For how many years do you plan to practice your martial art if this is all that it is about?
Brutal as this looks- it is a sport and not real fighting. Preferring to get hit harder and hitting your training partners harder because it is "more realistic" actually amounts to you kidding yourself.
There are a lot of people out there with absolutely no formal training that can do the same thing. What do you really expect to learn from your school?
The poise alone already tells you that these monks learnt more than just fighting.
Knowledge of techniques like the Golden Bell Cover as demonstrated above is disappearing. So also with the more mundane Iron Shirt technique. We can't allow this knowledge, and the abilities it brings, to disappear in history.
Sparring with a Pushing Hands expert is a worthwhile experience. I really hope that the next generation of martial artists will also have the opportunity to do so.
No. It is not real fighting, but it is beautiful. More importantly- it is precious to me and I shall do everything in my power to promote it and to protect it.
Before I start a very long tirade let me tell you a little story about myself. For a very large part of my karate training I was beaten up in kumite practice by people who did not use the technique that we were taught. Even worse- on two occasions, outside the dojo, I was attacked and beaten up by people with absolutely NO training.
That all changed when I got hold of Bruce Lee's Tao of Jeet Kune Do. Sparring was a lot of fun then. Where my opponents were limited to moving forwards and backward, hitting with straight punches and mostly 2 different kinds of kick I was slipping, ducking and had a variety of punches and kicks to employ- of which the most were not practiced by most karateka over here.
It was great and I felt that I have found the ultimate martial arts knowledge. I just had to do whatever worked. Technique was not really important- as long as I maintained a focussed mind and adapted to the situation.It felt like I knew everything I needed to know.
Then she blocked my punch one day...
She was Carol (Okay- Chinese name is Chen Yu Chi), a Taiwanese girl about half my size. We had a discussion on self defence and when I asked her to show me how she would block a straight punch she changed the approach to my training forever. She did not bother to sidestep or to move back. Only thing she did was driving her palm into my fist and giving me the jolt of my life as I felt the impact right through to the bones in my forearm.
That, my friends, was when I realised that the old techniques were developed over centuries to be the way they were for a reason.
Yes- It is difficult to train your body to do some of these things when you are under pressure and yes- there are easier responses as well, but believe me- if you cast aside traditional martial arts training you will lose something that no MMA gym on this earth will ever be able to give you...
Now onto my tirade:
During this week I have read an article about Kung Fu dying in China as the MMA movement grows stronger with each tournament. In a way we should admit that this is something Bruce Lee had brought about all those years ago when he gave the world Jeet Kune Do, but that is not my first thought about Bruce Lee, though.
In "Way of the Dragon" the staff at the endangered Chinese Restaurant studied karate because they thought that Chinese Kungfu had no real power. Fortunately Tang Lung was there to show them what Chinese Kungfu was really capable of.
Lee died in 1973, though, and when large numbers of Chinese decided to take up Taekwondo instead of Kungfu we saw a new generation of Chinese who prefered Taekwondo over Chinese Kungfu, but this time with no one to change their minds.
Now we have MMA...
Seriously now- did you really expect not to be surprised after years of training at your school, sparring with pupils who have learnt the same techniques as you and sparring according to the rules of your school, when you got into the ring/ cage/ octagon/ pit against somebody who did not train at your school? It was bound to happen and you know what also did not help? Not practicing a large number of the techniques in your own style, because your own style's competition rules do not allow them!
But do we dig deeper into 5 000 years of experience to find an answer to the new questions posed to you in your crushing defeat against the stranger from another style? No! It is just easier to blame the style altogether and go take up something easier!
Trust me- if you are practicing a traditional style like Karate (any style), Kungfu, Taekwondo or whatever else you may do- and you meet an attack along your way for which you have not learnt a response yet- start looking to your katas, forms and those illegal techniques that are not allowed in competitions.
These arts were initially designed for actual fighting. Competition techniques work because a competition's rules help to make it work. An actual fight, however, has no referree, no illegal hits and nobody to call "hajime" or "yame".
Karate has had grappling long before MMA was even thought of, Jujitsu- from which Judo was developed- had striking long before the UFC came to be. And Kungfu- well- it protected people, took lives, saved lives and drove out bandits long before us waiguoren even knew it existed.
As for the waiguoren that is writing this post- I'll glady take traditional Kungfu and Karate if the coutries from which these arts have originated want to discard them. A gym with punching bags and hours of sparring and weight training may teach you to fight, but there is more to martial arts than just that.
If you really want to find out what more than fighting there could possibly be you are welcome to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'll be glad to tell you.