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The SF Martial Arts Thread

am55

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A lot of practitioners of performance wushu have publicly stated that what they do is not practical for realistic fighting, that they are artists, but not fighters. I think that this is a very healthy attitude. There are other reasons to practice a martial artist than becoming a skilled fighter. I do feel that the insistence of some traditional martial artists (hard and soft styles alike) that their styles, which are often completely untested in actual combat, are good for combat, to be foolish, at best. [...]

I'm definitely not against traditional martial arts - I hold a decent dan level in Shotokan, and also hold a decent ranking in Kenpo. I am very much against any statement of efficacy that a practitioner will not back up in combat.
Why define combat as 1-on-1 in a room with a well padded floor and practitioners who stop before death? How long would you last in Sarajevo during the Kosovo war, or Helmand Province during recent operations, or Yemen right now amongst the PMC teams paid for by your taxes?

Yes, UFC 1 gave a rough idea of what kind of things worked best in a certain setting but what percentage of the modern Marine's training is MCMAP vs reading books, or how much hand to hand combat is the average Q course candidate going to need to pass selection? Under this definition, whilst you might very well "take on" "warrior monk" Mattis, or Carlos Hathcock even at his peak, on the mat, the average Singaporean male is a more "skilled fighter" thanks to his two years running around in the jungle with a SAR 21 (unless there is a part of your life you have kept very quiet about).

The martial arts world is unfortunately full of charlatans. I think that the old school dojo storms (which never happen any more) would keep people a lot more honest.
The peacetime military world is unfortunately full of Walter Mitties. I think that the old school wars between developed nations (which never happen anymore - how are we to know today whether COIN is a good idea when back in the good old days something like De Gaulle's idea of combined arms as published in his 1932 Fil de l'Epee would be vindicated in real combat half a decade later by Guderian and Rommel) would keep people a lot more honest. Instead we get speculative essays (counterpoint). (no, I am not serious)
 

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am55

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I think you misunderstand my point, or I misunderstand your reply. I object to the idea of "lethality" being used to describe modern martial arts, which are a form of sports, with some of the hobbyists being a bit more willing to take damage than others. The limitations that BJJ imposes on fighting (single opponent, padded mat, etc.) are philosophically the same as the ones, say, aikido imposes (training with cooperating opponent, etc.) - just a different degree, or direction (such as boxing not being about wrestling).

Perhaps because, even as a soft civilian, I have friends who have been in actual combat (firefights, lost friends to IEDs, etc.), I find it difficult to hear the word being used to describe a sport, no matter how dangerous the techniques would be "in real life" (see any parallels with the ninjutsu guy earlier? in his case it might have been technique, in yours, it is an unwillingness - hopefully - to end someone else's life). Maybe I'm in a minority statistically for holding that opinion? But I do not think that unarmed, one-on-one competition skills alone a fighter make. Semantics...

Your lawyer sounds like a great guy and his quip parallels what I was trying to say.

The US military is fascinating in that it is the greatest experiment in combined arms in history, with technology (and culture) allowing a degree of integration that makes the whole much greater than the parts. There have been some superlative warriors coming out of the 20th century proxy wars. The Rhodesian Selous Scouts or the South African apartheid-era Recces or 32 Battalion or even Koevoet had individuals racking up such an immense amount of experience I doubt any single operator today would match it, with the survivors in great demand amongst PMCs until they got too old (32 Battalion in particular formed a good chunk of Executive Outcomes when they took back countries in weeks with 80 men and one Mi-24). Or look at Mike Hoare in Congo. That British Army training and experience went a long way back then.

But are these guys the greatest "skilled fighter"? I think beyond that would be the member of the hive mind, the specialist doing his small part in a greater whole benefitting from the collective, systematic learning of millions of servicemen over almost a century to perfect martial "science". Even infantry Marines have to learn hundreds of pages of material these days... as the saying goes "these were written in the blood of your predecessors". And well organised, experienced teamwork rewrites the odds to such an extent that you can look at the stats post battle (e.g. the Nyadzonya Raid... or the first Gulf War!) and wonder if you read it wrong. Just like soccer as you guys call it - a team of mediocre players will still beat the PSG's brilliantly paid narcissists (sorry Inspector ;)).

As for being "on the streets", there is no rational basis for saying that something that doesn't work on the mats is coming going to work on "the streets".
Imagine something like this on concrete instead of a padded floor, especially against someone who doesn't train so much against throws. Just one variable changed, maybe yes it is more dangerous for both but it is more dangerous for the guy getting thrown (I was first thinking of something like Ude Gaeshi, but that would be harder to pull off on a Fok I suspect!). If I recall the history of the Helio fights against Kimura's lot that particular detail did frustrate the judo side quite a bit...

So, that is why I see all martial arts as something to do for fun, the exhilaration of winning, the beauty inherent in the efficiency of modern techniques, the meeting of minds in a truly equal setting where only ability matters. That is all worth doing but it is not "combat", if that makes sense. Even if you're just running a startup/SME, you can't ignore the way IBM or McKinsey do things, not if you are truly interested in understanding management, so I would expect those interested in combat to be reservists, keep up to date with the literature, etc. - it is the logical continuation of UFC 1 ;)
 

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am55

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There are plenty of combatants that aren't employees of a national military organisation. Aside from PMCs, volunteer groups are common (the Kosovo Liberation Army, ISIS, or going further back: ZANLA or even Mandela's ANC) and don't always draw from former military personnel. You could even argue that whilst a green beret has military training and gets his orders from the chain of command, the activity of growing a volunteer armed group in a country you're not officially at war with is not exactly "soldiering" as commonly understood (there are definitely some groups going around Syria and Yemen at the moment with "interesting" origin).

I would however say that the distinction comes from your goals, "real" fighting is in great part about setting up a situation that gives you a high probability of winning which by definition is going to be very unequal whilst "competitive" fighting tries to even the odds ahead of the fight the goal being to establish who is the most skilled in the narrow definition of the actual going at it.

Anyway, I am just trying to present an alternative point of view. Aside from common usage changing over time (who today seriously associates kung fu with magical fighting skills?) I think this inflation of words, this removal of meaning from things associated with violence-with-consequences help normalise it in the eye of the public which is how you eventually end up with APCs doing crowd control on US soil (let alone what happens outside the borders). But then we get into a CE discussion and it is unpleasant.

I'm sorry for the digression in any case and we should return to the original, much more interesting discussion.
 

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am55

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In general, though, a 300 lb giant that we called "Thor" usually took care of things. And unless you have a lot of drunk strongest men in the World competitors getting overly aggressive, 300 lbs of solid man is usually enough.
Never forget:
 

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Clouseau

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Some news... Practicing Yang Taijiquan for ten years, i met by chance a couple of months ago a group of Chinese practicing Chen Taijiquan. They invited me to practice with them. So i now practice both styles, i think i will have to choose next year...
Chen Taiji is really different, much more martial. it's a new challenge for me.
Any Chen practitioner around ?
 

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Clouseau

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Chen Taijiquan : Buddha's Warrior Attendant Pounds Mortar

Chen Manga.jpg
 

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