I was in Tom Seabourne's home. He disagreed with me. He obviously could not recognize my brilliance or he would have agreed completely with everything I said.
This is my home. mine, Mine, MINE!
But seriously folks, I wasn't getting anywhere with Tom in his forum on the topic of body conditioning. And the system wiped out my last few entries anyhow. It all started when Rich Castanet asked Tom about his biases on body conditioning in his new book (the one with the buff Tom bearing his shaved chest and Taequondo kick on the cover). First of all, Tom's a smart, educated guy and a good martial artist. He likes to spar and he has a great track record. But athletes - even the educated ones - can be the most superstitious folk around. Tom doesn't believe in body conditioning. He'd rather brag about the bruises he got on his arm in his warrior days, and tell us how he used DMSO (dimethyl sulfoxide) to make them go away. And Tom will not be convinced otherwise; he'd rather cling to a stereotypical view of how it is practiced and what it does. Too bad - I thought he could be of use in my investigation of this practice.
By the way, do NOT use DMSO unless you do not value your long-term health. There is a very good reason why they banned it for medicinal use. It's all in the literature. I can explain if anyone is interested.
If someone were asked to explain what Uechi Ryu is in a page or so, the topic of body conditioning would have to come up. It has been documented by Mattson and others that Uechi Kanbun learned and taught just a few things from his China experience: 3 forms, sparring, Chinese medicine (perhaps the Bubishi), and body conditioning methods. The origin of this practice stems back to Iron Shirt training in China. Basically the practitioners believed that they could make themselves less vulnerable to attacks and the rigors of battle by conditioning surfaces that receive a lot of punishment. This punishment could be the result of direct assault (like a shot to the solar plexus), or merely a consequence of blocking (shins and forearms). For those who believe or are "into" kyusho, the training was also meant to make one less vulnerable to the consequence of a sequential attack to specific vital areas (kyusho or accupuncture points).
Body conditioning methods are NOT foreign to western athletes. Twenty two years ago when I was training with the Charlottesville Boxing Club, they had a routine they used to develop the abdomen. The practitioner would do situps on an incline board. Each time the practitioner came near the top of the situp, the partner would strike his solar plexus with a medicine ball. It was an elegantly simple and highly effective version of the body conditioning methods that we all practice. Those who remember martial arts in the 60s and early 70s probably remember some of the challenges that occurred between martial artists and boxers. In almost every case, the martial artist got his butt kicked. The reason was....because boxers were used to getting hit, and most of the martial artists back then had never heard of these conditioning methods.
Anyone who has played either football or judo or has practiced aikido knows the importance of conditioning methods. The football player spends lots of time with the weights in the spring and summer, but cannot survive the rigors of blocking and tackling/being tackled without proper contact work. While the nature and target of these conditioning methods are different, the ultimate outcome is the same - create the effective, warrior who is less fearful and less vulnerable without being naive about his/her vulnerability.
Here are my issues. Many have totally inaccurate views of the mechanisms and outcome of this type of training. One is NOT trying to develop calcium deposits on the bones; one is instead trying to increase bone density. One is NOT supposed to be developing ugly callouses and scarring; one is (I belive) instead supposed to be developing functional connective tissue and improve the tone of smooth and skeletal muscle. And there is also a whole-body element involved that teaches us how to both absorb and reflect energy. But this is all theory - where is the evidence? And I BELIEVE that the slower, more controlled methods are both safer and give better long term results. But where is the evidence? And are all my assumptions about underlying mechanisms supported by research in the sports medicine literature? And if not, what are we academic folk waiting for? Work needs to be done!
I welcome your knowledge, input, and commentary.