Sunday, September 28, 2008

Martial Arts and Me

This is the start of a few blogs I am going to do in order to introduce my interest in Japanese movies. I have been slow about bringing this about, and I will explain the reasons for this as I go along. It is NOT something that I will constantly have blogs about, but once in a while I will bring it up.

Ever since I can remember I have had some exposure to fighting arts. Be it TV and movies, relatives, boxing, etc. As I kid it would be and on and off things since school and sports were priorities. There did come a time though that I spent about a decade training at least 2-6 days a week. It was only a few years ago that I stopped training.

In all honesty, I was not the type of guy that would get into fights when I was growing up. If anything, If I were to get picked on I would just laugh it off and walk or run away. Usually, fighting would just seem to cause more trouble. I still believe that today, but I might stand my ground a bit more if pushed into an ugly situation. These days it is much easier for participants to end up in a court of law with lawsuits or criminal sentences over a simple altercation. Unless your life is truly threatened then it is not worth it.

My main interest in martial arts was the self-defense part of it. I was not into the sport fighting aspect of it. I watch a lot of mixed martial arts (MMA) and boxing, but those have rules. A big part of self-defense is learning how to defend against the sucker punch. The may seem like an easy thing to avoid, but when a person is having "words" with you in a confrontation there are certain things that need to be done to have the advantage. This is not something that professional fighting arts really train for. When I see people talking about "street fighting" sometimes I think they have this idea of two people putting up their arms and closing the distance like a boxer would. That is not what I am talking about when I refer to "street fighting" because that can be avoided by walking or running away.

I am not going to go into all the details of what I know about fighting and all the training I did. I have seen too much gloating on the internet about which martial art or artist is better than another and that is not the purpose of this. Nor will I go into any "ugly" fighting situations I have been in. Most soldiers who have been in war will not talk about their accomplishments gleefully. I feel the same way about this. Especially, apart from the grace of God, one could be in the wrong place at the wrong time or situations where some "luck" was involved. I consider myself "retired" from training, but it is always possible I could start up again in the future. I just do not see the need for it right now. I spent a lots and lots of years on techniques regarding punching, kicking, throws, seizing and locking techniques that I am content with what I know and there are other things I want to spend my time on. Honestly, I can defend myself, but I am probably a be a bit rusty on the fine tuning of some of the techniques I used to do.

I think there is a myth in the mind of the average person that someone who has trained in a martial art or has a black belt is invincible against those who have no training or little training. The same punch that knocks out the average Joe can do the same damage against black belt Joe. There are certain scientific ideas that apply to everyone regarding this. The difference between average Joe and Black Belt Joe is the awareness of these ideas.

As I said, I am not going to mention the necessary details of fighting since I believe you really can not get that online or in print. It has to be done in the studio or dojo environment. I will say this, learning proper distances between you and the other person is key. I would say a good percentage of ugly confrontations can be avoided by just learning how to walk away. I have had a bunch of situations where a confrontation had happened and I just started walking away. The funny thing is people seem to get really brave when you are 50-100 feet away. I have been called all sorts of names at that distance and, sometimes, how they want me to come back. Funny, they were not acting that way when I was 5 feet away from them face to face.
This takes proper experience, but if a person has to take a step to reach you with one of his hands (extend your right arm, but also rotate your shoulder forward in a motion like going across your chest) then you have your safety distance. Nothing will happen until you or he take that step to close the distance. Once that step happens then you need to do something. If you are within that step range then your hands really have to already be up to block or attack.

If one has a good grasp of the above concept then a good portion of fights can be avoided. The knowledge of it helps even if the fight does go down. In my own experience, if the best the guy has for you is a bunch of words then you win and he has lost. You just have to learn to walk away.

The point of this blog entry is just to give a little background so I can make the connection to some of the martial arts movies I enjoy. I probably will not say much more about this unless it is related to the movies. In the next blog I will talk about my favorite asian genre: the samurai movie!