What makes your TMA "Traditional"

Discussion in 'General Martial Arts Discussion' started by Matt_Bernius, Oct 22, 2004.

  1. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Here's the question: What makes your art "Traditional." In the following thread:
    the issue of changing traditional arts has come up a few times. There are some that feel that for example if you change Karate too much you end up with kickboxing.

    I tend to agree with that response. But it's also somewhat unsatisfactory because it's too broad. So I'm asking this question. What makes your Karate Karate? Your Fu Fu? How dow you interpret "traditional." Is it the Uniforms? The Forms? The techniques? What can change? What can't?

    For those interesting in responding, I ask that you adhere to the following rules:
    1. This is not restricted to Asian martial arts. If you feel you are practicing a traditional art, bring your answer.
    2. You need to have been involved with a TMA for at least a year to post. I respect the opinions of those in MMA, RSBD or other modern self defense systems, but I'm looking for folks who practice what they consider to be "traditional arts."
    3. No one sentence responses. So "everything makes it traditional" doesn't count.
    4. Give examples to support your arguement. Otherwise I'll call BS! :)

    - Matt
  2. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned Banned

    I trained in TKD for a year, and in a Kung Fu McDojo :)() for another year before that.

    It seems like these days "traditional" means outdated methods of fighting/teaching. You don't see Muay Thai or Judo or Boxing or Wrestling as being classed as traditional. The style needs to be Asian, and has to have an "old-school" mentality of "our founder was undefeated" and such.

  3. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Ok folks, PL has thrown out the first volley.

    Outdated training methods?

    "Our founder was undefeated?"

    What do you think TMA folks? If you disagree, then what does make a TMA "traditional"?

    - Matt
  4. Yukimushu

    Yukimushu MMA addict

    Very good point :)
  5. Ikken Hisatsu

    Ikken Hisatsu New Member

    traditional, to me, means old school, hard as nails training. people who train the way mas oyama and kimura did. daycare centers for mums to drop off their 8 year old black belts are not "traditional" at all in my view.
  6. Smee

    Smee Evil kung fu genius

    I tend to agree with IH and totally disagree with PoopLoops. Ram Muay is a "tradition". The basic concepts and principles of Muay Thai remain pretty much unchanged from early days. Does that mean that Muay Thai is traditional? Does that mean that Muay Thai is useless? Of course NOT.

    Traditional means that you have respect for your origins and your are maintaining a core ethos in your training that is consistent with the fighting principles and concepts of the style's founder.

    Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is traditional in that it is continuing to expound the concepts and principles of Helio Gracie.The techniques may change but the philosophy is basically the same.

    Similarly, Judo, Boxing and Wrestling are actually embodiments of tradition. The key concepts and principles of their founder(s) remain embodied within these arts. The tradition is therefore maintained.

    Traditional does not necessarily mean "stuck in a timewarp". It's a totally worthless term that is only given value by the worthlessness of some teacher's instruction. That, in itself, does not mean that "traditional" arts are worthless.

  7. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Good points all. So we have a few people stating that "traditional" is a mindset.

    Ikken's "Tough as nails" training
    Paul's suggestion that it's maintaining ethos and doctrine. That techniques will change.

    How much do techniques define an art? What defines the techniques?

    Do people disagree?

    - Matt
  8. bcullen

    bcullen They are all perfect.

    That's a really good question, Matt.

    Is my training really "traditonal"? If so, what defines it as such.
    The use of forms to convey techniques would probably put it in that category, the uniforms we use (it's a stretch, though), the bowing, the philosophy (for those interested).

    What doesn't fit: The inclusion of other arts and guest instructors: Iaido and Kenjutsu certainly weren't taught and concepts from Kajukenbo, Aikido, Hapkido, and Brazillian Ju Jitsu, and Judo, weren't included, either. We used to have a guest school train with us every Wednesday, predominently Wing Chun and Fu Jow Pai (Black Tiger Claw) folks. Is that traditional?

    Most of the exercises I've seen are reflected in Chinese manuscripts and wall etchings in temples but we have had heavy influence from modern fitness techniques, as some of the top instructors were professional personal trainers before getting involved with martial arts. So while most are based from traditional exercises there are some very modern exercises included. I don't ever recall seeing shaolin monks doing lunges :confused:

    What about bags, BOBs, pads and focus mits? Not very traditional.
    O.K. The iron rings, wooden man and striking bags are traditional.

    If we lost the protective gear the sparring would be "traditional", san shou (unbound fist) rules (kick em', sock em', trip em', throw em', its all good).

    The weapons are traditional but we've done seminars on firearms, too.

    Maybe, its not as traditional as I thought.
  9. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned Banned

    You missunderstood. That's not what I think Traditional means (I actually don't have a definition for it myself, I don't really think about that much), but I said that's what the general public seems to think.

    That's why I pointed out that MT, Boxing, Judo, and Wrestling are actually old styles, yet they aren't classed as "traditional" by most people.

  10. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Good points BCullen and Poop loops. PL are we bound to what the public thinks? Isn't it more important what we make it?

    We keep dancing around the issue of techniques. Perhaps this question gets beyond just simply traditional and get further to martial systems. What defines a martial system. And how defined does a martial art have to be?

    - Matt
  11. d33pthought

    d33pthought New Member

    I've heard some people equate traditional with useless dogma taught only to instill a sense of awe and respect where it isn't necessarily deserved. I wholeheartedly disagree with that as a general statement, though it does sometimes happen. Thankfully, it's not that widespread (I hope).

    Strictly speaking, tradition itself is relative between past and present practitioners; moves don't count as traditional because they will always evolve. Even between teachers of the same style, small differences will always be present. Traditional martial arts refers more to a set of customs that have remained constant over a long period of time, and doesn't really refer to the moves and techniques that are taught.
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2004
  12. dashao

    dashao New Member

    you would have to look at what martial itself means and why we don't refer to all fighting systems as just fighting systems. 1 dictionary states

    Of, relating to, or suggestive of war.

    Relating to or connected with the armed forces or the profession of arms.

    Characteristic of or befitting a warrior.

    a. To contend with physically or in battle. b. To wage or carry on (a battle). c. To contend for, by or as if by combat: "I now resolved that Calais should be fought to the death" (Winston S. Churchill).

    a. Sports To box or wrestle against in a ring. b. To participate in (a boxing match, for example).

    To set (a boxer, for example) in combat with another. See Synonyms at oppose.

    To contend with or struggle against: fight cancer; fight temptation.

    To try to prevent the development or success of.

    To make (one's way) by struggle or striving: fought my way to the top.

    but that doesnt really cover the definition to well. i suppose it would depend on your own personal definition.

    also what makes it an art? the fact that it is always changing or the fact that it is beautifull to watch.

    honestly though i still find it quite difficult to pin down what makes a system a martial art. it is quite a broad term.
  13. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Lets ignore the entire "art" or even the more broad "Martial Art" issue for the moment. That's been done to death in other discussions.

    What maks a system a system? And have we pinned down what traditional is yet?

    - Matt
  14. d33pthought

    d33pthought New Member

    A system is a collection of related and interrelated things that work in a sybiotic relationship with each other. I think I defined what traditional is in my last post, but I certainly will take criticism.
  15. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    Wow, that's a pretty Durkhiemian definition of system. But a good theoretical one. Let's make it function... what makes a martial system?

    - Matt
  16. d33pthought

    d33pthought New Member

    Well, going by my definition, a martial system is a collection of tactics, strategies, and philosophies used in conjunction with each other for the purpose of avoiding being the recipient of a beatdown of biblical proportions.

    For example, you would base a martial strategy around your philosophy of combat. Then you would choose appropriate tactics for your strategy, be it offense, defense or evasion. In short, your tactics rely on your strategy which relies on your philosophy. Maybe I should have said mutually beneficial instead of symbiotic in my definition, now that I think of it.

    If you want to know what makes a martial art a martial system, which is what I think you're driving at, I need a bit more time to mull that one over.

    PS: Durkheimian, huh? At least now I know who Durkheim was :)
    Last edited: Oct 23, 2004
  17. Matt_Bernius

    Matt_Bernius a student and a teacher

    I'm driving in a lot of directions at once.

    But I think you are on the right track.

    So can we rank those components in terms of relative value?

    Anyone else have thoughts on this?

    Where does traditional intersect with this?

    - Matt
  18. d33pthought

    d33pthought New Member

    someone else jump in!

    Don't tell me it's just me and Matt talking about this! What do the rest of you think?
  19. Poop-Loops

    Poop-Loops Banned Banned

    The dictionary says:

    tra·di·tion ( P ) Pronunciation Key (tr-dshn)
    The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication.

    A mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation; a custom or usage.
    A set of such customs and usages viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present: followed family tradition in dress and manners. See Synonyms at heritage.
    A body of unwritten religious precepts.
    A time-honored practice or set of such practices.
    Law. Transfer of property to another.

    So ALL Martial Arts technically fall into that category.

  20. bcullen

    bcullen They are all perfect.

    I think Matt called you a French sociologist. Them's fightin words! :D

    Anyway, by the rote defenition presented thus far a martial system is a series of mutually beneficial techniques based on a philosophy of self preservation or am I missing the mark?

    My problem with the definition of traditional at this stage is that there are only so many ways to punch, kick, grapple etc... Until we grow more limbs or undergo some radical spontaneous evolution, you're not going to find anything "new", as far as techniques go. A jab is a jab even if you call it by another name. So all techniques are bascally traditional, the difference being the method(s) employed in instruction.

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