Basic Techniques Verses Multi Techniques

[Traditionalist or Modernists]


        So, the controversy continues. What style of martial arts techniques is most effective, and what amount should be taught? Is it the art that contains a hundred or more, or is it the style that teaches only a handful?     The answer is complex, and yet it is simple.


       Actually, both complexity and simplicity combined is the most rounded method of developing the total martial artist.


       For you who say that in an actual street encounter, mastering and sticking to basic, down and dirty techniques is what actually works, then that is the correct answer. All the fancy stuff, high kicks, long drawn out techniques, throwing heavy opponents, etc., is fine for tournaments, shows, exhibitions and tests, but when an attacker comes at you with everything that he has, short, quick, powerful moves are the only things that will take him down.  Strike first, strike hard, strike often. You certainly do not want the fight to last a long period of time, as anything can happen, and most of it bad.


       For you who say that learning a variety of techniques in large numbers will give the defender more options to choose from, as you have prepared your mind and body to react in every possible attack mode that you can think of, then that also is the correct answer.


       In reality, the martial art style that teaches hard and soft techniques, powerful and also flowing katas, throws and ju jitsu, sparring with partners of all sizes, continuous kumite, multiple attack defenses, weapons defenses, weapons katas, grappling, plus reality street fighting, that is the closest one can come to the ultimate martial art style. If these criteria were strictly followed, the child black belt would be eliminated and black belt rank could return to the mystique it once held.


       I have not seen a bad martial art style. I have seen bad teachers and weak students. It is not the art that went bad, it was the teacher who did not continue his/her martial arts education that became flawed.


       I have had three great teachers who have all viewed the arts differently. If it were not for each of them the mixed art style that I have been teaching for over thirty three years would not have been created.  Kenpo with itís short, choppy, close in fighting style along with itís low, effective kicks. Chin-na and ju-jitsu with its bending and twisting joint maneuvers, Judo throwing with itís body hardening mat work, Mu Du Kwon employing powerful punches and kicks.  Also by observing my Goju Ryu friends, Tae Kwon Do partners, Muy Tai students, Grappling proponents and Kung Fu pals, there was much to be learned.


       Tons of knowledge opens many doors of opportunities.  This does present a problem for the traditionalists who say that those who do not study an ancient art that has been passed down for many generations, are not learning a true martial art. They believe that what they are teaching has been tested by fire over the ages and that their methods are proven to work beyond any doubt.


       However, the modernists state that times have changed and that one particular style does not work in the streets all the time. People do not fight today as they have in the past. The Ultimate Fighting Championships have totally destroyed any notion of style dominance. Any art, to keep pace, must simply change to be effective.


        So, who is right? Again, actually both theories are correct.  Tradition is absolutely needed to build a strong foundation upon. Without tradition there is no balance, strong stances, proper breathing, timing, coordination, patience or perseverance.  Without change there can be no progress. Street fighting methods are different today. There is no honor, just guns, gangs, knives and dirty tricks. You simply cannot employ an inward block along with a reverse punch as your attacker slashes you across the face with his ultra quick knife blade.


        There was a story being told that two great grandmasters were having a conversation one day. The story is supposed to be true. Bruce Lee stated to Edmund Parker [two of the greatest and innovative martial artists ever to walk this earth], that traditional martial arts are too stiff and unrealistic. Mr. Lee also said that a martial artist should learn to flow and just react to the attack.  Mr. Parker agreed that in time this was the best method of self defense, but a new student must learn the basics of a traditional art, which could take years, before one is capable of developing instinct and quick reaction time. Mr. Parker also reminded Mr. Lee that he was taught Wing Chun Under the watchful eyes of Yip Man before Bruce developed his own concepts.


        I personally believe that by cross training in various martial arts the student can learn the value of tradition and develop solid roots, while at the same time, learning to adapt to many various self defense situations. However, I do not advocate that students go from dojo to dojo. I believe that the student should become loyal to his/her teacher. It is the teacherís responsibility to cross train and to present new information to the student. On the other hand, there are numerous trade shows, seminars, halls of fame, etc. where the student can attend for a day or two to learn something new. Student loyalty to their teacher is a must.


        Our kicks are no good when we are pinned against a wall by a stronger opponent. Likewise, our punches come short of our intended target with someone who is keeping his distance and kicking the bee jabbers out of us.


         I really believe that it is pride that keeps these arguments on going, while common sense and investigation will surely show that all the various martial arts have merit and content to them.


          I recently did a seminar for a hall of fame in upstate New York. All the participants were traditionalists. On the floor were students, instructors, masters and grandmasters. They came with a totally clear mind [Bruce Leeís empty cup] and in fellowship. They were delighted with my mixed arts concept, along with new theories such as, if an attacker kicks, you punch, if he punches, you kick. Also, if an attacker pushes, you pull, if he pulls, you push.  When we completed the seminar it was time for another master to present his style of martial arts, and it was my turn to learn. It never ceases to amaze me, after thirty seven years in the arts, I am still learning and I intend to keep on learning.


         Even though the bare knuckle and blood and guts days are gone from most dojos, with the majority of our students being children and parents, along with this new philosophy of teaching and developing user friendly classes, we must always remember that the bottom line isÖ..can you fight? Can you defend yourself? Not from a straight punch, but from a quick moving punk with a switchblade? Not from an angry drunk, but from three angry drunks?  And then there are the terrorists, but that is another article. Get use to it, because sadly to say, it will probably happen to us and our martial arts training will once again change, or at the very least, incorporate different tactics into our training methods.


Traditionalist or Modernist? Multiple techniques or basic techniques!

You be the judge, for you are the one who will keep the debate alive.





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