Critique of new-wave TMA.
I was on another thread in the Chinese Martial arts forum and someone asked for opinions on a video clip of ba-gua stepping. I said it was ridiculous. Have a look for yourself:
Nowadays, people have come up with seemingly more sophisticated arguments in favour of training TMA forms and odd looking techniques. These people know that these silly looking steps, techniques and drills can’t be used in a fight. Chances are they spar at their own clubs and never use any of it.
Back to the ba-gua example, I’m sure that if someone wanted argue in favor of ba-gua stepping, they would say that it’s not about fighting; it’s an exercise in balance, co-ordination, lower body strength ect. Maybe you’ve seen similar things stated by traditional martial artists like; “The bujinkan lunge punch is an exercise in distancing”, or “Chi-sau is an exercise in sensitivity”. It seems pretty convincing. Sensitivity is good, distancing is good, and strength and balance is good. Are you against lower body strength?
But there is a serious flaw in this type of reasoning. For what purpose are you training balance, strength, distancing or sensitivity? Is it for ice skating? Is it to become a trapeze artist? Is it for just for general purpose with no specific aim? Or is it for fighting? If it’s for fighting then you can’t say the drill has nothing to do with fighting. If it’s for fighting then it is valid to criticise it for its lack of specificity.
Good training is a matter of specificity. It’s the difference between bad and good training. The more specific the drill to the outcome, the better the drill. Would you expect to see boxing coaches have their athletes perform low stances and punches from the hips? Would it train balance? Would it train lower body strength? Yes it would, but that strength and balance would only apply to being crouched down in a low stance. How often does a boxer find themselves in that stance? Not very often. So what if you give someone some chi-sau, they practice it and make a game of it. Things get competitive and some people become really good at chi sau. But the skill they developed from that drill will only apply to conditions similar to that drill. How often do you see a situation resembling chi-sau in the striking range? I’m sure most of us would agree that chi-sau doesn’t occur in real fights. You can’t isolate “sensitivity” through a drill and have it apply in a blanket fashion to all your “real” techniques and skills. You can’t isolate “speed” or “strength” either. Speed for what? Sprinting? Kicking? Jumping? They all different and require their own specific training modalities.
Sure. You can give a kung fu class forms practice along with pad-work and sparring. You can give a rugby team ballet lessons if you want but that doesn’t mean it has a translatable benefit. So when someone says “the xing yi flying monkey form only looks silly because it’s really designed to build lower body stability” then ask, stability for what? Under what conditions? Why has that drill been given rather than another? Is there a better way to develop that attribute? Unfortunately most forms and traditional drills are not an optical illusion; they look silly because they really are.
Last edited by Virus; 5/10/2007 12:12am at .
Originally Posted by Virus
Bullshit. Your post was not deleted.
You will find your post in where the CMA moderators decided was the appropriate sub-forum for the intention of your post. Although I don't know the specifics because I am not a moderator in the CMA sub-forum, that decision was probably based upon the the CMA sub-forum's moderation policy intersecting with the fact you were acting like a moron.
I thought it was deleted. My bad. Article edited.
Sorry I'm not very good at allegory....that means you like my new article?
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Very good article. The "but its not supposed to be about fighting its supposed to be about <insert bullshit here>" argument is normally a sorta last ditch attempt to explain why someone wastes their time doing forms, but one that can be hard to argue against. However you have wrote a logical argument against it and it is one I am sure I will be paraphrasing next time I am arguing with some TMA guy about forms. Thank you!
Originally Posted by Virus
Interesting point and I am sure many exercises are BS and attempts to explain them are excuses.
However your hypothesis about "if it's not directly related to what you're actually doing in a fight" is not correct.
Did you see the "Inside the UFC" or whatever it's called where Chuck Lidell is running up the hill pushing a wheel barrow full of bricks. Or where Jeff Monson is throwing a tire around.
Have you seen Fedor's sledge Hammer drills?
Have you ever looked at Stephen Kesting's Yoga for grappling stuff?
Matt Hughes credits a lot of his strength on the conditioning of his stability muscles from his farm work.
Of course all these guys actually spar and train relaistically as well which might be the big difference between them and a lot of TMA's
But you can't just brush of any drill even from TMA's that easily.
And I am sure that when Lidell goes to his MA classes he spend the whole time doing actual fighting stuff. And the pushing barrels and stuff are all supplementaty fitness training he does outside of his MA training. Whereas people who train patterns do them as part of their MA training in there MA classes. They don't do real training 3 times a week at their school, then do patterns at home as a work out.
Originally Posted by Soju - Joe
Just chekin on my post count. Carry on
You're talking about conditioning though not skill-based drills. Picking up large tires and pushing them does utilise the explosive hip extension used in stuff like double-leg takedowns, so there is some specificity there. I don't really know what particular farm exercises he's talking about so I can;t analyse them. Yes, doing farmwork will make you strong and give endurance. Is is sports specific though? Most of it probably isn't. But most of all, picking up tires and wheelbarrows up a hill do involve explosive forward movement and are in a completely different league to stuff like chi-sau or horse stances, which don't significantly replicate any movement found in real fighting.
You do have to be careful about separating conditioning from skills training. They are different things. Skills training has to be as specific as possible which was the main point I was trying to make, whereas strength still has to be specific but is hindered by the fact that you can't always apply large amounts of overload to every possible movement, especially complex ones found in stuff like MMA. You also have to use a full range of motion when strength training because repeatedly using a limited range of motion over time will shorten the muscle and lead to injury.
The article was addressing skill-based drills which have to be specific. You can't get better at golf by playing darts. I realise that I used the example of low stances as strength training which would qualify as muscular conditioning but the modality of doing extended low stances could still be critised on the same basis because it does not apply much overload, and it conditions according to joint angle and movements that are not used in fighting. Pushing a barrel up a hill is way more specific for building for MMA than forms because it uses explosive forward movements like when clinching up, pummeling and going for take downs.
You also have to remember that just because someone is using a certain modality, doesn't mean that it's the best one. When I was studying Athlete Support Services we went spent a few days at the Australian Institute of Sport. We watched the a rugby league team train and talked to the team managers. When we asked him about their conditioning program he said they flew in a guy from England to give them a bodybuilding program! That's utter ****. Rugby is not about bug muscles and being cut, it's about strength, power and speed and bodybuilding regimes are a poor choice for training that. Case in point, just because something is in use, doesn't mean it conforms to best practice.
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