View Full Version : Open competition as a checksum in TMA

12/17/2003 5:05pm,
The history of TMA is not my area of expertise, that being said I had a few thoughts on the subject. Unfortunately part of the Asian educational system has always been "don't question/doubt your teacher". They basically have a information transmission system that is one way with no checksum. For non-computer types, when transmitting data a checksum is a number that is sent with a packet of other numbers, if the packet of other numbers do not add up to the checksum then the whole packet is thrown out and a request is sent for the packet to be resent. So you can have very high transmission error rates while still having the final information be 100% accurate. With Western martial arts (boxing, wrestling) the checksum has always been competition. If the information transmitted by the teacher to the student was either incorrect, or misunderstood it would not work in competition. You would then go back to your trainer and then either relearn it or dispose of that bit of information if it did not work. There is a two way channel for transmission of information and a means for checking the validity of it. With the exception of Muay Thai and Judo there does not seem to be a historical tradition of open MA competition in Asia (I could be wrong on this).

So my premise is that something led Asian Martial Arts culture away from open competition, which in turn over time made the arts largely ineffective because there was no way to check the validity of the information being transmitted from teacher to student. Effectiveness became a matter of faith rather then fact. In Europe there was a tradition of dueling- so there were fencing schools. Their income and reputation depended on the performance of their students in an actual duel. The same thing with the best boxing trainers, if their boxers don't do well then they will find students hard to recruit. My feeling is that in Asia competition was discouraged because we all know that open MMA is the fastest way to discredit a style- something against the interests of the teachers. The habit of near worship of authority figures made this prohibition social acceptable and was largely unquestioned (although the fighters who DID question it obviously became much better fighters). I wonder if this is a contributing factor in the Asian MA tradition of non-violence. If you taught your students to be pacifists at the same time you taught them martial arts the chances of them ever discovering the art was ineffective was slim. Did fencing teachers or Savate instructors tell their students not to get into fights? Certainly I don't think the European combat art culture has any similar tradition of non violence. Behavioral would have been up to the church.

If we look at the problem of the ineffectiveness of TMA in the context of a bad information transmission methodology one wonders if current martial arts will suffer from the same problems in 100 years? Will the arm bar be an unrecognizable kata? (the case could be made by a more civilized culture that any technique that can break your arm is "too dangerous to practice"). Or will the sheer amount of video footage and popularity of MMA competition keep the techniques on track and allow them to be refined rather then go off on comical tangents like has happened so many times historically?

12/17/2003 5:19pm,
It would seem most TMA need a CRC. What ARE they in the first place? :P

They want to retain their "style-ness" not try to strip down to whats effective. It wont happen.

The "styles" of the future would be more like the individual styles you will see in MMA. Or more and more each gym's fighters tend to have similar tactics and training, like how chuteboxe has its stomp of doom, or some guys focus on a clinch, some want to keep distance, etc. Each person really should have their own style to suit the way they think and their body type, naturally, but the school-oriented style differences will mostly have to do with how the teachers teach it.

The classical idea of "style" is pretty bad, because you force yourself to not be well-rounded. You just focus on being on THAT STYLE, and thats it. If anything I'd like that to start going away or just move into interpretive dance. Well, thats what a Kata is anyway...

12/17/2003 6:01pm,

I am not an expert on the history of martial competition, but I can tell you that you are wrong about Asia not having a tradition of competion w/r to the martial arts.

China on a regular basis had many contests/tournaments since the spring-autumn period that tested both bare handed and weapons skills. During that time and much of China's history, they also tested their techniques on the battlefield. The last huge contest was in 1933 I beleive, where many contestants where killed during the competition.

Japan like China had tournaments and a lot of battlefield experience testing of their martial arts.

I have read that a Silat is/was performed during celebrations, ceremonies where pendakars(is this the correct term for a silat practitioner?) perform and are challeneged if one of the performers precieves a weakness in another practitioners technique.

Mongolia often had wrestling contests with China.

The Thai and Burmese...well, that goes without saying.

Asian martial art tradition of non-violence? Martial Arts where devised for one purpose, and that is cause as much harm to your enemy as possible.

If I got any of this wrong, then I am sure some one will correct me.

12/17/2003 6:08pm,
I would have to agree with Mike.

Many of the older generation masters fought a lot and challenged each other. That's why they got famous.

The error in transmission that the original post points out happened in maybe only the last two generations. It is an error and needs to be corrected. But it isn't a systematic one, rather than a blimp in an otherwise functional system.

12/17/2003 6:24pm,
Interesting, that's exactly what I was wondering. There goes that theory. I had not seen any record of that. So if there WAS a tradition of open competition, and the divergence is very recent- say post Boxer rebellion, why are current non-sport TMA techniques so difficult to translate into usable fight skills? The gap between TMA and what is used in MMA and most modern self defense techniques seems almost insurmountable (although this is a moot point if you object to the premise that TMA are largely ineffective outside of anecdote)

In linguistics it is possible to recreate the structures of proto-languages (dead root languages) by tracing the root words in a number of it's offshoots. Think, recreating Latin without knowing it by looking at English, French Italian etc. Have efforts been made to compare different offshoots of the same style for usable "proto techniques"?

12/17/2003 7:33pm,
That is a good question, one for which I don't have a direct answer for....but I will say that training emphasis has a huge part to play in it. All I can tell you with certainty is that I have had the misfortune exactly once of having to use the TMA I currently practice(off and on) and it worked.

Deadpan Scientist
12/17/2003 7:45pm,
The ancient technique of grabbing your crotch and giving people the finger has been around for centuries.

12/17/2003 7:52pm,
Are you done being stupid?

12/17/2003 8:17pm,
Originally posted by Mikeyb
All I can tell you with certainty is that I have had the misfortune exactly once of having to use the TMA I currently practice(off and on) and it worked.

I've also seen a male ballet dancer damn near kill another kid with one kick. He didn't beat with with ballet, but the strength and conditioning that comes with almost ANY physical discipline will help in a fight. Not saying that your TMA was not useful solely on the basis of technique. Just it's hard to find any concrete evidence of effectiveness outside of anecdote so one has to be aware of the role conditioning plays.

12/17/2003 8:39pm,
bla bla bla if its older its ancient and they got it right over all these years bbla bla its the best.

No its not. BS. Everything that is actively researched and developed advances with time.

The past doesn't freaking matter. You didn't pick Kung Fu because it had a ancient past. The ancient past has nothing to do with YOU anyway, those men are long dead. Its like being proud because of your gender or race. Its not YOUR accomplishment, so stfu.

What matters is what works, in real time, that can be proven and used for real, now.

WHY do you care enough about some dead chinese men doing interpretive dance (forms) enough to argue about it?

12/17/2003 8:50pm,
Originally posted by Nihilanthic
The past doesn't freaking matter.

Uh yeah history rarely has anything to teach us.