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    A little while back, a discussion arose in a different thread where the question of the value of
    martial arts training versus individual natural prowess came up as a peripheral issue. After
    a time, the discussion went elsewhere. Yet the peripheral issue they raised is an interesting
    one for me, and I suspect there's a range of opinion on the matter.

    To state my qualifications (such as they are) to debate this issue, I've got black belts
    (instructor status) in WTF tae kwon do and in jiu jutsu. I've trained in Shotokan karate
    and in Japanese sword arts (e.g., iaido and kendo). I've also trained in western fencing
    (foil and saber). I like individual exercise and competition, where the real test is against
    your own limitations; martial arts of various sorts seem ideal, given my mindset.

    I do a lot of teaching of beginners up to low grades of black belt. This entails instructing
    people in the mechanics of kicking and punching efficiently, and in the principles of
    efficient, balanced movement. There's also a lot of free sparring, where I have to teach
    people to put the pieces together, devise strategies and tactics that work for them, etc.
    The sparring can be dangerous even with protective equipment. (The worst injury I've ever
    received in such activities was a broken tibia. Ouch.)

    People get better with practice and experience. There's no question about it. Part of it is
    better technique; part is improved flexibility and fitness; part is learning what works for them.

    However, every martial arts instructor knows that some people are a lot better than others
    from the beginning. They just seem to have picked things up from observation and intuition.
    And they may have naturally good footwork, and pick up the idea of critical distance in
    almost no time. In short, some people are just naturally gifted in such activities. Think of
    musical or mathematical or artistic prodigies. It's the same notion, even though the specific
    gifts are different.

    These are the guys (and girls) who come in as white belts and kick the butts of the green
    and purple and blue belts. It happens. And they, too, get better as they are taught. So I'd
    restate the original premise of one of the people in the earlier discussion by claiming that it
    isn't the martial arts experience so much as the person. A highly trained martial artist has
    refined and polished his natural abilities to the utmost. A natural martial artist may come
    close to equaling or surpassing him with virtually no instruction.

    It's not the style or the training, in short. It's the individual.

    How many bad movies, TV shows, and books have been written that seem to hold out
    martial arts training as some sort of mystical "secret" knowledge that imparts near-
    supernatural abilities? Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, which had its entertaining
    aspects, was one such fantasy. I remember watching the movie with my wife (a blue belt
    in TKD). There's one sequence in the movie where it's revealed that the villainess acquired
    her extraordinary martial abilities by stealing the secret martial arts manual of the Wu Dong
    Mountain school.

    My wife laughed at this and said, "If only it was that easy!"

    Indeed.

    LSN

  • #2
    ::::BOWS::::

    Well said Sensei.



    http://www.hakuda.com/main.htm

    Comment


    • #3
      We've had some discussions of martial arts in other threads, and I've seen
      this idea come up a few times, so I thought I'd make a few general observations.

      There is a mythology of sorts that surrounds various martial arts -- I'm thinking
      particularly of various wu shu (often misleadingly termed "kung fu"), karate, and
      hapkido, and the fighting method employed in ninjitsu (basically, it's tai jutsu,
      which is to say it's a variant of the collection of styles known as jiu jutsu).

      This mythology seems to rest on 2 central tenets, both of which I will assert are
      false.

      The first tenet, to which I alluded in an earlier post in this thread, is that by studying
      a particular style, one may obtain "secret knowledge" of a sort that makes one
      unbeatable in some near-mystical manner.

      The second tenet is that the training that goes with that supposedly "secret knowledge"
      imparts near supernatural abilities, or at least abilities far beyond those of other
      humans. Claims that people can jump 10 feet straight up, or practically fly, are
      examples I have actually seen and heard asserted.

      When I hear these sorts of claims, I theorize that (1) the person making the claims is
      extremely credulous, and someone has taken them in, or (2) they're given to hyperbole,
      or (3) they're trying to snow me, and think I am credulous.

      Martial arts training is comprised of 3 components, which are to varying degrees
      physical, intellectual, and psychological.

      The psychological component is the easiest to describe, and the most difficult to
      quantify. The person must learn to control strong emotion when in a stress
      situation, and must be trained to observe and act appropriately in such situations.
      This is one of the greatest values of training, and it's unfortunately harder to teach
      than most of the other components.

      The intellectual aspect is the technical aspects of all the things one must learn.
      These include vocabulary in a foreign language (Chinese, Japanese, Korean, etc),
      long strings of choreographed moves (kata, poomse / hyung, hand sets), the
      essential biomechanical features of kicks, strikes, throws, locks, etc. When one
      has reached the level of "expert" in a martial style, one knows all the fundamentals
      of this sort, and can teach it to beginners. (Academic teaching experience is also
      helpful, I've found.) The intellectual aspect of an art is paradoxically the "easiest"
      to learn; it just takes time and application.

      The purely physical aspect is that the body must be conditioned to perform the
      various maneuvers and actions of the art with speed, balance, and control, and
      this must be combined with a considerable amount of physical endurance. Hard
      styles, such as karate, tae kwon do, and various wu shu styles require that the
      person be conditioned nearly to the level of a professional athlete. This takes
      years. It's also why it's easiest to teach people an art by starting when they're
      children.

      Most styles I've referred to here combine pretty conventional approaches to
      physical conditioning (e.g., push ups and sit-ups) with some training procedure
      that's peculiar to that style. It's not always an efficient means to the end, either.
      In my own experience, heavy weight training, sprinting, and distance running,
      as well as jump training (for basketball or track) are often more efficacious, and
      certainly more scientific than some of the traditional approaches.

      The result is that a trained martial artist can do a lot of things that an untrained person
      cannot. However, one mustn't go overboard on this particular point. Martial artists,
      no matter how good, and no matter how physically gifted, are not capable of any
      physical feat beyond those performed at the world record level of physical accomplishment.
      They can't outjump the records of Mike Powell or Javier Sotomayer. The can't run
      faster than Maurice Greene, or pole vault better than Sergei Bubka. If they could,
      their respective countries would be putting them in the Olympics -- particularly
      in places like China. If they could jump 15 feet straight up, they'd be putting on
      exhibitions, and there'd be extensive documentation, as well as a record in places
      like Guinness's Book of World Records.

      There are no such records, or such documentation. On the contrary, some claims
      over the decades, when investigated, were found to be "exaggerated."

      So if someone tells you they know a martial artist who can perform some extraordinary
      feat, don't accept their word for it. If you really want to be sure, go see for yourself.
      Be aware that a certain amount of trickery has been known to be employed in some
      demos that I know of.

      The short message is, don't be credulous; seek proof.

      PWV (Kirk) may have a viewpoint on this topic. He's got a fair amount of
      experience in this sort of thing, too. I teach this stuff, but don't take my
      word for it, either.

      LSN

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by LSN
        The result is that a trained martial artist can do a lot of things that an untrained person cannot.
        This is where I would expound a bit. Many of the things well-trained matrial arts masters can do are simply AMAZING to the untrained person. Watch Jackie Chan -- he does things that are clearly humanly possible, but to many people seem impossible. I've seen Chinese performing troupes do things that made me sit there going 8O.

        Master Park, my Tae Kwon Do instructor, had a knack for saying he was going to perform some demonstration and having the entire class claiming it couldn't be done. Then he'd do it.

        An example: he made two large loops of sewing thread and hung them from the index fingers of a couple students. He then rested upon the loops of thread a stack of two one-inch pine boards. He told us he was going to break the boards with a knife-hand strike without breaking the thread. As everyone shook their heads in disbelief, he did just as he said. The wood broke, the thread did not. Freaking amazing!

        Amazing, but possible. Little five-foot tall ninja choking out a six-foot lummox without sound? Totally possible. Same little ninja jumping fifteen feet straight up in the air to flee the scene? Not at all possible. Ninja running eight feet up a tree on hooked shoes in order to clear a high wall? Doable. It's all in the Physics.

        Originally posted by LSN
        So if someone tells you they know a martial artist who can perform some extraordinary feat, don't accept their word for it. If you really want to be sure, go see for yourself.
        In the above looped-thread example, I did see it for myself, which was fortunate for me. Those reading this post may still think, PWV's full of crap. That breaking feat can't be done. No one's that fast. (And they'd be within their rights to feel that way until they saw it first-hand.)

        Originally posted by LSN
        Be aware that a certain amount of trickery has been known to be employed in some demos that I know of.
        :lol: This is VERY true, even in Master Park's dojang. One time, a friend of Master Park's by the name of Master Lee told us he was going to break a one-inch pine board with a rolled-up newspaper. We're all, of course, doubtful. Then he proceeds to break a board with a rolled up newspaper and again, we're all 8O. He then revealed that it was a trick...

        ...he'd had two fingers inside the newspaper! Ha ha ha! He's laughing. We were still 8O, thinking, he broke a board with two frigging fingers!

        So, yeah. Martial Arts has inspired human beings to perform amazing feats, but it hasn't created any superheroes. Humans still cannot fly by their own volition.

        Michelle Yeoh can balance a tray of tofu on her foot directly above her head, but then again, so can any Olympic gymnast.

        There is a difference between extraordinary and impossible.

        Only Bruce Lee could do the impossible!
        "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
        --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by TheAdlerian
          This is why some yogis will do things like hang weights from their penis (thus ruining it). They want to show that they don’t need it.
          Or at least that they don't concern themselves with the pain or with the destruction of their sex organs.

          Master Park also used to perform pain-control demonstrations, lifting buckets of water attached to his forearm by what looked like half-penny nails! The point was to demonstrate that with right thinking, pain is nothing more than an impulse which can be controlled.
          "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
          --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by PsychicWarVeteran
            . . .

            Master Park, my Tae Kwon Do instructor, had a knack for saying he was going to perform some demonstration and having the entire class claiming it couldn't be done. Then he'd do it.

            An example: he made two large loops of sewing thread and hung them from the index fingers of a couple students. He then rested upon the loops of thread a stack of two one-inch pine boards. He told us he was going to break the boards with a knife-hand strike without breaking the thread. As everyone shook their heads in disbelief, he did just as he said. The wood broke, the thread did not. Freaking amazing!
            These sorts of things are often called "speed breaks." I've had to do them,
            and many others have been required to do them, too. If you rely mostly on
            power in your approach, it takes some "unlearning" to do these things.

            Speed breaks with the hands are generally easier to master than those with
            the feet. I had to do a speed break with a spinning hook kick once (dit dolyo
            chagi). It took me a week of practice to master the technique. It's a different
            approach, somewhat analogous to pulling a table cloth out from under the
            dinnerware, and leaving everything on the table, unbroken.

            Originally posted by PWV

            . . . It's all in the Physics.

            Originally posted by LSN
            So if someone tells you they know a martial artist who can perform some extraordinary feat, don't accept their word for it. If you really want to be sure, go see for yourself.
            In the above looped-thread example, I did see it for myself, which was fortunate for me. Those reading this post may still think, PWV's full of crap. That breaking feat can't be done. No one's that fast. (And they'd be within their rights to feel that way until they saw it first-hand.)
            I've seen stuff like this. My teacher is better at the showmanship aspect of this than
            me -- I regard breaking as a necessary evil in TKD. Still, it can be learned. Even I've
            done this sort of thing, although not the same precise maneuver you describe.

            For a demo a few weeks ago, we broke stacked concrete slabs with our hands.
            People thought it was a big deal. The speed breaks are tougher, trust me. Practice
            and technique -- and mindset, too. If you tense up and try "too hard," it won't
            work, because it'll slow the technique down.

            Originally posted by PWV
            . . .
            Michelle Yeoh can balance a tray of tofu on her foot directly above her head, but then again, so can any Olympic gymnast.
            She's an ex-ballerina of professional-level training and competence. Jackie Chan
            taught her what she needed to know in the way of wu shu over a series of her
            first several films.

            She definitely got a nice in-to-out crescent kick. I teach my students to do it
            her way -- when they're able!

            Originally posted by PWV

            There is a difference between extraordinary and impossible.
            Understanding the difference is the crux of the matter.

            Thanks, Kirk.

            LSN

            Comment


            • #7
              Japanese sword arts (e.g., iaido and kendo).
              Frankly, you kick ass. I want to learn kendo so bad it hurts, but there are no kendo dojos anywhere near me. I'd have to travel, at the least, a few hours to get to one. It's very depressing. Plus, I'm broke right now and kendo isn't exactly a cheap hobby. It's very frustrating.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Danisty
                Japanese sword arts (e.g., iaido and kendo).
                Frankly, you kick ass. I want to learn kendo so bad it hurts, but there are no kendo dojos anywhere near me. I'd have to travel, at the least, a few hours to get to one. It's very depressing. Plus, I'm broke right now and kendo isn't exactly a cheap hobby. It's very frustrating.
                Kendo is great. My nearly-15 year old daughter loves it, and I think it's
                pretty good, too. (My wife thinks it's kind of scary, because when we charge
                with the sword, we deliver a blood-curdling scream, and my teacher and I have
                the loudest kiai ever heard. :-] Of course, that's more her personal reaction than
                an impartial judgement.)

                Where do you live? I can check the kendo school registry for the U.S. to see if there's
                a reasonably priced dojo anywhere near you. I'm sure you've checked, but sometimes,
                these guys don't really advertise -- they do it as a public service, which (in my personal
                opinion) is the best way to do it.

                As for the price, the thing that makes it expensive is the equipment. However,
                there's a couple of factors for you to consider in this:

                - Kendo instruction starts you with the wooden practice sword (bokken). These are
                very inexpensive -- I buy them for my students for around $4 apiece. This is used
                to teach you how to handle the sword correctly, sometimes to do kata, and
                as a conditioning tool for the hands and wrists. (The sword swing is mostly
                in the wrists.)

                - When you've passed your first test, you move to the bamboo kendo sword,
                called a shinai. This is actually lighter and faster than the bokken, and it's
                got slightly different balance from either the bokken or the daito (live sword).
                This is the primary weapon. It costs around $20, the last time I bought one.

                - When you get to the point that you engage in bouts, you need protective body
                armor. This is really expensive, but a lot of dojos have loaner armor, or used armor
                that you can purchase at a discount. You need to talk to the sensei of the dojo.
                My own teacher was so reasonable about this aspect that you'd be somewhat
                surprised.

                - A uniform (hakama) must be obtained at some point, but many teachers will let you work
                out in sweat pants and a sweat shirt.

                - Kendo is done barefoot. If you have problems with your feet, you should consider
                arch braces from the beginning. Plantar fascia woes are all too common.

                - It can be hard exercise. If you don't exercise regularly, take it slowly at first.
                You'll get in shape quickly enough. I watch new students all the time for those
                who don't understand their limits. People overdo it, get light-headed, and
                can keel over if the teacher doesn't pay attention.

                - If there's someplace close where you can go, try it out.

                I'm going to make a categorical statement now, and it's one where I'm sure
                exceptions can be found. The statement: be careful about commercial martial
                arts academies. They're in business to make money, and that sometimes gets
                in the way of teaching the student. I've known exceptions to this statement,
                as I said above, but always trust your instincts when you go to talk to these
                people the first time. I learned kendo in the evenings at one of the local
                Buddhist temples. It was taught as a cultural adjunct, because many of the
                communicants of the temple were ethnic Japanese. However, there were
                a lot of undeniably European-types like me, too. (I'm half-French, but
                I'm 194 cm tall and blond, and people often seem to think I'm German.
                Having one grandparent from Strasbourg doesn't make me German. )
                So if there's a local Buddhist temple, that's a good place to look for instruction.

                I should add that learning kendo or naginata-jitsu is a lot of fun, but like any
                martial art, it takes time. I recall what my teacher told us when, before the
                first practice session, one of my new classmates asked if there was anything
                we should bring with us. "Just your dedication," he replied. Indeed.

                If you can find a good kendo dojo nearby, they'll be able to tell you about the
                nearest iaido instruction available. Iaido is less popular than kendo, and has
                a slightly different appeal. Kendo is tough and competitive. Iaido puts lots
                of emphasis on the mental approach and precision of the technique, and
                one doesn't (generally) bout with swords. I refuse to admit whether I've
                ever actually done so.

                I would be perfectly happy to teach anyone in this forum that was interested, and
                do it for free, if it were practical (as long as I could recruit PWV to help). I don't charge
                for teaching TKD as it is. Unfortunately, we're not a physical community, but an electronic
                one. Thus, all I can offer is encouragement, so: Good luck.

                LSN

                Comment


                • #9
                  Martial Art, Sport, and Combat

                  Another thing to bear in mind about Martial Arts training is "What is the focus and intent of the art"?

                  Most dojos teach a martial art and state it is for self-defense but more often than not the focus is personal control, fitness, and coordination than combat ability.

                  For instance I remember a story about a woman in Texas who was a 2nd Dan in Tae Kwon Do and when she was mugged, do you know what she did?

                  She beat the guy with her purse. I don't think they taught that in the dojo :).

                  And there's nothing wrong with focusing on the more fitness or personal based aspects of martial arts, as long as the concept is clear. People who say "I have a black belt in [name a martial art]" and think they're ready for a real fight may find themselves on the bad end of the conflict, even if they are fighting a common brawler. The focus of the form determines its use. Is it an art? a sport? or a combat style?

                  But I must admit a bias when it comes to martial arts training, because when I began learning (and informally I might add, since I was too poor to join a dojo when I was younger) it was to protect myself on the street. A lived in a nasty area of Portland, Oregon and learned through practice, books, and a few friends who were well-versed in other forms (one of my friends was a second degree black belt in Jeet Kune Do), I sort of cobbled together something that would work for me. I drew from sources such as Pancratium, Chin Na, Jeet Kune Do, Aikijutsu, and also weapons training (I've trained independently and been a member of the SCA).

                  I knew I wasn't the type to learn any of the highly energetic forms, especially those that relied on kicking and fast foot work, so instead I focused my energies on my strengths; physical size and bulk, strength, and toughness.

                  And that is one of the most important aspects of martial arts, which has already been mentioned; martial arts is a very personal thing, and if you find something that works for you, you'll be better off.

                  And again as it has already been said, the mind is just as if not more important than the body in martial arts. With a focused will and intelligence, people can do things that seem amazing to those that aren't versed in the martial arts. From denying physical pain to holding your ground against a charge from a much larger opponent, it's more mind than body.

                  But one other myth in the martial arts is "a smaller person can easily defeat a larger, stronger opponent through sheer skill and will." Well, this can be true, but what if the bigger, stronger person you are fighting is also skilled in martial arts? Skill can help bridge the gap, but it isn't the end all, be all.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    ElricJColvill made a lot of good points, none of which I disagree with. In passing, he dropped
                    a comment about SCA which I was meaning to mention in connection with Danisty's post.

                    SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) has, as part of their activities, simulated medieval
                    warfare. Some of these guys really know how to use their weapons. I recall that the late
                    Paul Zimmer (Marion Zimmer Bradley's younger brother, the author of a few fantasy books,
                    and a generally nice fellow) used to teach people in the SCA near Berkeley about the rudiments
                    of using the sword. Mr. Zimmer was basically teaching them kenjutsu, based on his expertise
                    in iaido and kendo, if memory serves. That struck me at the time as a wonderful application
                    of the skills he learned, applied in a laboratory where people were actually trying to lay one
                    another out with their weapons.

                    The point I'm circling around here (in sort of lame fashion) is that if someone like Danisty
                    wants to learn to handle a sword, and kendo or iaido instruction isn't available, they might
                    check out their local SCA (if there is one) and see if they've got a resident "sword master."
                    This sort of training would be very helpful if one later goes to a more "formal" martial art.
                    Trust me, if you teach martial arts, you can tell who has "experience" even in a different
                    style. It can't be hidden.

                    As I'm wont to tell my students, it doesn't matter where you learn something. That you've
                    learned anything is the important thing. If one wishes simply to obtain a belt, those can
                    be purchased without the effort, sweat, and (sometimes) blood that you pay in learning
                    a martial art.

                    Thanks, ElricJColvill. You ought to join the forum. Your perspective here was valuable.

                    LSN

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Martial Art, Sport, and Combat

                      Originally posted by ElricJColvill
                      Another thing to bear in mind about Martial Arts training is "What is the focus and intent of the art"?

                      Most dojos teach a martial art and state it is for self-defense but more often than not the focus is personal control, fitness, and coordination than combat ability..
                      This remark strikes me as very astute, and it's one of the things that tells me ElricJColvill
                      has thought about this issue pretty thoroughly.

                      He's right. The way martial arts are taught, and their consequent focus, varies from place
                      to place and instructor to instructor. What also varies is the students' motivations.

                      I lead warmups for my class before we get started, and while we're down on the floor,
                      doing splits and such, I'll sometimes cross examine the students. A question I like to ask
                      is, "Why are you taking this class? What do you hope to learn?"

                      The answers are all over the map, as you might expect, but a common one among
                      certain types of students is, "I want to learn to defend myself." We teach that as
                      part of the style, but when I hear that, it always sets off alarm bells in my brain.

                      People who come to a martial arts class with a strong desire to learn to
                      defend themselves often have some sort of fear at bottom that they'll be forced
                      to do so. Their intensity level tends to be very high at all times. During kicking
                      and punching drills, they try to put everything they've got into every attack.

                      They miss the target a lot, as you might expect. They also hurt themselves
                      a lot of the time, because they don't recognize their limits. "Limits" are strange
                      things. You can extend your personal limits gradually, but if you make an all-out
                      assault on them, you're not going to do as well. I try to counter this tendency by
                      emphasizing that one should have good intensity, but it's more important to focus
                      on perfect execution of every technique. It's still a tug-of-wills between me and
                      the "I want to learn to defend myself" people. It's particularly dangerous in free
                      sparring, because they tend to turn the match, which has rules, into an all-out
                      brawl. It means they've lost focus and control, and I've seen some injuries because
                      of this. So I don't let these guys spar anyone except experts in the class, because
                      they must be controlled to avoid injury. Coping with these "mad bulls" is good experience
                      for my black belt students, and it eventually gets the "mad bulls" to calm down.

                      The problem is, in summary, to get people to learn to cope with their fear, to use it without
                      being blinded by it. This is a very different problem than teaching people who just aren't
                      aggressive by nature. Those students have other obstacles to overcome.

                      LSN

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        An addendum re the SCA: I do not participate in the SCA, although I've known lots of people
                        who do, and have talked to some of their "sword master" types over the years.

                        If anyone here has experience with SCA's approach to combat and how it is taught, it would
                        be nice to get your perspective.

                        Thirty years ago, when I was an undergraduate, several friends joined the local SCA. They
                        also got a mutual friend from the football team (a linebacker) to join. The linebacker didn't
                        know anything about formal sword play (most of the others were on the school fencing
                        team), but he was large, fast, tough, and aggressive. It was no surprise when he entered
                        a "tournament" for the "kingdom" and ended up winning. There was no real science to his
                        approach. He was big, so he had a reach advantage, which he used to good effect by
                        confining himself to mostly linear attacks; he was strong and fast, so when his attacks
                        got through, they downed his opponents; he was aggressive, so he came out swinging,
                        as it were, and overwhelmed his opponents.

                        I opined at the time that if any of these guys could withstand his initial charge, that
                        they'd find an opening in his defense, because it was weak. Problem was, there
                        weren't any people in the tournament who could do so. I concluded that not every
                        "kingdom" had much in the way of instruction available. Anecdotes about this would
                        be interesting for purposes of comparison.

                        LSN

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Something to think about for those of you with martial arts experience, or just those
                          who have thought logically about it.

                          Consider the sword & sorcery books you've read (or any fantasy & s-f) where
                          martial prowess is exhibited by the central characters. Whom do you think handles
                          this well? Who handles it abysmally?

                          I'd define "handles it abysmally" as containing those cases where you don't believe for
                          an instant that it could've happened that way. The "handles it well" cases are those where,
                          no matter how remarkable the feats of the character, you believe it could be done as
                          described.

                          I actually choreograph combats in my mind when I read about them and visualize whether
                          I think they're possible. Some writers become deliberately or "artistically" vague when they
                          describe such activities, making it impossible to choreograph. I'm often left with the feeling
                          that it's questionable, if they allude to something really extraordinary.

                          It is my theory that writers with unarmed combat experience, boxing experience,
                          or fencing experience tend (on average) to do a reasonably good job at this sort
                          of thing, but it varies.

                          When I see a really "unbelievable" fictional sequence of this sort, it exasperates me more
                          than a little. It's too common, of course. :roll:

                          LSN

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            (My wife thinks it's kind of scary, because when we charge
                            with the sword, we deliver a blood-curdling scream, and my teacher and I have the loudest kiai ever heard. :-] Of course, that's more her personal reaction than
                            an impartial judgement.)
                            Lol, actually, this is part (just a small part) of what's appealing about it to me.

                            Where do you live? I can check the kendo school registry for the U.S. to see if there's a reasonably priced dojo anywhere near you. I'm sure you've checked, but sometimes, these guys don't really advertise -- they do it as a public service, which (in my personal opinion) is the best way to do it.
                            You're right...I have done some checking, but since you are inside the community, perhaps you know something I don't. I live in Savannah, GA. I could travel as far as Statesboro, GA or Hilton Head Island, SC.

                            I can definitely afford a bokken and a shinai. It's the armor that concerns me as far as price goes. However, from the way you describe, it could be a while before I need it. I have no training that I'm starting with, so I'm sure I'll need lots of practice.

                            Kendo is done barefoot. If you have problems with your feet, you should consider arch braces from the beginning. Plantar fascia woes are all too common.
                            What is plantar fascia? Whom does it usually afflict? I have a very high arch and instep. Is that good or bad?

                            It can be hard exercise. If you don't exercise regularly, take it slowly at first. You'll get in shape quickly enough. I watch new students all the time for those who don't understand their limits. People overdo it, get light-headed, and can keel over if the teacher doesn't pay attention.
                            Lol...I don't get any exercise at all. Most sports are completely uninteresting to me and I've never been a physically active person. I already know I'm in bad shape (and overweight at that), but I'm a very determined person and once I set my mind to something, I will accomplish it. I just need some focus and I know martial arts will help with that. I really need to get into shape for my health...I need the exercise.

                            The statement: be careful about commercial martial
                            arts academies. They're in business to make money, and that sometimes gets in the way of teaching the student.
                            I'm very aware of this. There are some pretty crappy places in Savannah (and some of them are the most popular dojos in town). The problem is that people that aren't in it for money usually don't advertise as much. I read once that you can sometimes find a sensei who will teach kendo privately, but I don't know where to begin looking for this.

                            The point I'm circling around here (in sort of lame fashion) is that if someone like Danisty wants to learn to handle a sword, and kendo or iaido instruction isn't available, they might check out their local SCA (if there is one) and see if they've got a resident "sword master."
                            This sounds like a good idea, but I'd have to check first and see if the local SCA is full of people I despise. We used to have a really strong roleplaying community around here, but all of the good players left and now we just have a bunch of chauvinistic dickheads. I have a sinking feeling that these are the same people in SCA. I can say for a fact if this one guy I know (Casey) is in it, it won't be safe for anyone for the both of us to be in the same vicinity with sharp objects (or blunt ones for that matter.) I don't want to give the impression that I'm a violent person because I am not, but this guy is verbally and emotionally abusive to his wife (an old friend of mine that I don't get to see anymore) and I know I can't handle being around him.

                            Thanks for all of the advice. Maybe if I can find a sensei, I could get him (or her) to teach me Japanese too. I really want to learn to read and speak the language. There are some untranslated books I need to read.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              (<blood-curdling kiai in kendo remarks elided.)
                              Lol, actually, this is part (just a small part) of what's appealing about it to me.
                              That's actually good. You might be surpirsed how hard it is to teach adults
                              to yell. Most of us are too inhibited. People who know me personally, when they
                              hear me make a kiai, are sometimes stunned. "But, you always seem so soft-spoken!"
                              I was once told. Oh, I am, unless necessity demands otherwise.

                              In TKD or Hapkido, when sparring someone, I'll sometimes open with a gratuitous
                              yell, just to judge my opponent's reaction. Lots of people cringe on reflex. When they
                              do that, I attack without hesitation. Self-defense people like to teach people to
                              yell for this reason. It often daunts one's opponent, as well as calling attention
                              to the situation.

                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              You're right...I have done some checking, but since you are inside the community, perhaps you know something I don't. I live in Savannah, GA. I could travel as far as Statesboro, GA or Hilton Head Island, SC.
                              Thanks for the geographical range. I'll look in the list and get back to you. I
                              don't recall anywhere in particular near you, but my knowledge is by no means
                              encyclopedic on the subject.

                              It's good to check your local university, too. There are sometimes kendo clubs
                              there. As I recall, there's a college of art and design in Savannah. I know someone
                              on the staff there -- I'll ask her whether they've got any such programs in the
                              club or PE areas. Who knows?

                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              I can definitely afford a bokken and a shinai. It's the armor that concerns me as far as price goes. However, from the way you describe, it could be a while before I need it. I have no training that I'm starting with, so I'm sure I'll need lots of practice.
                              It'll take time, but not as much as you might suspect. Some people have a natural
                              "feel" for the balance and footwork. Others (like me) took longer. If you tend to be
                              analytical and not physical at things like this, it'll take longer to get the feel of things.
                              The way you step forward in kendo to attack is very efficient, but it's a little awkward
                              for some people at first. We'll see in your case. (Once you find a place, PWV and I'll
                              expect regular progress reports. )

                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              Kendo is done barefoot. If you have problems with your feet, you should consider arch braces from the beginning. Plantar fascia woes are all too common.
                              What is plantar fascia? Whom does it usually afflict? I have a very high arch and instep. Is that good or bad?
                              It's the set of tendons that cross the arch and join to the heel, if I remember correctly.
                              Tearing or pulling it causes a lot of pain in the feet. It has been known to end athletic
                              careers. (Most recently, ex-decathlon champion Dave O'Brian.)

                              It strikes people with weak arches, or those putting a lot of unaccustomed strain on
                              those parts of the feet. I'm not convinced that a high arch and instep matter.
                              (My daughter and I have them, too, and neither of us gets plantar fasciatis. (sp?))
                              However, lots of people do. If you take care of your feet, and build up gradually,
                              you'll be okay, I'd suspect.

                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              Lol...I don't get any exercise at all. Most sports are completely uninteresting to me and I've never been a physically active person. I already know I'm in bad shape (and overweight at that), but I'm a very determined person and once I set my mind to something, I will accomplish it. I just need some focus and I know martial arts will help with that. I really need to get into shape for my health...I need the exercise.
                              Your attitude is good. That helps. Good for you.

                              <comments about commerical dojos elided>
                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              I'm very aware of this. There are some pretty crappy places in Savannah (and some of them are the most popular dojos in town). The problem is that people that aren't in it for money usually don't advertise as much. I read once that you can sometimes find a sensei who will teach kendo privately, but I don't know where to begin looking for this.
                              The problem is that Savannah, although it has its charms, isn't very big. The probability
                              that you can find such a teacher is low. That doesn't make it impossible. Let's check
                              around a bit and see if anything can be found.

                              <remarks about SCA and sword instruction elided>
                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              I'd have to check first and see if the local SCA is full of people I despise. We used to have a really strong roleplaying community around here, but all of the good players left and now we just have a bunch of chauvinistic dickheads. I have a sinking feeling that these are the same people in SCA.
                              I understand your worry. SCA is a curious activity. I've known some great people who
                              participate, and I've known some people that struck me as more than a little mental.
                              "Pathological" was another adjective that popped into my mind, and at times
                              "neurasthenic." (I'm sure TheAdlerian will get restive when I use that word again. :lol:)

                              It's a microcosm of the real world, but it's prime focus produces a statistical bias of
                              sorts that can result in a larger-than-average % of "strange" people.

                              It varies from place to place, I'm sure.

                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              I can say for a fact if this one guy I know (Casey) is in it, it won't be safe for anyone for the both of us to be in the same vicinity with sharp objects (or blunt ones for that matter.) I don't want to give the impression that I'm a violent person because I am not, but this guy is verbally and emotionally abusive to his wife (an old friend of mine that I don't get to see anymore) and I know I can't handle being around him.
                              We need you to get instruction in the sword so you can beat this guy over the head.
                              It sounds as if it'll be good for him, and it'll make you feel better, too. What could
                              be better than that? :lol:

                              Seriously, I don't advocate fighting with anyone. I've never had to use any martial
                              skills in a serious confrontation since I passed the age of 16. One thing worth
                              learning is how to avoid such confrontations. It's part of the training.

                              Originally posted by Danisty
                              Thanks for all of the advice. Maybe if I can find a sensei, I could get him (or her) to teach me Japanese too. I really want to learn to read and speak the language. There are some untranslated books I need to read.
                              Japanese is a strange language. A teacher in a martial style will help, but you should
                              look into a university course if you're really, really interested.

                              Good luck, and keep this thread aware of whether you find a teacher.

                              LSN

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