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The SF Martial Arts Thread

Clouseau

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What is a good compliment to kenpo karate? I feel like jujitsu is rough on my shoulder which has been torn for 3 years and my back, which has some chronic issues over the past few months
If you have shoulder pain (or any other), i think Chinese 'Internal' arts would be a great complement:
Taijiquan (Tai chi Chuan).
Bagua Zhang or XinYi Quan if you want a more challenging practice.
You also have the Japanese Tai Ki Ken (inspired by Chinese arts, but the creator was also a strong practitioner of Kendo and Judo).

I practice Tai Chi Chuan for ten years. At first i did it as a good Kendo complement, and now i'm only practicing Tai Chi Chuan (Tung family, Yang style).
 

am55

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@LA Guy you'll love this request ;)

What would you advise a recent father thinking of taking up judo or BJJ? (happy with either, I'll go with the stronger closer gym)

What is the injury rate like in either sports? How do you avoid the type that takes you out for days?

How do you pick a gym?

At what point do you know enough that you can teach your kids (or practice with them, at any rate) and is it a good idea? At what age can they start? Mix in a hitting art (e.g. TKD) or keep it pure to practice more hours per week?

I've always admired judo. It has a quiet and efficient global community, well run championships including olympics (the first olympian I heard about was a judoka), it gives me an excuse to visit Japan occasionally... OTOH there's some MMA guys in my extended family doing BJJ and it looks like a more recent version of the same, in terms of culture, plus fight bros. Curious to hear your thoughts.
 

LA Guy

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@LA Guy you'll love this request ;)

What would you advise a recent father thinking of taking up judo or BJJ? (happy with either, I'll go with the stronger closer gym)

What is the injury rate like in either sports? How do you avoid the type that takes you out for days?

How do you pick a gym?

At what point do you know enough that you can teach your kids (or practice with them, at any rate) and is it a good idea? At what age can they start? Mix in a hitting art (e.g. TKD) or keep it pure to practice more hours per week?

I've always admired judo. It has a quiet and efficient global community, well run championships including olympics (the first olympian I heard about was a judoka), it gives me an excuse to visit Japan occasionally... OTOH there's some MMA guys in my extended family doing BJJ and it looks like a more recent version of the same, in terms of culture, plus fight bros. Curious to hear your thoughts.
I would take up BJJ, because there is much less likelihood of injury. I know that this sounds really strange, but in judo, you are one bad fall away from a dislocated shoulder, or a concussion. BJJ can wear you down, but catastrophic injury occurs relatively seldom, and then typically because of sheer stupidity. You are low to the ground, and there is a lot more wrestling, and lot less impact overall.

You avoid injuries by not giving into your ego, and by choosing sparring partners who are more advanced belts who will be willing and able to used technique with you rather than just going ham on you, and with other beginners who understand that you are learning as a hobby, not training to win worlds in a couple of months (actually, this weekend, but whatever).

Pick a gym where you like the culture, and where you get along with the head instructor. Trust your instincts. The important thing is that the culture is friendly and the head instructor is a good and fair leader. Other things, like chemistry with the other students and the instructor, is subjective. What I like might not be what you like. You will learn, one way or the other, if you apply yourself. Not all gyms produce good competitors, or even good fighters, but that's a different concern. I feel more comfortable in the gym then anywhere else in the world, but not everyone is like that.

I teach all of my kids kickboxing, which is my core competence, and I'm the equivalent of a black belt. I actually have a karate black belt, and learned various Chinese striking styles since I was a young teen. In BJJ, I am a four stripe purple belt, and apparently about a year to brown belt. This means that I am an advanced student, but there are a lot more obvious holes in my game, and my overall knowledge of technique and strategy is weaker. I haven't reached that "next level of learning" that is the black belt. I teach jiujitsu to them as well, but honestly, they are going to learn better and faster in all arts if you get them into classes, and supplement with "play" at home.

A lot of the young killers coming up in all martial arts often train in the same gym as their fathers, who were typically eclipsed as their kids hit their late teens and passed through purberty, and are growing into manly strength, this strength being more pronounced because they have trained for 10+ years, since they were very young, when the body learns fastest and retains the most. I expect that my son (now seven, and a savage, by all accounts) will be able to murder me by the time is leaves for college.

If your kids want to do a striking art, get them into it. If not, no biggie. I have 3 kids under 13. One does both jiujitsu and karate, one only karate, and one mostly jiujitsu with some karate as time allows (she is also a gymnast). There is a thin line between high expectations and living through your children, I feel.

Fwiw, the first piece of advice is something that I got from my coach, who is both a world class BJJ practitioner with pretty much royal lineage, and was a two time Olympic alternate and two time Brazilian judo national champion, so i trust him when he says that judo is more injury prone than BJJ.
 
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LA Guy

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A few more thoughts about choosing a gym, and things to watch for, and things to watch out for, imo, if you'll indulge me!

1) Sample a few gyms based on local recs - nearly all gyms will offer at least one free lesson, some up to a free week - but don't abide by the reviews too much. Trust your gut reaction. If the place feels like a good match for you, it probably is. If it feels like a bad match, say thanks, and don't go back or try to rationalize it.

2) Try to choose a school where the head instructor practices with his (it's 99% his) students and teaches classes, or has other high level practitioners who teach classes. Students at all levels get a lot from high level instruction. Also, if an instructor won't train with his own students, unless he is old and/or injured, both distinct possibilities, it sometimes points towards insecurities and ego problems. Even the best practitioners, if they are good instructors, are going to have students that will at some point challenge or even regularly beat them. That should not bother the instructor. After all, that means that he's done a good job. But not everyone is a good instructor... or leader.

3) Choose a culture that feels comfortable to you. Me, I like a family atmosphere, small classes, and informal classes. That's just what appeals to me. Some of the best gyms in the world are like this. Some others are much more strict about things like uniforms, who gets to ask who to spar (typically a higher belt should ask the lower belt to spar, but this is enforced to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the gym) and/or have 90+ people on the mats at the same time. That's wayyyy to much energy for me.

As for getting along in a gym, it's not that hard, but some small things bear reminding:
1) Sparring rounds are nearly always competitive, so it's important to be both a gracious winner and a gracious loser. Always compliment your partner. There is nearly always something nice to say that is also truthful.
2) If you for some reason have to reset, say, if you were too close to the side of the mats, and you were in the inferior position, offer up that position. If your partner insists on resetting, that is his privilege, not yours. If you were in the dominant position, make it your practice to reset to neutral.
3) Don't offer advice unless you ask permission first. I am an instructor in some of the lower level classes, and even if I beat the pants off someone, I will say "May I say something that I noticed?" You can't teach someone who is not receptive to learning, and you'll only hurt their ego. Under no circumstance offer advice to someone who just beat the tar outta you. I've seen this lame attempt at saving face sooooo many times.
4) Train with your partner's safety and physical and technical abilities in mind. I train with a handful of regular partners, and they span the gamut. I train with our head coach, and frankly, I'm just trying to get farther ahead before I start getting my ass whupped. I practice a lot of defense. Others are super tough guys either on my level in all ways, and often bigger, or guys who are slightly less advanced or just less strong - and with those guys we go at it 100%, and it's welcome on both sides. You end the round lying on the mats trying the catch your breath and with your muscles burning. But I also train with a woman who, while she is now a pro fighter as well, is not only relatively green, but gives up close to 30 lbs, and given that I'm a 185 lbs man who has been fighting for decades, since I was a kid, and she is a 155 lb woman who has been fighting for just over 3 years, the strength and speed differential alone is overwhelming. So we play a bit more. Even if she goes hard, I won't, though I won't make a show if it either. I respect what she can do, given where she is at.

Yup, that's pretty much it, I think. Thanks for the question and hope that that was helpful.
 

LA Guy

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What's the best watch (aside for a G Shock) in which to practice combat sports? I've always wondered if these vaunted Rolexes can take a shin square to the case and not miss a beat. I know that a G shock can. I once inadvertently kicked a friend's G Shock Mudmaster about 20 feet into the steel pullup bars, and then the thing careened onto the concrete floor and slid about 10 feet before it was stopped by a couch. Tnere were some nicks on the crystal and some paint chips from the pull up bars on the resin casing, but it was running and looking fine otherwise. Does anyone have an explorer they'd like to test?
 

am55

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Why do you take a watch on the mat? It seems like quite an unpleasant thing to your sparring partner... a big metal thing stuck up their nose or across their throat, a chance for cuts instead of mere bruises, etc.

For all sports these days I use my Mi Band, it costs $30 so easy to replace if broken (good excuse for an upgrade to next gen), slips off if you pull hard enough (unlike the G shock) and small enough not to bump. But I'd take it off on the mat ;)

If you do not care about size the Darth Tuna is probably as tough as it gets, and unlike the so called Sea Dweller (where "sea" is the name given by the owner to his desk) it is actually used by some saturation divers on oil platforms etc. A lot cheaper than an Explorer too.

Thanks for the detailed replies. I did selfishly indulge your willingness to share and generosity, but I'm sure you enjoyed it too. I wonder if kids prefer striking arts - much more spectacular in the courtyard, and can be demo'ed without hurting your friends.
 

LA Guy

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Why do you take a watch on the mat? It seems like quite an unpleasant thing to your sparring partner... a big metal thing stuck up their nose or across their throat, a chance for cuts instead of mere bruises, etc.

For all sports these days I use my Mi Band, it costs $30 so easy to replace if broken (good excuse for an upgrade to next gen), slips off if you pull hard enough (unlike the G shock) and small enough not to bump. But I'd take it off on the mat ;)

If you do not care about size the Darth Tuna is probably as tough as it gets, and unlike the so called Sea Dweller (where "sea" is the name given by the owner to his desk) it is actually used by some saturation divers on oil platforms etc. A lot cheaper than an Explorer too.

Thanks for the detailed replies. I did selfishly indulge your willingness to share and generosity, but I'm sure you enjoyed it too. I wonder if kids prefer striking arts - much more spectacular in the courtyard, and can be demo'ed without hurting your friends.
Watches are strictly verboten on the mats. If you wear it or any jewelry on the mats, you are going to get a severe talking to. It was after jiujitsu practice and we were talking and walking through some striking techniques that would work well for his over all strategy. For some reason he wears his watch on his dominant hand. I showed him the combination, which is designed to get you into the middle distance. 1-2-switch left head kick. Of course I didn't really throw, but I apparently didn't pull my kick enough, and whhhheeeeee, the watch went across the room.

And yes, I'm happy for the question. I talk in this way about fashion all day, about martial arts, less frequently so.

As for kids prefering striking arts, it depends on the child. My girls like working on technique, but one girl finds the striking practice without live, full contact sparring, tedious, especially since she is a strong athlete and loves grappling on the mats (well., at least with kids her size). The other girl likes the form of karate, but she is not a fighter at heart. My boy, who is seven, always wants to scrap, and he will have a go at anyone. He is not that interested in demo'ing anything, to anyone, unless it's to punch them upside the head and throw them to the ground for some more, (or maybe a choke). When I "spar with him" the only reason that I am not getting knocked out is because I am a full grown man with decent defensive technique as well as parrying skills, and make him miss a lot using footwork, or trap his hands using typical boxing and kickboxing checks and parries. Because I have to tell him, regularly, that we are practicing a specific skill, not just going at it. During the line up at the gym, the kids are all asked what their goal for the day was. Everyone has some answer like "work on my guard and mobility", "Work on this move", etc... His answer "My goal was to submit Khalid, and Malik, and Blaise...." hilarious, but we had to have a little chat with him about that afterwards. We have to remind him, daily, that martial arts are for the gym and for self-defense, and that he can't just fight some random kid.
 
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rnguy001

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I wish I took up judo when I was younger for a good base. Now that I'm older I feel that BJJ is lower impact (as Fok said you still have to be smart)

I feel that BJJ transcends so many other martial arts. I had a TKD background and am pretty athletic and strong - and had my eyes opened when I rolled with a 55 year old brown belt that weighed 140 lbs wet. Looked like he never worked out a day in his life, super nice and mellow IT guy. he HANDED my ass to me with just technique.. I was so happy that day because it really reinforced how impressive BJJ is. And that brown belt was just a weekend warrior. There are just LEVELs to everyone.

both of my girls are going to do mandatory BJJ. if they're high blue belts or purples, dad will sleep a lot better once they're in college.
 

am55

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I wonder if each generation there is a popular sport that collects most of the good people, and as a result becomes the place you want to train, regardless of the "theory", because that is where you will learn. Boxing (post-war), then karate in the 70s-80s, whatever flavour of kung fu, then judo, now BJJ...


Part of picking BJJ/judo is the wide adoption and popularity and well established standards that emerged from decades of running global championships. So one day I can be the old weekend warrior ;) or just have a long road ahead with plenty of folks to learn from no matter the country.

Fok, feel free to ramble some more. Don't worry, the martial artists in my family do it often. I quite enjoy the stories. If you enjoy telling them it's win win... this is what this thread is for after all.
 
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nahneun

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2) Try to choose a school where the head instructor practices with his (it's 99% his) students and teaches classes, or has other high level practitioners who teach classes. Students at all levels get a lot from high level instruction. Also, if an instructor won't train with his own students, unless he is old and/or injured, both distinct possibilities, it sometimes points towards insecurities and ego problems. Even the best practitioners, if they are good instructors, are going to have students that will at some point challenge or even regularly beat them. That should not bother the instructor. After all, that means that he's done a good job. But not everyone is a good instructor... or leader.
This cannot be stressed enough
 

LA Guy

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Both of my girls are going to do mandatory BJJ. if they're high blue belts or purples, dad will sleep a lot better once they're in college.
I want this for my girls as well, but I feel like sometimes BJJ gives some practitioners unwarranted confidence. It is quite effective, but it's not a superpower.

I think that one of the Gracie guys said this, but every 50 lbs is like a belt level. And when I did MMA, the adage was that every solid kick or punch to the head decreased a jiujitsu practitioner's level by 1. I choked out a brown belt in one of my last MMA matches, and this was when brown and black belts were much more rare, by stuffing his takedowns, and punching and kicking him for 8 solid minutes until he fell down, and since there was so much blood, and he was mentally beaten, it was relatively easy to get my arm under his neck, and he tapped in a few seconds. I was a fresh blue belt at the time, so his grappling ability was much greater than mine.

Also, if you watch the fight in the early days between Royce Gracie and Kimo, you can see the advantage of size and strength and just basic awareness of BJJ techniques. Royce won by being able to grab Kimo's hair. Otherwise, Kimo would have been able to posture up and finish punching Royce into oblivion.

And then, there are some positions that are great fun in jiujitsu don't work when someone is trying to punch you - like half guard, for example, The wrestlers actually like the top half position, called the "turk" in wrestling, because it's a good control position, especially for holding people down and punching people.

Finally, and probably most importantly, because let's face it, most men trying to assault women are not trying to ground and pound them to a TKO victory (lol), to be able to defend yourself in an actual self defense situation is quite different from doing a sport on a mat. I do worry about my girls being able to develop this mentality, and from what I've seen, it's quite gendered. I'm not going to comment on whether this is biological, cultural, whatever, but I watch a lot of kids learning BJJ and karate, and while the girls are often better and more amenable to learning good technique, the natural born fighters - those who do whatever it takes to win, and are aggressive and unrelenting both in their attack and defense, have so far, in a fairly big sample (a couple of hundred kids, I think), been boys. I'm not sure whether this type of mindset can be taught or not.
 

LA Guy

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Helio/Kimura
Well, Kimura was just better. He was bigger, but not even that much bigger. The Gracies have a great knack at controlling/changing the narrative. For that matter, the Gracie clan is super split - one of the biggest and most dysfunctional families in martial arts.
 

am55

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Yes that was the joke. But to be fair many fighters do get creative with their origin story. Kimura himself, from his book, was no angel:
"When I was in the 7th grade, my older brother came home crying, saying that he got bitten by dogs. The next night, I went out for revenge. I found mid-size three dogs at a storage of a geisha house that was about 50 meters away from my house. They were the enemies. I called them one by one with a whistle, and kicked it with a geta (wooden sandal) by full force. When I passed by the storage, all the 3 dogs were covered with a bandage."

But it's likely that Kimura's idea of judo was closer to MMA than today's (European, MMA-outlawing) IJF, he even called Helio "judo 6th dan". Aside from practicing multiple styles anyway ("After dinner, I did 500 push-ups, bunny hop 1km, and Makiwara strikes of karate 500 times") he got involved in street fights, some involving knives:
"took out a jack knife from a pocket, and suddenly thrust it at my abdominal area. I thought I evaded it successfully, but the knife got to my buttock. He got on a bicycle, and started to run away. I also ran after him while bleeding from the buttock"
"We glared at each other over a distance of about 1 meter. He then suddenly pulled out a Tanto (short sword), and thrust it forward at me. I evaded it, grabbed him, and threw him hard onto the ground. Now, in this state, he is no match to me."

Re: aggressivity (and related), you can probably activate it through intense stress, the question is whether you want to. Patton reversed the course of the North African theatre in part by having his troops train under identical conditions in the US. They hated it at the time, but once facing Rommel, were already adapted and harder to rout. This was interesting because different from the modern approach which tries to weed out the unfit ahead of joining the unit - he was training everyone, needed to make everyone useful.

But will your daughters really face those kind of conditions in the future? A friend who had just returned from one of the "unofficial" African theatres was waiting for me downstairs my building, and as I approached from the (glass) door, I watched as, waiting, he was continuously scanning the car park, probably out of habit. In Singapore, where the worst thing that can happen to you is a mosquito bite, and even that is being taken care of by the government. Peace of mind is nice too...
 

LA Guy

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I wonder if each generation there is a popular sport that collects most of the good people, and as a result becomes the place you want to train, regardless of the "theory", because that is where you will learn. Boxing (post-war), then karate in the 70s-80s, whatever flavour of kung fu, then judo, now BJJ...


Part of picking BJJ/judo is the wide adoption and popularity and well established standards that emerged from decades of running global championships. So one day I can be the old weekend warrior ;) or just have a long road ahead with plenty of folks to learn from no matter the country.

Fok, feel free to ramble some more. Don't worry, the martial artists in my family do it often. I quite enjoy the stories. If you enjoy telling them it's win win... this is what this thread is for after all.
Of the bolded part, I think that you are somewhat correct, but that you may be imposing a structure, in some cases, where there is none, and in other cases conflating different roads that led to a similar destination.

Boxing and wrestling have long histories, at least in Europe and America, as amateur sports, with inclusions very early on even in the Olympics. In high schools, and even elementary schools, boxing and wrestling were parts of the physical education curriculum, and they have been well organized, well governed, sports for a long time. In Japan, Judo was created by Jigaro Kano, who took elements of Japanese jiujitsu and created a much gentler art with it, taking out most joint manipulations, for example. Kano was instrumental in the development of the Japanese educational system, so it had a similar path to boxing and wrestling, and with perhaps an even greater veneer of respectability. And that carried through to it's easy adoption in the US and other western countries and the Olympics. Similarly, Taekwando, still the most profitable martial art in the US, is the actual national martial art of Korea and is taught in schools. And again, easily adopted into the Olympics. Karate, or at least the karate styles following the Shotokan tradition, developed more like BJJ, with a much looser confederation, and frankly, with a lot more infighting between the founders.

Kung Fu has, like a lot of Chinese imported goods, always been a poorly marketed shitshow. I wonder why the Chinese are so bad at marketing. Japanese restaurants charge high $$$ and have a mysticism around them. Chinese restaurants are known for their inexpensive meals and dismal decorations. Sigh.
 

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