American Martial Arts are Guilty of Factionalism and Elitism!
American Martial Arts in America have splintered, and that’s the plain truth. Every American thinks their Art is best, and nobody realizes that it is all the same Art. So Americans speak lowly of others and other’s Arts and don’t realize that, in truth, they are only downgrading the Arts entire, and American Martial Arts in general, and even and especially their own. The purpose of this article is to put it all back together. All the King’s horses and all the king’s men…you know…?
Considering karate, there are five primary distances, or Ranges. These Ranges are Kicking, Punching, Elbowing, Kneeing, and Throwing. Now a karate student from some small town in Illinois might argue that one Range is more important than another, but each has equal importance and, in fact, are interdependent upon one another.. The legs are needed for getting the practitioner close enough to strike. The elbows are needed to set up a throw, and so on. In analogy, what general would say, ‘We don’t really need the Infantry,’ or, ‘Let’s leave the Howitzers at home today.’ So the fact of the matter is, unless a fellow is missing body parts, we could probably assign a value of 20% to each range covered by each body weapon.
We could probably get carried away with this idea of percentages, each limb being assigned 10%, all potentials thrown off by head butts, which way the limb swings naturally being given a higher percentage and so on and so on. But let’s leave that up to that guy in Illinois.
What we are concerned with, especially if one wants to five the American Martial Arts, is balancing the general percentages. Towards that purpose are a couple of ways in which the percentages can be thrown off.
A fellow has a predilection for one particular Range. Say he has strong and flexible legs, so he practices kicks until the percentage of effectiveness in that Range is higher than in the other Ranges, thus throwing off all Percentages. This is fine until he comes up against somebody who sizes him up and sees his strength, and attacks in such a manner that the strength becomes a weakness.
Another thing that could happen is that a fellow studies at an American Martial Arts Academy which concentrates more attention in a specific Range. Some of the more obvious percentages of these Arts might be:
Tae Kwon Do 70% feet 20% hands 3% knees 3% elbows 3% throws
Karate 20% feet 70% hands 3% knees 3% elbows 3% throws
Judo 5% feet 5% hands 5% knees 5% elbows 80% throws
Aikido 0% feet 5% hands 0% knees 0% elbows 95% throws
Tai Chi 10% feet 30% hands 10% knees 10% elbows 40% throws
And so on.
Of course I am just guessing at these percentages, you can assign numbers for your own Art, and place whatever value you wish to upon them. But regardless of what your numbers are, let me ask you a question, how close are your percentages to an actual balancing of 20% each?
Is there a way in which you can balance your Art?
No? Okay, then can you mix the various American Martial Arts until they balance? (I believe people in JKD refer to this as selecting attributes.)
For instance, study Tae Kwon Do for the feet, Karate for hands, Tai Kickboxing for elbows, Judo for hard throws, Aikido for soft throws, and so on.
Of course this leads us into an interesting problem. Do the theories of the Arts merge well? And here we have to consider two things.
First, a straight punch from Karate is different from a straight punch in Boxing. Karate uses hips and Boxing uses shoulders. We could get into an entirely different chart of how to arrange body parts here, but let’s just short cut and say that you must select Arts which compliment each other, and here you may be pushed back into altering your chosen Arts, rather than studying extra Arts for incorporation.
For instance, try a knee instead of a kick in your Tae Kwon Do forms. Study differences in applications that arise.
And try an elbow instead of a punch in Karate. Again, study applications, see how they effect the mechanics and physics of the body. You may have to follow surface changes of the Art with deeper changes in the mechanics of body motion that are inherent within your Art.
Second, and here is where I really start to make enemies. Can you change the Arts entire to fit your purposes.
To understand what I mean we have to look at the inherent weaknesses of a couple of different Arts as illustrated by a different set of percentages. For instance:
Tae Kwon Do 10% forms 30% applications 50% freestyle 10% philosophy
Karate 30% forms 30% applications 30% freestyle 10% philosophy
Judo 0% forms 45% applications 45% freestyle 10% philosophy
Aikido 0% forms 45% applications 10% freestyle 45% philosophy
Tai Chi 40% forms 10% applications 10% freestyle 40% philosophy
And so on. Hey, I’m just making up numbers based on a few random observations over 30 years. Don’t get mad at me if I show a little ignorance. Feel free to go ahead and make up numbers for whatever American Martial Arts you choose!
But, if you can hold off stoning me for assigning such gross percentages to your beloved Art for a moment, let me explain something, and then ask a few questions.
The reason I chose these categories to assign percentages is important. First, a Form is a way of teaching specific fighting theory. This theory is pure and unhindered by streetfighting observations, by this I mean that the theory is more perfectly geometric, that sort of thing.
Second, Applications are a way of translating theory into Reality in the perfect world of the dojo mat.
Third, freestyle is an even further way of translating theory into Reality, and here we at last close with such things as street fighting observations, at least as close as we wish to without damaging each other physically and morally.
Fourth, by philosophy I mean that particular body of knowledge which cements your system(s) together. Philosophy is more important than you can imagine. Not only does it tie a system together, but it can provide for future evolution of both the system and the student.
You would be surprised at how many systems, aside from showing weakness such as the unbalancing of percentages I have listed above, show a weakness of philosophy that undermines the Art entire.
In the past I have spoken about such common ones as Kenpo hands being put together with Tang Soo Do feet. Not only do the theories of motion, straight to circular, not mesh, but the theories of body mechanics don’t mesh, hips being used much more in concert with a straight line system of Tang Soo Do, and being used less in concert with circular Concepts such as Kenpo hands.
But this is only the surface of the matter. For instance, I read about a fellow who studied Hsing I and Pa Kua, and so each Art was ‘Flavored’ by the other.
And who knows, in the long history of the Arts, how many Arts have been so ‘flavored.’ I kow that in the American Martial Arts styles there has been a lot of flavoring.
And beyond that, how many Arts have virtually no philosophy at all, being devoted entirely to the maiming of their fellow man for fun and games and imagined slights!
It doesn’t matter you say?
Well, in the world of morals, which has to do with your upward evolution as a human being, it does.
And if you can’t bother your soft head about such tomfoolery as your upward evolution as a human being, it will still matter in the pure world of Geometry, and all fighting disciplines, not just American Martial Arts, eventually evolve into a subject of pure geometry.
Aikido, for instance, might seem weak in forms, and in certain ways that may hurt Aikido, but in the end, when you watch that Aikido practitioner of several years standing on the corner of the mat and moving his hands in a simple circle time after time after time for hour upon hour…what do you think he is doing? He has simply pursued his Art until it is geometrically perfect. AS DO ALL PRACTITIONERS OF ALL ARTS, SHOULD THEY STUDY LONG ENOUGH!
Which brings us to the reason why I broke the American Martial Arts apart in various types of percentages for you in this article. Because if you look at something separately, and by itself, the Concept or Theory behind the use of an Art might become apparent when you put it back together. And thus, you might consider putting them back together geometrically.
Ever seen a Tai Chi master punch? Funny, the focus makes it looks sort of like a Karate punch. Ever seen a Karate master do a form? There is liquidity and smoothness to it that bears a resemblance to the Art of Tai Chi. And so on, from Art to Art.
What has happened is that these fellows have climbed the Martial mountain and resolved punch and kick until those subjects are geometrically pure. And in the end Tai Chi is Karate, and Taekwondo is Tai Chi, and Judo is Aikido, and Aikido is kung fu, and so on and so on…
So, let me ask you a few questions.
Can you do your Karate form like a Tai Chi practitioner?
Can you make a Form for Aikido throws?
Can you find Aikido throws in a Tai Chi form? Or in a Karate form?
Can you change a hard Judo throw into a soft Aikido throw?
And so on.
If you can, then American Martial Arts will be in good shape, as will the Martial Arts of the entire world.
If you really want to fix your American Martial Arts, check out The Master Instructor Course…it has ALL the physics necessary to create perfect form and perfect technique.