T Nation

Martial Arts Philosophy

I am interested in learning about how people practice martial arts on a rational level.

What are the “truths” of combat?

I guess that depends on which discipline you are training.

Only thing I can really say after having done a little bit of tong long is that martial arts are more about controlling every part of you ( that is mind body and spirit), whereas boxing is more focused on training the body.

Martial Arts were developed for combat/war/defense. I learn them for self defense.

In the ring it’s different story, but I have no desire to compete.

The number one truth of learning martial arts, is that it is less about fighting, and more about personal development.

[quote]borrek wrote:
The number one truth of learning martial arts, is that it is less about fighting, and more about personal development.[/quote]

For me this is true. I love the physical aspect of it, but where I’ve found the most reward is in how training has taught me to overcome fear, pain, exhaustion, & self-doubt.

The “truth” of martial arts is that its the crucible that shows you what you’re made of, and what you can become.

[quote]Miss Parker wrote:
borrek wrote:
The number one truth of learning martial arts, is that it is less about fighting, and more about personal development.

For me this is true. I love the physical aspect of it, but where I’ve found the most reward is in how training has taught me to overcome fear, pain, exhaustion, & self-doubt.

The “truth” of martial arts is that its the crucible that shows you what you’re made of, and what you can become.

[/quote]

This is so true.

In judo, I loved the day when I got choked and realized that I wasn’t in a panic, but had overcome it, and could calm down and think about how to get out of it.

If a martial arts philosophy is to be complete it should encompass all combat. I also include the general idea of warfare into the ideas of martial arts.

Boxing is no less a martial art than say learning to use a stick.

There are general truths we can make in regard to all forms of combat.

I am trying to understand combat as it relates to the interaction of individuals or groups of individuals actively engaged in a struggle with each other where the ultimate goal is either submission or annihilation.

Some people are just driven to it. It’s like how some guys grow up wanting to be cops or scientists or politicians- some of us are just born to fight.

I got into martial arts at a real young age. I was a small kid who got into fights constantly, so my old man figured I should go learn karate so I knew what I was doing. I took Goju-ryu for a long time, and was a green belt by the time I left.

I stayed out of the shit for a long time, but still always managed to have physical confrontations in one way or another.

It was really those Fight science shows that made me remember how much I loved the stuff. Combine that with an interest in boxing that started a couple years ago, as well as starting back up in Goju-ryu and working in BJJ, and that’s where I’m at.

At this point, boxing has taken over my life. I watch it constantly, I practice constantly, etc., and have again left goju-ryu. To me, there’s nothing better than two individuals who are the finest athletes on the planet having to stand in and duke it out.

I hated karate tournaments where you had to half ass because you couldn’t hit the guy hard- I guess I never quite understood fighting without fighting.

I think Xen said it once (and best)- everything in sports relates to a fight. You spike a ball after a touchdown, you’re asserting dominance. You dunk over a guy, you’re asserting dominance. If guys start poppin off about this or that while you’re playing, the ultimate decider of who is more dominant is a fight. So really, I just like stripping away all of the bullshit bravado and watching two guys bang out for is truly the tougher guy.

It’s about a lot of other things, too. Its about learning that yes, this shit can happen to you. It’s about being humbled, and knowing that there are times when you’ve been so gassed that the other guy could have ended your life, and you could not have stopped him. It’s about facing mortality… and nothing makes you realize quicker that you can die than being trapped in a triangle and starting to black out because the air is gone.

I’m not much for the spiritual stuff, though. I box and train for self defense, because I like knowing that I can handle myself. I don’t do it for the competition, because I’ve never “competed” per se… but it’s just important for me to know what I’m capable of. I’ve had enough physical confrontations that I know that this is something that I need to live, and I’ve seen enough bad, bad shit to know that I need the training.

What it comes down to, for me, is this: I’m not a violent person. I abhor fighting, and hate getting into those situations. I hate the adrenaline rush, I hate the nerves, I hate the shaking hands. I hate pissing contests, and I don’t like big mouths. I hate it.

I’m not much for hardass talk, but I’m serious when I say this- I know that when someone pushes me to the point where I have to act, I know that when I stand up to fight, I will rip their fucking eyes out. It’s not a question, and I know what I’m capable of. That’s why I do this shit. All the other shit don’t matter that much.

i just like to hurt people…

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
If a martial arts philosophy is to be complete it should encompass all combat. I also include the general idea of warfare into the ideas of martial arts.

Boxing is no less a martial art than say learning to use a stick.

There are general truths we can make in regard to all forms of combat.

I am trying to understand combat as it relates to the interaction of individuals or groups of individuals actively engaged in a struggle with each other where the ultimate goal is either submission or annihilation.[/quote]

I don’t know if you realize this but, you started off this thread saying you wanted to learn about martial arts philosophy in your first post, yet here you are in your second telling us what it is in the narrowest of terms.

If you really want to learn you should think about that.

Here is some philosophy for you. Humility is the quality of being teachable. You can’t taste my tea if your cup is still full of your tea.

The ability to defend yourself is probably the most thing you can get from learning martial arts. But you are mistaken if you think that self defense is solely about combat.

Self defense begins long before the first kick or punch is ever thrown. If you ever actually have to throw a kick or punch in self defense you have failed at the most basic level of self defense. Which is not getting yourself into that position in the first place.

A true master never has to use his skills for combat because he knows how to avoid it. He uses the art of fighting without fighting.

[quote]Sifu wrote:
I don’t know if you realize this but, you started off this thread saying you wanted to learn about martial arts philosophy in your first post, yet here you are in your second telling us what it is in the narrowest of terms.

If you really want to learn you should think about that. [/quote]

No, I did not state what I think martial arts is just that I think the “picture must be more complete”. Was this an incorrect assumption?

I stated I am interested in the ideas people have specifically with respect to the engagement of individuals or groups of individuals. I did not want to limit the discussion simply to how people practice fighting styles nor did I want this thread to get into a pissing contest about what constitutes a martial art and what does not, though I recognize people will have their own opinions on the subject.

[quote]
The ability to defend yourself is probably the most thing you can get from learning martial arts. But you are mistaken if you think that self defense is solely about combat.

Self defense begins long before the first kick or punch is ever thrown. If you ever actually have to throw a kick or punch in self defense you have failed at the most basic level of self defense. Which is not getting yourself into that position in the first place.

A true master never has to use his skills for combat because he knows how to avoid it. He uses the art of fighting without fighting. [/quote]

I agree with this. This is more what I had in mind about the philosophy of martial arts.

I have often heard the phrase: “The best defense is a strong offense.” Is this line of reasoning compatible with marital arts philosophy?

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Sifu wrote:
I don’t know if you realize this but, you started off this thread saying you wanted to learn about martial arts philosophy in your first post, yet here you are in your second telling us what it is in the narrowest of terms.

If you really want to learn you should think about that.

No, I did not state what I think martial arts is just that I think the “picture must be more complete”. Was this an incorrect assumption? [/quote]

You did focus in on combat. I just wanted to point out that actual combat is just one aspect of self defense. There is a bigger picture of self defense where other skills come in, like situational awareness or knowing how to interact with people.

A lot of people get into problems because they are just not aware of what is going on around them. A lot of people go around in a state of consciousness where they are awake but they really don’t know what the hell is going on around them. They are the kind of people who would walk into a propeller or walk in front of a jet engines intake on an aircraft carrier.

Or they will be sitting at a red light and not looking around to see if someone is sneaking around their car about to carjack them. I recently watched a Krav Maga video on youtube about how to defend against a carjacking and it started out with the guy sat in a car with a gun pointed at him. If you begin your car jacking defense at that point you have already done fucked up.

When I am driving through Detroit my carjacking defense at a traffic light can begin a half mile or more up the road. I don’t floor it up to red lights then slam on the brakes so I am stopped there immobile. I try to time lights so I don’t get stopped at them. Or if I do get stopped at a light I don’t thoughtlessly pull right up to the bumper of the car ahead of me so that I could not throw my wheel over and jump a curb and get out of there. I leave room so I have something to work with. I’ll watch the rear view mirror to see if the car speeding along behind me is going to stop.

You need to be aware and constantly practice reading your surroundings so it becomes second nature.

[quote]
I stated I am interested in the ideas people have specifically with respect to the engagement of individuals or groups of individuals. I did not want to limit the discussion simply to how people practice fighting styles nor did I want this thread to get into a pissing contest about what constitutes a martial art and what does not, though I recognize people will have their own opinions on the subject. [/quote]

Opinions on martial arts can be very strong and this forum can get real stupid about it. I’ll try to do my part to avoid that so we can try to have an intelligent discussion for a change. Instead of the usual my style is better than your style pissing match that some of us are really hung up on.

The constant pissing matches have overwhelmed the sharing of important concepts and it has been really unnecessary. ie I think that your average level practitioner who has spent some time studying mixed martial arts, learned some strikes, joint locks and been knocked around a bit is probably someone you don’t want to pick a fight with just for shits and giggles.

So when I point out something about mixed martial arts I am not at all trying to say that it is no good or my style is better than that style. I am just trying to get beyond the hype and get people to see that if you want to have a well rounded street self defense there are some things think about.

Ultimately what is more important than any particular style is your understanding of it.

[quote]
The ability to defend yourself is probably the most thing you can get from learning martial arts. But you are mistaken if you think that self defense is solely about combat.

Self defense begins long before the first kick or punch is ever thrown. If you ever actually have to throw a kick or punch in self defense you have failed at the most basic level of self defense. Which is not getting yourself into that position in the first place.

A true master never has to use his skills for combat because he knows how to avoid it. He uses the art of fighting without fighting.

I agree with this. This is more what I had in mind about the philosophy of martial arts.

I have often heard the phrase: “The best defense is a strong offense.” Is this line of reasoning compatible with marital arts philosophy? [/quote]

Mike Tyson is a great example of that philosophy. He would use extreme aggression to get his opponent off of his game. Good fighting spirit comes is a staple of martial arts.

Having said that, when you have a guy who is not going to be intimidated by you and not allow you to put him off of his game like that you have to have a plan B. Otherwise your offense is going to get you into trouble.

Here is one of the best examples I have ever seen of being totally calm, collected and not allowing extreme aggression from a scary looking dude affect the game plan. This video is best watched from the beginning.

http://www.myvideo.de/watch/2403240/MMA_Aleksander_Emelianenko_vs_James_Thomson

My personal philosophy of martial arts is

-train hard
-don’t waste anyone’s time
-Remember that your training partners are their to train with not against
-Remember that there is always someone bigger, stronger, faster, younger or more technically proficient
-Remember that (at least) 90% of claims made in martial arts are bullshit
-If training makes you harder to beat up, or less likely to end up in a streetfight, then great, but the real reason to train is because you enjoy training.
-Wash your gi and cut your nails!

[quote]Sifu wrote:
Here is one of the best examples I have ever seen of being totally calm, collected and not allowing extreme aggression from a scary looking dude affect the game plan. This video is best watched from the beginning.
[/quote]

Emelianenko is scary calm.

Before a beginner even starts training what should he understand besides what you have already stated above?

[quote]Cockney Blue wrote:
My personal philosophy of martial arts is

-train hard
-don’t waste anyone’s time
-Remember that your training partners are their to train with not against
-Remember that there is always someone bigger, stronger, faster, younger or more technically proficient
-Remember that (at least) 90% of claims made in martial arts are bullshit
-If training makes you harder to beat up, or less likely to end up in a streetfight, then great, but the real reason to train is because you enjoy training.
-Wash your gi and cut your nails![/quote]

^^ “truths” of combat right there! ^^

Is the rest of this philosophy necessary? I reckon a lot people go along to martial arts and don’t realise they have to engage in philosophy and spirituality. I think it can be quite insidious- I had to study aspects of philosophy and spirituality to pass gradings in TKD. It felt like I had to do that stuff before they would teach me to fight (turned out there was no learning to fight at any point, but that’s another story!). If I want to engage in spiritual and philosophical study (and I do, theology is a passion of mine) I’ll do it on my own time, when I pay for martial arts I want to learn how to fight.

There are a couple of basic philosophies in BJJ that make a lot of sense.

Take the fight to the area that you have the greatest advantage over the other guy. This can mean the BJJ guy taking the boxer down to take him out of his element or one BJJ guy using the strength of his whole body against the arm of another.

The way you train is the way that you will behave in a stress situation, that is why rolling is so important.

Positional control before submission attempt.

Their is a hierarchy of positions, you should be constantly striving to climb the hierarchy until you are at a point where you can use your advantages against their weaknesses to finish the fight.

I like that.

Everyone deserves a base level of respect. Smaller, older, younger, weaker, less skilled, tired, etc. Give people respect and you will stay safer in training and probably life.

[quote]Cockney Blue wrote:
There are a couple of basic philosophies in BJJ that make a lot of sense.

Take the fight to the area that you have the greatest advantage over the other guy. This can mean the BJJ guy taking the boxer down to take him out of his element or one BJJ guy using the strength of his whole body against the arm of another.

The way you train is the way that you will behave in a stress situation, that is why rolling is so important.

Positional control before submission attempt.

Their is a hierarchy of positions, you should be constantly striving to climb the hierarchy until you are at a point where you can use your advantages against their weaknesses to finish the fight.
[/quote]

This seems to borrow from Jeet Kune Do principles, am I mistaken? I am very interested in Bruce Lee’s philosophy.

I especially like his take on competitive fighting.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Cockney Blue wrote:
There are a couple of basic philosophies in BJJ that make a lot of sense.

Take the fight to the area that you have the greatest advantage over the other guy. This can mean the BJJ guy taking the boxer down to take him out of his element or one BJJ guy using the strength of his whole body against the arm of another.

The way you train is the way that you will behave in a stress situation, that is why rolling is so important.

Positional control before submission attempt.

Their is a hierarchy of positions, you should be constantly striving to climb the hierarchy until you are at a point where you can use your advantages against their weaknesses to finish the fight.

This seems to borrow from Jeet Kune Do principles, am I mistaken? I am very interested in Bruce Lee’s philosophy.

I especially like his take on competitive fighting.[/quote]

More likely the other way round. BJJ was around before Bruce Lee and it was based on the ideas of the original Judo guys a hell of a long time before Bruce.

[quote]LIFTICVSMAXIMVS wrote:
Sifu wrote:
Here is one of the best examples I have ever seen of being totally calm, collected and not allowing extreme aggression from a scary looking dude affect the game plan. This video is best watched from the beginning.

Emelianenko is scary calm. [/quote]

I love that video. The first time I saw it I didn’t know who the Emilianenko brothers were. There was Thompson all buff and trying to look real scary. Then there was Emilianenko covered in gang tattoos and not as buff but he is just not the least bit impressed with Thompson to the point he looks like he is about to yawn. Then afterwards they were trying not to laugh. That video is awesome.

Before a beginner even starts training what should he understand besides what you have already stated above? [/quote]

That is a good question. Probably the most important thing with martial arts techniques is that usually the most effective ones are the ones that are basic. Simplicity can make a technique brutally effective. ie An elbow is the simplest upper body strike that you can do, but you could kill someone with that fairly quickly. A knee is the simplest kick but again someone could be deadly with that fairly quickly.

But a common statement I have heard from students over the years is “I want to learn advanced techniques”. A lot of people equate complexity as being better. It looks cool when Sensei is demonstrating it, but when the shit hits the fan complex motor skills can seriously deteriorate. It’s the basics that will see you through.

So that is why I really like about the system I have studied because the movements have been simplified and the body positioning we use is much more natural for Humans. We aren’t trying to imitate exotic critters like the Kung fu styles do.

When I see people doing demos on TV and they are doing super complicated acrobatic stuff where they have to take a running start and wind up to go airborne then spin and twist contort themselves, I can’t help but think there is no way you could pull that off if someone was trying to kick your ass while you are trying to get airborne.

While it can be useful to have that kind of athleticism some things should stay in the dojo.