Thursday, 3 September 2009

Martial Artists being Aggressive

Mainly in the world today there are people that practise two types of martial arts. There are the martial art fighters who choose to practise for the reasons of combat sports or for self defence purposes and there are other martial artists who practise for relaxation, well being, fitness and other such reasons. The latter, mostly, are people trying to obtain a level of calmness in there lives without exerting any aggression.

However, trying to block out aggressive thoughts or actions are not possible. Aggression is in everyone. Weather it be through your martial arts training, trying to obtain a promotion at work, trying to get front row seats at a concert before anyone else or trying to haggle with a salesman. Aggression is used to try and better oneself, which is completely natural.

In the world of martial arts, aggression is no different. It is right in the middle of things and used by all, weather they no it or not. Trying to perfect a kata, trying to speed up a punch, or trying ones best not to be submitted on the ground. It is all an aggressive, never give up, never back down attitude to succeed and is completely correct for one to use such aggression.

If one is caught in a self defence situation and is forced to strike or throw there opponent in order to defend themselves, then during impact on the strike or on execution of the throw there is some sort of aggression involved. For instance, when punching, on the moment of impact, the fist tightens, the wrist strengthens, the hips rotate forcefully to generate power and a strong breath is exhaled. This is an aggressive exertion and without it maybe the person striking would injure there hand or wrist. The same with a throw, as one pulls or lifts there opponent to throw them, it is done aggressively so as to execute the technique effectively. A soft approach would be ineffective.

Aggression is natural and is what helps one win. Top businessmen of the world today know it, just as top military leaders of history knew it such as Sun Tzu, Miyamoto Mushahi and the Spartans.

Please do not misunderstand the concept of this article. By no means is the message trying to be put across stating that one must be aggressive always and train aggressively in order to get by. If that was the case then one would find themselves fighting on almost a daily basis. But being able to control aggression and use it when it is needed IS something that all must learn, but before that, come to grips with. Being able to be aggressive is something that everybody is born with and trying to shut it away and think that aggression is not needed is like trying to say that there is no need to breath. Breathing and aggression are similar in the sense that they must be used at the right time, just like every other part of your martial arts training. The key is trying to find out when these times are.


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KarateStudent said...

KarateStudent("KS") on Aggression in Karate:

Kudos to MARKS for raising the issue of aggression. In the Hard Style of karates, aggression is typically the norm. Also see MARKS post on "Aggression in the Martial Arts," including good comentators.

KS's experience is that aggression is endorsed and encouraged at most martial arts schools, and most certainly with KS's Tang Soo Do.

The Hard Style karates with their heavy use of physical force in technique, an aggressive attitude and behavior is promoted as 'good' fit with the style. This more often that not carries over into sparring many where students and some instructors turn the in-class 'soft sparring' sessions into 'hard sparring' (See MARKS Post on sparring). These individuals takes pride in their ability and place demonstrating their fighting acumen above all else. Such aggressive activity tends to draw additional aggressive personalities into the school.

Some peacenik (TIC) philosophers in martial arts say that aggression (synonum = bullying) is bad. Realistically MARKS is right in that people use aggression in the real world all the time. Anyway, moralizing is useless in conflict; trying not to get your butt kicked is what's relevant.

KS's postion on aggression in karate is that it is OK. That's right, only OK! Now KS is in-the-soup with the TSD school's philosophy and instructors and many of the students. How will he ever get himself out of this mess?

MARKS states ability, not style makes the fighter. Accordingly, the differences among martial arts styles is not a deciding factor. KS say instead of looking at the differences, look at the common, the 'classical' similarities. KS coins this issue (for this post: Aggression vs. Classical Karate.

Aggressive traditionalists, as well as applied-fighter types will now say that KS's perspective belongs in a term paper along with 'dojo' karate philosophy, it doesn't work in realistic, real-time fights.

See MARKS "Manny Pacquaio's Training" post for KS's (non-term paper) Classical karate defense against the Manny Pacquaio opponent.

Post to come.

KarateStudent said...

KarateStudent's ("KS") Prelude to "The Classical Karate Defense Against the Manny Pacquaio Opponent; THE PYUNG AHN HYUNG--FORMS OF PEACE."

At KS's 1st Tang Soo Do (TSD) karate school, the branch instructor (a she) agreed to allow me to learn the Pyung Ahn (Pyung) hyung (forms or karate 'patterns' in TSD). She did so because I had done well in an impromptu in-class sparring test she had arranged.

The Pyung hyung are a set of five forms. They are taught once students learn karate basics, including some very basic-beginner forms.

A little research reveals that these forms, with variations, are present in virtually all karates, be it japanese, korean, okinawnan, even chinese. For example, in Lyoto Machida's Shotokan, this set of forms is designated the 'Heian' katas. Hence, the Pyung forms qualilfy under KS's definition of Classical Karate (common among different styles).

Like always, karate fighters are split on the importance, validity of forms (hyung-TSD, kata-Shotokan) training. Generally, the 'Fighter Camp' that likes to do a lot of sparring or fighting believes forms are a waste of time, not practical for actual fighting, only helpful at best. The 'Traditionalists' are big believers in forms training, including applicability for actual self-defense.

KS thinks it's best to view karate forms as 'textbooks.' Thus, the Pyung forms set is a textbook on karate training. You don't fight with the textbook--you fight with what you learn from it.

The only interpretation on the Pyung forms given KS by the Branch instructor was one day she asked me if I knew what Pyung meant (I didn't). She said. "Peaceful."

Okay, we are supposed to be working on defeating Diago "Nightmare" Sanchez (He just lost to BJ PENN.), then on to Manny Pacquiao, so where is this going?

KS is going to summarize some traits of the Pyung forms.

However first, let me say that forms training can be a big 'trap.' The Pyung forms as taught come across as mysterious in thier purpose, symbolic as to what you are actually doing, the practicality muddled. The manner in which you practice is not with the intensity one spars with. So the karate student practicing the Pyung forms is often confused and unsure about what they are actually doing.

A couple of Key observations on the Pyung hyung:

(1) Leg strikes are incorporated versus the beginner hyung which have none;

(2) There is a heavy emphasis on blocking techniques;

(3)There is a heavy emphasis on hand techniques, supplemented by leg techniques;

(4) A far greater variety in stances, movement and techniques is shown versus karate basics.

In summary, we are given greater complexity and variety in our karate training. Yet, the usefulness and benefit is often confusing and unclear.

A final word on the purpose of the Pyung hyung.
Typical translations say these forms convey a calm, peaceful mind, one confident and safe in the DEFENSIVE skills provided. NOTHING ABOUT AGGRESSION!

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