Originally Posted by Crash Override
Also I disagree with techniques being silly.
I consider myself a traditional martial artist, though I'd have to be honest enough to say that Karate is more of a pastime than a full-on Budo for me (though it takes many hours of my week, every week). I do understand why people perceive some of the "Traditional" training methods as being "silly", but in the main I've found it's a perception born out of a lack of understanding of the history of many of the TMAs.
Arts such as Karate were traditionally taught in Japan as a form of exercise, because that was the aspect in which Gichin Funakoshi was primarily interested. Furthermore Funakoshi was a pacifist and did not wish to encourage any form of fighting. So the exercises in Karate build up from a very, very basic training curriculum of kicks, steps, blocks and punches. A practitioner can spend years doing just this, and in real terms the skills he or she learns in the first year would be less useful in self-defence than a good pair of Nike runners.
Sadly many people who reach Black Belt level quit real training and open their own clubs, passing on their limited knowledge in a way which ensures that anything useful the art has to offer never gets passed on. I've seen "McDojo" clubs (Karate and other TMAs) where nobody training in the hall had gone beyond "beginner" skill levels (all techniques fall short of the target, no fluidity in movement, no discernible power being generated etc) even though many wore black belts. Kumite (fighting drills) in such clubs are performed in such a manner as to appear "silly" to anyone who has ever seen a street fight in progress, and many of the practitioners simply don't understand that their efforts are no more than aerobically beneficial.
I do still enjoy the practising of kata, as it really is the heart of the art. The benefit of kata is not so much that it teaches you to fight
(it may help
, but only in a very, very minor
sense). Rather I find that kata provides a means of building your focus, improving your balance and speed, and if taught correctly the kata holds a library of drills which can be practised separately to apply your karate for self-defence purposes. The trick is to find an instructor who bothered to find decent drills in the kata, and then includes these in regular training. All too few clubs do that. Many of the bunkai (applications) that are taught are very simplistic interpretations which require a fascinating level of cooperation by the attacker, a point which is often missed while practising these drills.
Now back to the theme of this thread. If a MA is taught honestly and trained diligently then the practitioner should be better able to defend themselves than they were prior to training. If, like myself, you are relatively small and light, then your self-defence prowess is naturally less than a stronger, heavier, faster & more aggressive individual, but your MA training can partially compensate for that.
So yes, some TMA training looks silly, and where an instructor cannot go beyond this initial training to teach something worthwhile then it may well be silly. Respect for other MA's is certainly a laudable aspiration, and our Dojo Ku'un demands it, but we should not be afraid to call it for what it is when it's clear that a student has been duped into learning nothing more than the basic movements of an art and told that this will work in a real life-threatening situation. I'd opt for the Nike runners nine times out of ten!
Be at peace,