| This page
is a discussion page about philosophical aspects of Martial Arts, if you
wish to comment on any of the points raised, please contact us at SHUKO.
To me as an Instructor, the one of the most important aspect of running a Martial arts club is honesty. The world in general and particularly the world of martial arts is full of instructors and fighters talking rubbish. We are what we are, a Thai boxer training regularly in a brutal enviroment for many years is going to be a different animal than a Traditional karate fighter practicing kata twice a week. Neither one better than the other, but different. I wish we could just accept the truth about ourselves. I honestly feel I am a good instructor who treats his fighters with respect and friendship and gets the best out of them for this reason, but I can not claim to be the greatest technician in the world. Which skill would I choose, if given the choice, well in the past definetly the physical ability, but as I get older good inter-personal skills and coaching ability seems to be growing in its importance to me.
False claims are all to common in our sports, for example British Champion - well this can mean many things. I could hold a competition only open to Shuko Freestyle members, ten people might take part and we could end up with four British champions out of the bunch, not really a great advert for the quality of martial artists. I believe there should be a governing body within Martial arts that looks at the eligibility of tournaments. Judo has got it right, unified under one flag, that's why Judo is an Olympic sport and karate isn't. Traditional karate against Freestyle well I personally believe we should unify the tournament system. At the end of the day what does Traditional actually mean, I'm not actually sure. I have trained with Sensei Vic Charles and took my Dan Grade under Sensei Alfie Lewis and had the chance to spar with him. They were both great fighters, both around at the same time, both World champions, both British, so why couldn't the powers that be work out a format of competition that could have made it possible to allow these two fighters to compete - pride, money, politics, three words that quickly spring to mind. We at Shuko Freestyle have done our little bit to break down barriers, our All Styles sparring night is fantastic. We have had Sensei Steve Fenwick from Knockdown Karate sparring with Instructor Alastair Hall from Protea Kickboxing, Instructor Steve Wilkinson Muay Thai world title contender knocking the shit out of everybody, Chloe from Protea who is about ten sparring with me, well you might as well pick the difficult fights I say. Seriously though it is a fantastic melting pot of martial arts, but the only reason it is a success is that I insist fighters leave their pride at the door and fight to improve technique, testing skills against all styles, but being responsible - fighting at the right level for your opponent. I don't think Chloe would appreciate a full on shin kick.
Getting back to the rubbish talked in our sport, I remember being on a weekend course with Sensei Roy Stanhope many years ago and one of the attending fighters asked whether Roy could beat Mike Tyson in a fight. Well, the young man must have got the idea from somebody, that Martial arts instructors are a different species to the rest of the population. Unfortunately this misguided view had been given to him by us. Us being the Martial arts world. It's about time we started telling young people the truth, there are few people at the age of eighty who can walk up the stairs without stopping for breath, never mind defeating fit young men in mortal combat. We offer a service to the community that takes many guises - fitness, fun, traditional values and respect, aggression, self cofidence building, self defence training and on occassion in some very unprofessional clubs violence.
I feel I should go on to tell the truth about myself and Shuko freestyle karate. I am 38 years old, I train probably twice or three times a week, I would like to train more, but I have a family to support and Martial arts is not my whole life, but I do love it. I train hard and work to improve as a Martial artist. I work to improve my style, my technique, my strength, my conditioning and above all my effectiveness as a fighter. I still enter competitions, to maintain my sharpness and willingness to face an opponent, but I know I am too old, too short, too inflexible to have much chance of winning anything, although i did win Silver in the Veteran catagory at The West Coast Classic, an open tournament held in Blackpool. I can also confirm that I know people who have only been training for two, three and four years, who have worked extremely hard and entered the ring to fight in full contact competitions who could quite honestly squish me. I wouldn't make it easy for them, but in a sport situation I am out classed. In the Real world who knows and at the end of the day what is this Reality thing. Reality is being hit when you are not looking, being attacked by groups of young men, threatened or attacked with knives - you can keep the real world, I am happy training for sport and inner development, I know I have taken from Martial arts and then going home to my family. All this posturing - huh! Saying that however, Shuko Freestyle Karate spends alot of its energy practicing self defence movements, but before every session we always remind fighters that these movements, if they are effective work 8 or 9 times out of 10. If you are defending yourself against a knife attacker, these are not good odds, so we always remind people to avoid trouble if at all possible. We spend a large amount of time sparring, as we believe that it is an effective way of building skills and highlighting weakness, particularly at our All Styles Sparring Night, where Karate fighters touch gloves with Kickboxers, Thai Fighters, Jeet Kune Do fighters and any responsible person who wishes to join the class. We feel it is really good fun too. So don't believe the hype offered at some clubs and by some instructors, for professional, open minded training we believe we offer a good service.
Comment to SHUKO
Why Different styles of fighting evolved.
I was thinking recently about the evolution of Martial arts and why certain styles used different kicks and strikes, in particular in Karate. I concidered why Okinawan Karate is full of finger strikes, one knuckle punches, chops and kicks with the ball of the foot, including the roundhouse kick. I then combined this with the advice I give to women in particular, but small people generally which is, 'if you are in a violent situation with no possible way out apart than to fight, you have to be vicious. Poke the attacker in the eyes or kick him in the crutch etc, etc'. I then combined these two thoughts and came to the conclusion that the Okinawans have evolved this type of fighting due to there small size. I am sure that things have changed due to better diet etc, but in the past I believe the Japanese were a small race, and as anybody who has watched the lighter weight boxers knows, knockouts are rare and often they can keep punching for ten rounds without a KO. In a self defence situation this is not ideal, therefore punches and kicks would have to become more targetted and vulnerable points attacked. I believe this is wgy strikes to the neck, temple, solar plexus, genitals, eyes are all strike areas within Kata. I also believe this is why Boxers, Kickboxers and other western based styles have gone away from this type of strike, one reason obviously is the lethal nature of the strikes, another being the conditioning necesarry to the areas of the body such as the fingers and knuckles which can mutilate the Martial artist is not pratical in a modern world, but mainly that westerners often have the pysical size when combined with training to knock an attacker down.
Comment to SHUKO
KARATE TRAINING PHILOSOPHY