The Curve of Martial Arts Systems


I’ve been playing with this thought over the years,

it’s pretty firm now,

so let me shoot it by you.

If you study the martial arts long enough,

you will undoubtedly trip over a concept.

The guys who do this often become ‘founders.’

They ‘invent’ a system.

Maybe the concept has been discovered before,

but it’s new to the guy,

and he starts working it,

and he groups techniques around that concept

and he keeps discovering new things

and that all becomes his system.

Now,

he understands the concept.

And because he understands

that understanding translates into superior technique,

into being able to use it on the mat,

and so on.

And,

the guy may become well known.

And,

I hate to tell you this,

but we are talking about people who lived

thousands of years ago,

for the most part.

Hey,

there’s a guy in a village,

and he punches a tree long enough,

figures out how to step over roots and duck under branches

and he invents ‘Tree Fu.’

Now stop laughing,

I’m trying to make a point here.

And the point is that a version of Tree Fu

is being invented in a lot of different villages.

But civilization encroaches

and styles of Tree Fu agree or disagree,

we have fights and wars,

and even polite sit downs over tea,

but,

everybody agrees,

nobody can make it work

like the founders.

Okay,

the first students

of these ‘miracle Martial Artists,

they study Tree Fu,

and they have the direct hand of the founder

to help them understand the concept.

They do pretty good.

But the next generation

only has the first students,

so they understand,

and they get good,

but not as good.

And so on and so on

through the generations.

And the art becomes less understandable

the further away we go

from the founders.

Now the students aren’t even studying the basic concept,

they are being monkeys,

monkey see monkey do

And they get good over time,

but the days of miracle martial artists are behind them.

Finally, we reach a point where the art has become so diluted,

so monkey see monkey do,

so ritualized,

that it stops working.

For the most part.

Oh,

a few talented students can make it work,

but the rest of us,

we’re stuck in car contracts,

duped into believing that tournaments are important

(they are, just not as important as some people would believe)

and if we’re caught on the street

we’re going to get our muscle bound asses handed to us.

Do you see the curve here?

The art is invented,

the curve goes up for a few generations,

then it starts to go down

and crashes,

and it is linked to this one simple idea:

WHAT IS THE CONCEPT?

The concept behind Tree Fu was simple.

Step over the root

duck under the limb.

The concept behind Karate,

for instance,

is amazingly complex.

What block do I use when,

kicks over punches?

Why…why…?

point fighting vs full contact.

Is a bow respect…or something else?

Why is the horse stance?

Do you see all the garbage that are concepts…

but not THE concept?

And that is true for every art,

and ESPECIALLY for modern arts.

Modern arts,

for the most part,

are reworkings of concepts that have already had their day

and not are crashing and failing.

That’s why everybody says,

‘I take what works from everything,’

and never understand

that they are making a new garbage heap.

They are just making more kindling out of Tree Fu.

So,

what to do.

I mean what’s the point of this rant

unless I give you a solution,

or a way to get to the solution?

Right?

Okay.

Here we go.

First,

understand that there is a concept behind everything.

You have to look at a low block

until you understand the concept of a low block.

And the concepts,

from one version of Tree Fu to the next,

will often be different.

I believe the purpose of a block is to cut the line of attack.

Many people believe it is to ‘stop’ the attack.

Many believe label a block for a distance,

or for a specific attack.

Okay,

gather all the data,

make sure you understand it,

then

isolate what works for you.

Simple dimple, 

right?

That’s basic Bruce Lee.

Want the basic concept of Bruce Lee’s art?

Jeet Kune Do?

It is matrixing

kicking, punching and trapping.

Take a look at 

‘Jeet Kune Do’s Wing Chun roots with Guro Dan Inosanto’

on youtube.

Towards the end of the clip,

you’ll see these three concepts

form to make JKD.

All the rest is context,

to make that concept work.

What a lot of understanding Bruce Lee had.

What a lot of concepts he went through,

to find his basic understanding of the art.

Not saying he is right or wrong,

he was obviously right for himself,

but you need to do more than monkey see monkey do.

So work his concept until you understand it,

and go looking for more.

Anyway,

sorry for that aside,

no matter how enlightening it is,

but…

gather the data,

understand it from ALL viewpoints,

and search for the concept that ties it all together.

The central concept of Matrixing

is the Truth Table.

Go on,

Google that.

You’ll find the most confusing array of concepts in the world.

All abstract and weird and…

and underneath it is a simple concept.

A diagram of columns and rows.

So,

we come to the crux of the matter.

You are a student of a student of a student…to the Nth.

Even if you are studying a brand new system,

just invented,

it’s just another confusion of data

mixed up crap over the millenium,

and it would take a Herculean effort

to make sense out of all that garbage.

OR,

you can devote yourself to defining 

the simple concept behind each move,

each form,

ech art…

and the arts.

The concept behind the martial arts is simple:

hit without being hit.

But very few arts understand that.

Boxing you are expected to get hit.

Karate is a dance to get in and out,

which fails because (drum roll) people haven’t isolated concepts.

And so on for ALL arts.

The only art I know that tries to stay true to this concept,

and even that isn’t foolproof,

is Matrixing.

Anyway,

I could go on and on,

I’ve already probably gone on and on too much,

I mean,

how do sift through my garbage and find your truth?

Right?

But the thing to remember is this.

Isolate the concepts

work on the concept that is most true for you.

That is the way out of and to the top of the garbage heap.

That is actually the way to understand the martial arts.

Mind you,

I am not telling you to bad mouth arts,

or to give up your art,

I am telling you to work hard enough to understand what you are doing.

That is the secret of life.

Now,

the grim moment in time,

where I must lambast you with…

the obligatory advertisement!

(yea!)

I would say that the

Create Your Own Art course

is one hell of a step in learning

how to understand the martial arts.

The course is old,

the quality of the tapes is not great,

but it is definitely understandable.

The course leads to an understanding of footwork,

how to tie hands to feet,

and,

eventually,

how to conceptualize an art and create it.

And there is definitely NO other course like it.

It includes bonuses and complete arts

to make my points.

Here’s the link…

http://monstermartialarts.com/martial-arts/2d-create-your-own-art/

Okay,

thanks for being there,

thanks for being martial artists,

and have a GREAT work out!

Al

PS

don’t forget to check out

Dale Gilliland’s great interview with me….

BTW

Have you checked out my novel?

Monkeyland?

It’s on Amazon,

but you’ll probably have to look for it.

Amazon tends to hide the good stuff.

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