke bottle (when they were glass) up and down your leg with as much force as you could handle (the equivalent to van Damme kicking the banana tree until it broke). Yeah, it worked and doesn’t hurt when I smash into the tow bar on my vehicle (those things are the wrong height!) but my physio pointed out that what was happening was that the protective membrane on the bone was being damaged and there was a risk of necrosis. Other examples are more of the accidental variety. I’ve met two blokes who are missing the tips of fingers after training with bare blades, and way too many who have neck injuries or disc injuries from playing too rough.
 

edutton

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When I made enquiries a long time ago, I was told that I was not allowed to learn the syllabus for the next belt until I had done the requirements for the first level, which included rolling. So that was the end of the line for me.
That's a shame! We're pretty big on knowing your limits and when/how to pace yourself (your *real* limits, I mean, not just "wow, I'd really like to sit down for a minute right about now..." :D). I'm recently recovered from an AC joint sprain, it took about three months to get back to where it was. I sat out for the first month, but observed whenever I could; then for another month I just walked out of everything; then slowly added in rolling on my good side, etc. Nobody thought twice about it.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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I can see where they were coming from, even if I don’t completely agree with it. The poster doesn’t want to attract the ‘wrong’ kind of people, because the brand becomes a bit tarnished. It’s kind of like an exclusive club, whereby membership is restricted to students who will attract new members of an athletic mindset. (Not sure I’ve phrased that properly.) As much as we’d like to think that anyone is capable of anything, the reality is that a lot of people can’t, and I was one of them. Identifying that early might seem cruel, but at least it’s honest. I would have been pissed if I had been told lies in order to collect a membership fee, only to be told after a few months that I was unable to progress any further.

I went the other way when I started running my own school. Somewhere along the way I picked up a couple of broken down instructors who had drifted into town, and even though they were past their best and were unable to do a lot of things, their knowledge more than compensated. You do need minimum standards in the syllabus though, otherwise you become a pariah in the industry.

The whole thing is a balancing act, weighing the needs of the clientele against the reputation of the style. If you get it wrong it can be very damaging.

We all do the same thing with our writing. We encourage those who are starting out, but we keep working on our skills and polishing our work until there is nothing more to do but submit the final product for publication. Those who take short cuts are not taken seriously by their peers.
 

edutton

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I can see where they were coming from, even if I don’t completely agree with it. The poster doesn’t want to attract the ‘wrong’ kind of people, because the brand becomes a bit tarnished. It’s kind of like an exclusive club, whereby membership is restricted to students who will attract new members of an athletic mindset. (Not sure I’ve phrased that properly.) As much as we’d like to think that anyone is capable of anything, the reality is that a lot of people can’t, and I was one of them. Identifying that early might seem cruel, but at least it’s honest. I would have been pissed if I had been told lies in order to collect a membership fee, only to be told after a few months that I was unable to progress any further.

I went the other way when I started running my own school. Somewhere along the way I picked up a couple of broken down instructors who had drifted into town, and even though they were past their best and were unable to do a lot of things, their knowledge more than compensated. You do need minimum standards in the syllabus though, otherwise you become a pariah in the industry.

The whole thing is a balancing act, weighing the needs of the clientele against the reputation of the style. If you get it wrong it can be very damaging.

We all do the same thing with our writing. We encourage those who are starting out, but we keep working on our skills and polishing our work until there is nothing more to do but submit the final product for publication. Those who take short cuts are not taken seriously by their peers.
NB: My perspective may be a bit different because our dojo is not, and probably never will be, a self-sustaining business... we all have day jobs, including Sensei.

Our training is very traditional, and Sensei absolutely holds us to a high standard - but he also believes that physical limitations shouldn't hold people back from doing the parts of the curriculum that they *can* do, and learning to do them as well as anyone else. If someone can't or shouldn't fall or roll, but they can still take ukemi up to that point and provide nage with the resistance and feedback they need to practice the techniques appropriately, then we'll meet them where they are.

I am NOT a natural athlete, and I was kind of a mess physically when I started; it took a good two years before I developed something that I could generously call competent ukemi. I'll never be one of those young guys who take the really graceful high falls they like to put in videos, but twelve years in I can roll safely out of pretty much anything, and I'm still polishing every time I step on the mat.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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Agreed. I’m the same. Very few practitioners make a living solely out of martial arts. The only ones I can think of are those who are so big that they have centres all over different cities and states, and even then the local representatives all require independent income.

Sometimes I think it’s really strange that of all of the people who were in my class when I first started, I am the only one left. I was one of those students with two left feet and a brain that learned by having things explained to me clearly, rather than by repeating the action a hundred times. I had a lot of problems initially, because I would go home and practice what I had been taught, and then have to unlearn what I had incorrectly processed and relearn it the right way. It probably took about five years before I could pass as normal, at least that’s my evaluation.

It’s interesting that some instructors are comfortable enough in their skins that they are happy to have some flexibility in applying the curriculum. Most others are very rigid. Example: a few years ago I had a lady in my class who was in her mid-sixties but had more than the token ailment for someone of her age. She was a decent human being, was very helpful with the kids’ class, and did all of the training that she was able to do, no complaints. (After her husband died she moved away to be closer to her family, and we kept in contact until she died a couple of years ago.) But while she was still training, one of the assistant instructors only saw that her rank did not match his idea of where she should be at and he wanted me to chuck her out. He was old enough to know better, i.e. 40s, but we all know people like that. Interesting conversation, when MA and HR collide. He pulled his head in after that. For a while, anyway.
 

RookieWriter

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I've only met one person who said that working at a dojo was their full time job. Everyone else is doing it despite not making much money, or any, on it. It's pretty rare I would think to make a full time living teaching martial arts. It would be tough to run a MA school because of all the competition (seems like about every third strip mall has a MA school now) and you need to find a way to balance the expenses without charging people something they can't afford.
 

Norman Mjadwesch

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you need to find a way to balance the expenses without charging people something they can't afford.

Indeed. I know of one operator who has a way to work around this problem. He has small premises in a prime location, so he can’t fit as many people in as he needs to meet his rent. So what he does is offer slightly inflated rates compared to other centres, but on a six month training deal (most others are monthly, or per lesson). Then he makes classes so boring that students leave before the expiry of their membership, making room for the next vacancy. I heard one story from a former student that one of his go-to exercises was to require newbies to meditate by imagining that they were oranges. Who’s going to fall for that?

That crap only applies to his kids’ class, since kids are often seen as a rental solution (and high turnover is expected), whereas adults are more of a medium term prospect. I completely disagree with that business model, especially since it is damaging all MA centres in that postcode. The public see one centre not offering a service they expected to receive and assume that it applies to everyone.

I had another prospective student approach me one time and ask how long it took to get a black belt. How long is a piece of string? We talked for a bit, and they told me of another style that handed out that rank after just six months of training. I was appalled and said, “We’ve got those black belts too, except ours are green.” FFS, since when has earning your stripes become secondary to skiting to your mates about how quickly you learned nothing?

And don’t even start me on the ones who do destruction techniques on pieces of gyprock and think that has some kind of merit. Although… at least they aren’t breaking hands on roof tiles and blaming their students for poor execution (some things require proven competency before you risk injury, rather than proving your competency by successfully navigating an unfamiliar hazard).

I’d much rather discuss the positive side of MA, but it would be misleading to ignore the shonky aspects of the industry. So many crooks!
 

Hanukkah sameach!

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