Sunday, October 25, 2015

Does it work? It depends.

I read a comment on a YouTube video recently that went along the lines that traditional karateka knew for a fact that their techniques worked.

I always cringe a little when I hear things like this, or if I'm asked "what would you do if x happened?"

Unfortunately people have the mistaken belief due to marketing and hype that the martial arts, fighting, combat, self defense, etc is like learning how to fix a car. You read the instruction manual, you turn the screws, you replace the parts and you become a mechanic. Obviously there's more to it, but cars for the most part are static objects. They don't learn, lie, trick or adapt. They just wear down. Humans on the other hand are a completely different story. In the matter of activities where two humans interact things basically work until they don't and there isn't much you can do about it.

The number of variables is just too big. The variables of the environment, situations, the state of yourself and the other person or persons, not to mention the laws that govern the area you are in. Shooting someone in self defense in a dark alley is a little different than shooting someone in self defense in the middle of a crowded courtroom especially if you're not a cop. They'll praise you right before slapping the handcuffs on you. A good deed generally doesn't wash out a bad one in the United States.

This is sometimes difficult to understand, because we all started going to the dojo to become kung fu killers, mostly. Don't lie. You were thinking about it. I know I was. Generally techniques do work when the variables are right and the correct principles are applied. The difference between a slap and a palm heel is the application of principles not aesthetics.

So does traditional karate work? Yes and no, it depends. It depends on knowing the style's principles of movement, the strategies of each kata that you practice if you plan on using it's techniques, ingraining those principles and techniques in a non-prescriptive way and then practicing the application of all of those factors on a resisting opponent that knows exactly what you're trying to do and actively trying to thwart it.

Sadly I can count on one hand the number of traditional dojo that I know do this. Sadly they were none of the dojo I've practiced at.