Author Topic: Self-Defense or Sparring?  (Read 7433 times)

Kempo-Sensei

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Self-Defense or Sparring?
« on: May 20, 2003, 06:53:42 AM »
With all of the martial arts styles and systems out there..... which ones work for self-defense and which ones would be best to leave in the point sparring ring?

I know the P.C. answer here is to say that all systems are good, it's the person studying it, blah blah blah.  I don't buy that.  I think that some systems are designed to be more effective in dealing with real situations and some systems are designed to be more effective in a ring.  Some systems are more effective to gain better health too.

But I am interested in what everyone thinks is their top choices for a good self-defense art.

I'll start by saying that I believe Kempo is a very good self-defense art.  Not that all people who teach Kempo know what they're talking about, but it is very effective in my opinion.  I have also had the pleasure of practicing with a couple Kajukenbo guys while in the Marines out in CA.  I liked the approach that was taken with some of the techniques shown to me.  It was similar to Shaolin Kempo in that the techniques always seemed to end with the attacker getting roughed up a bit!   ;)  

I now teach Kosho Ryu Kempo as my main course, but still have a very strong Shaolin Kempo influence.  I find that Kosho added a lot to what I was doing.  And I have found my skills for dealing with attackers have increased a lot over the past 7 years or so, when I was first introduced to the Kosho art.  I guess what Kosho did for my skills was taught me how to use less and accomplish more.  This is what I think is weak with a lot of arts.  We tend to use so much of our own energy while defending.  

As far as a style I would keep in the ring, Tae Kwon Do.  I have worked with several practitioners of this art in my area, as well as in CA.  I have not found this art to be useful in self-defense, but rather a great art for keeping one in good physical condition.  I feel it lacks the true understanding of how to deal with a truly aggressive attacker.

Your thoughts?
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Karazenpo

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2003, 07:59:43 AM »
Hi Sensei John, how's everything going? :)

Yeah, I would have to agree on Tae Kwon Do but its no put down to the art because it was created to be Korea's national sport. It's techniques would then have had to be designed mostly for sport with a secondary emphasis on the street. In the early years I remember many super talented Tae Kwon Do fighters would take good old American boxing to help round out their skills. One who comes to mind that I met in Rhode Island at a PKA fight way back when, was the late Demeitrias (sp.?) Havanas, 'the Golden Greek', 'wicked tough & talented' and a real gentlemen and overall 'nice guy'. His loss was felt in the martial arts world when he was killed in a plane crash. :'(
I also feel that in any art, the longer you work it, the more economy of movement you develop. Just recently I was discussing this with one of my instructors. As one gets older and older he/she cannot rely on the rigors of youth to help them pull through a tough street fight anymore. One has to rely more on technical expertise, precision & accuracy  delivering the 'mosted' with the leasted', lol. I remember hearing that early on in my career. They say that's why the older master's hardly move to dispatch an attacker. Given enough time, I think we all realize it is best to conserve as much energy as possible. Look at  amatuer boxing in those three round exhibition bouts, they go like crazy, blow all their endurance and are hanging all over each other by the third run. Then, take a look at the seasoned older professionals, the pace their fights, less all out bursts, they try not to punch themselves out.
I don't want to pick Kajukenbo/Kempo per se because some people reading the post from another system will say, "sure, that's what he studies!' So, I'll put it this way. A system that teaches hands as the dominant factor of a street fight. All kicks are still developed but we're talking where the emphasis lies in practical application. The system would also have training in the grappling arts, locks, hold, takedowns and a throw or two to round everything out. Sounds a lot like Kajukenbo / Kempo doesn't it? ;)
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Kempo-Sensei

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2003, 10:40:35 AM »
Hello Shihan Joe!  Things are well.  I am enjoying the beautiful weather that NH is having right now.  I hope all is well with you.

Tae Kwon Do isn't a bad art.  But I do agree that it is designed for sporting purposes and not self-defense.  That really is the main idea of my post.

I would like to see what people believe is good for self-defense and what is good for sparring.  I believe the two are very much different.  

In fact, when I train my students for our monthly sparring class I show them techniques that are good for sparring.  And I tell them not to try this out when someone is really trying to hurt you, because it won't work!

There is no ref out there yelling "yame" (stop) after you score your point!



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Karazenpo

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2003, 06:15:01 AM »
  Sensei John, I feel point sparring today has hardly anything to do with true fighting in self defense. I say hardly rather than nothing because it still employs the basic punch, kick and defensive maneuvers used in all situations but its fighting strategies to out-point your opponent won't do anything to insure your street survival. Not even close! ;)  Kickboxing is another thing, a whole different animal and although not as complex in technique as the actual art is, it still develops excellent street winning skills as does American boxing. :)
   The most ridiculous sparring trend I've seen so far that Shihan Kathy mentioned on another post is standing on one leg flicking your foot out rapid-fire with no power what-so-ever and hoping your opponent will accidentally walk into a point! >:( What a joke that is!
   Not all, but there are a lot of instructors out there that just want their students to bring back trophies for the school so they can deceive the public into thinking that they are great teachers, either for ego and/or monetary gain! >:(  As you can see this is a passion with me because, like I said, its not only deceitful but it waters down the art and gives the student a false sense of security. They get so wrapped up in winning these type of tournaments that it takes away from developing real fighting skills.  Usually, I'm an open minded person but there is no way you can have your cake and eat it to.   Today, you either train to be a survivor or you train to be a point fighter but you're not going to be great at both, not in the tournaments I've seen of late. Way back when, at the advent of the 'Blood & Guts' era of the 60's and spilling over into the 70's and a little beyond, point sparring was nothing like it is today and many of these top tournament competitors made an easy transition into, what was called then, full contact karate or as we say now, kickboxing. They developed some very aggressive skills in point sparring during that era that would have definitely insured their survival on the street. I just don't see that anymore. :( What say you, John!



« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Kempo-Sensei

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2003, 06:29:38 AM »
I totally agree with you.  But I'm guessing by the lack of response that others think differently but won't tell, or everyone else agrees with us too!   ;D

I'll take that latter!   ;)


(I can't imagine anyone being too chicken to respond with their true feelings!! :P )
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Anthony C.

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #5 on: May 21, 2003, 07:18:17 AM »
Hello everyone,

Very respectful comments. I agree that Tae Kwon Do is defined as a sport rather than a self-defense art.  If one is to seek for an art to choose from, the intent would have to fall under the reason. Fitness: Tae Kwon Do is great to stay in shape. No need to elaborate, most know what TKD output is. Self-Defense: Shihan Joe Shuras (last paragraph of his comment) hit it on the nose. "I don't want to pick Kajukenbo/Kempo per se because some people reading the post from another system will say, "sure, that's what he studies!' So, I'll put it this way. A system that teaches hands as the dominant factor of a street fight. All kicks are still developed but we're talking where the emphasis lies in practical application. The system would also have training in the grappling arts, locks, hold, takedowns and a throw or two to round everything out. Sounds a lot like Kajukenbo / Kempo doesn't it?"

If you want to learn how to defend yourself, find a school who is focused on street self-defense.  Like Shihan Joe said, there are no refs and there are no rules. If you find a school who holds these two philosophies into heart, then you found the right school.  Survival is the key to walking away from a street fight and knowing how may save your life!

Training: The difference between sport and survival on the streets is based on training. If you train for sport contact within the ring. Guess what the output is going to be when a confrontation arises on the streets.  Yes, point contact. Again, there are no refs to say you won the point. The only way you're going to find out if you had won the confrontation is by walking away with your physical body and life intact.

I also want to add this to training per say you found the right school for street self-defense: Bruce Lee once said, train with the mind set as if you were in a confrontation using the same amount of energy. Which translates, how you train, is how you are going to apply it on the streets. If you train at half speed all the time, your going to re-act at half speed. The key is re-act. You're re-training your basic instincts, which relates to reflexes.  If you train at full speed, with 100% effort, your reflexes will kick in to 100% full speed on the streets. Matching agression with agression.

All this kind of gives you an idea which way a person would choose based on their intent. I myself prefer to train in street self-defense because it meets two goals: (A) Physical fitness and (B) self-defense. Someone told me along time ago, it's better to know and not use, than to need it and not know.

I hope this clears anyone's interests choosing between the two. Please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong.

Regards everyone,

Anthony C.
(Student black-tumpai/chuanfa)

Mind/Body/Spirit
  
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Karazenpo

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #6 on: May 21, 2003, 08:07:22 AM »
  As with your comments, Anthony, I couldn't have said better! :) It is said 'you are what you eat' and as Anthony said, to paraphrase, 'how you train is how you will react on the street'. In my specialized training as a police officer we are taught that in moments of stress you will resort to previous learned behavior. This is fact and unfortunately I will site a tragic example to show it has been proven. Anthony, you will find that this real life example will help prove your point if anyone challenges you on it. ;)

   'The Newhall Incident': In August of 1970 four young California Highway Patrol Officers were killed in a 4 1/2 minute gun battle with two suspects. :'(  For more details, it may be found on the net but I'm just going to pick the part that pertains to our discussion. Back then, when police officers 'qualified' at the range with their weapons they were always taught and trained to put the empty 'spent' shells immediately into their pockets prior to reloading and continuing. The reason had nothing to do with 'tactical' but was initiated because it was easier to recover all the spent casings so they could be 'recycled' into what we call 'reloads' rather than looking for them in the dirt and sand of the outdoor ranges back then. They would be nice & clean and accounted for to be sent back to be reused. Reloads were cheap to buy and easier on the budgets. One of the dead patrolman who possibly could have saved himself was found at the death scene with all his empty casings in his pockets! ??? Obviously, there was a full investigation by officer survival experts to see what went wrong. Since then, spent rounds are dumped on the ground as you reload and fire but it took the lives of four good men to change this ridiculous practice. So, I would have to say and totally agree with Anthony and my police training that in moments of stress we CERTAINLY DO resort to previous learned behavior. If you continually train in today's point sparring then you're going to point spar on the street-bottom line ;)  Respectfully, Shihan Joe
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline John Bishop

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #7 on: May 21, 2003, 08:18:47 AM »
Good example Shihan Joe.  That incident really sticks in your mind.  It was a very much discussed topic in my academy class in 1974.  It left such an impression on me that 29 years later I still remember the 4 highway patrolman's names, Officer's Gore, Frago, Pence, and Allen.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Offline D-Man

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #8 on: May 21, 2003, 09:49:15 AM »
I think that point sparring is helpful on the street.  If you are a good martial artist, you should be able to beat most people at point-sparring.

5 ways of attack: (the only ways you can possibly ever attack, on the street or in a tournament)
1) Direct
2) Indirect
3) Trapping
4) Drawing
5) Combination

You use each one of these in point sparring.  5 is debatable, sense you learn to stop hitting as soon as you score, but that's easy enough to do if you have a little control.

You also work on initial speed.  Seems pretty valuable to me, considering that you probably want to get the first hit off on your opponent.

Should you train to point spar? No.  Should you be good at it? Yes.  How do you become good at it without practicing?  Well, it seems to me that the biggest secrets in martial arts isn't stuff like death points, and special techniques, it's training method.  (Sorry, I'm getting way off topic here.) You need to train to win.  Total domination over your opponent.  The art of war- flawless victory.

I see only two things wrong with point sparring. You can’t hit hard, and you stop hitting right after you score. Look at the what is does teach you though, initial speed, 5 ways of attack, commitment, and more.

By the way, I don’t point spar or do tournaments, and neither do those that I train with.
------------------------------------------------------------------------

The best martial art for self-defense?

In my opinion, JKD has the right idea; use what works. How can you argue with that?  I think that Kajukenbo is a good tool to do so.  You must also take into consideration that the art must fit the individual. You wouldn't train in Tae Kwon Do if you were in a wheel chair. I can be more bias: I train in a soft style, so...  I think that soft styles are nice because they work for the strong and the weak. I wouldn't suggest training in a hard style smashing Karate or Sumo if you are a little person, no matter how well the system works for the heavyweights. I would suggest training in a system that doesn’t discriminate against physicality’s, especially if you are interested in being able to teach people that are weak how do protect themselves.

I know we’re talking a lot about Tae Kwon Do, so if any of you Tae Kwon Do guys are out there, feel free to correct any misunderstandings of your art.

The best to leave in the point sparring ring?

Well, I know of a “Kajukenbo” school that focuses quite a bit on it, and does pretty well.  Don’t know how well they’d do on the street though.
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:05 PM by -1 »

Jon Pack

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #9 on: May 21, 2003, 09:55:43 AM »
Hello my friends!
On the subject of sparring in our school here is an an example of some of the ways we approach it. LEVEL ONE: In the first sessions we will start with point sparring to develope technique oriented approach(one match at a time) so I can govern the action. LEVEL TWO: Then we will progress into freestyle with all students on the floor trading techniques at the same time. Done for several minutes and changing partners often. LEVEL THREE: For the higher intermediate, advanced and Black levels we will start to add some leg kicking to disrupt the foundation(focus on the quad and mindful of the knees). LEVEL FOUR: For the advanced and Black levels can progress to include takedowns. LEVEL FIVE: For the highest level students can include some type of ground work/lock/hold/finishing strikes etc. Note that I don't like any choking going on and there is always an emphasis on technique oriented sparring and lots of control. This approach lets everyone know that there is a progression and when higher ranks are paired with lower they are to spar on the appropriate level.
Jon Pack
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Offline Nagi

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #10 on: May 21, 2003, 11:26:12 AM »

I know a TKD practitioner that was a sparring partner for Vinny Paz and he knocked Paz out in training one day and when he regained Paz said I thought you TKD guys were known for you feet? The TKD guy said I can knock you out with them too. He belived that you have 2 hands and 2 feet use them all equally. I know this school was not the typical TKD school.  
 As a side note there was a school that had Kempo and TKD on different night's and they would get together and spar I heard the TKD guys would always dominate and win? Could it been the Kempo teacher or student's?  
It was not point sparring students would get knocked around pretty hard.
Sensei Ron    

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:05 PM by -1 »
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Karazenpo

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #11 on: May 21, 2003, 11:45:49 AM »
  I'd say the only thing relative in point sparring to real fighting is an explosive first move, that I agree. Hit hard, hit fast and hit first! However, you are indoctrinated as stated in other posts to stop after the initial point. There is no continuous fighting, choke & sleeper holds or takedown or grappling. If in sparring you fall to the ground there's an immediate break in the action and you certainly can't choke someone out if you have to either. It's hit and stop-Point! Plus most point sparrers these days favor techniques that have nothing to them as long as they score a point-that foot flicking thing is embarrassing, in my opinion, and I can't believe instructors encourage their students to do it. ::) Sickening! In Rhode Island recently I went to a tournament put on by Tony Cogliandro and Don Rodriques. It was called 'Continuous Fighting'. The winner would be the most aggressive, throwing the most punches and kicks, non-stop for, I believe it was 2 1/2 minutes. I think that type of sparring is on the right track not to mention you have to develop the explosive type endurance that goes with it.  You have to be in much better shape and you get to utilize continuous motion. Much better practice for the street. Other than that, I just don't see it. ;)   Respectfully, Shihan Joe
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »

Karazenpo

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #12 on: May 21, 2003, 12:04:33 PM »
In response to Nagi, Sensei Ron, I'm sure the guy that fought 'Paz' was a Tae Kwon Do converted boxer. I'll try and find out , I believe Gm. Pesare is friendly with Vinnie Paz. I may know the Kempo/Tae Kwon Do school you mentioned. You have to ask yourself what is the quality of the kempo instruction received there? versus  the quality of the Tae Kwon Do instruction? I believe I know the answer to that and I think, Ron, you do too. Also, the Tae Kwon Do guys are great point getters if you fight them at mid to long range, tighten it up and many have a problem.
    Remember, my good friend Chuck Longo? He initiated me into some informal boxing in college. Chuckie had excellent hands. I've seen him fight for sport and for real. He wanted to learn to kick so he took Tae Kwon Do with an excellent kicker. This guy was great with his feet but when they put on the gloves behind closed doors, Chuck would close the gap and it was all Mr. Longo after that, and that's no bull! He eventually made his black belt and we used to train together and exchange information. He helped me with the TKD kicks, I showed him some of the kempo hands. We enterred a tournament together once. He kicks this guy, 'a heavy favorite' for a winning point and the judges claim not enough power and Chuck kicks hard. So, they start up again, this time he knocks his opponent out of bounds and to the ground with the same side kick. They disqualify him for too much power-go figure! ;)  Shihan Joe
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:05 PM by -1 »

Offline sifutimg

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #13 on: May 21, 2003, 12:15:08 PM »
The sparring question is a great topic.  Wonderful posts everyone.  What I see out there as a problem is when styles (or instructors) don't do diligence in creating the conscious separation between street and sport.  I have witnessed many styles who kind of merge the two together and then in that ultimate moment when you have to call upon your tools for survival, there is a type of confusion that sets in that isn't even noticed by the individual as to what technique/techniques are employed, the position they choose to employ said technique/techniques, and the depth (power) used to  execute them.  One of the key aspects to train I constantly harp on is adaptibility.  Now this is only my opinion and don't claim to really know anything at all, but I find that if I really bring to the forefront the differences between fighting scenarios, i.e. ambush, straight up attacking/defending, sport oriented, I find my students are creating that sense of how, why, and when to adapt their knowledge of principles first and technique usage second, in the various training situations presented in class.  I always tell my students that sport is in my left hand (I am right handed and wish I was more ambidextrose, always working on that though) and the street is in my right hand, keep them separated consciously.  As Shihan Shuras has pointed out, what will come out of you in that ultimate moment is what you know best or train on the most and if you know how to execute a fast back fist point wise and try that on the street, your attacker will probably say something like "Wow that was pretty fast and accurate" before they stab you or whatever.  There are many examples of folks who have made this distinction successfully, Professor Al Dacascos comes to mind for me.  Awesome tournament fighter and even an awesome street fighter, I know there are others.  So it can be done, separating the two paths.  What I believe to be very useful in the tournment practice that can be gleamed for the street is simply the timing and distance.  When you come across the scenerio of seeing the attacker or attacks come to you (not being ambushed or surprised in any way), this knowledge is very useful even at the street level, in establishing your position to kick some butt when you need to.

Again in my opinion, it is very very important for there to be a very consise distinction between street and sport.  That way the student can instantly adapt their understanding of fighting to the situation at hand.  Also the balance between sport training and street training must be kept.  I love tournaments.  It's something fun for me and my students.  We get to build community and our relationships in a stronger way by getting together and organizing the car carvans traveling to the various tournaments around our area and sharing those experiences together.  Also tournaments can be a useful tool for the instructor to confront ego and character problems.  Nobody likes to loose and sometimes true character traits will come out as they do also in the street training in class, but there is a dynamic in place at a tournament you just don't get in class.  Again only my opinion now and am sure many can comment here for my improvement.   Awesome experience though all the way around.  

So in summary my take on this topic is to concisly make the distinction in a very "in your face way" between street and sport, balance the two training methods in some way (I practice more street than sparring as a way to showcase the importance between the two), and train those tools so the students know what it's like to execute full power shots.

Yours in training,
Sifu Tim Gagnier

« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »
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Kempo-Sensei

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Re: Self-Defense or Sparring?
« Reply #14 on: May 21, 2003, 12:30:41 PM »
Thank you all who have posted so far!

It seems to me that most would agree that one should not cling to any "style" of martial arts, but rather cling to what works.  There are many out there that combine several ideas of martial training.  I think that is best.

If you only do ground fighting, you won't be that good if the guy stays on his feet.  If you only study boxing, you better watch out for those groin kicks! (watch out for them anyway!!)  And if you only study kicking arts, then watch out for the punch.

I believe one must train in all aspects of self-defense.  But wouldn't that take too long, you ask?

Well, yes and no.  Of course it takes time to train yourself to move accordingly, strike with accuracy, etc.  But many of the ideas used for one area of martial arts can easily be adapted to another.

The human body must do certain things in order to shift weight from one side of the body to the other.  We must relax certain muscle groups while contracting others.  Understanding martial arts at this level is very important.  

Can the person hit me with their hand at the distance they are from me?  What about their legs?  All martial artists should be studying things like that.  Doesn't matter if you're TDK, Kajukenbo, Kempo, JKD, or whatever.

So in the end, if we all practice what needs to be done........


aren't we all practicing the same thing?

Couldn't I be somewhat accurate to say that we (or most of us) are all studying the same system?


When people ask me what kind of techniques I teach, I usually respond first with, "I only teach one technique."

Then they ask, "Which one?"

And I always say, "The one that works!"   ;)




« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 06:00:00 PM by 1054443600 »