I love talking to people who are smarter than me.
It amazes me just how many people are smarter than me! I get to engage in conversations with smarter people all of the time!
Today was one such day. I spoke with an old friend of mine who was able to give me an ah-ha moment, and put into words something that I have been unable to find the right phraseology to properly express.
In martial arts there are several categories of study.
Some people want to only practice forms for show. They want flash, fancy techniques and stuff that will get attention and wins in a martial sport tournament. There is nothing wrong with this endeavor, but it sets people up to fail in a crisis.
There are people who cross-train. They want traditional martial arts training and they want to get the gloves on and go fight. I have had the chance to see first hand how they can fail to see the dichotomy of their criticism of ITF Taekwondo using the sine-wave in kata, but failing to use it in sparring (because it is counterproductive), but then fail to see that their kickboxing looks nothing like the traditional martial art they are practicing themselves. Cognitive bias maybe? I don’t know. I’ve been hit in the head a lot.
There are people who study for application. They want to know how is this technique used? Some martial styles are obvious in how a technique is used in a fight, some less so, and there are many degrees of interpretation.
While there are people who do teach what I will present here, there is still a large group out there who do not seem to get it.
There is a lot of work involved in getting to the point where the technique can be used. Yes, practice and repetition are a part of it. But if you do not understand how to set up a technique, you will never pull it off.
In speaking with my friend today, I used the example of wrestling. In the martial system that my friend and I both practice, Hung Gar, there is a practice called bridging where you first create contact with the adversary. In the system it is often said when there is a bridge, cross it, when there is no bridge, build one. To use the system, any system, there needs to be contact first. In wrestling, you are already starting in a position of contact. The bridge has already been created. But in either case, you have to know how to set up what you are trying to do or you will fail.
In my youth, the two went hand in hand and as such I never had to give it much thought. This is how you create contact, this is what you do with it.
But when you watch a lot of the martial artists show how to use their style or system, they have someone present a feed (a feigned attack that stops short and then remains motionless).
As a training tool, under limited practice, this has its uses.
But anyone can look good in this type of demonstration. To the beginners, this stuff looks like something out of movie. To old codgers, it is lame.
If you are an instructor, teach how to set up the attacks, defenses, or applications you are teaching. If you are a student, ask how these are to be set up. Otherwise, you are going to be missing a huge component of your system.