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Thread: Sparring vs. Kata

  1. #16
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    Hi Guys,

    I think the following statement by Tim Cartmel is misleading and frankly untrue although I'm pretty sure he didn't understand the particulars due to the fact that the source of his info was probably pretty one sided.

    by Mr Cartmel: "I'll leave you with a real world example. Meynard is passionate about this subject because of his background in the martial arts. He spent years studying a 'traditional' martial art (with an excellent teacher) that did not allow sparring practice because of the 'deadly' nature of their techniques.

    The truth here is that the individual making this statement was not an advanced enough student of Yanagi ryu to be allowed freestyle practise. It had nothing to do with the so called "deadly" nature of Yanagi ryu techniques. Thats just horse pucky. Don Angier is very strict about the level of expertise and control a student must achieve before he is allowed to participate in open randori at speed. Other Yanagi ryu practitioners with significantly impressive levels of freestyle ability train in the dojo and have practised feestyle there fairly regularly since I first started hanging around the Yanagi rtu hombu dojo in 1987. Heck , Don himself used to take part in freestyle practise with Kickboxer's James Williams and Dave Slocum who were among the first people to train with the Gracies upon their arrival in the U.S.. They both tell pretty impressive stories of "rolling around with the old man of Yanagi ryu". If anyone doubts me ask anybody who's ever met Dave Slocum. He'll scare the hair right off your head!

    Given my experience with Wado ryu , Muay Thai, Yanagi ryu and Takamura ha Shindo Yoshin ryu, you guys probably aren't suprised to find that I believe the importance of freestyle practise is absolutely unquestionable. In the case of traditional or classical Japanese samurai arts it is simply a matter priority. Often freestyle street application is not the driving force of an art that has historical links to an antiquated past. Thats fine as long as the student and the teacher are both on the same page in respect to this. In the case of the above mentioned student and Don Angier, the fact that this student left the dojo over a disagreement and was not permitted to return demonstrates that he never really was on the same page with his teacher. There are plenty of Yanagi ryu guys that can rock & roll with you just fine and others who train in the art for a completely different reason. At least Yanagi ryu offers that option albeit at only the highest levels of expertise and dedication. In the Takamura ha SYR freestyle is an obsession of ours.

    Vive le difference.


    Toby Threadgill

  2. #17
    Kit LeBlanc Guest

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    Originally posted by Nathan Scott


    Hope this helps clear it up!
    Clear as a bell. That doesn't mean we agree!!

    RE: Classical Arts Being Adapted.

    Yes, certainly. Though I do not necassarily agree that the nature of lethal attacks have changed that much. Training methods certainly have, and some have frankly fallen behind. It's like with all the rage for WWII combatives....fine, if that is what you want to do, but our understanding of lethal conflicts, human psychology and physiology and the technical development of fighting tactics has progressed a long way since that level of understanding...how much more has it progressed since the 1500's - 1800's?

    RE: Stiff And Unbending Classical Kata.

    Agreed, many are fluid and a little more realistic, but that does not necessarily make it an effective teaching method for RESISTIVE grappling. I have always thought kata make more sense for weapons training....because the level of damage done by a strike or a draw cut with an edged weapon, for example, is a little more (though not totally) concrete. This is NOT true with unarmed methods.

    RE: Complex/Complicated

    Understood. But a "complex" theory which is not repeatable under 100% resistive conditions against a variety of opponents is still useless. Kendo is resistive training, springing directly from classical kenjutsu as practiced in shinai geiko, which developed with that very understanding. That is sparring.


    RE: Long TIme to Learn.

    You DID say the complex arts take far longer to learn and become proficient at, so I would assume you mean that it should not take a long time for them to become EFFECTIVE. I agree with this. Judo takes a long time to get good at , but it is effective virtually immediately.

    RE: Daito-ryu (or really any traditional/classical primarily kata jujutsu.)

    Understood. I think they would be MORE effective QUICKER if randori was included.

    RE: Classical Methodology vs. Modern Methodology, and that Critical First Move.

    Okay, I see where you are coming from. But I think you are thinking of dojo methodology.

    A big issue with kata jujutsu (actually most traditional non-sparring methods) is the faith in that critical first move, or that "deadly" finishing move. That the methods will always have the expected effect. This armlock/strike WILL put the guy out of commission. Follow up moves are often predicated on the expected reaction to that first move.

    This very often DOES NOT happen. Indeed, it is probably a crap shoot in the real world. The ideal situation as laid out in kata/cooperative practice will not occur in the real world. Angles change slightly, or that believed-to-be devastating technique is not so devastating, for whatever reason, or it has the desired effect on his body, but he continues to fight ANYWAY.

    RE: BJJ: Don't confuse the feeling out of a ring fight with the instant application of a finishing move in a real fight. Just because someone practices BJJ does not mean the ring fight strategy IS the street fight strategy. The fact that it embraces both is actually one of BJJ's strengths, not a criticism, because by and large the TECHNIQUES can be practiced the same way. You just add the nastier stuff as needed.

    Kit

  3. #18
    Dan Harden Guest

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    Another "go round the bush" again on this topic.
    Kit, Toby, and Nathan I have nothing to add. Do you realize your perhaps having this conversation with some who consider wrist grabbing randori with fake atemis; freestyle fighting! Then we have the jujutsu and sword guys who think every Koryu Kata technique is combatively valid. I suspect that there were both arts and artist that were as inane then as they are now people just lapped it up then as they do now. Discussing it is pointless. It has become nothing more than an intellectual exercise here, just like the physically level playing field they try to create in Dojos.
    You simply don't know who your talking to.

    And why pick an art?
    In every art you will find:
    functionally useless people
    Kata kings who can't fight
    People who would would piss themselves if faced with heightened sustained aggression
    Technique junkies who.er...uhm...teach well
    Then you have people who can handle themselves somewhat
    and then you have the real fighters, the guys who can seem to make most anything work.
    And most of the former see themselves as the later.

    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 5th February 2002 at 06:07.

  4. #19
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    Originally posted by Dan Harden
    In every art you will find:

    (clipped the middle)

    and real fighters

    And most of the former see themselves as the later.
    Now, here are two interesting (to me, anyway) questions:

    1) How many of the people here see themselves as "real fighters"?
    2) How many of the people here are training with the intent of becoming "real fighters"?

    For myself, I don't think of myself that way, primarily because I almost never get into any kind of fights (except those with my wife ). I guess that this is probably pretty standard for most people these days, unless you're in certain lines of work. I suppose that I would probably do better in a fight now then I would have before I started training (if nothing else, because I'm more fit now), but there's really no way to tell without trying it out, and, while I might have taken the risk when I was young and single (and a little bit stupid), I don't think that I could accept the risks now.

    Now, I wonder which of the types that makes me...

    Best,

    Chris

  5. #20
    Dan Harden Guest

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    Chris writes
    For myself, I don't think of myself that way, primarily because I almost never get into any kind of fights (except those with my wife ).
    snip
    but there's really no way to tell without trying it out, and, while I might have taken the risk when I was young and single (and a little bit stupid), I don't think that I could accept the risks now.

    *****************************

    Hmmm....
    Am I to assume then that those of us (and there are many)who accepted the risks are stupid? Or just a little bit stupid?
    As an aside I have met and trained with some NHB fighters who were highly intelligent and put their careers on hold to fight for awhile.




    Chris writes
    Now, I wonder which of the types that makes me...


    Untested, unproven, and risky in certain venues that you are not in by your own (I guess you think intelligent) choice. In any event you may freely qualify yourself to be what you want. Others will most certainly decide what your abilities are on their own. And they will all be different opinions based on their own levels of understanding and ability-perceived or otherwise.

    Dan

  6. #21
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    Originally posted by Dan Harden
    Am I to assume then that those of us (and there are many)who accepted the risks are stupid? Or just a little bit stupid?

    As an aside I have met and trained with some NHB fighters who were highly intelligent and put their careers on hold to fight for awhile.
    I'm not talking about sparring, even of the NHB type. Maybe you were, I don't know, but I took the "real fighters" bit to mean real fighting, not sparring in a controlled situation. I was talking about taking it out on the street the way that someone like Musashi did (or at least so the legend goes). There are a lot of nutty folks out there, and who knows what they might be carrying. I won't take the risk. Sparring, (NHB included) is not (and never had been) really a problem for me, although that depends on the rules, because there's really no such things as "no holds barred" outside of a real situation.

    Would it be stupid? In today's world, maybe, maybe not, depends on what your aims are. For someone with a family I'd probably vote against it unless it were very necessary.

    Would sparring be stupid? Well again, I suppose that it depends upon the person and the situation. I would bet that there are any number of scenarios that you would refuse to participate in without some kind of significant motivation.

    Originally posted by Dan Harden
    Untested, unproven, and risky in certain venues that you are not in by your own (I guess you think intelligent) choice. In any event you may freely qualify yourself to be what you want. Others will most certainly decide what your abilities are on their own. And they will all be different opinions based on their own levels of understanding and ability-perceived or otherwise.

    Dan
    Hmm, since firearms are highly probable on the street then I assume that you have experience with conflicts with live firearms in an urban situation (not simulated experience, mind you, but the actual type). Otherwise I guess that all of the above applies to you as well...

    If you do have such experience would you then recommend that others actively seek it out to further what is essentially a hobby?

    Best,

    Chris

  7. #22
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    As an afterthought, I wanted to comment on my use of the word "stupid", since it appears that there may be some misunderstanding. I didn't mean to say that someone who takes risks is necessarily "stupid", I meant to say that younger people often take risks that older (and hopefully wiser people) refuse to take. There are plenty of things that I would try when I was 17 that I wouldn't try twenty years later.

    Back on topic - no, I don't buy the "too deadly to spar" argument that's sometimes used. Otherwise there would certainly be more deaths then there are, people being as they are. It sure does sound tough, though .

    In "Aikido Ichiro" K. Ueshiba talks extensively about his opposition to adding a competitive element to Aikido. Interestingly, he never even comes close to the "too deadly to spar" argument. Mostly his opinion was based upon a belief that competition would eventually lead to a technical degradation of the art.

    For me, that sounds more reasonable, although, like anything else, there is always a downside.

    Best,



    Chris
    Last edited by Chris Li; 5th February 2002 at 09:01.

  8. #23
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    In closing, I'm not a masochist or anything, but I think that being hit and figuring out how to continue when you're hurting, is a crucial to simulating a REAL fight. - Tyrone Turner

    Partly true. This encapsulates the entire problem with "simulation." The bottom line is that you cannot know how you will react in a real fight, and if you will survive in a real fight, unless you have been in a real fight. The best students and teachers are those that have been in real fights (assuming realistic self-defense is your goal).

    That is why boxing is an excellent fist-fighting art/sport for the modern world. NOT because of the techniques (well, partly), NOT because of the principles, but because you routinely get pounded in the face. Hard. Over and over again. The boxing student learns how to take a punch and keep attacking and responding. In fact, the boxing student learns how to retake the initiative even while absorbing blows to the head.

    Now, I am not advocating boxing as the supreme martial art, nor am I advocating boxing at all, really. I don't like it, personally (See, I don't like getting hit ) All I am saying is that boxing has the singular virtue of training the student to absorb blows.

    Given that, even boxing is no substitute for the real thing. From the few real fights I have been in, I can say in all honesty they were the best martial learning experiences I have ever had. I wouldn't trade the knowledge from those fights for anything. Even the ones I lost (especially the ones I lost ).

    BTW, Chris, I agree with you regarding avoiding fights if at all possible. No matter how well you train or practice for a real fight, all it takes is one good sucker punch when you aren't looking and that's it. And I was just really lucky that my opponents weren't armed. Let's also not forget it only took three punches from that hockey dad to kill his opponent, and I doubt he had any formal unarmed combat training. A very sobering thought.

    Sincerely,
    Arman Partamian
    Daito-ryu Study Group
    Maryland

  9. #24
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    Dan Harden wrote:

    "Discussing it is pointless. It has become nothing more than an intellectual exercise here, just like the physically level playing field they try to create in Dojos.
    You simply don't know who your talking to."

    Actually, Mr. Harden, they do know who they are talking to: Messrs. Threadgill, Scott, Jakabcsin and LeBlanc address their posts to each other. Presumably they have either played together or are confident they know enough about each other's experience and skills from this or other forums that they take considerable time to think about this set of issues and post their ideas. For me, a venerable beginner, this kind of discussion between people who are highly skilled, experienced and who teach their respective arts is quite valuable. For you, if this discussion thread seems like an inane repetition of previous exchanges, then you are free (like the rest of us) to participate or not.

    It seems to me that the thinking of the gentlemen named above has probably evolved from whatever (considerable) discussions on this general topic have taken place before. It may seem like a tiresome and futile intellectual kata to you, but katas have their place for beginners like me. And good katas are a rich source of continuing exploration of basic considerations even for more experienced budoka.

    Because of business and other commitments, my time to visit this forum is pretty limited. I've almost always found something of worth when I come to browse. I'd like to thank the contributors to this thread for their time and effort in discussing the value of sparring and non-cooperative partner practice scenarios.
    Tom Douglas

  10. #25
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    Wink

    Arman:

    I agree with what you said about one not really knowing how one will react in a real self-defense situtation until actually confronted with one. As they say, "Attitude is everything." My instructor tells us to visualize confrontations in our head so that when one really jumps off, you will be ready.

    Visualization has helped me in self-defense situations in the past. I think about my wife, my son, and other loved ones constantly. They give me the reason to "lay the smack-down" on someone if I'm threatened with violence.

    You can master a million and one techniques and could have been doing so for 50 years, but if you don't have heart, your goose is cooked in a fight.

    All the best,

    Tyrone Turner
    Zujitsuka
    Queens, New York
    Tyrone Turner
    Aspiring warrior-scholar
    Queens, NY

  11. #26
    Kit LeBlanc Guest

    Default "REAL FIGHTERS"

    Originally posted by Chris Li


    Now, here are two interesting (to me, anyway) questions:

    1) How many of the people here see themselves as "real fighters"?
    2) How many of the people here are training with the intent of becoming "real fighters"?

    I like to think of myself more as an armed professional(LEO/SWAT) rather than a "real fighter."

    Frankly I personally consider this to be the highest calling of a martial artist, as well as the greatest test. I wish more martial artists would get involved in such work.

    The primary objective of my training is how does it help me dominate real world confrontations with people who might be armed (and often are)...with minimal risk to myself, and maximum control of the opponent.

    Along those lines I think much as Arman laid out with his boxing analogy...Judo and BJJ (i.e. full contact arts) have taught me more about real fighting than any other art I have practiced, though not necessarily in terms of technique.

    I AM interested in more than just practical application...I find the traditions to have many parallels to day to day work as an armed professional, and to be an interesting window into the mind of those who did the same thing. Unfortunately, without direct experience, it is hard to know how to separate the the need to know from the nice to know, and the practically proven from the hopeful fantasy in even the most revered fighting traditions.
    Last edited by Kit LeBlanc; 5th February 2002 at 17:07.

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    [Post deleted by user]
    Last edited by Nathan Scott; 12th June 2014 at 04:27.
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

  13. #28
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    Default correction Toby

    Hey Toby,

    I don't remember being asked to leave or of being expelled from the Yanagi Hombu dojo. I left on my own accord. It was the most difficult decision of my life. I don't know how stories got twisted around or who's telling what, but Don NEVER formally asked me to leave. I could scan his last letter to me and post it up on the bulletin board if you want.

    On my last phone conversation with Don I asked if I could come back to Saturday classes only. He said that he didn't think it was a good idea. I asked why. He said a student can't serve two masters. His own words. I replied, I understand sensei. That was it. I wanted to learn how the second sword kata ended. I don't regret leaving the Yanagi dojo. I only regret that people misunderstand why.

    It's annoying that people don't have their story straight and don't even bother to ask my side of it. Don't make statements about me without knowing the facts. I was expelled? I was asked to leave? That's total B.S. and a big stinking lie! What disagreement are you talking about?

    As far as getting my ass whopped at Shenwu; At the time I left, I doubt that any of my classmates at the Yanagi dojo could've done any better using any of the aiki jiu jitsu techniques that we learned.

    Oh yeah, you also said "considering the source of the story, it was probably one side." I guess you figured that Tim never saw Don in action and don't know what Yanagi Ryu is all about? You are so wrong. You should really get your story straight. tsk, tsk, tsk.
    Last edited by Meynard Ancheta; 6th February 2002 at 00:05.

  14. #29
    Kit LeBlanc Guest

    Default So Much for That

    Nathan,

    I agree, time to move on. We are coming from very different places. I think the devil is in the details, unfortunately here it's the details that are the most important point!

    While I have only been briefly exposed to classical methods of teaching and fighting, I was fortunate enough to be exposed to them with a man who was an expert...much of my way of thinking on this comes from what he taught me, some of which does not square with yours, so I don't think it is necessarily modern vs. classical...seems more dojo vs. field.

    Again, I think two men trying to kill each other, with whatever weapon, will look pretty much the same no matter what era they are in, with some minor technical details changed. Not thinking so is, in my opinion, the dojo talking. Different teaching methods do not mean that the experience of interpersonal aggressive armed violence FELT all that different; their nervous systems were the same ones we have. This is what technique and principles will conform to in real life, not the idealized practice of a kata.

    BTW, Wayne Muromoto, who certainly does know quite a bit about classical methods, has just posted in the Member's Lounge Tantojutsu thread about how he sees the battlefield tanto techniques of the Takeuchi-ryu of being very much applicable against modern body armor, for example. Seems he sees much more commonality than do you.

    I also can't really identify with your LEO references..since I live it, have applied classical methods in in that capacity, in some ways I have a different take on it.

    To clarify, I never mentioned 100% techniques. I don't believe they exist. In real aggressive, potentially murderous encounters, techniques are more like 50-50, and that is if you are really good! 100% resistance, however, very much does.

    The folks that talk about classical "killing methods" and speak with authority on the methods and psychology of centuries old battlefields, without benefit of ongoing personal knowledge of what it is like to be in harm's way , or mention developing sakki without being in a position where at any time they might actually have to kill someone, and indeed have come very close, or have someone trying to kill them, are very much theorizing and basing what they know on an idealized, empowering image that is much more a hobby than a way of "living life in danger."

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    [Post deleted by user]
    Last edited by Nathan Scott; 12th June 2014 at 04:27.
    Nathan Scott
    Nichigetsukai

    "Put strength into your practice, and avoid conceit. It is easy enough to understand a strategy and guard against it after the matter has already been settled, but the reason an opponent becomes defeated is because they didn't learn of it ahead of time. This is the nature of secret matters. That which is kept hidden is what we call the Flower."

    - Zeami Motokiyo, 1418 (Fūshikaden)

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