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  1. Ke?poFist is offline
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    Enforcer of Northeast Anti-Silliness Department Inc.

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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 8:26am

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     Style: Kaju, BJJ, Judo, Kempo

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!

    The "my martial art was illegal" argument

    (note: idgaf if this topic was beaten to death 5-10 years ago. I did a quick google and didn't see what I was looking for, so now you all can do the work for me.)

    So having trained in a number of martial arts schools and styles, I've heard a recurring theme while explaining the origins of some more bizarre and esoteric movements and katas.

    "Well, it only looks strange, because practicing martial arts at the time was illegal. The powers that be didn't want the slaves, monks and/or common person to know karate/kung fu/capoeira/etc because then they could revolt."

    This argument even branches into armed arts, explaining the existence of less practical weapons like nunchaku and sai. The common farmer was not permitted to own steel weapons by the local lords, so he fashioned his work tools into bludgeons and blades.

    So my question is, historically has there ever been a ban on martial arts practice, that forced practitioners to invent dances to train without worry of breaking the law?
    Last edited by Ke?poFist; 2/18/2015 8:32am at .
    Knowing is not enough, you must apply...
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  2. Fuzzy is online now
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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 8:35am


     Style: FMA/MMA(ish)/HEMA

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    A recent example: http://thediplomat.com/2013/09/penca...-martial-arts/

    There's also the fairly common statement that FMA moved to sticks as a result of the Spanish banning swords/bolos - but I don't know how true that is.
  3. gold_ax666 is online now

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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 8:38am


     Style: MMA

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Capoiera I guess would be an obvious start...

    http://theculturetrip.com/south-amer...y-of-capoeira/
  4. gold_ax666 is online now

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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 8:45am


     Style: MMA

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    A recent example: http://thediplomat.com/2013/09/penca...-martial-arts/

    There's also the fairly common statement that FMA moved to sticks as a result of the Spanish banning swords/bolos - but I don't know how true that is.
    The FMA thing is all over the internet so could hold truth indeed. the argument is approached from both sides:

    Point:
    http://gatchicago.com/moro-moro-batt...ce-of-garimot/

    Counterpoint:
    http://www.aikiweb.com/forums/showthread.php?t=22309
  5. Chili Pepper is online now
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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 10:27am


     Style: Siling Labuyo Arnis

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    There's also the fairly common statement that FMA moved to sticks as a result of the Spanish banning swords/bolos - but I don't know how true that is.
    I would put zero weight on the theory. Kinda hard to run an agriculture-based economy when you've confiscated all the tools to do so. Rattan is just the cheap and safe(r) training aid.

    I'm also giving Okinawa the stink-eye here, and their similar claim. It's hilarious to hear the supposed origin stories for the creation of the sai (I've heard linch-pin for wagon wheels, and hole-digger for planting, among many, many others) which simultaneously ignore the existence of identical weapons in all of Okinawa's neighbouring countries.

    As for capoeira, the mythology is likewise full of holes. Supposedly the handstands, etc. were developed because the slaves' hands were shackled. Again, seriously, you're going to run an agricultural economy, but make sure the workers can't actually work? There's plenty of evidence that an earlier form was brought over from Africa (batuque).
  6. gileanofgrey is online now

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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 11:26am


     Style: shotokan karate, iaido

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    I start thinking of "ninjitsu" and ninjers

    Quote Originally Posted by Chili Pepper View Post
    I would put zero weight on the theory. Kinda hard to run an agriculture-based economy when you've confiscated all the tools to do so. Rattan is just the cheap and safe(r) training aid.

    I'm also giving Okinawa the stink-eye here, and their similar claim. It's hilarious to hear the supposed origin stories for the creation of the sai (I've heard linch-pin for wagon wheels, and hole-digger for planting, among many, many others) which simultaneously ignore the existence of identical weapons in all of Okinawa's neighbouring countries.

    As for capoeira, the mythology is likewise full of holes. Supposedly the handstands, etc. were developed because the slaves' hands were shackled. Again, seriously, you're going to run an agricultural economy, but make sure the workers can't actually work? There's plenty of evidence that an earlier form was brought over from Africa (batuque).
    Many times i've wondered if martial arts have purposely tried to have a "mystical" start to it in order to create a following for example:

    Bruce lee created jeet kune do because he almost lost a fight due to the rigid movements of wing chun which revolutionalized martial arts with the creation of jeet kune do. Or movies that glamorize it such as fearless, ip man, the last samurai just to name a few.

    I'll be honest what originally attracted me to the martial arts was the huge influx of martial arts movies in the 80's and this superhuman fighting prowess that aloud a lone practioner that drop 30 to 40 guys on his own...

    I only bring this up because I agree with what pepper is saying about certain stories.
  7. Tetsumusha is online now

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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 12:03pm


     Style: Karate, w/ a side of judo

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    Hell yeah! Hell no!
    This is going to be long, and some traditional karate people are going to hate me for it, but here it goes.

    This comes up with Okinawan martial arts quite a bit, and I think it is partially due to misunderstanding and partially due to marketing. There was, indeed, a law in Okinawa that took weapons away...from individual lords and made them store them in one central location. Specifically, this referred to weapons of war, like swords, halberds, and spears, that were intended for use by soldiers.

    Somehow, people took this law to mean that all weapons were banned on Okinawa, despite written accounts to the contrary. That also grew to encompass empty hand training, as well, and I think that may partially have been because there was a rash of martial arts restrictions in China throughout its history. Since Okinawa was somewhat of a tributary state to China, it's easy to suspect they would be affected by those restrictions, but I think they were largely regional and didn't impact Okinawa.

    It seems, to me, that these misunderstandings were passed on as facts by the Okinawans. It happened so much, in fact, that I think there are many Okinawans who truly believe them. The incorrect history is partially supported by the use of true agricultural tools in kobudo practice, such as the kama (sickle), kuwa (hoe), eku (oar). You could easily say that stick weapons (bo, jo, hanbo, etc.) are "commoner weapons," too. Some weapons are a little hazy, such as the nunti (could be either a fishing gaff or a legitimate spear), the tonfa (looks like the handle of Okinawan grinding stones, but also matches legitimate forearm weapons), the nunchaku (could be a rice flail or horse bridle, but also could be a legitimate flail weapon), and the tekko (could be a horse stirrup or just knuckle dusters).

    The thing to remember with Okinawan martial arts is that they were practiced almost exclusively by nobility. We have written records showing that sai have always been a police/guard weapon, and only nobility held those positions. We know that horse bridles were sometimes used as flails (nunchaku) and stirrups were supposedly used as knuckle dusters (tekko), but only nobility really had horses, anyway. If you weren't of royal or shizoku (warrior class) lineage, your chances of learning martial arts were pretty slim--the only way was for your family to be rich enough to pay a noble to teach you, or for your family to have some sort of strong friendship with a master. Commoners didn't really have access to martial arts training, except for submission wrestling. There are some indications that simple fighting systems using sticks also existed in some villages, and it makes sense that people will figure out how to fight at least a little bit with the tools they have on hand, but I don't know how widespread or sophisticated it was. All the written accounts I've seen of people learning weapons techniques from masters only ever mention bo, sai, sword, and spear. All of them said the masters were nobles. It wasn't until the Meiji Restoration, when Japan started forcing modernization on Okinawa, that karate and kobudo really started to spread to common people.

    Asian cultures have this idea of "public face" vs. "private face," and that may have something to do with why the Okinawans have perpetuated the myth of banned martial arts. The Japanese government stripped the Okinawan nobility of their titles and power, so trying to spread the practices of nobility may have been frowned upon by the government (this is speculation on my part). In that situation, it kind of makes sense to tell the Japanese, "oh, this is a secret thing that everybody here does." On top of that, I think it was probably a good selling point for getting Westerners to pay for lessons after WW2. Some Okinawans are starting to correct this, though, albeit a bit slowly. Pretty much all the books you find don't have the correct history, but if you talk to some Okinawan masters, they will tell you how it really was--or, at least, what their research says it really was.
  8. Ke?poFist is offline
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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 6:05pm

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     Style: Kaju, BJJ, Judo, Kempo

    --
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chili Pepper View Post
    I would put zero weight on the theory. Kinda hard to run an agriculture-based economy when you've confiscated all the tools to do so. Rattan is just the cheap and safe(r) training aid.

    I'm also giving Okinawa the stink-eye here, and their similar claim. It's hilarious to hear the supposed origin stories for the creation of the sai (I've heard linch-pin for wagon wheels, and hole-digger for planting, among many, many others) which simultaneously ignore the existence of identical weapons in all of Okinawa's neighbouring countries.

    As for capoeira, the mythology is likewise full of holes. Supposedly the handstands, etc. were developed because the slaves' hands were shackled. Again, seriously, you're going to run an agricultural economy, but make sure the workers can't actually work? There's plenty of evidence that an earlier form was brought over from Africa (batuque).
    this pretty much sums up my thinking on this. Is there any documented evidence we can read?
    Knowing is not enough, you must apply...
    ...Willing is not enough you must do
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  9. gregaquaman is online now
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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 7:53pm

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     Style: mma /boxing/muai thai

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuzzy View Post
    A recent example: http://thediplomat.com/2013/09/penca...-martial-arts/

    There's also the fairly common statement that FMA moved to sticks as a result of the Spanish banning swords/bolos - but I don't know how true that is.

    Yeah timor is the one. With its martial arts gang on the streets battling it out.
    Whitsunday Martial Arts Airlie Beach North Queensland.
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  10. Chili Pepper is online now
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    Posted On:
    2/18/2015 7:58pm


     Style: Siling Labuyo Arnis

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    Quote Originally Posted by gileanofgrey View Post
    Many times i've wondered if martial arts have purposely tried to have a "mystical" start to it in order to create a following for example:
    Certainly that's the case for Chinese martial arts. My understanding of it is that it is partly due to Confucian ideals about patrons, mythical or historical. You couldn't just be some dude who had some fresh ideas, they had to be connected in some way to an ancestral figure.

    So many kung fu styles trace their origin to the monks who fled the Shaolin temple as it burned, that it seems more like they all high-tailed it out of there, not just five famed ones. Then, the south had to get in on the act, and they suddenly also had a Shaolin temple burned by the Manchu forces. Then you had counter stories, like supposed rebel monk Bak Mei founding a style.

    Much like comic books, if your style has a good backstory, it's already half-way to legit.
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