Wednesday, 26 August 2009

What are Traditional Martial Arts?

Traditional Martial Arts (TMA) are seen to be by some as old, useless for self defence, poor forms of physical exercise and a general waste of time. The explosion of MMA, to some, has waved in a new way of fighting, training and attitude towards martial arts. However, are the fighting and training methods displayed in MMA “modern” and every other martial art not associated with it “traditional”? What even is a traditional martial art?

Are TMA fighters ones who practise in a gi rather than shorts and a vest, or in a dojo rather than a gym. Do they kiai rather than grunt or breath heavily on the exhale, or maybe when they punch, their guarding hand is held open in front of there face rather than closed and held by there chin. Are these the reasons why some martial artists are called traditional and others are not? Hopefully not, because a gi or a vest is just clothing, a dojo or a gym is just a building, a kiai or a grunt is still a noise and an exhale of breath and where ever one’s guard is held when punching is done for the same purpose.

Maybe it is the different tournaments. Judo is seen as a TMA, where as most other grappling arts are not, but when watching a judo tournament or another grappling tournament, you instantly see that the objectives are very similar if not the same, which are to either score with a successful throw, to hold your opponent down on the mat for a certain length of time or to gain a submission victory. So why is Judo seen as traditional and other grappling arts not. The same can be said about tournaments from striking arts. For example, a karate gyaku zuki punch and a boxing reverse punch are the same. Anyone who has cross trained in the two arts should say the same. They use the same principles for power and speed, but one is thrown from a person wearing a gi and one is thrown from a person wearing shorts.

A lot of people now think that TMA are ones which do not feature in MMA. Well as mentioned many times, MMA is not a style of fighting but merely the name of a sport. The sport of Mixed Martial Arts is exactly that. A sport in which one may use a mixture of fighting techniques found in any martial art in order to win, as long as one fights by the rules of the MMA event. Muay Thai and Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, which are both fine arts, make up the majority of many MMA fighters training and the norm is now to think that MMA is a mixture of these two arts only, making every other art traditional and these two, modern martial arts. Well the truth is that Muay Thai has a long history and full of traditions and BJJ has also evolved from other much older arts. Because of this, it is impossible to say that they are modern and others are traditional.

Then there is subject of bowing, meditating and other practises which are found in arts of oriental descent. Many people think that any art that carries outs these methods is a TMA. However, how much different is a bow to a hand shake or a high five. These gestures simply allow practitioners of an art to show respect for each other or to greet one another and however they are carried out, they mean the same thing. Again, is meditation any more different to taking a bath or relaxing in a sauna? They are just simply different ways in which one can relax in a calming, soothing atmosphere without any distractions.

So called traditional and modern martial arts are simply names, given by people who do not really understand the arts they talk about. Close study will clearly show that all martial arts should produce the same outcome, which is a well trained person capable of being aggressive but constantly trying to connect mind and body in order to be a better human being. This is the constant purpose of all martial arts and this is what all martial artists should be constantly trying to strive for.


Marks

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Monday, 24 August 2009

REPOST: The Most Influential Martial Artist Ever


The following is a repost from June 2008. Not many comments where made concerning it and it would be interesting to hear what people think on the subject. Enjoy.

Bruce Lee, Jigoro Kano, Anko Itosu, Morihei Ueshiba. These are just a few names of martial artists that have influenced hundreds and thousands of people through there training. But who is the most influential ever to exist. Who paved the way to how we train today.

Bushi Matsumura is seen by some to be the greatest karate fighter of all time. Without him karate would not have been passed down to Anko Itosu, one of the men responsible in teaching Gichen Funakoshi who then introduced karate to the rest of the world via Japan. Maybe karate would have found another route to the world if there was none of the above three, who knows. This however is what happened and certainly should cement there reputations as great and influential martial arts masters.

Everyone in the martial arts world was stunned back in the 1990’s when Royce Gracie shocked the world by beating nearly all comers with his jiu jitsu techniques. He most surly started the “grappling era”. Grappling was well known before the early UFC but he put it on the map so to speak. A truly influential person. But someone taught him, which was Helio Gracie and someone taught the Gracie’s which was Maeda. You could even say that Jigoro Kano, the person who created the Judo system and from his Kodakan came Maeda, was the man responsible for creating the grappling era. After all, without him, Maeda would not have learnt Judo who passed it on to the Gracie’s and Royce would not have competed in the UFC. There may never have even been a UFC.

The Ancient Greeks created pankration. It is believed that from them, pankration travelled to India via Alexander the Greats conquests. The Indians where then taught the Greeks system of fighting, which travelled to the Shaolin Temple and became known as kung fu and kung fu is said to be the father of all martial arts. Maybe the creators of pankration hold the right as the most influential martial artists of all time.

Bruce Lee has inspired millions. It’s a fact. He has given many people inspiration to become not just great martial artists but great people. For this reason surly he will be known as one of the most influential.

The fact is, it’s impossible to point out the most influential martial artists because there has been so many over time. Many people have proven themselves as great. The common link which they all share however is that they all believe in there own abilities and this should make them great alone regardless of there technical abilities. This could be the reason they inspire and influence so many, and why they shall continue to do so.


Marks

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Saturday, 22 August 2009

Defending the Takedown - Double Underhooks

A while back a video was posted demonstrating a clinch escape by Murilo “Ninja” Rua and Mauricio “Shogun” Rua. These two brothers are excellent MMA fighters with plenty of experience and there videos are testimony to this. Today another video of theirs has been posted which I feel is critical for anyone interested in clinch fighting or grappling.

This video demonstrates the basic but probably most important aspects to remember when defending double underhook takedown attacks.

Getting your hips away from your opponents is top priority. Judo fighters, wrestlers or anyone who practises throws regularly will know that the closer you are to your opponent the more leverage you can obtain and the easier a throw or takedown is. With a space between you and your opponent, it is very hard for them to take you down. Also the simple way to break a double under hook hold as demonstrated in the video has proven to be effective time and time again. It leaves one free and in a good position to either clinch back there opponent, strike or execute a takedown. Enjoy.



Marks

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Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Stepping into Kicks

Defending kicks can be very worrying for some. The leg is heavier and harder than the arm and if hit with it, it can be very painful. For this reason many people prefer to defend kicks by simply stepping away. Stepping away from an opponents kick, although it can be enough to defend the technique is very negative. Most of the time, it does not provide one with a good opportunity to counter and can be seen by some, mentally, as a sign of weakness in spirit.

Stepping into a kick rather, in order to defend it, is always the best option, though it should not always be tried during a fight, as it is very hard to do effectively time and time again. It allows for simultaneous counter strikes from close quarters such as elbows and hooks which can cause large amounts of damage.

Some other advantages of stepping into your opponents kick include,

You avoid the striking surface – Weather it is your opponents shin, or foot, by stepping into your opponents kick your completely avoid it. You must be quick and must always keep your guard up in order to also defend the kicking leg knee, which could make contact.

You catch your opponent when in attacking mode – Most of the time and with many people, when attacking, the thought of defending oneself goes out the window. When a kick is thrown at you and you step inside the kicking leg and simultaneously strike your opponent, chances are, your opponent will not be thinking about defending the counter blow.

You can easily take your opponent down with the strike – Everyone, knows that when standing on one leg, your balance can easily be broken with the slightest of pushes and you can end up on the floor. This is the major disadvantage of kicking. If you strike your opponent hard from a close distance as there leg is off the floor, there is a great chance your opponent will fall. This is great for fighters who prefer grappling on the ground.

You can grab hold of your opponents leg for control – If your strike does not take your opponent down, since your opponents leg is off the floor, if you are quick enough, you can grab hold of it with your non striking arm in order to control your opponent for a possible throw (many can be dangerous from the position) or a continuation of strikes. Knees from this position are extremely effective.

You can easily obtain the clinch – People know when fighting Muay Thai fighters to stay away from the clinch. Thai fighters are great at controlling there opponents head and landing viscous knees. When stepping into your opponents kick, it provides one with a great chance to go for the clinch and start landing in some viscous strikes.

As mentioned, this counter to kicks is hard and requires many hours of practise in order for one to be successful at it. Obviously when starting to learn this counter, start of with your opponent throwing kick’s on the spot without moving around so you can get to grips with it and when you become used to the movement of getting inside, you can try and use it during sparring.


Marks

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Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Clinch Fighting, Knee to the Thigh

The clinch is knee territory. It is a range of fighting where Muay Thai fighters are feared the most for this reason. Normally people think of crushing knee strikes to the ribs or hard blows to the face, but knee strikes can also be thrown towards the thigh and with great results.

Obviously with all techniques, there are little pointers that make the knee to the thigh from the clinch that little more effective. Below are a few of these pointers.

Aim for the teardrop – The teardrop muscle is located on the inner part of the thigh about 3-4 inches above the knee. Obviously any part of the thigh will hurt when struck with a knee strike but here, the pain is felt the most.

Pull your opponent down – Although you are kneeing low towards the thigh, remember to still pull your opponents head down and in as you strike. This will make it harder for him/her to defend the knee strikes and may open up space and opportunities for knees towards the body or face.

Keep throws and takedowns in mind – By kneeing towards the thigh, if successful, you should also take your opponent off balance slightly. If this happens it should be easy for you to take them down using a throw or a takedown. If your aim is to get your opponent down for some ground and pound, then these opportunities should not be missed.

The knee to the thigh from the clinch should be practised during each clinch, especially when you are locked close to your opponent without any room to strike any higher. Use it wisely and with full power each time, rather than as a simple tap, which is how many people use it. If you do this your clinch range fighting shall be feared that little more by your opponents.


Marks

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Thursday, 13 August 2009

A Great Read

Over the past couple of weeks, I have been reading a book by Ralph Robb, entitled Memoirs of a Karate Fighter. It is an exceptional, inspirational and moving book which gives account of Mr Robbs experiences whilst training at the famous YMCA Karate dojo in Wolverhampton, UK during the 1980’s.

The book is a must for anyone who is interested in hearing about how karate training and competition was like during this period in time. For those who have trained with Wado Ryu karate ka in England in the 1970/80’s it should be of exceptional interest as names like Toru Takamizawa, Tatsuo Suzuki and many others crop up allowing for a good read.



Marks

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