Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by hongkongfuey, Mar 15, 2002.

  1. hongkongfuey

    hongkongfuey Kung Fu Geek

    One problem that I come up against in martial arts, is the problem of a lack of standardisation. What I mean by this, is that as Bruce Lee once said (or was it Andy Murray?) "a punch is just a punch, a kick is just a kick".

    Going along to a new style after a long time in another style can be highly frustrating. Imagine, for example, putting someone who won several semi-contact trophies (no, I am not talking about myself!) in another style into a beginners class for sparring (after 3 months of basic training!). It is like putting Pete Sampras into a begginers 'Lawn Tennis' class as the rules of this are different from regular tennis.

    I feel that perhaps the belt system is the problem, in that the new member would have to work their way up through the ranks before being allowed to perform certain Kata / Forms / Sets or sparring.

    Perhaps though, there should be a standard belt system across all arts which would indicate a level of understanding of the arts or proficiency in certain areas. Would this be too difficult as there are huge differences between many styles (Judu vs Karate vs Kenpo?).

    Has anyone experienced a club that teaches on a merit, as opposed to a 'length of service' system? What about allowing high grades from other styles to join at a higher grade?

    The closest I have come is a Thai Boxing club that judges purely on fitness and ability once the basic training (3 months) is done. This seems a reasonable approach as it ensures the basics of the style is learnt first to prevent injuries during sparring / training.

    Any views on this lengthy rant?
  2. Pablo

    Pablo New Member

    Well, the first thing that comes to mind is the section in 'Shaolin Temple Boxing' that talks about the 3 divisions of martial arts.
    An advanced 'hard' boxer' could actually have a disadvantage coming into a purely internal style, and might be resistant to suggestions that their previous expertise was getting in the way of learning the fundamentals of the internal arts.

    Even within similar styles, I see a potential problem. I know of TKD people who have expressed frustration at having to relearn their kicks for Hapkido, instead of being given 'credit' for the way that they performed kicks with the same name.
    As far as being able to achieve results with their TKD kicks, there was no doubt that they could do so, but it was very hard to smoothly transition into the circular Hapkido follow-up techniques.

    There *are* many things that are transportable from art to art, but in the end, if someone is asking to be ranked in a new system according to their old style, I would wonder if people who study the new art under these folks are getting the same instruction as they would from an instructor who had started at square one.

    just my .02

    Last edited: Mar 15, 2002
  3. hongkongfuey

    hongkongfuey Kung Fu Geek

    I agree Paul - just looking for other perspectives on this issue. Would you say that there are maybe too many 'different, but similar' martial arts?

    ...waiting to get shot .....
  4. Pablo

    Pablo New Member

    Maybe that is where the 'Arts' part comes in.

    I see some of the differences as akin to the differences between, say, styles of music. Given a choice, I (and I am sure others) would prefer to practice a certain style because they just plain like the 'flavor' of it.


  5. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    The way that I would handle this (as the instructor of the "Lawn Tennis" class) would be to either teach Sampras the basic differences in privates, or to put him in the beginner's class long enough to learn the basics. With his background, though, it shouldn't take him long at all to get to the advanced class and become an instructor of "Lawn Tennis" himself.

    I don't think this is possible in a lot of instances. Different arts/systems/styles emphasize different elements at different ranks. An intermediate Judo player will know more about throwing and grappling than an intermediate Karateka.

    What you can do would be to look at the person's skill and give him/her a rank roughly equivalent to their knowledge/ability in your curriculum ... but unless they're going, for instance, from one Judo system to another, the chances of them being anything more than intermediate level in the new system are slim.

    Yes, that's a reasonable approach. Others that I have personally seen:

    I hold a 3rd Dan in Doce Pares/Eskrido from GM Cacoy Canete. Eskrido is GM Cacoy's blending of throws and locks from Judo and Aikido with his 75+ years of training in Doce Pares Eskrima. I have never formally trained in the Eskrido system. My exposure to Aikido and Judo has been *very* limited. But I've been training in Kali and Silat for 7 years. (Kali and Eskrima are, for the most part, synonymous terms). Silat incorporates a lot of throwing. Kali and Silat both have locks and my instructor in Kali and Silat (Guru Ken Pannell) has spent quite a bit of time with Prof. Wally Jay. So, while we don't have the specific curriculum of Doce Pares/Eskrido, GM Cacoy awarded us our rank based on the fact that we can do everything he teaches ... our flavor is different because our takedowns are Silat instead of Judo but the principles are the same and we understand them.

    Another is Prof. Joe Lansdale at Lansdale's Self-Defense. When I moved down here to TX to train with him, Joe insisted that I wear my black sash from Sikal (my primary art) because he wanted me to guest-instruct from time to time. He's also allowed me (encouraged me, in fact) to use the school to run my own Sikal classes on weekends. I am training in his system of Shen Chuan and I started out as an orange belt (the white belt material just consists of various basic escapes/releases from wrist and lapel grabs ... real basic). But Joe has let me move at my own pace. Since I already understand the underlying principles it's mostly just rote memorization of the curriculum for me. As such, I'm now a 2nd Brown (2 belts from black) and I've been there a little less than a year (if you consider that I was gone for 2 months in the middle of the year).

    Guru Ken (my Kali and Silat instructor) does the same thing with people. When they come in he puts them in the Phase 1 class unless they're from a very similar background (i.e.: they've already got a background in Filipino martial arts). If they've already got a background then he'll test their knowledge and place them in the appropriate phase on the caveat that they will know all of the curriculum material through their phase before they test out of it. Otherwise they start at Phase 1 but can progress as quickly as they learn and can do the material.

  6. hongkongfuey

    hongkongfuey Kung Fu Geek

    Thanks for the input Mike.

    On a similar subject, I've been to some competitions where I have seem fighters win in the "beginners" category, and find that they are actually black belts in some other style. Surely this is not a fair system?

    Could a standard "semi-contact" grading system be introduced accross all styles that practice this kind of fighting. If this was the case, then you could introduce "semi-contact fighting" as an olympic competition, (instead of tae kwon do).

    I'd like to point out that I do not have anything against tae kwon do (in fact, it was the first art I studied, and I am a big fan of it), but I do think that it is a shame that not everyone can enter olympic competition in their semi-contact style.

    Preparing to get shot again ....
  7. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    Well, from the perspective of the competitor and his/her current instructor, that's a tough call. If I'm a black belt in ABC and begin studying XYZ and get started as a white belt. Then I go to a tournament and represent XYZ then it wouldn't be fair to put on my black belt because I'm *not* a black belt in XYZ.

    Is this any less fair than a natural athlete who is just incredible at every physical endeavor he does going to a tournament as a white belt and cleaning house? It's luck of the draw. Personally, I put former training in this category too. If he's that good by nature or by training ... nothing to be done about it.

    On the flip side, though, if the competitor joined XYZ *just* to get an official white belt ranking so that he could compete as a white belt ... then he's a "ringer" and that's not right. That's no different than putting on a white belt in ABC and lying about your rank.

    So, personally, I think the "fairness" of it depends on the intent of the competitor and/or his/her instructor (sometimes it's the instructor's choice to put the competitor in as a "ringer").

    I think it might be possible to set up a specific "sparring" organization with a standard rank. Then competitors, regardless of style, could train and rank in that organization with its rules. Then tournaments could be organized for competitors of that organization. While I think that'd be possible and would achieve at least some of what you're talking about I think it might be a bit utopian for practical application :)

    But, even if it did happen, if you went to an open tournament, you'd run into the same issues you do now.

    I don't compete much anymore ... but when I go to an open tourney, I completely ignore ranks. I mean, my instructor is a perfectionist (particularly with himself ... but the more advanced you get with him the more he expects from you too). Consequently, when someone gets their black belt from him they've *earned* it ... and are fully comparable to 2nd and 3rd Dans in many other schools that I've seen. When I was still what my instructor considers "intermediate" level (i.e.: about halfway through his curriculum) people often assumed I was a black belt ... and in their school, I would have been.

    You run into the same thing at tournaments (even within the same system ... but especially at open tourneys). Some instructors are more demanding ... so the rank of their students is equivalent to a higher rank under a less demanding instructor.

  8. waya

    waya Valued Member

    I think sparring could possibly have a standard ranking, but not the seperate arts. There are too many different philosophies behind the movements and theory of the techniques to manage it.

  9. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

    This is something the MA press has been trying to acheive for many years, especially in the UK where the market is smaller than in the states.

    Judo has to be admired for acheiving Olympic status alongside wrestling and boxing as a combative Art.

    This is where some of the angst comes in regarding commercialisation/capitalism blah blah blah.

    The governing bodies took on a large TKD body to represent MA in the Olympics. They could not give all the arts the same recognition because we have no unity and no standards of practice. Exactly the point that HonKongFuey is bringing up!

    If I had the opportunity to represent my country ( again ) at any level, I would happily pay for the priveledge as it is an honour. the money ivolved in sponsordhips and endorsements is what brings the drugs and crap into it. all the things the Olympic ideal is supposed to be about.

    HKF, if a fighter of rank enters a beginners section just to win, then they are to be pitied. it is not the winning, but the taking part. Why be a big fish in a tidepool, there's a whole ocean out there. Somebody may go looking to shoot fish in a barrel.

    Andy Murray
  10. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Member

    Stand a boxer and a shotokan stylist side by side and have them punch, a punch is not just a punch. Thats like saying a car is just a car.

    As a side note, I have a hard time believing Bruce Lee ever really said anything original, it all goes back before he started telling everyone how great he was.

    I would state that no good instructor would ever do such a thing.

    The belt system is the source of a lot of problems.

    You'd have to do a lot of very good convincing to get me to go along with ANY sort of standardization as being a good thing, even within the same style.

    High grades from other arts typically start back at white, but move up through the colors pretty fast. Some schools will let you retain rank, but most students I've taught don't even ask, they just show up with a white one.

    Depending on what they know I would have no problem having someone who didn't know the kata wear a higher belt, provided thats all they really don't know.

    But then I'm pretty liberal in my curriculum.

    Right, kickboxing is a sport, they have to group you by skill. In a 'Martial Art' skill may or may not always be a factor. We can say stuff like "time in", "Stylistic variations", etc.

    Belt ranks are just a good idea gone wrong, thats all.
  11. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    Re: Re: Standardisation

    Depends on how picky you get. When you're defending against them, though, it's still a weapon moving along a straight line toward you and can be dealt with in similar fashion.

    Philisophically, a punch is a punch. There are differences in details. Same is true of cars. A car is a car. If you're looking at details then there are differences. But if you're blindfolded and your foot gets run over by a Porsche and a Yugo, your foot won't really care which was which they'll both hurt in ... and in a very similar fashion :)

    You're absolutely right ... and I think Bruce would have been the first person to tell you that. I've heard him say it in interviews ... that nothing he was saying or doing was original.

    As far as him telling everyone how great he was ... I'd agree with that too. I've heard he was pretty arrogant. As Dan Inosanto said at a seminar, "When Bruce first came to America, he was just another young pup fresh off the boat from China telling us stupid Americans how we were doing things wrong. We'd seen it a hundred times before ... whether the pup was from China, Japan, Okinawa, wherever ... they all came to America with a chip on their shoulder. The difference with Bruce was that he could back up every claim he made and could prove that what he was saying was valid."

  12. Andrew Green

    Andrew Green Member

    Re: Re: Re: Standardisation

    I don't have to get to picky. Different power generation, different force disspersment, different follow through, different retraction, different angle, different striking surface, linear/circular, etc.

    I just have to go beyond fist impacts some other surface.

    Perhaps you could elabarate on what you mean by "Philosophically" they are the same. If your trying to bring philosophy of language into this I hope you have a background in that field :)

    And if you really want to argue that a porshe and a Yugo are basically the same, let me know if you ever get a Porshe, I'll get a Yugo and we can do a swap.
  13. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Standardisation

    But that's precisely my point. At that level, they are the same. Perhaps "picky" was too strong a word. The phrase, "a punch is a punch" is valid at a certain level. Same as "a fruit is a fruit." They share certain aspects in common because they are both fruits. An apple and orange are very different fruits ... but they're both fruits.

    Nope ... no background in philosophy ... but I'm not sure what impact that has on anything.

    Of the various definitions for "philosophy", the one that I use (especially in this particular discussion) is:

    "the general principles or laws of a field of knowledge, activity, etc."

    The general principles or laws of one punch are the same as the next. All punches rely on the same basic body mechanics to generate power.

    I didn't say that "they are basically the same." I said that from a particular perspective (i.e.: the foot that gets run over by them) they are virtually indistinguishable. There are worlds of difference between a Porsche and a Yugo (having ridden in the former and owned the latter I can certainly attest to that) ... but they are both still cars. Their engines both run on the same mechanical principles. They both require the same fuel (though one generally wouldn't waste the money for premium fuel in a Yugo :) They both get you from point a to point b.

    At a certain level of perspective they are the same. This is true also of punches.

  14. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.


    Was it Bill Gates that said " all you need is an idea that is 10% new". It is really hard to be original in any aspect of life. The techniques we practice were taught us by someone else, and we just adapt them to our own use.

    The 'punch is just a punch' thing that HongKongFuey is referring to is something I used to start the thread 'Miscellaneous Philosophy'. I would read the passage again, as you need the whole thing.

    Anyone succesful or with strong views is automatically shot down in our society. Is this jealousy? ( Yes, Bin Laden should be shot )

    The real attraction about Bruce and JKD ( regardless of whether it was all actually Kenpo or not ) is that he/it opens minds, changes attitudes and eliminates a hell of a lot of bullsh*t.

    The criticism after the fact is like pointing out that Elvis had all his songs written for him, couldn't in fact play the guitar and was in fact a coked up, obese greasball with in Ice cream addiction.

    Sorry Melanie, I know your'e a big Elvis fan!
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 16, 2002
  15. Melanie

    Melanie Bend the rules somewhat.. Supporter

    That's Ok Andy, at least you didn't pick on Perry Como too! I would have been devastated!!! ;)

  16. Cooler

    Cooler Keepin The Peace Supporter

    I'd just like to jump in here with the 'a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick' quote.

    What I believe Bruce ment by this and what I believe is ment by this is that when you first learn to punch or kick it is basic technique, you watch people of higher grades than you doing fancy punches and kicks and you think 'wow' wish I could do that.
    You then progress in your style and learn these techniques you realise that it is still just a punch or still just a kick no matter how fancy or advanced it is.

    What does it matter what punch or kick you hit your opponent with if it works use it, a punch is just a punch and a kick is just a kick.

  17. pesilat

    pesilat Active Member

    Good post, Cooler. The best analogy I've ever heard (and one which most everyone can relate to) for this is related to driving a car.

    When you were a kid watching your parents drive, they were just driving.

    When you began learning to drive, it was suddenly a lot more. It was clutch, brake, gas, gears, turn signals, mirrors, blind spot, etc.

    Over time, though, it becomes "just driving" again.

  18. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

    Did Perry Como like Ice Cream as well?

    Thanks for dotting the eyes, crossing the tees and giving me my first s*dding star Melanie. LOL
  19. hongkongfuey

    hongkongfuey Kung Fu Geek

    So is a block just a block, and a grapple just a grapple? Eventually we will have no techniques at all to discuss.

    It will make the magazine section easier to write though!!
  20. Andy Murray

    Andy Murray Sadly passed away. Rest In Peace.

    So what do you think HKF. After all; you are number one superguy!

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