Archive for the Roundtable Discussion Category

Kennedy on “What is Martial Art” : RTD 018

Posted in Discussion Question, Martial Arts, Philosophy, Roundtable Discussion with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 17, 2013 by Combative Corner

TJ Kennedy 001

Bruce Lee said in his infamous television interview with Pierre Burton, that martial art is the expression of self. That, in my opinion, is what “art” is. When applied in a combative context, what component of the “self” is one expressing, exactly?

It is my opinion, that martial art can be defined as the following:

The articulation of one’s combative intent through the medium of human movement.

To have an objective in mind, and to achieve this objective using the only instrument one has – his or her body (and weapons, if present, as an extension of the body).

Each individual will articulate his or her movements differently, and will indeed choose different tools to perform different tasks. This is where individuality comes into play. Where the expression of self is seen. The differences in articulation are the result of differences in physiology, culture, personal ethics, etc.

The more one practices using their body to articulate combative intent, the more prolific and efficient they will become in their art. There will be a singularity – a cohesion of techniques and increased fluidity of movement.

That is the denotative meaning. However, there is a significant connotative interpretation of martial art that I’d like to discuss.

That is, the more one engages their mind to act in tandem with their body, the more centered and aware they can become. This union of mind and body can lead to expanded consciousness.

There is an ineffable quality to martial art. A difference in intent. A fighter will fight for status, for resources, etc. A true martial artist…..or warrior…..will fight to protect that which he or she values. Their motives may be love, justice, compassion, etc.

A “fighter” is a role, whereas “martial artist” is a way of life;

a state of being.

These are my thoughts on what “martial art” is. 

I welcome any comments.

T.J. Kennedy

Founder of the Hybrid Fighting Method

MORE ON ‘WHAT A MARTIAL ART‘ IS COMING SOON

Roundtable Discussion 017: What is a “Fake”

Posted in Discussion Question, Miscellaneous, Philosophy, Roundtable Discussion, Teaching Topic with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 18, 2012 by Combative Corner


There always seems to be controversy, not just on the campaign trail, but in the dojo. On the internet, it’s an epidemic. And although this is a subject that may get pushed under the rug by most, none-the-less, it is an important subject to tackle. So, consider this tackled.

[related article: Wretched Hive…]

What makes someone a “Fake” and another person “Legit?”

JOYCE:  Alright “McLovin”, organ donor from Hawaii.

So you’ve sold yourself as another.  Whatever it takes to get ahead right? We all need to make a living or it’s all for the greater good, right?

Well, we know in our heart-of-hearts that this isn’t so.

In our lives we have choices.  We choose who we are, we are not just “what we are.” I honestly think that many people have a problem with this.  Perhaps they made a choice to be a person that they aren’t, perhaps they padded their resumé, they misled someone or allowed another person to get the wrong idea.  Whatever it was, deep inside yourself they know it’s wrong.  Now maybe they’ve left that in the past and decided not to dwell on the poor, immature or wrong choice.  We are imperfect.  Many of us are improving.  Let’s cut some people some slack.

In the world of Martial Arts, the term “Fake” gets thrown around a lot.  Some people go right into fact-checking (which isn’t necessarily a bad thing), however the quality of a martial artist can never be (and should never be) attributed to his or her bloodline, martial art lineage, or popularity – but rather by their dedication to the art and practice and the content of their character.

Recently, there have been many comments that (as website founder & moderator) I had to delete due to meanness and vulgarity.  Other comments, although very negatively directed to certain individuals, I’ve allowed to be posted.  People have the right to make up their own minds about people, and although here in West it is customary to have a certification, I don’t hold any of this mandatory.  I’ve seen plenty of martial artists who have learned from books and tapes.  I’ve seen others who have learned from someone else of no particular lineage and who has not garnished the least amount of fame.

Not all of the forum and YouTube “Haters” are bad.  I DO believe they could be doing something much more constructive with their time, however, I believe that some -not all- all genuinely trying to warn others.  But learning is a process and if the falseness of the teacher is not blatantly apparent, someone may make the mistake of learning “wrongly”.   On the other hand, blame and ridicule is a process also and as Morihei Ueshiba 植芝 盛平 said,

“As soon as you concern yourself with the “good” and “bad” of your fellows, you create an opening in your heart for maliciousness to enter. Testing, competing with, and criticizing others weakens and defeats you.”

My opinion may seem to be too lenient or forgiving for some.  But this is just the truth of who I am.  Take it in and accept it, or leave it and move on.

KENNEDY:  To me a fake in this context is someone who claims to be someone.or something they are not.

If they make objective claims that can be objectively measured, then “fake” or “legitimate” can be determined.

If their claims are subjective, even if outlandish, they cannot be measured and are a matter of perception.

For me, the issue is integrity. Just tell the truth about who you are and where you came from – and let your skill do the real talking.

VAUGHN:  To me a “Fake” would be someone that passes himself off as being well knowledgeable in a certain discipline or field but doesn’t have the credentials to back it up (e.g., certificates of rank, instructor certification, military experience, etc.) Having said that though, I would like to add the stipulation that what ever training or certifications held must be current.

If you know for a fact that a particular martial artists or so called self defense expert is holding seminars promising to turn people into unstoppable forces of nature with the ability to protect themselves and their families, all while not having a shred or documentation or real world experience to back up his claims, then yes by all means call that person a fake. However, if you simply don’t like his style of self defense, method of application or particular way of teaching, then that seems to be more of an issue with yourself then with the person you are calling a fake.

Are we allowed to do disagree on which style or technique we think is the most effective? Yes, and I think we should, that’s part of what makes the martial arts/self defense fascinating for me, but do so in an open discussion and with an open mind. If you do feel the need to label someone a fake at least be willing to back it up with some “proof” before you just throw it out there for everyone to see. Even better, take your complaints directly to the person in question and give them a chance to defend themselves if they are “legit” or stammer and stutter if they are indeed a “fake”.

LEE:  When you speak about the Martial Arts, it is an Art, in order to understand what is fake & what is not fake in the realm of Art, you must have an understanding of what Art is. Art is creative self-expression. 2pac was an Artist, Bob Marley was an Artist, they create something original. If you copy them, you are a fake. If you are not original, you are a fake. If you follow any system in the Martial Art & you are not self-expressive, you are a fake. If you plagiarize, you are a fake.

If you develop your own from your inner heart, you are real. Being fake is any expression that is not your expression. There are very few that are real, that is why the real stand out from all the rest. In Art, being real has nothing to do with certifications. Vincent Van Gogh may have painted something original, somebody that creates a carbon copy of his painting, is a fake. There is fake jewelry & there is real jewelry, an experienced jeweler will know the difference.

In order to determine the difference between fake Martial Arts & real Martial Arts, you must know what real Martial Arts is, if you do not know what real Martial Arts is, you will not know what is real & what is fake, what you deem as real may actually be fake. The stunts and “Martial Art” actors in the movie “Matrix” are fake, they do not live the Martial Way, they are practicing it for the time being for entertainment purposes. Bruce Lee & Jet Li are two individuals who lived & breathed the Martial Arts, it is their way of life.

All “Martial Arts” that do not involve the integration of the “Spirit” is fake. A certified Police Officer who is corrupted, is fake. He may have the badge, the gun, the vest, the car, & his police buddies backing him up, but he is still fake. All corruption of the pure is fake.

A real human being is hard to come by, most of what we deem as real, is actually fake. Most human beings are carbon copies, they are machines, they are not real, they are fake. If you are a fake human being, you cannot practice real Martial Arts. You can only practice real Martial Arts if you are a real human being. Being a real human being is not easy in modern society. The school will turn you into a fake. Your friends will turn you into a fake. Your girlfriend will turn you into a fake. Your employer will turn you into a fake.

You are afraid to express yourself, you are afraid to be yourself because you seek the approval of others, anytime you seek the approval of others, you are being fake. Being real, is just expressing yourself truthfully from within as is. Few people in this world will ever have the courage to express themselves truthfully. For the most part, when they do, they will be attacked by the society, because the society in itself is fake, all the fakes will greatly despise those who are real, they will seek to kill the real.

That is why Jesus, Socrates, Martin Luther King Jr, Malcolm X, 2pac, Bruce Lee, Gandhi, John Lennon, JFK, etc. were killed. The society hates the real, they want to kill the real, they want to turn everybody into fakes, & that is why you will rarely ever encounter a real Martial Artist, most of all of them will be fake.

LARA:  Making false statements. Having no traceable lineage. Claiming it is secret and such actions show a “Fake.”

I have respect for all arts.  I do not have any respect for “Fakes” as they do nothing but spread misinformation and run a cult of ego to fool others into some kind of hero worship.

For me this is simple. No real rank. No lineage. No good.

KUO:  Fakes are people who represent themselves as being more of an authority than they really are. They do not have the training or experience to back up what they are teaching. The worst type of fakes are those who knowingly disguise their lack of credentials and still pass themselves off as an authority. The less nefarious (but still problematic) fakes are the unwitting fakes: these are the people who don’t know that they can’t back up what they are presenting. The unwitting fakes are at least forgivable if they attempt to rectify their errors when they are called out.

The word “fake” gets thrown around a lot in the internet age. This has been both a good and bad thing. On one hand, the truly erroneous stuff gets shot down quickly. But on the other hand, the veil of internet anonymity draws out some people’s inner jackass. Without full perspective and substantive evidence, they make accusations against other people’s legitimacy and then interleave their accusations with personal attacks and insults. The keyboard converts people who might otherwise be civil and more reflective in a face-to-face interaction into quick-draw internet mud-flingers; in this manner, the attackers are themselves acting as fakes.

That we are even having a discussion about fakes is a reflection of a basic human failing: an inflated ego. For people to want to teach something that exceeds their competence levels means that they feel a need to stroke their egos and sense of self-importance. Likewise for the vitriolic keyboard warrior, accusing someone of being a fake without evidence or civility is akin to strutting around and beating one’s chest in the safety and comfort of one’s home; it’s a useless activity that only reinforces the attacker’s ego, but contributes nothing useful for anyone else.

Ultimately, the question of whether or not someone is a fake is not the most important consideration. Information is being freely shared. To borrow a Bruce Lee quote, we can “adapt what is useful [and] reject what is useless.” We can draw upon shared material to find resources to build ourselves up. Or we could make a choice to use the material as a source to tear others down. Personally, I prefer the constructive approach.

– Combative Crew

Roundtable Discussion 015: Seminars & Training

Posted in Roundtable Discussion, Training with tags , , , , on December 11, 2011 by Combative Corner

We asked our author panel consisting of five professional martial art teachers this question:

“Do you make attending seminars a part of your training? If not, why?  And if so, briefly explain why and ONE workshop/lecture/camp you went to this year that was the most beneficial.”

Michael Joyce  |  GTS / ChenCenter

While tremendous gains can be made through solo training, nothing can substitute another set of eyes and, more importantly, another individual with experiences and perspectives unique from your own.  We are continuously learning, experimenting, but as someone once said, “We all see the world through our own distorted Coke bottle.”  Although we might think that this or that technique is completely fool-proof… nothing is.  Discovering new ways, or more efficient or effective means with dealing with a scenario or technique often demands the experiences and insights of another; this is where seminars and workshops are highly beneficial.

Personally, I try to visit between 2-3 workshops a year.  Cost-wise there are constraints (mainly because I’m a licensed therapist as well and must also pay for Continuing Education).  But if you want to be “competitive” in a market and (at the same time) feel confident that you are doing everything you can to succeed in your trade, seminars/lectures/workshops are a must!

In 2010, I visited two workshops that helped me immensely.  As someone with a passion for the ground-game, I was thrilled when both Ryron and Rener Gracie made a trip so close to my hometown in North Carolina.  Both Brandon and I attended these workshops and their respective articles can be seen here : A New Passion and Secret to GJJ Mastery.  While it is impossible to choose between between these two tremendous teachers, all I’ll say is that I love and am continuing to work on perhaps the most important element of control, the super-hooks!  [Article on this coming at some point. Stay tuned!]

Freddie Lee  | Freddie’s Modern Kungfu

No. I have children to care for, a wife to spend time with, & a school to run. While I am running the school, it is my science lab. Discoveries & creations are made, this is much more valuable than any seminar in my eyes. I teach people that the truth is within themselves, not within outside resources.

Robert Lara  |  Four Winds Aikido

Yes! I do! I do as much as I can. From youth my Judo Sensei told me to respect all arts and use what you can. Seminar’s with Sosa Sensei were.. well a turning point for me. Big time in my life. At that moment I knew I would train Aikido and I would be a Sensei. That was my dream. So without Seminars I never would have met Sosa Sensei and may have never had a chance to train Aikido again. I say go to them with an open mind. You never know. You could find your art or your path in the arts.

T.J. Kennedy  |  Hybrid Fighting Method

Attending seminars whenever I have the opportunity to do so is an integral part of my training. Seminars allow you to learn potentially new skills, from a different perspective than your own, as well as network and train with a variety of different people.

When I attend some seminars, I find them useless and a waste of time. Other seminars, though, have proven beneficial to my training and combat preparedness.

One example was the Luke Holloway seminar that I hosted in Canada back in September of 2011. I got to get a glimpse of his RAW COMBAT. Although what Luke teaches differs from me, it is highly compatible, and has also helped to fill in some gaps and/or expand my training to further limits.

I am fortunate to have him back here on December 17th and 18th again for some more valuable training.

Johnny Kuo  |  I-Liq Chuan

Attending seminars has been an important part of my training. I have found several benefits from learning in a seminar environment. Seminars have provided an opportunity to meet and train with teachers with whom I would not normally be able to interact. It was in seminars that I was able to meet and train with Zhu Tiancai, Yang Jwing-Ming, and Sam F.S. Chin. None of these teachers were close enough for me to attend their regular classes. Going to a seminar allowed me to tap into some of their knowledge and delve into their arts.

I’ve also met a good number of martial artists at seminars whom I would not have met otherwise. Seminars provided a common learning environment which allowed me to interact with martial artists from different backgrounds and with different perspectives. Without attending those seminars, it would have been easy to fall into a rut and continue training in a cloistered world. Those interactions helped expand my understanding and forged bonds of friendship.

These days, life keeps me too busy to attend as many seminars as I used to, but I still feel seminars are a useful learning tool. Attending seminars is the primary means by which I get feedback on my training. Since I don’t live near my Sifu, seminars are where Sifu can assess my progress and give me pointers on how to advance my skill. Seminars are also where I get a chance to cross hands with my gongfu brothers and sisters. Expressing martial arts skills requires touch feedback, preferably with as many skilled people as possible. Seminars allow me to interact with more people and get more opportunities develop the feel for the art.

Brandon Vaughn  |  Sanshinkai Karate

Running a karate school full time doesn’t leave me much time to focus on my own training, at least not to the extent that I would like. This is especially true when it comes to exploring other styles that I have an interest in. Attending martial arts seminars gives me the opportunity to learn more about other styles as well as meet other martial artist and instructors. This year I had the opportunity to attend a couple of seminars that I enjoyed immensely and learned a lot from. I absolutely love learning new things and the more I learn the more knowledge I have to pass onto my students. This makes it easy to keep my classes fresh and exciting.

The seminar that I actually found most beneficial actually didn’t involve self defense, weapons, or kata but teaching. It was Dave Kovar’s Instructor College that my wife and I attended at the 2011
M.A. Supershow in June.

Roundtable Discussion 014: Myths & Misconceptions

Posted in Discussion Question, Martial Arts, Roundtable Discussion, Styles with tags , , , , , , , , , , on November 21, 2011 by Combative Corner

We asked our author panel consisting of five professional martial art teachers this question:

“What are some of the Myths & Misconceptions that you’ve come across in marketing your classes?”

Self-Defense  | Hybrid Fighting Method

1. Being from Israel automatically makes something badass.

Fact of the matter is, Krav Maga’s creator was born in Hungry (grew up in Bratislava), and based Krav Maga on his boxing and wrestling experience mixed with street fighting and his father’s police arrest and controls. So at the root of it, Krav Maga (although developed in Israel) was born with its founder in (modern day) Slovakia. And belonging to any culture is irrelevant – it doesn’t make anything more or less effective.

2. Being from Russia automatically makes something badass.  See above in relation to Israel.

3. You can’t be a good marketer AND a quality combatives instructor.

I call BULLSHIT! Too many people think that if you are successful then your content must be watered down for the masses. Maybe it’s that your marketing skills are lacking or that your personality sucks. There is no reason someone can’t be a quality combatives instructor AND a first rate marketer. And for heaven’s sake….make sure you spell check your ads.

4. Being an ex-military or law enforcement officer or bouncer automatically means that their program works.

I have met several of the above (military, police, and bouncers) that wouldn’t know their ass from a hole in the ground when it comes to self-defense and combatives. Many don’t even know how to throw a basic punch. This is not true of all of them of course, but if someone markets themselves as some super-experienced ninja killer of death because they were a cop for 20 years, it doesn’t necessarily translate to “combatively skilled”. Nor does it meant their system is going to fit you.

Karate   |   Sanshinkai Karate

1. Traditional martial arts like Karate and Tae Kwon Do are just for kids (a.k.a I’m too to old to train.)

I admit that nowadays a lot of traditional schools market themselves more towards children than adults. We are constantly selling people on the benefits of our classes siting their ability to increase a child’s discipline, fitness level, self confidence, etc. and that of course is why kids will always be a large part of our market. What adults need to realize is that the martial arts, regardless of style, have plenty of benefits for them as well. It helps relieve stress, improve fitness, introduces them to other adults with common interest, which can be hard to do as busy as people are, and the obvious benefit of being able to defend oneself. Adults also need to understand that the days of training on concrete floors with no safety gear are long gone. Just because you take martial arts doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to get injured.

2. In order to be a Master rank in martial arts you have to be really old and have trained for decades.

This is the double edge sword of the depiction of martial arts in movies. Movies have done a lot to spread martial arts to the masses but it has also given us the stereotypical martial instructor. There are literally thousands of schools teaching thousands of styles and every single one of them has their own time as well as age requirements that their students must reach in order to test for higher levels of black belt. Just because black belt A got his Master rank in 7 years when it took black belt B 15 years doesn’t mean black belt A’s training was substandard or any less difficult.

3. My uncle’s, cousin’s, brother-in-law took martial arts and he had to have his hands registered as deadly weapons.

I can’t believe this martial arts urban legend is still floating around. It doesn’t happen often, but every now and then I’ll actually have someone walk in off the street and tell me about someone they know that “had” to do this. I usually just smile and nod and wait for them to leave.

Gongfu  |  I-Liq Chuan

1. “Marketing is evil”
Marketing is not evil. It is just a reality of modern life. A lot of martial arts teachers I have encountered refuse to promote themselves and then complain about not having students. There are a ton of distractions in modern society competing with your art for potential students. If no one knows you exist, it doesn’t matter one bit how good a teacher you are or how awesome your art is. You have to play the marketing game at some level so that potential students can find you.

2. “Running a class as a business degrades the art.”
Offering only free classes is a bad idea. It’s ok to start with free classes to get a few students or to get your foot in the door somewhere. But ultimately keeping a martial arts class going requires paying students, which means taking care of the money side of things. This is not just because you need money to cover rent and insurance for the class, but also because money is the primary unit by which things are valued today. Attaching a monetary value (even if its a nominal sum) gives your class a perceived worth; keeping a class free means you’ll lose a lot of students simply from the misperception that your class or your teaching doesn’t have any worth. Plus, you can weed out the taste testers from the serious students with a class fee. Students who are truly interested are willing to pay a reasonable fee.

3. “That looks easy. I can do that!”
Learning an art is not easy. Just because somethings looks easy or is conceptually simple does not mean that anyone can do it. Since I teach an art based on “tai chi” principles, I get a lot of people expecting an easy class with nothing but gentle movements, transcendental feelings of qi, a panacea for all ailments, and instant super human self-defense skills. Not only can I not offer the quick fix to any of the above, but teaching a martial “art” precludes it. Like any serious endeavor, achieving the skill requires delving into the study. It involves some physical exertion and sweat. It also requires mental effort to understand what you’re training. If you want to achieve any level of skill, you can’t bypass putting in the effort to learn the art.

Gongfu  |  Tai Ji Quan

One two-fold myth about taijiquan is that it’s (a) all about its slow movements and (b) it therefore is an “old person’s art form.”  A recent quote I fall back on goes, “Move as fast as proper technique will allow” (Rener Gracie talking about moving in practice), which if you think about it, can only be done in a slow motion (especially if you expect the body to pick up on the subtleties).  Moving slowly, the body “understands” more, but the advanced practitioner can eventually move like lightening – the obvious and practical application of any martial art technique.  It’s my opinion that the “old masters” (being masters of their art) move slowly (a) because they understand that it’s more beneficial to do so (b) more pleasant and elongates their training period and (c) old people move only when they want to (don’t they?).

Fencing   |   Classical Foil

Something that really gets my blood pressure rising is the statement that “classical” fencing is antique and out-dated. Some fencers simply decide or are pressured into disregarding “classical” training for what’s termed “Olympic, Modern or Sport” fencing. While it is true that “classical” may never be as popular as “modern”, it’s the fencing method, training and these “classical” teachings (developed over the last 500 years, NOT just since the last 40-50) that develops the swordsman. All activities are based on RESULTS and this is part of the problem. (I know this is a generalization, but) Modern fencing focuses (I’ve come to see) more on making the touch (at whatever cost, as long as it pertains to FIE rules), whereby (“most”) classical fencers find more importance on the technical result and his/her improvement through proper form, timing and sportsmanship.

This is just “my take” and one of my pet peeves if-you-will.  I know there are a lot of modern fencers that love the classical and vice versa (I’m one of them)… however (although generalizing) the point can easily be made as described above.  Aldo Nadi said, “There is only one fencing.” What is meant by this is the connection we make is/should be between our head and the sword, NOT our sword and our opponent.

Self Defense   |   Golden Thread System

A popular misconception is that many of today’s popular martial arts can prepare you for the violence one can encounter on the streets.  This used to be hard for a traditional martial artist (like me) to admit, but the physical side – all the punching, kicking and yells of ‘kiyah’ matter very little in violent encounters.  Yes, knowing how to do all of this can be beneficial but one should dive deeper into exploring ones own fears and limitations and learn (or be taught) how to detect and diffuse a situation before it gets physical.  As a Lao Tzu once said, “He who can not be drawn into a fight is invincible.”

Gongfu   |   Freddie’s Modern Kungfu

Misconception #1: “Kung Fu is a Martial Art style.” Kung Fu is not a Martial Art style. Kung Fu is the discipline you have to better yourself in any craft; it does not have to do anything with combat. The term derives from Confucius, Confucius was a great scholar, he did not practice combat techniques, but he had great Kung Fu. Osho, Lao-tzu, Socrates, J.Krishnamurti, & many great sages & mystics have great Kung Fu; but yet they do not practice any type of physical combat.

Misconception #2: “Wushu is a Martial Art style.” Wushu is not a Martial Art style. It is simply the Chinese term for “Martial Art.” It is simply a different language pointing towards the same thing, which is the artful expression of combat, which we know as Martial Arts.

Misconception #3: “MMA is the ultimate Martial Art style.” MMA is just another combative sport that has been created with another set of rules. No different than Boxing, Kickboxing, Wrestling, Thai Boxing rules etc. MMA is simply another sport. You may like this sport more than that sport but it does not mean that a certain sport is the best out of all; it is all subjective to your preferences. Just b/c you like football more than tennis does not mean that football is better. All athletes who train in any sort of combat sport focus on different types of specialized training, one is not better than the next, it simply boils down to which you wish to specialize in. Runners practice running, some like to concentrate on sprints, others like to concentrate on long distance, neither is better than another, it boils down to what you like to specialize in.

Misconception #4: “Belts mean nothing.” Belts or any sort of ranking do set a certain purpose. We should not be limited by them but we should also not completely disregard their intended purpose. You need to develop the ego before you learn to eliminate it. If you start with no ego & you do not train to develop the ego, then you will have no understanding of it. There is clearly a difference between a person who is trained & untrained. Ranks simply signify that a person has been trained to a certain level, once trained then he can drop the rank. A person who has obtained rank & then consciously drops the rank is much different than the person who has not obtained the rank at all, he has nothing to drop, his understanding is therefore limited. A person like a Buddha who started off as a Prince & then consciously decides to renounce everything is very different than the average homeless man. If you have power, can you refrain from abusing your power? If you have no power of course you won’t abuse your powers over others, you have no power to abuse, but how will you act if you did have the power? A high level Martial Artist is a person who has the power but he does not abuse it.

Aikido   |   Four Winds Aikido

The top misconceptions that I have encountered: It is ok to put your self out there. How else can others find you and your classes.

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Roundtable Discussion 013 : Cage-Fighting Kids

Posted in Discussion Question, MMA, Roundtable Discussion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 29, 2011 by Combative Corner

“What are your thoughts on the ‘Cage-Fighting Kids’ controversy?”

…Should kids be allowed to continue to “Cage Fight”?

We at the Combative Corner look forward to reading your comments! Please post them at the bottom of the article.

disagree: I don’t know if it’s my old age or what, but most of what I see is what is going on underneath; parents refusing to grow up.  When I was speaking to my friend about this the other day, we shared the exact thought:”Grown ups” these days are nowhere near the grown-ups of yester-years.  Everything that an adult may do in their free time doesn’t have to be shared by the child.  An adult for example my choose to drink, smoke, seek a sexual partner, or any number of things in dance clubs, bars and entertainment venues.  The location of these cage-fighting events are in such a place.  As for the activities that go in such places, you would not wish (at least I hope you wouldn’t) to expose a child to this environment and/or the goings-on that occur in said environment.

Nothing against mixed martial arts and/or cage fighting competitions, but leave it to those mature enough to understand for themselves what they are getting into.  Children will always want to emulate athletes or figures in popularized sports (such as MMA) but let’s make sure we are able to keep them safe (proper equipment, responsible refereeing), and expose them to an atmosphere that fosters (friendly) competition; not one that resembles a gladiator’s arena, or worse, prison.  If families want to cheer their children on, they can do so in various judo or jiu-jitsu dojos the world over, or in their own backyard under the watchful eye of their parent(s).

disagree: “Cage Fighting Kids” This is not a surprise to me, I knew it was going to head towards this. The kids follow adults. Kids will do what adults do. Just as it looks shameful for kids to fight in a cage, so too does it look shameful for adults to fight in a cage. It is a disgrace to Martial Arts, it’s a disgrace to the intelligence of human beings. Animals may fight in a cage, but human beings are supposed to be beyond the intelligence of animals.

As a society we are going backwards, not forwards in our progression in intelligence. Children are following in our footsteps and we are clearly setting a bad example. Don’t blame the children, blame the adults, blame the society, blame the people, & blame the government for not stepping in to do something about it. It is political, the government will be paid off to allow this type of organized violence, like alcohol & cigarettes, the government is banking off of cage fighting, & it does not look like it will stop.

Adults have become more violent & therefore children will become more violent. This is not a beautiful expression of Martial Art, it is a violent ugly expression. Children should be wrestling while smiling & giggling, they should be play fighting like what they do in WWE, all for fun, not out of real anger or violence. Anytime your aim is to hurt somebody, to put somebody else in pain out of anger, that is not Art, that is hate, it can be seen in all sorts of competitive fighting, not just in the cage.

disagree: What is my personal stance on these “Cage Fighting Kids”? People will do anything for money. I do not watch or care for cage matches as that is a sport. I understand that adults choose to fight in there and that is fine. But to out your Child in DANGER is more then a cause for this to be looked into deeply by Law enforcement. I do not call any of this Martial Arts. I call this a shame.

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agree: If it were a fight, then I would be upset that there was no protective equipment. However, it was not a fight. It was a grappling match. I really don’t understand the uproar or how it is dangerous or a bad idea.

I think our young boys and girls, especially in North America, have been “pussified” and are in need of this kind of physical activity. To compete, as grapplers, can be very beneficial to a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Grappling is fun and it can teach you a lot about yourself. It also requires a lot of discipline to get good at it.

There is no shame in what these kids did, and no shame in their parents allowing it. I personally think that it takes a certain amount of bravery to subject yourself to this kind of public scrutiny. And the kids…hell, there is no questioning their bravery.

There is also, on a spiritual note, a state of consciousness that is experienced in the ring that is ineffable. And unless a person has been in that position, he or she cannot understand it. Not to sound flaky, but if you’ve ever competed in a ring or a cage you know what I’m talking about. And this ineffable thing I am talking about was a critical experience in the evolution of my own consciousness.

With much deep respect to my colleagues here at the Combative Corner, I can see that I stray from the commonly shared value system in this regard. Although what I teach is not meant for sport, but for incapacitation or elimination of a threat, I would be honoured if any of my students decided to fight in a ring or a cage. I would support them 100% and I would be their #1 fan. And if I had a child, and he or she decided to train and compete like these kids did…I would be there every day to motivate, encourage, and build my child to be the best person he or she could be, and the best grappler he or she could be. And I would be the loudest cheerleader you’be ever heard.

somewhat disagree: I have objections to the “cage fighting” kids event, but not because the event was a serious danger to the kids. It was largely a grappling match, and even if there was striking, kids at that age are not really strong enough to seriously injure each other. The one potential safety issue is that the kids were not wearing head guards. A sprung ring floor (or possibly the support posts of the cage) can still cause a jarring impact to a child’s head. Kids may be resilient, but rattling the brain around can have serious developmental implications.

What is disturbing about the match was that it seemed staged for the spectacle. The event was not a kid-centric affair; it was ticket-holder only, and featured primarily real cage fighting with adults. The commentary from the announcers made it clear that the kids event was more about entertaining the audience than building character in the kids. Even though it was technically a grappling match, the kids event was in every other aspect like an actual cage fight. It makes you wonder if the event was a misguided glorification of combat sports or if the parents were vicariously living out their fantasies of fighting in the cage. The kids cage fight looks like a show for the amusement of the audience and for the profit of the sponsoring club.

somewhat disagree: While I agree that this was more of a grappling match than an actual MMA fight I still have issues with the way the two boys seem to be put on display for the people there to see the main event. It’s one thing to let a kid compete in a grappling tournament and to be cheered on by their parents, classmates and peers but it is another thing entirely to put them on display as part of an opening act to a main event.

The parents of the two boys competing in the “Cage Fight” are just like any other sports mom or dad that sees some talent in their child and instead of nurturing and encouraging it in a “normal” way go
overboard.  I personally don’t have a problem with the sport of Mixed Martial Arts and think that there are some very talented athletes that compete in the sport as well as some that give it a bad name which can be true of any sport.  I know the popularity of MMA is growing fast and with it the inevitability that children will become interested in it but I think that there are some things that should be just for adults.

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This article was written by the above authors/professional martial art instructors after viewing the following video

http://youtu.be/e4rTB0zhsNs

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How To Pick A Martial Art? [RTD-012]

Posted in Discussion Question, Martial Arts, Roundtable Discussion with tags , , , , on July 25, 2011 by Combative Corner

One of the top questions throughout the martial art community is,

“How do I know which martial art to choose?”

As this is such a widespread conundrum to many, the CombativeCorner goes on the case!

[KUO]…A lot of people starting martial arts don’t know what they want. It makes sense for them to find out what is available in their area and do a little background research on the style and school. After that, it is time to visit the schools, talk to the instructors, and do some trial sessions or observe a class. In order to train an art, you have to have conditions which allow you to train. You have to mesh with the teacher, like what you are learning, and be able to get to class. When you find a combination of a teacher you like, a system you enjoy, and classes that fit in your schedule, then you’ve got a good candidate for your next martial arts class.

For the more advanced students who have a better sense of what they want out of their martial arts training, there are a couple of other useful criteria. Their teacher should have the depth of knowledge and teaching ability to progress them towards their goals. Finding a quality instructor is the most important part of truly learning an art. The next useful indicator is looking for students who are making progress and manifesting skill in their art. That is a sign of an effective instructor, well-run school/martial arts system, and raises the chances that you will have good training partners.

[KENNEDY]  I suppose I would answer the question with a question….what do they want out of a martial art? If they are looking to compete, I would recommend a style like Muay Thai, Boxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Sambo, Wrestling, etc. For fitness I would say boxing and muay thai. If they are looking for spiritual growth – I would recommend eastern styles, and for self-defense I would recommend anything from Krav Maga to of course HFM.

I think above all the most important thing is to find a quality coach/instructor to learn from. THAT is the most important.

[LEE]  I agree with T.J. Though sometimes people do not know what they want b/c they have yet to know themselves. Yes we all wish to have quality instructors but unfortunately many cannot afford such instructors. Also quality instructors are hard to find. If an opportunity presents itself, I say do not miss it. If somebody is willing to start you on your Martial Art journey free of charge, I would grasp the opportunity. The primary instructor is life. As you see in Shaolin, much can be learned from animals, studying and observing an animal, you can learn much. There is beauty in every Art, I say visit schools of various arts or take a look at their websites and try the one that interests you the most, you can always switch schools as you learn more about yourself and what you really want out of the Martial Arts.

[VAUGHN]  I’m going to jump on the band wagon here and say that it depends on what they are looking for in their training. If they are looking for strictly self defense I would direct them to a school that offers Krav Maga or a similar style. If they want the structure and discipline that a more traditional style offers I would suggest Karate or Tae Kwon Do.

If they aren’t sure what they are looking for or if they are trying to decide between to similar styles I would offer Freddie’s suggestion of visiting various schools and trying out some different styles to see which one fits both their physical abilities and their personality/mindset. It doesn’t take long to find if a particular styles and/or instructor is right for you.

[LARA]  What are you looking for in a Martial Art? I echo all the points brought up our other teachers here as well.
My Main thing is once you have found your system or art you want to study. Is to visit a class and see if you see EGO or people working out hard and helping each other to get better. If you see Ego leave. Do not bother with it.
If you see people trying to learn and feel welcome then it may be the right class for you.
Talk to the teacher and talk to them about the goals they set for their students. Only by going in and talking to them are you going to know if that school and style is right for you. All the best to you that are just starting on the path.

[JOYCE]  This is a question that I would have answered much differently 15-20 years ago.  What appealed to me early-on was the style and movement performed by players of kungfu/wushu.  But the older I get, the more importantly I feel about quality of instruction and finding something you can appreciate for a lifetime.  I don’t watch many kungfu movies any more – their flavor has gone somewhat stale (with the exception of a few).  Not to drift away from the question at hand… but in short – don’t spend your life searching.  Find a teacher that you gel with and give it your complete attention!  The martial arts is an ARTFORM- continue to mold yourself into an artisan of your chosen system.  This is not to say that you’ll continue on the same path forever.  Forever educate yourself and train with a playful seriousness and you will go far.  With this..Keep your ego in opposite proportion to your skill and you’re likely to be great.

-THE COMBATIVECORNER

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Roundtable Discussion 011: Notable Influences

Posted in Discussion Question, Roundtable Discussion with tags , , , , , , , , , , on May 29, 2011 by Combative Corner

“Who’s one person that has inspired/taught you in the martial art(s) and who may never be considered ‘well-known’?”

RONNIE YEE

This guy was just another student like myself, but he is Master Chen’s (Zhonghua) most senior disciple (seniority – not age).  Ronnie Yee lives and teaches in Regina, but was able to travel to our camp for Hunyuan World 2002.  I learned a lot from my time in Edmonton, but what really stood out was how easy it seemed for Ronnie to put complicated Taiji theory and concepts into a form that was more ‘palatable’ to our young minds.  He was a fellow wushu practitioner (so we had that background in common) as well as being a massage therapist.  He knew magic and played with some of the youngsters there (including myself- I love magic!) and introduced me to the rope dart… a weapon that is now my favorite to play and perform.  In just one weekend, Ronnie Yee had a pretty huge impact – and I feel very fortunate to be there at that date and time.  He didn’t MySpace, and he certainly doesn’t Facebook or Twitter (maybe one day in the future), but there is no doubt about it, he’s a fine martial artist and is somewhere working his “magic” ways on his students.

[Video]Ronnie pushing hands with Master Chen]

ARDEN COWHEARD

For me it is Arden Cowheard 6th Dan Kodokan Judo. He is almost 91 years old and still teaching. I still attend and teach there but Aikido and other arts are my true calling.  He opened his Dojo and heart to me. I grew up without a father but I had so many great father figures in my life and he is one that changed my life.
After my first class I never had to pay for a class from that point. But He knew my heart was into the study of Aikido. So I talked to him and said. ” Sensei, there is a very powerful Aikido teacher coming to topeka to teach for a weekend. May I go and train with him?”
He said ” Yes Robert!!! Go where your heart leads you.”  From that point I never left Aikido. I found my love. I still trained Karate and Judo. But without my Judo teach helping to raise me up and not holding me back he helped me to bloom into the person I am today.
He may not be well known. But he is a hero to me. A real Budoka. My family and countless others. Rei Sensei!!

GORD WOOD

He was my Krav Maga instructor in 2003, and he taught me how to teach kids martial arts. He taught me how to teach adult martial arts. He taught me how to be an excellent communicator. Above all, he was and remains to be an excellent friend. A finer man you would be hard-pressed to find.

[GORD WOOD’S WEBSITE]

MASTER SANG HO LEE

He was my very first martial arts instructor when I began Tae Kwon Do when I was 13. He started my martial arts career. As a teenager he not only instilled in me the confidence and self respect that made me the man I am today, he also helped me discover something that I seemed to be naturally good at. As someone who was never great at sports that was a big deal for me.

Master Lee taught me to never hold back when it came to my techniques or how hard I tried in class. He expected a lot from his students and never let us get away with doing things half way. He was a great instructor and I’ve shared stories of my time training with him with my students on more than one occasion.

MY FATHER

My father has taught me much about the ways of Tao and Buddha without saying a word, he just lives it. He goes on doing things without taking credit for all that he has accomplished. I was actually raised to live the Martial Way without even realizing it. I was born and raised living the Martial Way. My father will never be well-known because he has no desire to expose himself, he claims no titles, he is not a Martial Artist. He is a man of Gung Fu, but he does not realize it. He will never be “well-known” but if I am ever to be “well-known” then maybe my stories about him will be “well-known.”

GILLES BEAULIEU

My Karate teacher, Gilles Beaulieu, was my first martial arts teacher. Although he was teaching in a relatively small city, he still managed to have a thriving class for a while. I have memories of Gilles conditioning us by having us punch each other in the gut (which I don’t think is kosher anymore), running way more than I liked, and doing crazy things like 1000 crunches the day before I had a presidential fitness test at school. As a kid who was not in great shape and really hated the exercise conditioning, I still loved the class. Even though he was tough on us with the training, he was inspirational since he was doing all the work too and making it look easy. All the while, he maintained a positive energy, built up people’s confidence, and established a sense of community in the class.

WHO IS SOMEONE YOU ADMIRE ?

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