Traditional vs Modern MAs

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by Sandninjer, Nov 18, 2013.

  1. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    From my experience, I've found that most traditional martial arts tend to spend more time building/prepping students as opposed to the more modern martial arts where you typically get right into full/heavy contact sparring within the first three months.

    I'm curious to hear your opinions on what advantages/disadvantages both training styles offer? Does the slower pace of traditional MAs encourage perfection and refinement on individual techniques at the basic level? Is the faster pace of modern MAs to focus on full techniques as opposed to learning them partially, step by step? Are differences between traditional and modern styles to due to the times we live in (war vs sport)?

    Just opening up the discussion.
  2. philosoraptor

    philosoraptor carnivore in a top hat Supporter

    I think there's a false dichotomy between prepping students and having them engage immediately in high contact sparring. A technique is refined by its use. If a student can better use their technique under pressure than it is, in my eyes, the more refined technique. In terms of the times, I'd guess that the amount of leisure time, surplus calories to fuel budding athletes and population sizes that open up huge talent pools have all contributed to the development and refinement of current training methods.
  3. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter


    It's very much a false dichotomy. How can you perfect a technique that's designed to be applied on another person under certain conditions without 1) using it on another person and 2) at least approximating those conditions?

    I think that accounts for why you see so much lackluster sparring out there. People spend all that time "perfecting" technique. Then they try to apply it in a less idealized environment, it doesn't come together the way they were so sure it would after so many perfect reps, and their whole gameplan goes to seed.

    GOOD training (whether old or new) is always going to involve an analysis of the component movements in a technique.
  4. Moi

    Moi Warriors live forever x

    I sometime think many martial artists aren't really cut out to be martial artist x
  5. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    Good responses, thanks guys. Taking into account what you both said, in terms of traditional martial arts, do you find that (in the age of hand to hand war combat) they practiced in more pressurized situations than how those same traditional arts are practiced today?
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  6. philosoraptor

    philosoraptor carnivore in a top hat Supporter

    I'm just here for the uniform.
  7. Hannibal

    Hannibal Cry HAVOC and let slip the Dogs of War!!! Supporter

    This is largely a modern development if you ask me - don't forget Ueshiba's first gym was called "hell dojo" because the training was so intense.

    Most "traditional" arts have nothing to do with war, and those that do maintain such a connection almost always archaic and outdated in today's environment.
  8. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    This is actually one of the ideas (though not specifically to Ueshiba) which I had already been speculating before writing this thread. Hmm... very interesting.
  9. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    Well, certainly there was more pressure. But consider this: There's this tendency to overromanticize a time when these arts (or some variation on them) were used in combat. And there's a further temptation to reason that they must have been really effective at that time, or they wouldn't have survived to today.

    Think about it though: The soldiers who died were taught the same arts as the ones who didn't. These were wars. They were won by strategy. Or numbers. Or other variables. Very low down that list would have been the skill of individual fighters. That's a civic development. Not a battle field one. You could be the guy who took Miyamoto Musashi's lunch money. But, if you're surrounded on a battle field, you're probably hosed.

    Lots of the teaching methods we see in martial arts probably stem from the need to transmit some level of skill to large groups at a time. So, I'm not claiming I know the answer to this one, but it's interesting to consider the training differences that stem not from modern versus traditional but mass teaching versus one-on-one coaching.

    Just a thought.
  10. Kave

    Kave Lunatic

    I have been training at an MMA gym now for around 2.5-3 years. In that time I have seen people from both traditional and competitive environments turn up to train and spar. I am sure that the guys from the traditional backgrounds have an excellent grasp of the theory of their arts, but it really seems to avail them very little when they start sparring. They do not posess even the skills to execute the basics common to any striking art such as "do not turn your back on your opponent" or "do not look away", let alone the ability to defend themselves from strikes, or throw effective strikes of their own. If they can't execute their strikes then I would argue that far from encouraging more refined techniques, "traditional martial arts" often fail to impart any technique at all.

    I contrast those TMA guys with the boxers we get coming to train at our gym. They might have a narrower skill-set than what is needed in MMA, but their punching, body movement and footwork is refined to a remarkable degree. Not only that, but they are able to execute their techniques.

    I don't know if the learning in modern MAs is faster in terms of techniques. I have spent the last 2.5 years mainly working on basics such as jabs, crosses, takedowns and sprawling. The difference is not speed, but intensity.
  11. Sandninjer

    Sandninjer Valued Member

    Excellent analysis man, thanks. I was looking for someone to include that kind of insight here.

    I'm not doubting my training or anything, but I'm just genuinely wondering based on my own experiences from the past and hearing about other fellow martial artists' experiences.
  12. Count Duckula

    Count Duckula Valued Member

    Individual fighters are irrelevant. There may be some exceptional individuals, but the majority will just be average :)

    The romans kicked ass not because individual roman soliders were better at one on one fighting. The opposite actually. But roman soldiers were taught to fight in formation and this is what allowed them to conquer on the scale of the Roman empire.
  13. LemonSloth

    LemonSloth Laugh and grow fat!

    I think you're unfortunately on the money with the TMA comments. As a (mostly) TMA'er, I've found a lot of my fellow MA'ers are very unintentionally dishonest with their training. There's plenty of drilling the fundamentals, but not a lot of applying that with any real intensity. Plenty of controlled partner drills and movements, but not so much in the way of pad work or sparring (some dojo's I've seen get you to do about 2 minutes in a session on average, which isn't enough). Plenty of repetitions of the forms, but not a great deal of drilling the techniques in the forms with any real intensity.

    Now my experience is very shallow with kickboxing as I only started a few months ago (and only been practising TMA's for about 6 years now). But by comparison, the theory of the techniques isn't so great, the kicks are often pretty crap visually speaking, the movement is alright but they can take a limited move set and really make it work damn well. Huge amounts of pad work, actual sparring and lots of high intensity training. There's also quite a big sense of danger with the training which I think you do need - if you don't keep your hands up, you get clocked in the jaw. If you don't move, they will pulverise you.

    It was a hell of a wake up call for me.
  14. Kave

    Kave Lunatic

    I think when you mentioned refinement you hit one of the key points. I have mainly been involved in arts with sport aspects, although I have occasionally briefly dabbled in less-competitive arts (such as a few months Aikido while at school). I think an often ignored difference between the competitive arts such as boxing, muay thai, and wrestling and arts such as aikido, hapkido and ninjitsu is that the competitive arts focus on refining a very small set of high percentage techniques, whereas the less-competitive arts have a broader focus.

    Don't get me wrong, competitive arts often have a quite broad curriculum, but there is a heavy focus placed on core techniques. As an example, muay thai has a huge range of techniques but the largest percentage of time is spent training the round-kick not the Tai Khao Phra Sumaru. Wrestlers spend most of their time on practicing shooting and sprawling, not on the Inverted Spladle.
  15. Mitch

    Mitch Lord Mitch of MAP Admin

    I don't know what other TMA classes do, but my guys hit pads, spar, or both in most classes.

    How do these TMA classes develop power, timing, heck anything without doing so?

    My club is a very ordinary, leisure-centre based, folks in pyjamas, patterns the rest of the time kind of class.

    I thought all classes did padwork/sparring?

  16. Mitlov

    Mitlov Shiny

    Sadly, that's not true at all. I've trained at a Shotokan club that relied exclusively on kihon (performed against the air), kata, and choreographed no-contact "kumite"...and most of the JKA Northwest US division operated this way.

    I would compare those karate classes to music theory classes where you never actually touched an instrument.
  17. Pretty In Pink

    Pretty In Pink Moved on MAP 2017 Gold Award

    One difference I've found is that TMA will often teach you a curriculum that's quite rigid.

    My Instructor also has a curriculum, but it's almost all high percentage technique (techniques that are more likely to work under pressure). Whereas TMA will teach you like: This is what you need to master for your next belt.

    Just a thought and probably not true for all schools :)
  18. holyheadjch

    holyheadjch Valued Member

    Yeah, the number of TMA striking clubs that don't own a pair of pads is depressing. Almost as depressing as the number of clubs who own pads but choose never to use them.
  19. Dean Winchester

    Dean Winchester Valued Member

    Which is crazy when you look at some of the old school equipment, everything from pads, body armour to old school BOBs.
  20. ap Oweyn

    ap Oweyn Ret. Supporter

    I used to teach at a gym in the DC area. There was also a tang soo do club that trained in the gym around the same time. One of the students asked to sit in on my class. I said it was fine. We worked some sparring drills and pad/air shield work. She said it was very interesting and she'd like to come back when we did a "real class."

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