Testing and Change Over Time

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Testing and Change Over Time

Postby RA Miller » Tue Dec 30, 2003 4:16 pm

I think this goes here, maybe.

Sunday night, I tested two students. It was a low level test, and this is the first dichotomy. Legitimately in the style there is only one real test, for licenture. Being Americans, we've added a kyu concept so that students can mark their own progress and feel like they have accomplished something.

Since only the Mokuroku test is "real", I've been given a huge amount of freedom in what and how I teach new students. I pulled out my grading sheets and realized that I don't teach or even think the way I did when I designed these requirements.

The requirements had a list of throws, the way I learned them. I don't teach or think of them as distinct techniques anymore. Ogoshi, seoi-nage, tsurigoshi, goshi nage... are all just full entry hip throws with variations on how to get your arms out of the way.

There were lots of blocks and evasions listed in cleverly connected series, but I've been teaching defense as stages: Terrain, relationship, intent, opportunity, action with a heavy emphasis on irimi (entry), contact response, leverage point control. None of which is listed in my old requirements.

There are things like entries that I learned through absorption. Never consciously taught and maybe my instructor had never really thought about them as a class of technique, but vital. Once i started thinking about them and started dissecting my training, especially kata, they were there. One more thing that I emphasize in my teaching that isn't on my grading list.

Not sure where I'm going with this. It's nothing so banal as 'how you look at your art changes over time.' I hope.

The change in my thinking is from concrete to conceptual. Concrete has advantages. It's much easier to test. Students who learned the discrete techniques with the Japanese names from my sensei have been able to participate in dojos in Okinawa, Tokyo and Fukuoka, both karate and judo, and blend right in. That is important.

But I find it's not what I'm teaching.

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Postby Rick Wilson » Tue Dec 30, 2003 8:28 pm



An excellent post that reflects much of how I feel as well.

Thank you.

:D :D :D :D
Rick Wilson

I guess..

Postby gmattson » Wed Dec 31, 2003 12:04 am

the same post could be made about any subject Rory.

"Concrete" methods help the majority of teachers work with the majority of their students. . . whether they are in high school, college or a dojo.

But innovative teachers will always question and challenge the standard methods. The "concrete" ways don't begin as "concrete". They begin with the enlightened methods of an innovator and lasts until the next innovator comes around with a better way. The "concrete" performances are a result of less inspired teachers rigidly defining their interpreation of the innovator's methods.

What sport or discipline doesn't go through these changes?

The true test of an innovator and his methods are time and results.

Each of us teach and practice for their own reasons. In our organization, innovation is encouraged. But many of us also recognize the social/fraternal benefits of martial arts and tend to perpetuate the rituals that form the foundation of our arts.

Interesting and difficult question you pose Rory.
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I was thinking about

Postby gmattson » Wed Dec 31, 2003 5:20 pm

Rory's post last night and realized that without some "concrete" structure, there would no systems of martial arts, at least not in the way we know them.

The problem with "concrete"/rigid structures of martial art styles/methods is that they don't take the individual into account. You join Joe Toughguy's school of self defense, you do things Joe's way. When you get a black belt and are ready to open your own school, you are expected to teach Joe's way. Vary your ways and you exit the organization. . . either by choice or by eviction.

Who possesses the holy grail of "realism" and which method is the best?

I'd venture to say there are thousands of single school/systems out there, each believing that what they are doing is "the best".

At some point, we all arrive at a point in our training where we will want to make changes to the structure. A good organization will factor this into its curriculum, providing room for innovation while retaining the basic roots of the system that gives it an identity.

I'm not familiar with your organization Rory, but am happy to say that within the Uechi system, we can accomodate the progressive martial artist and those who just wish to do Sanchin.
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