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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 5:08 pm 
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There is a really interesting discussion of strength vs power on Vann's forum:
http://forums.uechi-ryu.com/viewtopic.php?t=19978&highlight=

Besides the interesting discussion, something Gary said, really got me thinking:
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As those of us who understand this, appreciate the depth of it all, many students and practicioners not only fail to fully understand it, but also lack the mechanics and/or understanding of physics to apply it.

The need for supplementary training is essential in individual development. Dependancy upon one's dojo training and instructor to provide "it all" really sets one's limitations on self growth, development and understanding.


How many karateka out there have a scientific background, and how has it helped your MA training? This can be a formal science background (physicist, medical doctor, etc.) or simply a hobby/interest.

I'd be interested in a discussion about which areas of science are most beneficial, as well as a discussion on whether this background is necessary/useful.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:37 am 
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I don't think it's needed and can even get in the way. Martial arts isn't all that complicated.

(Comp Sci)

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 1:50 pm 
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...or you could ask the quintessential 'Bill' question: "how many have played a musical instrument before?".

He is a firm believer that playing musical instruments is a huge help in your karate for the ability to physically multi-task and also teach timing.

Funny thing, he asked me that question the first year I was taking his class. My answer was 'no'...his answer was "I can tell". Bill said he can always tell which students have played musical instruments when they walk in the door. Must be something to that then.

Hopefully, I have since learned what I was missing to some extent...or maybe I will one day learn a musical instrument. It's on my 'Bucket List'.

Regards,
Vicki

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 4:56 pm 
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Scientific models are always simplifications of reality, so in martial arts, where reality is layered with complexity upon complexity, they usually just end up pointing us in the general direction of the truth when it comes to good mechanics to a achieve some stated goals. It serves us better when talking about martial arts than actually doing it. One example is the idea of tensing up at the point of impact. Physically this can't work to achieve more power. I think it is either an intentional safety feature invented for sport karate or perhaps a misunderstanding of the idea of stabilizing only the "tip of the spear" at the last possible moment. Obviously you'd better stabilize the wrist and hand at some point for a seiken punch, else you will have a "crumple zone" to absorb some of the force. (Note that not all strikes require this, however, e.g. elbow, forearm, wrist.) Knowing some science helps me to dispense with this topic forthwith. I do not need to defer to an authority to make up my mind on the matter.

An example of where we need to be careful is in applying it to the question of maximum striking power. Maximum striking power is probably achieved by mechanics that also telegraph the strike (e.g., a wind-up). Witness any elite athletic competition that requires manually accelerating an object, e.g. a baseball, shot put, javelin, golf, tennis. We wouldn't let a simple physics argument tell us that it is better to accelerate a strike this way. What that tells us is that we've left something off of our model, and in this case we've forgotten that we didn't just want maximum power but also the partially conflicting goal of minimizing the detectable start to finish time of the technique. Managing conflicting goals is something that mathematical modeling does well only when it is possible to accurately quantify things. In something as fuzzy as martial arts you'll always end up better served by an empirical approach.

Besides, knowing what you want to do and doing it are two completely different things.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:48 am 
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I think being a musician helps if your Keith Richards and smash a guy off the head with your telecaster for getting onstage.
Otherwise I agree with Mike. Keep Karate simple. The men that handed it too us were probably illiterate and possibly never even went to school.
And they reached very high levels focusing on the basics.
Why must we over complicate it?

F.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:09 am 
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I think both Mikes and Fred have a good point in not making Martial Arts too complicated. I often find myself in the most trouble or doing the silliest (or most painful because I'm doing it wrong) moves when I am over-thinking something.

That said, I would offer this thought about the men who handed down these techniques. Yes, many may have been illiterate and/or unschooled; however, they also had fewer distractions and a greater focus than most of us do today.

I was talking with a friend recently about the so called illiterate common folk of our grandparents' and (in some cases) parents' generations. These are folks who spent their evenings playing with transistors in their basements, spent hours watching the birds or skies, learned to create things with thier hands, listened deeply to the latest record and picked up the nuances of music, etc. They were hardly ignorant in certain specific areas they focused upon.

So I would say the same about these old masters. They may have been illiterate, but I believe many of them developed a fundamental understanding of body mechanics and the underlying concepts of physics, simply because they spent a lot of time practicing and observing their body and the reactions of certain variations of technique.

I happen to believe that an understanding of basic science is probably useful...as long as, like Mike Hosea notes, you realize there is a difference between theory and application.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:41 am 
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They didn't worry about the physics of movement because they were farmers and hard laborers used to physical toil. They hit hard because they worked their butts off all day. Imagine what Kanbun used to do in that sweatshop in Wakayama. Along with his students, I bet the mainland Japanese worked them hard.

F.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:42 am 
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f.Channell wrote:
They didn't worry about the physics of movement because they were farmers and hard laborers used to physical toil. They hit hard because they worked their butts off all day.


Or in Chotoku Kyan's case, betting on cock fights, skimming his wife's earnings, supporting his local brothel, getting soused and getting into fights. :lol:

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 5:18 am 
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Anyway, as a guy who has extensive background in the mathematical sciences, I can't imagine how any martial arts practitioner would be disadvantaged in their own training if math and physics were all Greek to them, so my advice is not to feel that way about it. Put it this way, do you need to understand how glue works to use it? Surely the first adhesives were used not because anybody had a clue what was really going on but because they noticed that stuff sticks to this goop, and when it dries between two pieces of something or other it's hard to get them apart.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:44 am 
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I haven't read that about him Mike, but I'm not surprised.
I've just read the usual walked on water and killed tigers barehanded stuff.

Unfortunately historians don't write about these guys, their students glorify them to amplify their own lineage. Or sell books.

F.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:38 pm 
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Ok ok! :lol: I concede the point that scientific training is not necessary for good MA practice. The point I was making, though, is that these masters....no matter how much of thier "history" is true or glorified...had more focus and time to observe thier own bodies than many modern practioners. I do believe modern man/woman has lost the patience for true self observation and concentrated practice...what separates the great from the good and mediocre, I guess. I 'm not saying we can't be as good, simply that we need to work at it because most folks do not have such physically challenging day to day jobs or the lack of distraction that some did....and...the rest may be a bit of romanticism on my part. :oops: 8O

That said, I still think a background in science could be useful...as long as it's kept in perspective.

As for Mike's comments...wow...totally blows the glorified notion of honorable sensei's fighting the good fight and taming the local beasties... :roll:

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 11, 2009 11:28 pm 
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Shana,
you might want to look into the idea that they had more time back then.
in Funakoshis book he says he had to walk to work everyday work a full day then go home eat and grade papers then walk 45 min to his karate lesson which was late at night then walk home again. he slept very little.

also most people back then were farmers and fishermen working for their daily food. every farmer i know gets up with the sun and goes down with the sun, no time for leisure like we have with a 9- 5 job.

back to machanics, i am one to think it is very important to study. not so much to learn karate but to have a better understanding of what you do and why you do it. science should give you a deeper understanding only after you have done thousands of reps of kata. it cant be the other way around...


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:38 am 
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You don't need to be very smart at all to be a good fighter. Mike Tyson was a man child, and could crush anyone in the sport ring in his heyday.

However...

This reminds me of days in undergraduate engineering. I still remember the day that one of my engineering professors derived the diffusion equation from an example of "random walk." There was blackboard after blackboard after blackboard of work, all starting from an example of a particle that might go to the left or to the right with a certain probability. Next thing you know, you had an equation that explains much of nature as you and I know it. It explains how a teabag gives you a cup of tea. It explains why gargling with hot salt water comforts a sore throat. I could go on and on and on about things that most people take for granted.

No, you don't need to be able to understand technology to use it. But you know what? SOMEBODY has to make it.

Bruce Siddle, Darren Laur, David Grossman, Rory Miller, and others talk about what really matters in the martial domain. How is it that they know this? They aren't a collection of Neanderthals. They have trained minds, and they know how to use them. And when their thoughtful approaches stand the scrutiny of a world full of armchair cyber "experts", then they become the movers and shakers in the world.

Some time back a certain individual claimed he could move people without touching them. It was part of his martial specialty, and he was making some good money teaching the believers. He'd find some willing, suggestible soul in a group who would buy into his voodoo, and do some pretty impressive (bordering on ridiculously funny) demonstrations.

In came Dr. Bill and Dr. J.D. We challenged him to demonstrate his craft under controlled settings at camp. He agreed - mostly because he believed his own propaganda. So I designed an experiment, vetted it with J.D., ran it with Bill Jackson filming, and shared the result. Our no-touch martial artist claimed he could move people from the opposite end of a wall. So with a deck of cards that had one suit removed, I assigned pulling, pushing, or no action to a suit. Our hero did what the card said, and a subject on the other end of the wall was to do whatever they felt - with camera filming. And the result? He did WORSE than random chance would predict. Oops! :oops:

It's like the "cute" techniques in self-defense. You say you can make the fancy stuff work against the opponent of doom, right? Well guess what? The science types are telling us that extremes of neurohormonal stimulation lead to a loss of fine motor coordination and - to some extent - a loss of complex motor coordination. So whatareyagonna do, eh? If you choose not to do your science and math in school, then you can trust someone who has and has done their homework.

Or not. To your peril...

It takes all kinds to generate a gaggle of good fighters. You can choose to disrespect those around you who have contributed to the body of knowledge you freely drink from. I choose to give credit where credit is due.

Moreover... I hope one day to be more of one of those movers and shakers. But that's me. ;)

- Bill


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:42 am 
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One of the things I like to remind people of is the difference between mindful and mindless practice.

When you are learning new technique or when you are analyzing what you are doing, it's important to do so in a mindful manner. This is where you make your improvements. This is where the discoveries come from. This is where you learn.

At some point though you need to engage at least an equivalent amount of time in mindLESS practice. You need repetition to do that. You need to learn to execute while thinking of nothing. You need to practice the new until it becomes the automatic.

Where folks get into arguments about "overthinking" or "science/math getting in the way" has a lot to do with not understanding this important yin/yang dichotomy. If you want to be a good martial artist, you need both the mind and the lack of a mind. You need to think, and you need not to think. You need to analyze, and you need to just do it.

- Bill


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 12, 2009 3:28 pm 
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chef wrote:

...or you could ask the quintessential 'Bill' question: "how many have played a musical instrument before?".

He is a firm believer that playing musical instruments is a huge help in your karate for the ability to physically multi-task and also teach timing.

One thing I have found is the remarkable number of accomplished martial artists who also play a musical instrument. They may not be particularly good at it, but they do play. One need only attend a camp and see the number of practitioners who come down with their guitars and play/sing.

In the case of the young Jim Witherell, he's more than good. He plays professionally, or at least I believe he does. He entertained at camp one time along with a friend. I'd pay to hear them sing again.

I had promise as a musician as a kid, but my parents kept me steered towards math, science, and the liberal arts. That has served me well. But I find the music really helps - particularly to the extent that a person has learned to play with others. It's the timing thing that I find the music playing teaches best. You aren't just trying to synch up with a moving partner's timing. You're trying to know his timing and then superimpose your own on/with/in-between his.

There are times when I try to work with people in partner exercises, and they totally don't get this. They can learn it. Sort of. Slowly... But if they have no sense of rhythm and timing, it's difficult for them to understand how to interface with a cooperative opponent, much less an uncooperative one.

As Vicki suggested, the brain multitasking thing is also good "exercise" for the karateka. Seeing squiggles on a page and learning how to convert that to sound in a very precise manner is a complex task. A brain which can do that is a brain I find much easier to teach. This is a brain that can convert visual cues to precise action.

Bottom line? Cross training can come in many forms in martial arts. I don't think it hurts to know more. Execution is important, but the ability to do so is made easier (for the most part) when the person comes to the table with baseline capabilities. Being able to see basic principles in other art forms also helps. And understanding how/why things work - a "science" thing - always helps. If you do, then you can throw the cookbook away and just start cooking.

- Bill


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