This post, i would like to write about a subject that i happen to find particularly important, those who know me know me can tell that martial arts have ´played a really big part of my life, however, in my “path” trough different styles, I’ve often come across “miraculous” styles, you know them, the kind of styles that claim wondrous things like: “Knock out anyone with a single touch!!” or “Just with your Chi energy, you will make your opponent faint!!”…you get the idea.
–Reader: Wha..what?? Why are you writing about this all of a sudden?
Well, it’s actually very simple, the other day, while i was wandering around, minding my own bossy bussines, I saw a guy who was looking for a fight with another random guy, and, after tons of taunts and provocations, the random guy lost his cool and proceeded to beat the guy to a pulp…what i found “funny” about all this, is that the guy who started the fight in the first place, was trying a very peculiar technique, which I could only describe as trying to cast a “Hadouken”.
For those of you who are not quite familiar with some gaming terminology, a Hadouken is a ball of energy that shoots form the caster’s hands with the intent to hit an opponent at a certain distance…yep…you read it well, he tried THAT at least 3 times, my guess? He must have been too low on his energy bar, becuase he managed to shoot none.
Image: An average Hadouken, being casted by a trained professional
My point is, that I personally know at least 6 guys who train in some martial arts that teach techniques based on “ki”, “chakra”, “chi”, etc. and to this day I had tought nothing more of it than “it’s funny” or “It’s a way to get the student to focus”, but I believe I should now say the one thing that some people just dont seem to get:
IT DOESN’T WORK!!
-Reader: Wha..!!! This is Shocking! Why?
What kind of a question is that??? …Aside from the obvious reasons (Throwing a hadouken takes up a lot of energy) I’m going to put on the table the incredibly crazy idea that, those who train ay form of personal defense are, I dont know…maybe, looking for something weird and unrelated as PERSONAL DEFENSE, which i will suppose would be a way to defend themselves and those they care for in a situation of danger!! And the sad thing is, that nowadays, really few martial arts teach that!
Anyway, trying to not make this post too lengthy, (too late I know) I will post the basic characteristics to take into account whenever you are trying to find out which martial art to take, and have a higher chance for it to be actually useful.
1.- Seek that its usefulness goes beyond a simple and controlled competition.
Most schools today, focus on the “beauty” of making a form “right” , so that, after years of hard work and severe training, you become a lethal weapon, able to execute your form with astounding accuracy, and able to defeat any…wooden board with crossed stripes that dares to cross your path.
Well, ALMOST any board.
The problem? Well, those boards are really peaceful and rarely do they seek trouble without prior provocation, so seek for a martial art that teaches you to punch and kick AN OPPONENT (Yes, just one, not ten or twenty, more on this later)
2.- Make sure it actually focuses on defending yourself instead of defending some “style”
Another common issue, is that many schools teach their students the “perfect stance”, making sure it looks stylish and nice, which is cool, for a training, but if you need to have the perfect stance in order for your style to actually work…well…good luck I guess.
In a real fight, you will often find yourself falling into chaotic and irregular positions, your opponent will be moving and you will be having enough amounts of pain to forget about “forms”, so as a rule of thumb, make sure your style teaches attacks that can be used from any position, angle, side, etc. in an efficient and realistic way, and forget about those planets lining up in order for the second chakra to open and release the right amount of energy for whatever, because chances are that, while this happens, your opponent will have already kicked you in the…chakra.
3.- Make sure it is a realistic style
Many teachers offer to teach you how to defend against 10, 20, 30 or more opponents, but unless your name is “Mr. Anderson”, your nickname “Neo” and someone comes get you out of the matrix…then I would strongly recommend you to put your time and effort into a realistic style. There are NO forms or katas against 10 opponents!! The best you can do? Train a lot until you become efficient enough against ONE, if anyone comes with shortcuts or secret ninja attacks from a ninja village hidden in wherever it may be, you are wasting your time.
Unless you are this guy
4.- If it practices with weapons, they should be all kinds of weapons!
Many styles teach the use of traditional weapons like the Bo, Nunchuks, Kali sticks and even swords and while that’s cool, it might be a good idea to learn how to use and defend against weapons from this century, some teachers object against this, arguing that its about the mindset of the warrior and the code of honor and whatnot, but let’s think this trough, and we will see that, in their time, those warriors were using the weapons available in THEIR time, they were not enclosed in some traditional nonsense, why should we?
5.- Find a flexible style
Many styles and schools lock themselves behind concepts and ways to do things because “that’s how it’s always been done” but truth be told, what works for a guy who weights 90kg may not quite work the same for a practitioner who weights 50kg.
Sadly, even today, this point covers the majority of schools, because, they don’t care about your height, weight, body type, etc. they teach all the students the same way and they all have to do it JUST LIKE THAT, and while it does looks nice when they all do their movements synchronized, just you wait until a 50kg practitioner tries to do a takedown against a 90kg opponent…then it looks…erm…less pretty.
6.- Make sure it is a down to earth style
Meditation is OK, focusing, breathing exercises and many other things, they help to “get in the mindset” , focus, relax and stuff, but leave aside concepts like chi, ki, cosmos and all the magic mumbo jumbo. That wont help you in a real life scenario, you wont gather enough chi to cast the iron torso, you wont gather all your life energy in your fist and i’m sure you wont scare 10 guys with your mere presence, the closest thing to that you can achieve?
You will harden your body if you train appropriately, you will have a harder punch if you practice and improve it, and about scaring 10 guys, i would say it’s all about the attitude, but it’s not a bad idea to have all that training for those times when attitude just wont cut it!
And last, but just as important
7.- There is no magic formula!, you will only be able to do that for which you train to do.
Dump all those claims like “i dont do cardio or (insert your least favorite type of training), the dragon technique makes the opponent tired first (or insert your desired magical effect here); the cold truth is, it wont matter how many awesome looking techniques you saw on YouTube, Anime series or any other place, if you dont put training behind your style, it will just be as good as that training, to quote Bruce Lee “I fear not the man who has practiced 10000 kicks once, i fear the man who has practiced one kick 10000 times”
So, this is the end of the post, I know it was quite lenghty, and seems like im just complaining (which i am) but I believe it to be quite an important subject and that in today’s world everyone should know how to defend themselves and not just believe they will do decently in a fight.
That’s it for this post; let me know what you think and what life rules you’ve found in your path! You can leave a comment below or send me a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know your thoughts or what you’d like to see posted in the future! Thanks for reading and see you next post!