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Old 12-06-2012, 10:37 AM   #1
T. Trian
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Martial Arts and Combat Sports

So who's into the art of pugilism? Me and K. Trian have benefited a great deal from training martial arts/combat sports when it comes to writing fight scenes in our books.

Anyway, my pugilistic history is fairly lengthy but unfortunately quite intermittent. I was lucky in the sense that my dad was/is a bit of a martial arts nut and I was 5 or 6 when he first took me along to train karate (no idea what kind) and then boxing but since I was so young, I didn't participate in the classes but we trained home together (my big sister trained with us as well since she wanted to be a warrior princess like Zelda from the Nintendo game ).

When I was around 10 or so, my dad (and consequently us kids too) got into Pentjak Silat and we trained that for a year or two but then my dad ordered the Ultimate Fighting Championship video tape and after that we were all sold on Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu.

Anyway, my first exposure to training in an actual martial arts club was when me and a couple of my friends found a Krav Maga club where the instructor didn't ask for our age (here in Finland you have to be 18 to train KM but we were sixteen at the time). That was cut short because we lived so far from the place (just going there took about one and a half hours).

I did return to Krav Maga when I was 20, trained almost a year before I moved on to Muay Thai which was simply amazing. I love the sport; there's something very graceful about the rough simplicity of it all. I trained MT for about a year but once again eventually I got tired of taking three buses and over an hour just to get to the club.

Next was Senshido, a modern RBSD (Reality Based Self-Defense) system. Since there was no official Senshido club in my city, the instructor came to teach us about once a month and the rest of the time we trained those things on our own.
I've never seen so many injuries than after one of our instructorless training sessions: one broken finger, two bleeding noses, bite marks (I had two on my right arm and one on my chest), a few concussions, and sore ribs, throats (from various chokes), eyes (yeah, we did eye gouging too though not full force but hard enough that one guy saw everything in twos for a few minutes), and groins (we did wear cups but it still hurt). Oh, and my right shin still has a dent on it when I kicked a guy, going for his groin, but he blocked it Muay Thai style i.e. with his shin. Since we didn't have shin guards... man that hurt! I actually saw stars for a while :P
I don't really recommend that kind of training to anyone but it was fun when we were young and slightly more stupid. I also got both of my thumbs broken in those training sessions (though not at the same time) and I had a splint and bandages on my right hand when I was supposed to meet K. Trian's parents for the first time, hoping to make a good impression Come to think of it, I've broken three fingers and one toe in training (my right middle finger works fine, doesn't hinder guitar playing, but it curves to the right a little bit). I've been lucky that I haven't sustained any permanent injuries when training like an idiot (I suppose this is one of those times when I'm justified in saying "do as I say, not as I do.")

It wasn't until I moved with K. Trian close to my old Krav Maga club and since I had taught the Mrs. what little I knew about proper kicking and punching technique, we both joined the club along with three of our friends.

That was a fantastic experience and after about 6 months or so we moved on to Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Man, that was tough! The toughest training I've ever experienced and each trainee sustained at least a few injuries over the course of the basic course (about 3-4 months). I remember vividly when I sparred with a pro boxer who also did power lifting and worked as a bouncer. I tell you, when I grabbed his shoulders, it was like gripping a brick wall. Naturally I could do little else except be tossed about, twisted, and choked out in record time. It was a freaky group anyway: I was 6'1/170lbs and I was one of the smallest guys there and K. Trian was the only girl so she definitely had her work cut out for her but the BJJ class was probably one of the most useful, if not the most useful stuff she's learned when considering self-defense because it focuses quite heavily on controlling your opponent on the ground and fighting on your back.
Anyway, after BJJ me and K. Trian trained on our own for a while until we joined a boxing club last September. So far it's been amazing and I'm hoping to get to try my luck in the ring next spring.

We've actually made a plan when it comes to jumping from style to style: our main goal is self-defense but it's such a broad subject that there's really not much opportunity for the instructors to teach, say, a right hook as in much detail as in a boxing club so we'll do this until next summer, then we return to BJJ (my goal is to get a blue belt in about a year), and then when our grappling and striking have been honed well, we return to Krav Maga (or Defendo or Senshido, any of the modern RBSD systems but the KM school is a good one and it's a 5min drive from our home).

I really do want to return to Muay Thai some day and the wife also wants to try it out (she has the perfect physique for the sport: tall-ish, long limbs, very light bones, sinewy build so she'd likely be a head taller than her opponents) just because it's so... fun. I know, I know, it can be painful and uncomfortable but it's still nowhere near as brutal as those BJJ classes were.

I'm sorry but I honestly have no idea why my posts on AW always seem to end up being juggernauts like this so, uh, my apologies.

Anywho, are there any other martial arts/combat sports nuts here?
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Old 12-06-2012, 09:22 PM   #2
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Trained in Shotokan Karate for five years, then got into kickboxing for a while. I was always an athlete, but found that this training made be better at all sports, as it taught me how to break down a movement technique by technique. Now I have a heavy bag, speed bag, free weights, bench, etc in an extra garage we don't use. But lately, I don't do anything. Been thinking about getting back into something, really just for the exercise, which was why I got into this stuff in the first place. You mentioned Brazilian jiu jitsu, which I agree is a very effective, interesting looking art. I actually met one of the Gracey Brothers at a dojo in L.A. My problem at the moment is one of inertia. But the fighting arts, boxing included, I think are as good a way to stay in shape as you can find. Need to get moving!

ETA.. Oh yeah, and yes, this background has helped me in my writing as I just wrote a boxing novel and screenplay. Fighters who have read it have commented on how realistic the fight scenes are.
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Old 12-06-2012, 10:49 PM   #3
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If you combine BJJ and boxing with the mentality of modern self-defense systems, you've got pretty much all the bases covered when it comes to unarmed combat.

It might be a good idea to check out local clubs regardless of what art/system they teach. Usually the teachers are very open about having someone come and see how they train. I would pay extra attention to the teachers themselves, even more so than in what art/system they teach because I've encountered bad teachers who teach an otherwise good art/system (which means the students don't learn nearly as much as they could) and I've also encountered fantastic teachers who've represented arts/systems I'm not particularly interested in. Of course it would be best to find a great teacher in the art/system you want to train in but if you can't find that, having a good teacher imo is more important than the actual art/system they teach.

One method I've found useful in gauging how good a particular school is are comfort zones: if the mere idea of going to the club to train gets my heart racing and adrenaline flowing, I know I'm doing the right thing, pushing myself beyond the comfort zone because I believe that's the only way to really develop yourself (not only as a martial artist but as a person too). Like Geoff Thompson says: "lean on sharp edges."
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Old 12-07-2012, 12:52 AM   #4
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No shortage of good teachers here in L.A., in whatever style you're looking for.

I trained under this guy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hidetaka_Nishiyama who passed a few years ago. Also, under his disciples like Toru Bellam who was national kata champion. Kickboxing training was under this guy http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Benny_Urquidez and his sister Lilly, who had a right hand like Rocky Marciano. Peter Sugar Foot Cunningham http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_C...ham_(kickboxer) was also an instructor at the school, and I trained under him for a while. No problem finding good teachers, it's me. Been out of it for a while and am looking at a long road back. Eventually I will ... Probably. As I say, I was never in it for the self defense. My father was a pro boxer and he taught me the fundamentals from the time that I could stand on two feet. My interest was always in the exercise. A great, fun way to stay in shape.
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Old 12-07-2012, 03:53 AM   #5
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Dude... you've gotten to train with Benny Urquidez? Damn, that must've been an awesome experience, the man is a freakin' living legend!


Here's some old school Benny:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7beh4v5c5c

By the way, the song couldn't have been more fitting, especially after 05:10
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Old 12-07-2012, 04:38 AM   #6
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Thanks for linking that. He's something else, isn't he? He was such a cool presence around The Jet Center. Such a nice guy, and so bright. People that don't know don't realize how much thought goes into this stuff. The black guy he was using for demonstrations was Peter Cunningham. Benny trains a lot of actors for movie roles and he's been in a few himself. John Cuzack trained there for example. I first heard of The Jet Center when watching a talk show and Chuck Norris said that was where he trained. One of the perks of living in a city like L.A. Not my home, but I've been here a long time.

I remember when I first realized how important it is to maintain balance, and how to mentally connect my feet and my hands. Truth is, I was never that good with my feet. The hand techniques came pretty easily, though the hook was a challenge for a while.

Benny's Five Rules

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QIq0ElVe8LY
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Old 12-08-2012, 06:46 AM   #7
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Damn, I'm really jealous now! You've had some awesome people to train with.

Those five rules were really food for thought, thank you! Especially the bit about getting your hands and feet working together in sync. Reminds me of the hours upon hours that me and the wife have practiced what we call the "Hoost Combo:"(at 0:55-0:57) jab, cross, liver-hook, right roundhouse to the thigh. I'll tell ya, it's a pain to learn at first and it's literally a pain to defend against when the hits come from so many different directions and levels.

By the way, are you more into combat sports or self-defense?
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Old 12-08-2012, 07:12 AM   #8
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I practice Japanese-style jujutsu. It's combat self defense-oriented. I'm getting too old to do the hard-core competitive stuff, but I still enjoy getting on the mat. I wish I had been more physically fit (and interested) when I was younger.
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Old 12-09-2012, 12:43 AM   #9
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I guess I can reply here too. I didn't use to do combat sports before apart from some irregular fitness boxing. I was a through-and-through equestrianist back then, but when I met T. Trian 6 years ago, I started training more regularly, and while my knees can't quite take thai boxing because of the knee kicks, it was the sport that kinda opened the door into the martial arts world well and proper.

I like this type of training. It also builds confidence, which I need when teaching rowdy kids. BJJ was particularly scary 'cause all the sparring partners were big and strong men. I only bested some of them in endurance, but e.g. in boxing that I now train, many guys there have really top endurance, so I can't even, well, out-endure them x)
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Old 12-09-2012, 09:47 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Amadan View Post
I practice Japanese-style jujutsu. It's combat self defense-oriented. I'm getting too old to do the hard-core competitive stuff, but I still enjoy getting on the mat. I wish I had been more physically fit (and interested) when I was younger.
Is Japanese jujutsu usually considered a traditional martial art?

Is there grappling in it too?

How would you say it differs from Kyukushin karate or Judo?
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Old 12-09-2012, 08:43 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by T. Trian View Post
Is Japanese jujutsu usually considered a traditional martial art?

Is there grappling in it too?

How would you say it differs from Kyukushin karate or Judo?
Yes, jujutsu is very much a traditional martial art. It's descended from aiki-jutsu, which was unarmed fighting that samurai trained in.

Brazilian JJ is descended from Japanese-style jujutsu; the Gracies basically shifted all the emphasis to ground fighting. Japanese jujutsu has grappling and ground fighting, but whereas a BJJer will try to take the fight to the ground right away, in traditional JJ we do more strikes and throws. We also practice a lot of self-defense moves against knives and guns.

Judo is the sport form of jujutsu; it is basically jujutsu with most of the dangerous techniques (like strikes and joint-breaking) removed.

Karate is much more of a hard "sparring" style. Karate is all strikes; in jujutsu, we learn some striking techniques, but don't practice them as much as holds and throws.
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Old 12-20-2012, 06:29 AM   #12
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Thanks for the clarifiction! There are so many interesting martial arts/combat sports out there and so little time...
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Old 12-21-2012, 01:12 AM   #13
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Quote:
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Yes, jujutsu is very much a traditional martial art. It's descended from aiki-jutsu, which was unarmed fighting that samurai trained in.

...

Judo is the sport form of jujutsu; it is basically jujutsu with most of the dangerous techniques (like strikes and joint-breaking) removed.
Actually, technically, jujutsu is not a martial art, and neither is aikijutsu.

Judo and aikido are the martial art forms of both arts. The "-jutsu" ending indicates the killing or combat form, and the "-do" ending indicates budo, which is loosely translated as martial art in the Western world.

Jujutsu and aikijutsu are the forms that would have been taught during warring periods, and are more focused on what's most effective in an actual fight. The budo forms of judo and aikido are martial arts that use the techniques from the warring forms as a path for spiritual and personal growth and development.

It's true that in the West, judo has been very "sportified" and Westernized, though, and its origins as a budo have all but been lost; it resembles what was taught in Japan as a budo pretty much only in the techniques it uses. Read Japanese reactions to Western judo and they really don't like what's been done with it.

Aikido has probably been a bit less Westernized than judo, and still focuses more on the spiritual and personal growth that characterizes budo.

But aikijutsu and jujutsu aren't budo. They're the more combat and fighting focused forms of aikido and judo. Martial arts aren't about fighting or combat. They aren't a sport, either, although that's what many have been reduced to in the West. Martial arts are supposed to be about defeating and rebuilding yourself to be a better person.

If you're only interested in combat, you don't want budo. You want the "-jutsu" forms, but it can often be more difficult to find a legitimate dojo.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:38 AM   #14
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I've been learning kung fu for about four years. A little longer, actually. I did wushu for three years in Japan, then had to take a break for a year (no school), and now my school is more traditional, but a few of us are more contemporary.

I can't claim to be particularly good, but I'm not terrible, either. I'm actually in the process of relearning the forms I had before I had to take a break.
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Old 12-23-2012, 06:52 AM   #15
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Quote:
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But aikijutsu and jujutsu aren't budo. They're the more combat and fighting focused forms of aikido and judo. Martial arts aren't about fighting or combat. They aren't a sport, either, although that's what many have been reduced to in the West. Martial arts are supposed to be about defeating and rebuilding yourself to be a better person.

If you're only interested in combat, you don't want budo. You want the "-jutsu" forms, but it can often be more difficult to find a legitimate dojo.

Well....

That all assumes that "martial art" is purely a Japanese concept and that the Japanese get to define what is and isn't one.

Japan didn't invent martial arts, though.

The distinction between a budo and a jutsu is true as far as it goes, but the delineation is not now and never was quite as clean and neat as Japanese purists would have it.
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Old 12-23-2012, 08:00 AM   #16
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Old 12-23-2012, 11:19 AM   #17
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That all assumes that "martial art" is purely a Japanese concept and that the Japanese get to define what is and isn't one.

Japan didn't invent martial arts, though.

The distinction between a budo and a jutsu is true as far as it goes, but the delineation is not now and never was quite as clean and neat as Japanese purists would have it.
That's true and fair.

It certainly doesn't seem to matter as much in the West where much of budo has devolved into sport anyway.

It's an important distinction to me, though. I have little interest in fighting or sports, but I'm into budo. I like the reiho and the traditional, ritualistic aspects of budo.

I tend to think budo when I hear martial arts, but you're right. It's just a loose translation that has plenty of other meanings, too. And indeed, budo and jutsu are deeply intertwined as well. For example, in kendo, its roots in kenjutsu become clear in kendo no kata, which are mostly adapted from the Ono-ha Ittoryu and Hakushin Ittoryu schools of kenjutsu, and understanding one helps to understand the other.

I'd think the budo vs jutsu distinction would still be important for those more interested in how practical a technique is.
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Old 01-03-2013, 03:53 PM   #18
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Nice thread with good exchanges.
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Old 01-13-2013, 05:31 AM   #19
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Always feel compelled to chime in on one of these threads since it’s my area of expertise (I’m a martial arts journalist and have practiced various arts for more years than I care to admit).

To clarify a few things:

The old “do”/”jutsu” method of classifying Japanese martial arts has never really been exact. Probably a better method is to refer to “koryu” and modern Japanese martial arts. Koryu arts are essentially “old school” styles, ones that were founded before the late 19th century (some people use the Meiji Restoration of 1868 as a cut off date). There are really only a handful of koryu arts still in existence and almost all Japanese martial arts you see practiced nowadays can be considered “modern” arts. This includes judo, which was based on several koryu ju-jutsu styles but also had some small influence from western wrestling; most ju-jutsu styles, which are often some combination of koryu ju-jutsu, judo, karate and aikido; as well as Japanese karate-do and aikido themselves. Brazilian jiu-jitsu is actually based on judo as taught by a Japanese immigrant named Maeda, though the terms judo and ju-jutsu were often used interchangeably in the west in those days. Maeda was also a professional wrestler and likely included some catch wrestling techniques in what he taught his Brazilian students. Aikido comes from the older aiki-jutsu, which is usually classified as a form of koryu ju-jutsu though there is some debate as to whether its roots really are that old. It should be noted, most of the oldest koryu ju-jutsu styles - ones which go back several hundred years and sometimes went by other names such as yawara - were not usually intended to be done exclusively with bare hands. Rather, they were meant to be used only in emergencies if you lost your weapon or, more likely, as a means of temporarily stunning or restraining an opponent so you could better use a weapon on him. It was only when Japan was united under the Tokugawa shoguns and these arts were no longer being used on the battle field that purely empty hand styles of ju-jutsu began to become popular. It should also be noted, older, more “combative” arts do not necessarily translate as more effective. While styles that include sporting competition may have removed the more dangerous techniques, they also afford the student the opportunity to test the techniques they do learn by going full bore (at least in the case of judo and BJJ) against an uncooperative opponent, which has generally proven to be a more effective means of developing practical skills than static drills.

As for jutsu and do, like I said, the classifications have never been quite exact. The head of one of the oldest koryu kenjutsu systems, the Ono Ha Itto Ryu, which someone mentioned above, kept referring to his style as “budo” and talking about spiritual development when I interviewed him (this concept does go back to at least the early 17th century in certain koryu arts) meanwhile, certain arts created in the 20th century, such as the modern Japanese bayonet fighting used in WWII, are clearly battlefield arts with less emphasis placed on spiritual development.

As to the whole concept of “budo” this has been a widely misinterpreted facet of the Japanese martial arts. The sort of new age, self-actualizing image we have of budo nowadays is really a post-WWII creation. There is an excellent term used by some historians called “invented traditions” which is now gaining ground among serious martial arts historians. Essentially, most of what we think of as the traditions and history of martial arts have been misconstrued or just made up and passed off as legitimate history (the same could probably be said for many other fields of history as well). Most of the serious modern research seems to indicate that the concept of budo in the Japanese martial arts was first popularized in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Japanese government officials who were interested in turning the country into a modern industrial and military power. They actually based much of budo on 19th century European ideas of physical education in the promotion of nationalism. As such, budo became closely linked with Japanese fascism. But these roots were often forgotten or disregarded, particularly in the west, after WWII.

Finally, as someone else mentioned, martial arts/methods are about far more than just the Japanese styles. Of course, almost all of these non-Japanese arts have their own invented traditions as well.

And yes, L.A. is probably the best spot in the world for martial arts (everyone wants to go to L.A.). I believe Benny is now teaching at the Hayastan MMA Academy run by Gokor Chivichyan and Gene LeBell. They’re all top notch and nice guys so stop in to see them.

Last edited by Mark Jacobs; 01-16-2013 at 01:25 AM.
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