Concept Driven versus Curriculum Driven Instruction

Discussion in 'Kenpo' started by DAnjo, Oct 7, 2008.

  1. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    Is an art more than a concept? Is the curriculum, i.e., the specific techniques, an essential component of the art, or are they merely there to illustrate the concepts?

    In my view, the techniques/basics are neccessary to the art. Without them, he art devolves to mere words. Skipping the forms, pre-set techniques etc. is like trying to read without phonics. Just because advanced readers are no longer sounding out words, doesn't mean that phonics can be left out. To me, the concepts are contained in the techniques. The techniques are arranged and developed by the founders in order to encapsualate the concepts of the system/art. Leaving them out is tanamount to trying to reinvent the wheel.
  2. Yohan

    Yohan In the Spirit of Yohan Supporter

    To me you are asking an incomplete question. The two things you have covered are fully two thirds of the whole picture on training. The three major parts of training are:

    The concepts that define the art
    The techniques that illustrate the concepts
    The training methods that implement the techniques

    Once the principles are ingrained, the techniques extend naturally from the principles. Good principles are universal, so they almost become indistinguishable from one art to another. However, without solid training techniques, the principles are irrelevant. It is training methods that distinguish one art from another.
    Flying Crane likes this.
  3. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    By training methods, what are you referring to?
  4. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    I would clarify to me "concepts" translates to "combat principles," and to me "curriculum" translates to "flavor."

    The combat principles should be emphasized firstly with the goal of developing practical application. I say this because no matter what the background of the student is, they can find this useful. This is especially helpful in an environment that promotes cross-training.

    We have had students from all sorts of backgrounds from law enforcement to school teachers to doctors and nurses to college students, etc. What they want is different but whatever they learn, they want it to WORK! Principles first helps them discover what works best for them.

    Flavor of martial arts is not just the techniques but how those techniques are taught and learned. Kajukenbo, for example, has some basic techniques that might be shared across different martial arts... although those techniques do have variations from school to school, what I'm saying is they aren't unique techniques just limited to one system. However, to get that "kajukenbo flavor" they are taught and learned basically one way, with drills consisting of heavy contact. Stunning, locking/breaking, takedown, and ground attack...

    Not every technique is the same, but the Kajukenbo flavor can be applied to all techniques especially beyond the initial technique as follow-up attacks.

    The techniques are important piece to all this, because the techniques are designed to be able to be drilled with heavy contact (always wear a cup of course :evil:).

    Forms and such are good as they add to the bigger picture but they aren't necessary for the art, IMHO. We spend a majority of our training days on Muay Thai training, forms are much less of training time. However, the body can only take so much, and really when you look at hard training, the forms make a lot of sense as time for a good workout without killing yourself. Forms give a way to stay focused on the martial, work on flow and new things while having some "downtime" from heavier training.

    My old karate Sensei would do certain forms in the morning and certain at night to help him through the day and sleep better at night, for example.

    The martial applications in forms can be excellent to train in, but that goes back to what I was saying about techniques and that it is how they are taught and learned that is important, not so much which techniques they are.

    Last edited: Oct 7, 2008
  5. Yohan

    Yohan In the Spirit of Yohan Supporter

    Like - some arts do solo training, forms, and set drills. Some arts do partner drills, and add resistance and spontaneity to their training.
  6. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    I almost agree with you. I think the forms and combinations are essential to ensure that the concepts/principles are being fully passed down to the students. Not that that's all there is to an art, but it does set a minimum standard.
  7. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    But what distinguishes one form of Karate etc. from another then? From style to style they will perform their kata and techniques differently depending on the preferences of the founder(s).
  8. Rebel Wado

    Rebel Wado Valued Member

    I pretty much agree with you too. However, adding up all the forms and combinations, I would say it might be near or more than a hundred. How many are really essential? All of them?

    I would say that less than a few dozen might be a good start. And those need to be trained and learned in a way that is the right "flavor" for the particular school of martial arts. The rest are add-on or variations of these.

    Remember that many prescribe to the "salad bar" theme of martial arts. You are presented hundreds of choices so that you can find the dozen or so ingredients that fit you best. This is a good theme, IME, but it should be taken with the knowledge that the more "techniques" you have, the more people are just going to be "going through the motions" because not enough actual time is spent getting really good at them.

    What is the balance between not enough and too many techniques? Not everything can be essential, what should be?
  9. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

  10. RussianKenpo05

    RussianKenpo05 Valued Member

    in my opinion both curriculum and concept are necessary.
    Concept gives an insight into the idea behind a form/technique, while the curriculum allows one to practice these forms in order to understand the concept through explanation/experimentation.
    The multitude of forms/dances are there for a reason, not just to fill time. No matter how similar a form may be to the next, the variations/ideas behind it will differ, thus there is always something new to learn
  11. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    I agree. Both are neccessary to have a complete martial art. Without the concept, the art is nothing. Without the curriculum, the student is groping in the dark.
  12. RussianKenpo05

    RussianKenpo05 Valued Member

    indeed :). Some may argue that simply teaching techniques in any general order is a curriculum, but that is just as useless as not explaining the concepts. Curriculum is based off of concept, and progression, thus the curriculum is there to teach new things as you progress...and only to the level at which you are expected to be at the next step of the way, nothing more, nothing less.
  13. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    In addition to that, the curriculum is not a cage that limits one from growing and learning and more than people learning what the proper positions are in football or baseball. There is plenty of room for creativity and uniqueness. But if we ignore the basics, then it's like sending a bunch of guys out to the field and telling them to play ball without any organization. Any football player will have three (at least) basic goals 1. To win, 2. To play the way the coach has trained him to play as a team and 3. To individually expresses himself in his position.

    These are clearly analogous to the martial arts 1. Winning is the same, 2. Is the style you practice. and 3. Is the same also.
  14. RussianKenpo05

    RussianKenpo05 Valued Member

    could not agree more! The curriculum shows the basic idea as conceived by the respective instructor. However, even with a structured curriculum, there are many unspoken variations of a technique, or concept, that we are encouraged to explore/learn on our own, with guidance of course.
  15. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

  16. RussianKenpo05

    RussianKenpo05 Valued Member

    any thoughts that led you to your conclusion?
  17. koyo

    koyo Passed away, but always remembered. RIP.

    Timing distancing body alignement and decisiveness are all principles.Just a handfull of basic techniques shall allow you to explore these PRINCIPLES. When the principles are "mastered" any number of applicable techniques shall present themselves.Any art should begin by taking FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLE AND USE BASIC TECHNIQUE TO BEGIN PROGRESS.

    regards koyo
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2008
  18. RussianKenpo05

    RussianKenpo05 Valued Member

    much agreed. An art without an idea behind it is just empty space filled with flowery, meaningless imagery
  19. DAnjo

    DAnjo Valued Member

    He doesn't like the idea of having to learn the curriculum of an art before being ranked in it, so he goes for the concept-only theory.

    All founders of an art start with a concept. Then, they develop techniques and forms that embody those concepts at a basic level. This represents the basics of the art. Then, once that has been mastered to a certain level, creativity comes in again and the art grows into one's personal expression of it. To jump from the concept level to the personal expression level without mastering the basics is not going to give you much of a foundation.

    Joe Louis, Rocky Marciano, Floyd Patterson, Muhamed Ali, etc., all had very unique styles in boxing and were all very impressive champions. However, they all had to initially learn the same uppercuts, crosses, overhands, hooks, jabs, bobbing and weaving, T-Stance footwork, etc. They furthermore had to learn pre-set combiniation patterns that their trainers would call out to them while doing bag work etc. etc. It was after they mastered these, that they developed their own style. Boxing is a very basic art compared to Kenpo or Kajukenbo, so if you can't throw out the basics in something like boxing, you certainly can't throw it out for something more complex.
  20. KempoFist

    KempoFist Attention Whore

    Oh of course, thanks for asking.

    When you try to begin learning something concrete without first exploring the fundamentals that led to those techniques you miss out on what makes those techniques applicable. This is something that many teachers don't fully grasp, that despite their great skill, what led to that skill was the training and principles, and not the static arbitrary techniques devised afterwards.

    Any good teacher will tell you that no technique is guaranteed to work and that the "principles" behind it are whats important, but then they contradict this stance by forcing memorization of those dead techniques for posterity's sake. Techniques are great for illustrating principles, but putting them on higher priority for rote memorization, than actual application of the principles they illustrate in a live fighting situation isn't right IMO.

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