Saturday, August 7, 2010

Choosing A Martial Art, or My Grandmaster Could Beat Up Your Grandmaster

Greetings one and all, especially you new readers-whoever the fuck you are. It's the internet, I assume you are all hot chicks. I'm happier that way.

Today's offering is a practical one, in which I will explore the concept of choosing the right martial art for your fitness, self defense and anti zombie needs. First I'll need to put on my Gojiira suit on and smash a few tropes, both anime nerd tropes and internet hardass tropes. So, before I do anything else, on with the utter destruction of Tokyo.

First off I have to say this: any plan is better than no plan. It might have something to do with the society we live in today, but our natural killer instinct is deeply suppressed at this point in our sad, strange history. So a lot of people who have no training whatsoever have a sort of instinctive prey response when under physical attack; they freeze. This is literally the worst thing you can do in a fight, except perhaps shoot yourself in the face. So in a way, taking any martial art, doing any sort of dedicated training, is better than nothing-at least you have a hardwired muscle response to attack. There could be a better plan, or a better martial art, but it beats the frothy shit out of standing there and dying. So thats sort of like my caveat; for god's sake, just get out and train.

Lets start with an anime and movie trope, one we can all agree on. We all know that fighting does not resemble anything we see on tv. The worst offense, in my opinion, is that the hero never gets hit, even when faced with multiple attackers; he dodges and weaves and slips every blow sent his direction due to an unnatural sixth sense. Not only is that essentially impossible, but it promotes the wrong attitude. You get in a fight, you are going to get hit. It's one of those little things that happen as a side effect of getting in a fight. I've seen a guy with a black belt revert to a swinging, terrified monkey after a good one in the face. But the human body is resilient (its why we get a soak roll) and unless we are seriously injured we can certainly continue the fight afterwards-but the psychological effect was too much. He didn't have a clue how to continue after he got hit, because he was operating under the assumption that he should never get hit.

Switching tacks, lets move to an internet hardass trope; I don't need empty hand\stick\knife training because I always have a gun. I would wager that unless that person is Gecko45, he does not have a gun with him in the shower, on the airplane, while having sex (well, I do sometimes) or after he has been beaten by a gang of MS13 cholos and had his gun taken away. In all of those situations, a plan (remember, you have to have a plan, preferably one wired in your muscle memory) would have been helpful. Not only that, but you will find that one very important gun related skill, weapon retention (very important to you open carriers) is basically dependent on your ability to harm another human being with your bare hands. Seriously people. Getting shot with your own gun is a hideously embarrassing way to die, so even if your central plan is "gun" (not a plan by the way, a piece of equipment) you really should be able to back it up with your fists if necessary. The minute you say "it isn't necessary" is the minute you are going to end up in a crude tug of war with a 300 pound rapist over that $1,400 custom 1911 you were relying on as your only means of protection. Why do you have to tease the universe like that?

I don't mean to post this entire article in the negative, as in "This is what you shouldn't do." And it isn't really "Picking a martial art" as much as "Picking a martial arts school." You don't choose a style; you choose an instructor. So the first thing you should do is research the guy (or gal) who will be teaching you the style. Are they accredited with a national organization? It isn't always important, but at least then you know they have been screened for obvious fraud-assuming the organization exists at all. Remember, anyone can print off a Certificate of Bad-Assery (Mine is on the wall next to my Unicorn Hunting License) so do your homework on the organization too.

This is more ephemeral, but you also need to find out how their personality meshes with yours. The main reason I study Arnis instead of another style is because most of the instructors are tolerant of jackass commentary; as I've mentioned before, I just can't shut this shit off. If you don't get along with your instructor, if you have mutually polarizing personality traits, you are not going to learn anything and you are going to disrupt their class. Take a trial class, and see how everyone reacts to you. If the reactions are poor, or you go home crying, don't bother taking the class and opt for something else instead. Some people respond well to a casual environment, and some people respond well to a rigidly structured environment, and there are plenty of both out there if you care to look.

So what should you include in your empty hand / melee training, as far as curriculum? The basics of front-kick-reverse-punch-lapel-grab-hip-throw are simple to look at but hard to incorporate into muscle memory; repetition is key. You have to pound out the basics a LOT until you get them perfect; if you have to think about them they will be too slow. So don't go for a class that offers a lot of complicated techniques right up front (Arnisadors are guilty of this sometimes)-You need to look for something well grounded in the fundamentals. A jab-cross-hook combination done 1000 times becomes instinctive, and is much more reliable than the complicated 4 point wrist lock that you did a few times and will never be able to repeat under stress. So whatever your fundamentals are (And I'm not going to touch the grappling/striking, UFC/RBSD debates; they are retarded as both have their place) make sure you have them down or you are just jacking off in a funny pair of pajamas.

Regarding weapon use: No one has the upper hand on Filipino styles in this regard, except perhaps for hardcore SCA/ARMA types. Endlessly doing katas and shit with arcane weapons, as is the case in some of your sillier kung fu classes, doesn't really teach you anything about the use of a weapon. Most of the time, they cannot even deploy the weapon reliably under stress; they never practice a draw. Your custom broadsword, assuming you even own a battle ready version (Hint: it cost more than my primary firearm) will do you no good if you a) never carry it or b) die with it sitting in its sheath. So if you are serious about a non firearm weapon, you need to train with it seriously, and no one does it more seriously than motherfuckers like the Dog Brothers. This is the style bragging portion of my little article; you are safely done with it now. But seriously, ask a little 1st generation Filipino teacher about knife work and he will show you his motherfucking scars. Thats knife fighting, motherfucker, and nothing else is.

I hope this article has been helpful to you, strange internet hot chick, and it might be, assuming you take advice from random internet potheads. If you remember nothing else I said, remember this: You will never learn to fight on the Internet. So get out there, train, and make sure you do it right. In general, you don't get two chances to fuck it up.

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