Dagon: I was one of the Black Coats wandering during the Beginners Class you visited, and I was practicing in the Intermediate Class you mistook for Advanced afterward.
I’ve got to give you credit for actually dragging yourself in for the look-see. Truly, I’m impressed that you followed up. If only you had left your prejudices at the door, rather than looking for evidence you could twist to fit your preconceptions, you might also get credit for writing an honest review. Alas, it’s not to be.
I had you pegged from the beginning, and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one. When you started asking about the pictures of Martial Arts masters on the wall as we were stretching I figured we had a visitor from Bullshido. (I’ve never understood the obsession you seem to have with those pictures.) It’s interesting that you mention them here, but you don’t mention that you asked about them, and received an answer. My guess is that you weren’t able to come up with a suitably sarcastic way to twist the response in order to mock the staffer who was trying to help you.
At least you didn’t ask how long it takes to get to Black Belt. You get points for that much. And I’ve heard this question asked and answered before, so I know you got a straight answer. (There’s a possibility that they had already figured you for a ringer, and were by this point just tired of your schtick.)
Originally Posted by dagon
While your quoting skills are abysmal, the gist of this seems accurate. Yep, we do spar – some point sparring in Intermediate Classes, point and full-on in Advanced Classes. And, yes, amazingly enough, people have to go to work the next day and work with clients, patients, co-workers and the like, so we try really hard not to disfigure each other when sparring and grappling.
Me: Do you guys spar?
SCMA: Oh yeah. Lots of it.
Me: Can you describe how you guys spar? Could I check that out?
SCMA: Oh, we do everything. You can’t watch it though.
Me: I can’t watch it?
Me: Do you spar in the beginner classes?
SCMA: Oh, no, not at all. Not until the advanced classes. We don’t want people hurting each other, so they have to know how not to hurt each other until we let anyone spar.
Me: Do you do point, continuous, ground?
SCMA: Oh yeah. We do it all.
Me: How often do you guys spar?
SCMA: Oh, all the time.
You don’t have to attend the Orientation, but it sure helps you to not act like a jerk. It’s a traditional school, which finds value in the traditions of etiquette – you bow to your partners with whom you work, you bow to the teacher. Most students appreciate the instruction, as the etiquette can be foreign to most Americans, and people don’t like to feel like they stand out. I’m not sure where you got the “Prayer Hand” thing. Students line up for class in rank, and a late-comer will “bump” a student of lower rank, sometimes with cascading (and comical) results.
I was told to sit outside of class while it began because “Some new people get a little weirded out due to all the bowing.” And I did. As class began everyone lined up to “meditate” and each time a new person came in, they’d have to go up and do a deep bow to the person in “their” spot, and then that person would bow and stand up with a prayer hand out to them, and then that person would go to another person now in “their” spot, and then more bowing would ensue. . . if you sign up for the school you have to first attend an “orientation” class to teach you how to bow, when to bow, how deep to bow, and all of the other bowing formalities and rules.
Yeah, you were not “supposed” to be watching the rest of the class; you were supposed to be paying attention to what you were doing, and to the staffer who was in effect giving you a private lesson. Too bad you wasted the opportunity.
When everyone was lined up properly the class meditated for about 5 minutes. Then they did about 2 minutes of stretching. That’s when I got to go in and work with an assistant. I was not “supposed” to watch the class when it was going on, but basically everyone lined up and ran down their row doing snap kicks, then side kicks, then hook punches, then uppercuts, then this-or-that. There was lots of yelling during this. It was definitely a good cardio workout. Ya know, like Tae-Bo. Sifu Brown stood at the front of the class yelling out numbers. He did not work with any of his students.
For your edification: while you were craning your neck, the rest of the class was doing kihon – I think it was two to three-step combinations that night, sidestepping, punches, kicks. The yelling you heard was the count for techniques. It’s a good cardio workout, if you let it be. It’s like Tae Bo if you don’t know what you’re looking at, or if you’ve already decided that you know what it’s all about. In which case you missed the focus of each technique, the emphasis on proper striking surfaces, body tension (and relaxation), rotation and the like. There’s a lot to miss, but that’s one reason why Sifu wanders through the class during this period, correcting technique one-on-one. If you missed his wandering, perhaps that’s when you were actually paying attention to what you were doing.
Were you really working hard enough to need water? Seriously, though, imagine the mats when everyone has their own water bottle, cooler or lawn chair. Most people find a way to break away from practice for a quick drink, when they’re in dire need.
I guess this is where I should mention that I couldn’t bring water onto the mat: “If you really need water, you can keep it in the closet or go to the drinking fountain. But… that’s only if you really need it.”
Because as some guy who just walked in the door, we have to assume you’re a moron who can’t be trusted not to try something funky. (Especially when you’re not paying attention to what you’re doing, as busy as you seemed to be “not watching class”.)
I worked in the corner with an assistant, “not watching class”. I was shown basic Karate kicks, and some punches. Each time a new move was shown the assistant would yell out someone’s name: “Mr. So-And-So. I need your help with a demonstration!” In fact, there was lots of yelling going on during class. Mr. So-And-So would run over and the assistant would tell him to toss out a punch or kick, and then he’d respond with a move. Then we’d do the move a few times. I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t have me do this instead.
Sounds like you don’t recognize a backfist when you see one. The One-Inch Punch is an illustration of tension at the moment of impact, but it ain’t a backfist. Perhaps with all the not-paying-attention you were doing while checking out the hot chicks and clocking Sifu Brown’s wandering miles, you missed the seque from backfist to recussion punch, and you seem to have completely whiffed on the concept of body tension at the moment of impact. That’s okay – beginners aren’t expected to know this stuff, that’s why we start out slow. What’s not okay is that you think your lack of attention is somehow not your fault.
One of the “moves” was Bruce Lee’s “one-inch punch”. This was thrown out like a whip. “Fast and relaxed, and then tensing right when you impact.” Um, excuse me, but what the **** are you talking about?
Most beginner classes are broken down; kihon first in groups, during which you had your Intro; then Chin Na, Chokes, Throws and Grappling. What you thought was “self-defense” was this latter part. I’m not sure why you think a stomp kick or front punch, which you were shown during the first part of the class, couldn’t be used for self-defense.
This went on for about 30 minutes. Cardio work. Yelling. Sifu Brown standing at the front of class not working with students. Me “not watching class” and working on basics. More yelling. “Black shirts” help people who are doing moves wrong, while Brown stands at the front of class. Then we did about 2 more minutes of stretching before doing the “self-defense” part of class.
Hmm. Missed the point again. And again, it’s okay not to “get it” in the beginning. It’s kind of not-okay to be such a schmuck about the fact that you didn’t get it. Sifu Brown demonstrated the range of responses to a typical attack, such as a roundhouse punch. You can get hit – not so good; block it – better, but not great (this is probably where he whacked his helper); sidestep; or, at the highest level, merge (the “Aikido-type throw”). We’re expected to keep it light and simple in Beginner’s Class until we’ve got enough experience to be able to whack somebody without seriously hurting him.
This is the first time I saw Brown actually work with a student. When Robert Brown got an assistant, he said “Now, if he throws a punch I could do something like this” and elbowed the guy really hard in the chest. There was a look of pain in the student’s face as Brown aggressively tried out a few other things and smacked him around. We were then shown an Aikido-type throw as a response. Brown then told us to “go easy on each other” and to “keep it simple and light.” So after watching you slap a student in the face we get to go easy?
I think you’re making that Dog Style part up. Been there nine years, and I’ve never heard it referred to as anything other than grappling. It’s part of Kung Fu, has always been since I started there: sidestepping, harmonizing, punching, kicking, chin na, chokes, throws, grappling. It takes a long time to get good at all of it, and most folks tend to really focus on the bits they’re best at, but that’s human nature.
And then I got to witness the amazing technical abilities of “Dog Style” + “a ground style” of Jiu-Jitsu!!!
Now let’s think about this statement. Do you really mean to tell us that’s what you heard? Or perhaps it was something closer to “when throwing a roundhouse punch, your weight moves to your back foot (for a front hand punch), bringing all your body behind the punch, so you’re not striking just with your arm”. Paraphrasing, but that’s the kind of thing I remember hearing. I know you’re trying to be amusing here, but you’re starting to make yourself sound silly.
The last 10 minutes were more meditation and some questions. Everyone bowed a bunch. Then Robert Brown took questions and told people such wonderful things as “When throwing a round-house, there should be no weight on the foot on the ground. None.”
Yep. That’s the message. Incidentally, this is when I knew for sure that Sifu Brown had you pegged as a ringer, because he’s not usually that forceful with this particular message. The philosophy is that Martial Arts is not just about fighting; it’s for strengthening of the mind and the body together, and if you neglect the mind, you’re not a Martial Artist, no matter what style of physical movements and techniques you practice. You may be a Martial Technician, you may be a terrific physical fighter, but you ain’t an artist; sorry.
Or, “If you are not meditating then you are not doing Martial Arts of any kind or style! You might be doing Judo, or sport defense, or martial kinder-care, or Aikido, but you are not doing Martial Arts if you are not meditating.” Let me repeat that last line again for those of you who didn’t realize just how stupid it was:
“IF YOU ARE NOT MEDITATING THEN YOU ARE NOT DOING MARTIAL ARTS OF ANY KIND OR STYLE.”
You don’t have to agree with him. Lots of people don’t. But there it is. So if you’re not interested in the whole package, including learning to discipline your mind, then the School of Chinese Martial Arts is definitely not for you..
The first six months is an interesting period. Some folks come in with know-it-all attitudes, like you did, and decide it’s not for them. Some folks come in with attitudes, realize there’s something they can learn here, stick around, lose the attitude, and have a great time. Some become great partners. Some people come in with attitudes, decide not to learn, and aren’t offered a renewal. Life’s too short to practice with jerks.
Me: So the first six-months are so that you can see if I’m a good fit and if you want me to train at your dojo?
SCMA: Yes. This kung-fu is TOO dangerous.
Me: So… does that actually happen? You have people you don’t allow back?
SCMA: We don’t want to teach violent people how to fight. The kung-fu… it’s just too dangerous.
“THE KUNG-FU… IT’S JUST TOO DANGEROUS.”
And I doubt that anyone said “the Kung Fu . . it’s just too dangerous.” That would be laughable. What they said, or tried to imply more politely than I have to, is that you are too dangerous. There’s no way they’ll allow some guy off the street to free-spar and grapple until they know the guy has sufficient control not to permanently damage his partner or himself. It ain’t the Kung Fu that’s too dangerous; it’s the front punch you can’t control that splits open somebody’s scalp, or the arm-bar you apply too forcefully. There are plenty of guys in the Dojo who can rough you up good if you want; but they won’t if you can’t handle it, because they were patient enough to learn how to be good partners, no matter the skill level of their partner.
As has already been noted, you saw the first couple minutes of an Intermediate Class, not Advanced Class. Intermediate is typically where movement and striking, learned during the Beginner classes, are combined against a moving partner. As with most things, some people are really good at it, some people not so much. If I remember correctly, we were working from a known attack, and improvising responses off of movement.
While I was gathering my things I peeked into the “advanced” class. I only got to see about 5 minutes of this “TOO DANGEROUSNESS” in action, but it included standard responses to basic punches. You know, the standard responses where an attacker throws a hook punch and you duck under it, punch him, step to the side, kick, throw another punch, step in, and then throw. You know, while your opponent is frozen like you’re Sub-Zero and you’re executing a combo?
In summary, it sounds like you didn’t actually learn anything during your introduction to the Dojo. That’s too bad, but from your posts you wouldn’t be a good fit there anyway. What’s worse is in that your “review”, which I suspect you already had composed in your mind before you darkened the door, you didn’t give other Bullshido members an honest assessment of the place. All we got was Dagon, staring into the mirror and marveling at how clever he is.
The School of Chinese Martial Arts is probably not for the bad-ass who wants to compete in MMA tournaments. There are gyms who focus on the sport aspect of martial arts, and if that’s what you’re after, you should go there. The SCMA is for people who expect more from their Martial Arts practice than just punching, kicking and doing damage to one another; who enjoy the variety of learning all ranges of fighting; who like the mental challenge of empty-hand and weapons forms; and who want to do all this in a pleasant, clean and safe environment with other grown-ups.