Need help > Challenge me with Martial Arts Myths

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by Matt_Bernius, Sep 21, 2005.

  1. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Ok folks,

    Often in the oral tradition of the Martial Arts, the lines between myth, legend, facts, and folktale gets blurred. And we end up with claims like "belt ranking comes from old soldiers dirty belts" or that "an upwards strike to the nose can kill." So here's the deal. If people are into this, I'm going to try to write an article every other week (or so) taking these to task, trying to find the roots of different folk tales and where the truth lies.

    The problem is I need thigns to write about. So, do you have a question that you've always wanted to find out more about? Something that you've heard that you always want verification of? Then post it in this thread!

    I'll choose one and start researching.

    - Matt

    note: course if you think this is a dumb idea, then you can let me know in this thread as well... thanks!
  2. WingChun Lawyer

    WingChun Lawyer Modesty forbids more.

    I have one: what was the actual role of sparring in traditional martial arts? Specifically, did the japanese and chinese old masters actually believe that their stuff was too deadly to spar with, or was old school training something more akin to Muay Thai or Kyokushin training?

    And when, and how, did this "too deadly to spar with" notion became popular?
  3. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Great question... I will answer that, but that one is probably going to take a little longer to research (and it's been on my too do list for a while).

    - Matt
  4. WingChun Lawyer

    WingChun Lawyer Modesty forbids more.

    Heh, I was itching to ask you that as soon as you became available for martial arts research. I remember someone telling me (could be you, I don´t know) that this had something to do with the inclusion of martial arts in the physical education curriculum of japanese schools, don´t know if this is correct or not.
  5. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    That factors into the story in Japan (along with the creation of Judo)... but that doesn't account for China. So I'll be hitting the books and starting to interview.

    Any other buring questions out there.

    - Matt

    (ps. if you want to help in these projects, please PM me!)
  6. Hades

    Hades the deskjob boxer

    I might me opening a can of worms here, and I don't know if it's really a myth.

    "TMA do not work on the street"
  7. Yohan

    Yohan In the Spirit of Yohan Supporter

    Well, one time me and the guys at my class were discussing this very subject.

    One thing that came up among us is the lack of modern medical care in ancient China and Japan. It may be that people in these older societies didn't do full-contact sparring because the ramifications of injuries were greater.

    Nowadays, if I get my nose broken in sparring, I can go down to the doctor and the can set or, or do surgery, or something. On the other hand, if you got your nose smashed in ancient china, you might never breath through your nose again. Same with your arm, you get your arm broken now and you can go have it set and casted and you will be ok. Back then, you might break your arm and never be able to through a decent right cross again.

    Just a thought.
  8. WingChun Lawyer

    WingChun Lawyer Modesty forbids more.

    Remember, research is research. I have my own opinions on what used to be considered "old school training", but the researcher´s opinions should not interfere on the subject of his work.

    At the moment, all we have is conjecture.

    Also, remember one thing. In Thailand, modern medicine is frequently not available, and still Thai boxers beat the hell out of each other on a regular basis, while sparring and while competing.
  9. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Ok, the "TMA do not work on the street" really isn't worth exploring. At least on that line. This is an ideological question and just a can of worms. At the end of the day all of the results would be anecdotal at best and not too persuasive.

    Oh, and on the issue of "modern medicine", no that doesn't work at all. The Chinese had various forms of bone setting and bandaging. And on the flip side, even in Western countries, modern medical techniques are exactly that: modern. Fighting, wrasslin', boxing, etc. was going on during the dark ages of leeches and blood letting by the local barber. So that doesn't hold any water.

    Ok so at least one future column is:

    "The history of "too dangerous" and sparring in Asian Martial Arts"

    What else? No other questions?

    - Matt
  10. KenpoDavid

    KenpoDavid Working Title

    One big story of MA trainig is : training in martial arts leads to self-improvement. Getting in shape is obvious, but this referrs more to development of character and wisdom.

    Which, if you've spent any time at bullshido, is clearly not always true. :woo:

    And yet it is sometimes true. So maybe a column exploring under what conditions can MA training lead to an improvement in character, and under what conditons it will not. Also when will it lead to a degradation of character, for example becoming more violent or agressive.
  11. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Actually David that's one I've wanted to write about for a long time. So that's added to the list (though the results may surprise you).

    - Matt
  12. tellner

    tellner Valued Member

    Great Cthulhu, there are just so many.

    TKD kicks were for kicking soldiers off horses (and TKD or anything else is 2000 years old)

    Okinawan Kobudo and Karate defeated armed soldiers. The Japanese gave a rat's rectum about the indigenous boxing styles

    Karate originally meant "empty hand". The name underscores the karateka's eschewing of weapons

    All martial arts come from Shaolin

    Taiji is supposed to be done at a molasses pace and is the perfect exercise for health

    The different colors of the Judo style belts have mystical meanings

    It's disrespectful to wash your belt

    Black belts have to register their appendages as deadly weapons

    The Ninjas (OOOHHH!!!) were outlaw clans that hid in the mountains and spent centuries as assassins for hire resisting the shogunate. They ran around dressed like Japanese stagehands and carried special straight swords

    The West didn't or doesn't have indigenous martial arts. Neither did fill-in-the-blank

    Ueshiba-sensei was always an enlightened, peaceful man

    Capoeira is a form of dance, not something you can fight with

    The gi is an ancient form of martial arts uniform

    The nunchaku is a horse bridle.

    The sai is a pitchfork or a horse-picket

    The no-touch knockout

    "One strike, one kill" means the Ancient Warriors(tm) always killed with one punch

    Bare knuckle boxing was crude and ineffective
  13. tellner

    tellner Valued Member

    Oh, about the whole "mystical belt colors" thing - you know "White is the beginner, an empty slate. Yellow is the rising sun. Green is the martial artist as a growing plant" and so on until you're afraid you'll get diabetes from the sugary sweetness. Then there's the "The white belt was stained with sweat and dirt until it became black. The Japanese never washed their belts. Eventually the black belt becomes white again completing the Mystic Circle".

    Here's how I explain it...

    The Ancient Warriors of Old never washed their belts.

    When they began the belt was white.

    Eventually it would get stained with sweat and turn yellow. And after the wearer got choked out in grappling practice it would be colored by urine.

    With the moisture and minerals, green mold would grow on the belt changing its color again.

    One sort of fungus would be succeeded by another, making it blue turn blue or purple.

    Eventually the belt would begin to rot and turn black and slimy.

    One day the obi would be so thoroughly colonized by fungi that it would be filled with mycelial threads. Or the mushrooms would sporulate. In either case the belt would turn white before dissolving away completely.

    At that point the martial artist would be a Master and the Mystic Circle would be complete.

  14. tellner

    tellner Valued Member

    Another couple myths:

    Capoeira developed because slaves' hands were chained all the time

    Women should learn kicking styles for self defense because their legs are stronger (good premise, faulty reasoning)
  15. Jesh

    Jesh Dutch Side Of The Force

    Hmmm... a lot has been mentioned already. I think it's a good idea Matt... just pick one and start writing.
  16. WingChun Lawyer

    WingChun Lawyer Modesty forbids more.

    1) Is it true that boxing coaches say people are either "natural punchers" or they aren´t? Has there been a reported case of a boxing coach saying that, and if so, did he give any reasons for this?

    2) Is it true that Tai Chi Chuan is more easily learned by people with significant previous martial arts experience?

    3) Is it true that the power generation methods used by Tai Chi Chuan practitioners do not involve a "turning of the shoulder" towards the target, but a "shaky" movement sometimes described as a spiral force? If so, how does that ACTUALLY differs from boxing methods of power generation, in strictly physical terms?
  17. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Keep them coming! I'll be letting folks know what the first one will be.

    However, I've started work on the "too deadly" question.

    - Matt
  18. tellner

    tellner Valued Member

    1) Martial arts makes you humble and egoless. (Some of the really great ones were as big a bunch of self important jackasses as you'd never want to spend time with)

    2) Martial arts are Satanic

    3) Martial arts will make you spiritually awakened

    4) Martial arts require you to study Zen

    5) So-and-so learned the secrets of the Shaolin temple by peering through the fence while the students were practicing. Now his descendants are the only ones with the True Art
  19. baubin2

    baubin2 New Member

    My teachers said not to wash your belt because you were supposedly washing away your knowledge when you did it. They were kidding of course. But it's always fun to see a few black belts at tournaments who are wearing these greyish belts simply because they've had the things for so long that they've faded.

    Maybe you could write an article debunking common martial arts myths. Y'know, stuff like Dim Mak, black belts having to register themselves with police as a deadly weapon, that sort of thing. Just make a whole long list and after each one, you can give a detailed one-paragraph explanation of why it is absolutely absurd.
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2005
  20. Yohan

    Yohan In the Spirit of Yohan Supporter

    The ancient kung fu experts learned by watching animals.

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