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Punisher
5/11/2004 1:41pm,
A lot of people use the words "style" and "system" interchangably when describing martial arts, in fact I'm sure I've done it myself. But if I set down a think of it the two are not the same.

To me a "style" is a method of fighting and a "system" is a method of TEACHING fighting. Now in most martial arts their is no a hard line between system and style but I feel most do tend to lean one way or the other.

For most of my life I've been practicing one form of kenpo or another. Kenpo is a perfect example of a system. American Kenpo and the Five Animal Kenpo that I do now both have "self-defense techniques" which are prearranged responses to different attacks.

Here is a page with descriptions of many American Kenpo techniques: http://home.att.net/~akfk/previous.htm

Some kenpo guys may differ with me on this, but IMO these technqies were never meant to be used in combat. They are not a "If opponent does A, do B" scenario. They exist to teach someone about different princples of movement, about targets and weaponary, about geometry and vectors of energy.

People involed in systems tend to develop their own style based on the parameters of the system and often you cannot identify their "system" from watching them fight.

Arts that are style focused, of course have systems for teaching that style that can differ from school to school, but when observed fighting are able to be linked to that style.

As I said, every combat art has components of system and style. Even in a sport like boxing, there are various different styles (boxer-puncher, counter puncher, defensive specialist, etc.) and different gyms and trainers are going to have their own systems for teaching people how to box.

Ronin
5/11/2004 2:37pm,
They go hand-in-hand, you can't have one without the other.
The moment you do something YOUR way, its a style, YOUR style of doing it.
And every style has a system.
SO...

Punisher
5/11/2004 4:43pm,
They go hand-in-hand, you can't have one without the other.
The moment you do something YOUR way, its a style, YOUR style of doing it.
And every style has a system.
SO...

You can't have one without the other, but they are separate, different, and need to be evaluated separately. Some systems are designed to teach a specific style. The style might be very good, but the system or method of learning that style might be horrible. Some systems aren't focused and don't produce a similar style in every student. This can be great for a free thinker who likes to take thing and develop his own methods, but very confusing for someone who can't connect the dots needs to have someone else pull everything together into a cohesive style.

Matt Bernius
5/11/2004 4:53pm,
Punisher,

I've always liked the way that Kenpo breaks this down. I also think another way of looking at this is Forrest Morgan's Doctrine/Strategy/Tactics model (you have an overarching Doctrine or idea, that leads to a Strategy or method of operation, that is realized in tactics or techniques). In that method of thinking of things System and Strategy can serve as proxy's for each other. And style and tactics are similar.

Ultimately everything boils down to theory/idea and manifestation of idea.

- Matt