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Thread: Martial Arts Questions

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    Martial Arts Questions

    Ok this thread is for research on Martial Arts and the Like. Ask me any questions you want regarding hand to hand combat. My specialty is Karate and its roots but I have a wide knowledge base on both Ancient Martial Arts and Modern Martial Arts. So ask away.
    Aurelian

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    Moderator Ravana's Avatar
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    Ever go up against anybody trained in silat?
    I have taken all knowledge to be my province. Tariff rates and immigration policies forthcoming.

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    No they're aren't Many Silat places around where I am and on top of that I don't do much tournament fighting.

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    From what I've read, Mixed Martial Arts does a great job of showing which techniques are genuinely effective in one-on-one unarmed combat. But if you're unarmed, and your opponent has a sword or another weapon, which martial art form would be the go-to for that situation?

    I looked a little, and I saw a lot of claims about several forms having gone centuries of development without really being tested in combat, so as a writer I'm having trouble figuring out which ones I should be looking at as an effective choice to base a character's fighting style off of.
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    Moderator Ravana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Devor View Post
    From what I've read, Mixed Martial Arts does a great job of showing which techniques are genuinely effective in one-on-one unarmed combat.
    It used to. Then they went and added rules. Screwed the whole thing up.

    It's still closer than anything else you're likely to find televised—in the U.S., anyway—but if you really want to get a good sense of styles and techniques in an "even" comparison, locate tapes of the UFC back when the tournament numbers were still in the single digits.

    The second part of your question goes to the reason I brought up silat. It remained—remains—a combat art; it's only been in the past couple decades, as far as I'm aware, that anybody even tried to derive a "sport" from it (there are competition forms now). While trying to decide if one art is "better" than another is like trying to decide if one swordmaking style is "better" than another ( )—and while I suspect any practitioner of any art will tell you he'd rather not go up against an armed man hand-to-hand if he has a choice—if you YouTube silat training films, you'll probably notice some differences in technique and emphasis from most of what you're accustomed to seeing from the usual sport/TV/Hollywood fare. Such as teaching you to hit the guy three or four times after he's down to finish him off. And if I'd meant "knock him out," I would have said that.

    There are (no surprise) hundreds of variations; the term silat should show up as the basis for most of the names. The most commonly seen name variant is pentjak or pencak silat (same thing, depending on who's writing it)—which is, however, also a blanket name, not that of a specific style.

    Ever since discovering it, I've had a hard time being impressed by much else. Don't get me wrong: I'm no good at hand-to-hand in any form. Too slow—and speed can count for a lot. And a superior fighter will tend to beat an inferior one, regardless of form. But all else being equal, I know who I'd rather have with me in a dark alley. (Okay, I'd rather have the one carrying the Uzi with me. That's beside the point.… )

    Choice two would probably be a rikishi: sumo's another one of those things you really have to watch a bit of before you understand just how effective it can be. That's in an alley, though; in open space, against a swordsman… not so much. (Actually, in an alley fight, I'd take someone with Spetznaz training over either of these. Maybe even over the guy with the Uzi.)

    For your purposes, I'd look at styles that taught the use of swords in the first place, as they're the ones most likely to teach you what to do if you lose yours, or were designed as adjuncts to swordfighting, such as savate. After that… escrima; perhaps hapkido.

    Muay thai is another style that has been used up to modern days as a combat style—and its "sport" practice, until recently, lost none of its viciousness (few sport arts teach you to strike with the elbow, for example: muay thai has nine formalized elbow strikes; it also teaches to kick with the shin rather than the foot). Its popularity among MMA practitioners is indicative of their opinion of the form, for what that's worth. Possibly not as useful against an armed opponent as some other forms, but it was originally developed to be used by disarmed soldiers, so hard to be sure.

    Then there's always drunken style kung fu.… While I'm normally loath to suggest using movies as a source, Tiger Claws contains what I'd consider some overall solid sequences, very much "real" rather than "cinematic" martial arts—apart from perhaps some aspects of the climactic battle—which is probably why the movie didn't do so well at the box office; one of the highlights for me was the inclusion of one of the best exhibitions of drunken style I've seen (sadly, however, performed as kata, not in combat).
    I have taken all knowledge to be my province. Tariff rates and immigration policies forthcoming.

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    Devor 

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    Thanks, Ravana, that one's going to take me some time to research and dissect. It probably also saved me a lot of time on other martial arts (or from giving up and resorting to guesswork). Thanks again.
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    Moderator Ravana's Avatar
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    Quite welcome. Any time.

    While it's difficult to get any good notion of how martial arts work from a book, I can recommend The Complete Martial Arts by Paul Crompton as a good starting point. It is as detailed as a "survey" work can be, includes the history of each art as well as techniques, weapons taught, and so on, and has some very good photographic "sequences" which allow you to visualize the action involved. "Complete" must, of course, be taken with a grain of salt: no book will be able to cover the thousands of style variants that exist in the world; it does, however, include more than two dozen different major categories, from karate and judo, to escrima and pentjak silat, to sumo, iaido and ninjutsu. Not sure if it's still in print, but Amazon has used copies from under $10.

    By the way, if you're ever in the market for something visually—and athletically—impressive, as well as an art strongly associated with weapons, look into wushu: a formalized, "martial athletics" version deriving from kung fu. (Here, the Crompton book fails completely to capture the visual aspect; that's okay, there's plenty on YouTube.) I suspect that the formalized style may not be as useful in actual combat as some others might… on the other hand, watching some of these people do their stuff, you'll wonder how you'd ever be able to get close enough to them to tag them in the first place, so maybe it would, too.

    Here's a sample. If nothing else, watching them handle sharp objects without injuring themselves is impressive:

    beijing wushu team 2 - YouTube

    Or these. Yes, they're "choreographed"; on the other hand, consider how accurate the guy in the first one has to be to not hit his opponent, then decide if you'd want to face him when he was trying to hit you.… The second is a bit fragmented, but also includes slo-mo versions of some of the full-speed stuff they show… which, given the speed of the full-speed action, is most helpful.

    Amazing Choreographed Fight Scene - YouTube
    Amazing Choreographed Fight / 10th China Games. Duilian - YouTube

    I'd still take silat in a real fight. But it is impressive to see what the human body is capable of, without the aid of cinematic effects.…



    Edit: another one good for "visually spectacular" is capoeira—a Brazilian form: a combat art stylized into dance so that it could be practiced by slaves in front of their colonial masters (much as the Japanese lower classes adapted peasant tools such as the rice flail into weapons such as the nunchaku). Stylized or not, it was at any rate effective enough to command the respect of the Portuguese. Unlike wushu (as far as I can tell), it has enjoyed some success in MMA rings.

    This—from a movie—is eye candy of the first degree. Think of it as an exhibition—apart from the slo-mo (and the fact that they keep missing each other), there is nothing cinematic about it. Well, not about the moves: the setting is why I chose this rather than something performed on a mat.

    Capoeira vs Muay Thai - YouTube
    Last edited by Ravana; 2-22-12 at 7:38 PM.
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    Senior Member SeverinR's Avatar
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    Bruce Lee's philosophy was if it works use it, if it doesn't forget it. (No traditional techniques) I have not studied Jeet Kune Do, so I don't know how well it followed that principle.

    In the movies; imo praying mantis, drunken or monkey style are all impressive to see even if choreographed, they still amaze me that they look so random or chaotic, but are effective. How well in a real world situation, I don't know.
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    Senior Member JCFarnham's Avatar
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    The deception techniques involved in drunken styles have always impressed me. Like... acting like your falling backwards accidentally, while simultaneously avoiding a punch and getting in some form of low strike in the process.

    Unfortunately I've only seen that one Jackie Chan film.
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    Moderator Ravana's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SeverinR View Post
    Bruce Lee's philosophy was if it works use it, if it doesn't forget it. (No traditional techniques) I have not studied Jeet Kune Do, so I don't know how well it followed that principle.
    I would say more that he refused to be bound by traditional techniques—or, probably more accurately, by styles: he borrowed from anywhere that offered something useful, and didn't bother retaining anything that wasn't. He continued to use, and teach, those techniques that were useful. As far as I know, jeet kune do maintains that overall philosophy, though of course it's made a selection of those techniques it regards as useful as a basis for training… you do have to start somewhere.

    That having been said, one of my favorite stories about Lee concerned a time when someone handed him one of a pair of escrima sticks, faced him with the other, and asked Lee what move he would use to disarm him.…

    Lee flicked his wrist and whacked the other guy across the knuckles.

    Sometimes, it really is that simple.



    SeverinR, JCF: Yeah, that's what I like about them, too. If you can't figure out what your opponent is going to do next, or even where he's going to be next, you'll definitely have a harder time fighting him. The challenge for the practitioner is not to get so caught up doing the fancy/"style" stuff you miss it when the other guy goes to rap your knuckles—or your head, since you probably won't have a stick in your hand. Monkey style, in particular, strikes me as using up a lot of energy with its bouncing around: were I facing someone using it, I'd just stand there until he wore himself out or finally decided to attack, whichever.

    Which is what I like about silat: it has a very convincing economy to its moves. This is also why it will never capture the Western cinema world's attention… most of the time, it seems its practitioners need to go out of their way to be even remotely showy. Kinda like fencing: if you're going for the Errol Flynn movie effect, you've got to make your moves broad and deliberately aim at the other guy's sword… whereas real fencing passes tend to last a second or two, and you rarely even see the blows that land.

    Whether the showier styles work or not, they are fun to watch, though.
    I have taken all knowledge to be my province. Tariff rates and immigration policies forthcoming.

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