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Thread: Sparring vs. Kata

  1. #31
    Kit LeBlanc Guest

    Default And so on....

    Originally posted by Nathan Scott


    I don't see how talking about historical application of obsolete methods or the development of martial principles like sakki is theorizing if the speaker is not "living a life of danger".

    I think this is why we are at an impasse. I very much do, as the talk and theorizing is generally confused with an understanding of the actual dynamics of a violent confrontation, in whatever era. It is not.

    Nor is a fleeting experience of something that we *think* is "it" without testing it, again and again to know if it is "the thing." I can tell you there are many people that ARE involved in military, LEO, and security work that NEVER get it and don't recognize what is going on, or are unable to learn from repeated exposure to it. I think the best combination is the professional experience COMBINED with the organized study of the theory and undertanding of historical context found in the fighting traditions....very few people ever attempt this combination. Usually people do one or the other.

    Feeling and tasting the real thing, repeatedly, in a variety of dangerous circumstances is a much better yardstick for what it is "really like" than any theoretical exercise (physical and mental) ever will be. Again, in whatever era. The reaction of human beings to the threat of death or serious injury has not changed, if the tactics and methods of delivery have. You can know everything there is to know about the training, the equipment, the fighting tactics, the objectives and the manuevers on a Civil War battlefield, but it provides none of the understanding of what it is like to have someone shooting at you or trying to bayonet you and having to perform trained responses under the stress of that hand-quaking fear. The men that fought in Vietnam, for example, have far more in common with the Civil War combat veteran than does any Civil War historian or aficionado of Civil War battle re-creation, though the latter can discuss the particulars of tacticsm, training and fighting methods much more knowledgeably.

    I agree history is documented, and feel that some of the teachings passed down in martial traditions *may* be a window into some of the tactics and mental strategies of warriors of old (which is the reason I continue to be interested). I submit someone with experience with violence may have a different take on what is written and passed on, very different from those with a historical understanding. Having direct experience of aggressive, potentially armed violence provides a much better and much more direct understanding of the physical and psychological ramifications of such an encounter than mastering any amount of history, or knowing intellectually why a sword was worn this way or a cut was performed that way because the armor looked like this, etc.

    I think in person and over beers we could probably better understand where each other is coming from, though I still don't think we would be in total agreement...then again, that's why E-Budo is so cool, we get to see other perspectives and the benefit of different points of view!!

  2. #32
    Guest

    Default

    Meynard,

    Johnny called me about you're leaving the dojo and the innacuracy of my post. I would like to point out that I did not mention your name. Still, I quickly edited it as per his info. I apologize for the inaccuracy of the statement. The fact remains that you did leave the dojo and were not allowed to return and one reason was definitely the tension in the dojo surrounding your departure. That comes straight from the man himself. Thats okay. We all have to find our place in the world. I hope you find what you're looking for.

    As far as this statement:

    "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. "

    Thats your opinion and you're entitled to it but I see it a little differently. Again it's a matter of perspective and purpose. I was hanging around the Yanagi ryu dojo long before you showed up and was just there last week. Yanagi ryu's focus is definitely broader (Given all the weapons and such) and therefore of such a complex nature that quickly learning to apply just the AJJ in real world situation is unrealistic and therefore only taught at advanced levels. If this weren't so how do you explain Don's separating the jaw of so talented a groundfighter as James Williams during freestlye matwork or going toe to toe with so talented a boxer/kickboxer as Dave Slocum years back?

    And this statement:

    "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.

    No tsk,tsk,tsk to you.

    I "know"for a fact that Tim does not know what Yanagi ryu is "all about". He was never a student of Yanagi ryu. He may have seen Don and even talked to Don. That does not make him qualified to evaluate it at it highest levels, just as I am not qualified to evaluate Tim's art at its highest levels even though I've seen him in action. Right?. You yourself have publicly admitted that you were only a beginning student in Yanagi ryu. His post concerning you appeared to me to present you as being representative of more than that and obviously that was due to some sort of communication or miscommunication between you and Tim. We all make mistakes and I imagine Tim is just as human as the rest of us. I feel that Tims presentation of the event concerning you was less than fair to you or Yanagi ryu.

    Again I sincerely apologize for the misunderstanding concerning the events surrounding your departure from the Yanagi ryu hombu dojo. I wish you all the best on your quest in martial arts.

    Toby Threadgill

  3. #33
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    Toby,

    Thanks for the apology. You've always been a true gentleman.

    "how do you explain Don's separating the jaw of so talented a groundfighter as James Williams during freestlye matwork or going toe to toe with so talented a boxer as Dave Slocum several years ago?"

    There's only one explanation that comes to mind. Don Angier is a true martial genius. He is at a totally different level than everybody else. Nobody else could do what he does.

    "His post concerning you appeared to present you as being representative of more than that and I suspected that that was due to some sort of communication or miscommunication between you to him."

    I don't think I misrepresented myself as being more. I guess after almost 5 years of Yanagi Ryu, he expected that Don's student should have some a kind fighting ability. Heck a guy doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu for 2 years could mop the floor with most blackbelts from other arts. Knowing about Don's ability, maybe he was expecting Don's student to have a little more talent. It's my fault that I'm not talented enough. Maybe somebody else should've stepped up to the mat. The problem is nobody else did.

  4. #34
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    Default Theory vs. Practice

    Excellent discussion between Nathan and Kit - I, for the most part, have simply enjoyed sitting back and reading the exchanges.

    Finally, here is my brief take on it. EVERYTHING in the dojo, or training hall, is theory. Period. It doesn't matter how much or how little "freestyle sparring" is going on. They may represent different levels of martial theory, but they remain theory, nontheless.

    "Practice" is the fight in the real world. This is composed of unfamiliar terrain, unfamiliar opponents, surprise, potential lethality, fear, and general chaos (I'm sure we could add many more elements to this list - these are just a representative few).

    The question then becomes, not whether theory in the dojo can prepare you for "practice," but what martial theory may best prepare you for different types of "practice." Hence, kata vs. freestyle sparring. Unarmed vs. armed, etc. Here also, the central principles of a particular fighting art come into play.

    The old adage, "there is no substitute for experience," remains true. Experience being "practice." Most people, myself included, seek to avoid real martial practice. We seek to avoid true martial experience. Why? Because as early 21st century fellows and ladies living in relative comfort from pain and disease, we value our health, we value our lives, and as such are generally risk averse (some more than others, of course).

    Historically, the best sword schools were the ones that survived (talking pre-Edo period, here). They survived because their exponents survived. We are talking about a time when life was very, very cheap.

    Unarmed schools are a different matter altogether, simply because historically there has not been the same crucible of life and death that existed for armed schools. As evidence of this fact, note that generally speaking, the unarmed component of many koryu are either a) non-existent, or b) quite limited and of secondary importance to the armed portion of the curriculum.

    Since the end of the Tokugawa, tournament has been the main determination of martial effectiveness for Japanese arts (whether by shugyo, or formal contests). Unfortunately, a contest is still theory (albiet very low theory), and not true practice, unless one agrees to a no-holds-barred fight to the death (or the mercy of the winner). Even then, the contest lacks the element of surprise, and the uncertainty regarding terrain, opponent, etc.

    High-theory arts (and I consider Daito-ryu to be high-theory), spend years emphasizing martial principles in controlled kata form. They are severe and effective within the kata form, but they are far removed (at least at the early stages) from real martial "practice," as defined above.

    Judo, or boxing, or BJJ, on the other hand, are low-theory arts. Little time is spent on martial principles before the introduction of sparring or contests. These come closer, earlier on, to approximating martial "practice."

    Which is better? Is this the real question? If so, the real answer is, unfortunately, relative. If one expects to encounter a real fight on a regular basis, or expects to encounter dangerous situations on a regular basis, then high-theory arts are probably not the best approach. If one, (like most people, I suspect) does not expect regular confrontations, or regular situations of danger, then high-theory arts may be a respectable avenue.

    I, for one, wake up, go to work, come home, spend time with my wife and kid, spend time at the movies or with friends, etc. I experienced far more dangerous situations when I was in college. Of course, you never know when some angry driver, or some drunk patron, or some obnoxious movie goer, will get upset and get in your face. For such encounters, I rely on my past experience (practice), and my wits. Sometimes it is better to avoid that 250lb. meathead, and sometimes it is better to teach the loudmouth drunk to shut up.

    In short, and contain the gasps of shock here please, I do not currently train in martial arts primarily to be a super street-fighter, or an unarmed combat specialist. I'm a lawyer, for godssake (although maybe that is a reason to be better prepared for physical confrontation ). It was not always so. In the past, I spent a lot of time in low-theory arts for the express purpose of becoming a better fighter to handle immediate concerns (I miss college). I did not have the time or inclination to spend years in an art that MIGHT make me a better fighter, or better at self-defense, years down the road, no matter how rich and beneficial the results such a long-term commitment might bring to me.

    But with age and stage, many things change. I have found Daito-ryu to be the most effective high-theory art out there. It would be easy to modify the art to include more low-theory application, but it is not necessary. The principles are there. Any good exponent of the art can do that on his own time. Once you have the principles, the rest is simply adaptation. I prefer the curriculum the way it is. It utilizes an ingenious progression, based on rational principles, to impart the exponent over years of practice with astounding martial application. But it is not judo (which is, I believe, one of the best low-theory arts out there).

    The upshot of all this is, nearly all training is theory, either high or low. Neither can claim superiority over the other. The benefit of one over the other depends on your relative situation and needs.

    In conclusion, I would just say that my advice is to either cross-train, or have some experience of both high and low-level theory arts. The more experience the better, especially when the time comes when you are faced with real "practice."

    Cheers,
    Arman Partamian
    Daito-ryu Study Group
    Maryland

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    Default

    [Post deleted by user]
    Last edited by Nathan Scott; 12th June 2014 at 04:28.
    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)

  6. #36
    MarkF Guest

    Default

    [b]Judo, or boxing, or BJJ, on the other hand, are low-theory arts. Little time is spent on martial principles before the introduction of sparring or contests. These come closer, earlier on, to approximating martial "practice."
    [b]

    Nah, it isn't worth it. And I'm beginning to think Dan was right. God help me, but I found myself agreeing with him.
    *****

    BTW: Kit, when I was a kid, believe it or not, I wanted to enter the academy, but the height minimum was 5'7."

    But then, the other side was much more fun in those days so I don't feel too bad about it.

    Your buddy,

    Mark

  7. #37
    Dan Harden Guest

    Default

    Hi Ya Mark

    I just cant help it. I love Budo. I will talk and listen about techniques and styles pretty much all day and really be quite happy doing so-but when I see the conversation change to actual confrontation both in a freestyle fight in Dojo setting or in streets where you don't know who you're facing I just turn off. You've seen the same thing Mark. Big shot,big talk-can't survive an afternoon with a good judoka.
    I have always been on Kit's side of the arguement-but then again Kit and I have been to the same place from different sides. The only difference between Kit and I is that I keep telling him there are people in the arts that would hand most MA's their heads. That there is relevant (old)technique that works right well today- he just hasn't seen it. Kits still doubting if its a reality.

    I gotta admire your restrain about the "Judo has low theory" remark. I'll leave itup to you as to whether its worth it or not. But there is the key point in my last post.
    Who would say that?
    Where has he been?
    What does he know?
    I think if we all met and rode the tiger together- 90% of the talk would stop. Over the years a few of us have probably been more critical and demonstrative about fighting (not budo)than most others. And there are many guys who have been on the mats with those same people here on E-Budo. Funny how no one has ever countered those opinions. If you repeatedly find yourself on your ass contrary to all your intentions-you tend to listen a bit more to the guys who put you there.
    If (x)MA Shihans came on here and wrote a lengthy post on Budo and theory I would read it and love it. If they wrote a lengthy post on fighting and confrontation I would probably skip it. Unfortunetly these days Budo and fighting ability are too different topics.

    And what did you say? "God help you if you agree" with any of this Mark. You may get "sucked in to the dark side and ruined for Budo."

    Hey I just caught the remark about the height limit-so your under 5'7"?
    You do know that Martial arts are ruled by short guys don't you?

    back to work
    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 7th February 2002 at 13:41.

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    Hi Guys,

    Dan Said: Unfortunatly these days Budo and fighting ability are too different topics.

    Well, in a way, I consider it fortunate. The reason the two can be separate topics is because we live in relatively safe times. Times where, as Arman so eloquently stated, we can go to work, come home, go to practise, spend time with family, and get up more or less healthy and do it over again. If Budo and fighting ability were as closely intertwined as in the past, I suspect our lives would be quite different.

    As to low theory...well, almost everything has depth to it if you look for it. I suspect that judo has more depth than many things. And its solid base prepares you to survive to find that depth. I'm no longer as sure about other arts. But I like them anyway, so I keep working at them. Kudos go to those who kept a tense topic from getting out of hand.

    Ron Tisdale

  9. #39
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    I would like to provide a bit of clarification on my "low-theory" comment since it seems to have annoyed a few people. I do not mean an art that is low-theory, like judo, is low in terms of martial principles or philosophy. "Low" does not, in my usage, denote "lack of."

    What I mean by low-theory is that such arts spend far less time, generally speaking, on martial principles before engaging in freestyle sparring. Perhaps this is not as it always has been, but even back in the 1970's, Draeger was complaining about the lack of emphasis on good kata training in judo. Most judoka will engage in free-style sparring in the first month of joining a school. Compare this, say, to Daito-ryu. Quite different.

    Therein lies my distinction between "low-theory" and "high-theory." These are not value-laden terms. They are purely descriptive. The term "high" theory as I use it denotes an art that devotes nearly all, or a substantial portion, of its curriculum to kata form. Why? Because common usage of the term "theory" implies a rarefied and impractical form. Thus, I needed to distinguish between types of martial theory: the lower the theory, the closer to real contest. The higher the theory, the more removed. The systemic analytical measure is, obviously, training methodology. Consequently, I can't think of two better distinct arts to compare and contrast in these terms than judo and Daito-ryu.

    If anyone disagrees, I am happy to engage in a discussion where you would like to argue that, generally speaking, judo exponents spend most of the time training in kata vs. free-style sparring.

    Cheers,
    Arman Partamian
    Daito-ryu Study Group
    Maryland

  10. #40
    Kit LeBlanc Guest

    Default Almost...

    Dan,

    I pretty much agree with your comments. But it's not that I doubt there is relevant old technique (I've seen it), but rather, that there are more relevant, more concrete TRAINING methods.....which I would bet the "head takers" you mention have quite a bit of experience with over and above the more theoretical training.


    Arman,

    That's what I thought you meant, but I had to think about it for a minute.

  11. #41
    Dan Harden Guest

    Default Re: Almost...

    Dan,

    I pretty much agree with your comments. But it's not that I doubt there is relevant old technique (I've seen it), but rather, that there are more relevant, more concrete TRAINING methods.....which I would bet the "head takers" you mention have quite a bit of
    experience with over and above the more theoretical training.

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

    Hi Ya Bud

    Your post, Armans, and Rons are somewhat the same since you talk about theoretical methods or training as opposed to what I assume to be applicable methods in force on force.
    My point with you is rather specific Kit-very specific and always was. You're in a minority- you always will be.
    With respect I offer another friendly reminder.
    You need to steal what you can, work what you find, and make it your own. Look it bud-you know how many of these teaming martial masses can be taken apart with relative ease? You found that out. So ignore them or use them-if only to refine your own skills. That's what I meant when we talked about this a while back. You have to find something for you that is hyper-rational, body and intent controlling, extremely violent yet affords measures of control. Nothing is fool proof-you found that out too bud-the hard way. So just sweat it out. While you're at it, learn all you can about the mind game. Its even more important than the rest.
    Make it happen for you Kit.
    Think of the last couple of years in your work...do you really want to keep having these conversations about force on force with guys who don't want to get hurt and just want to have fun at their hobby? I mean, what's the point? Half of em can't differentiate between what is the truly good stuff they teach and what is the nonsense. Mostly for the simple reason that it's all theory to them. And you have learned that as well haven't you? How many times have they stared you right in the face with more inane MA whooha thinking it was good- while you knew it was ridiculous and then you found other things they knew that were jewels in waiting....Go find the other guys who know what their doing.
    Just talk about Budo here. Its a wonderful world full of theory and history with many tales of legend and some very sweet people.

    Try to be careful about some of our opinions though bud. Some of us know right well how to man-handle and control people. Always remember, it is YOU who cautions US about real world engagements. You have had some rough encounters yes?
    Who were they with on the street?
    US!
    Very upset John Q publics.
    So if "Johnie nobody" can give you a hard time, imagine what some of us are capable of. Like the old saying goes "Catch as catch can"


    The general topic at hand -and a general "you"

    Kata vs freestyle
    You use Kata to lean principle
    You fight to learn how to fight
    you can talk your heads off on the rest.
    Yes, some of the teachers who taught you Kata and know it real well can't fight-they just know the kata.....
    Others know them and can make them work........find them.


    While ya'll had fun making light of techniques too deadly for freestlying....Well that depends on who is doing the fighting dudn't it. I have seen DR leg techniques, sutemi, and strikes; tear knees, break legs, cause concussion,tear retina, cause standng knockouts, break shoulders, invert throat cartiledge and wreck elbows.
    MANY ARTS have such technical possibilites-you just never know who is capable of pulling off what, at any given time, and/or who is able to defend adequately at that given moment.

    THAT'S WHAT MAKES IT DANGEROUS

    Anyway
    If you don't freestyle, there is "for sure" one person who will never know what your made of.....You!
    You can be as confidant as you like-boxing rings are full of losers who were sure too.

    And if you don't care?
    then neither do I.....go be a martial "artist"
    or physical movement hobbyist
    or combative theorist
    or what ever you want to call yourself. In twenty years you'll have a slew of people validating your "expertise" about fighting too.

    ***********************
    Nathan writes
    So the question is simply, which techniques and which methodology. I say modern methodology is more appropriate for modern self defense applications, for the reasons presented previously.

    It's not often I get to dissagree with you Nathan. How does one go about that
    I got to see a neat little student of mine-a guy about 5'5" 150lb. nail a 267 pound 6'2" (14 years in) judoka over and over and over with Koryu jujutsu in a freestyle match. We went to lunch after and the Judoka was very gregarious and very funny about the whole thing mostly cause he got ticked off when it happened. It didn't matter to any of us that the smaller guy won....just that he was greatly outmatched and accounted for himself right well. If he lost but gave the guy a hard time I think we would have all thought the same.
    I've already told you about some of my encounters privately.
    I have always considered the questioning of Koryu jujutsu, heck even most of the modern jujutsu variants methods, to be a moot point.
    Jujutsu and its modern derivation-Judo-is just good stuff.
    But you can give some people really good equipment-just to see them shoot themselves in the foot.


    Arman
    I see your point now, But not all Judo is like that. Judo theory,in the hands of the great teachers, can be a most highly refined practice-affording much practical real world use of Aiki.

    cheers
    Dan
    Last edited by Dan Harden; 9th February 2002 at 02:07.

  12. #42
    Kit LeBlanc Guest

    Default Thanks Dan...

    You usually cut through the bull. Funny I just got off the phone with a good friend and former LE brother who is a koryu practitioner, and he says some of the same things.

    Suffice it to say, I have been coming around to your line of thinking. I can be a little thick sometimes. I have for a long time looked for an art or teacher that can give me what I think I need to know.

    I know now that doesn't exist....so I am looking for that something, or that combination of a few somethings, that I know *I* can make work...cause it will be me, not my teacher, that is down there in the blood and the guts and the beer. A teacher can teach me about budo, I will have to be the one that turns it into something that works! You've said as much to me publically and privately several times now...it is finally sinking in.

    Problem is, I don't know enough about BUDO to make any meaningful contribution.

  13. #43
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    Tom,

    If you are interested in or judging the capabilities of Don Angier's students, Meynard is not the one to judge the system on. If you want to see the most practical applicaiton of "Aiki" then take a look at the Systema of Mikhail Ryabko and Vladimir Vasiliev. They do no use the word aiki, however that is what they are doing and at a very high level. Systema is very functional and in my opinion the fastest way to practically access the concepts and principles of "aiki" that I have seen.
    James Willliams
    Kaicho
    Nami ryu

  14. #44
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    Talking Learn to be a tough guy 101

    [Post deleted by user]
    Last edited by Nathan Scott; 12th June 2014 at 04:28.
    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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    Talking DIY QuikKit for Modern Mayhem (TM)

    Doug has decided that having had the flu all weekend this post was only the virus talking so now hes referring to himself in the third person.:burnup:
    Last edited by Walker; 12th February 2002 at 00:17.
    Doug Walker
    Completely cut off both heads,
    Let a single sword stand against the cold sky!

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