Saturday, April 23, 2005

Martial Arts Chronology

I received the following as a response to my first post. Rather than respond to it there I have chosen to make it the topic of this post.
Question dated 4/24/05 from "Jim": "I'm studying tae kwon do and have a brown belt...what style are you studying and do you have a favorite?"
Here ya go Jim!

Senior green belt in Tae Kwon Do -- 1991

After 16 months I grew weary of the forms, the over-emphasis on wining awards for the school, the over-emphasis on kicking, the lack of practical application/realistic sparring; and, I also had serious doubts that much of what was being taught by this particular school had much street value.
7th Kyu in Aikido -- 1995
Dropped out in less than 3 months after realizing that this art was not for me.
6th Kyu in Goju-Ryu Karate -- 1995
From a self-defense perspective I preferred this art over Tae Kwon Do. However, this school was somewhat dogmatic and the forms where much harder to learn.
Junior green belt in Tae Kwon Do --1996
You'd think I'd have learned my lesson once!
PPCT Training via the department of corrections --1995 -1998
PPCT stands for pressure point control tactics and is typically taught to law enforcement and corrections officers. There are different levels of proficiency and the two main styles are based primarily on the audience that it is being taught to (i.e., police vs. corrections). What I was annually certified in emphasized the following: 1) Principles of controlling resistance behavior, 2) Stimulus response training, 3) Handcuffing, 4) Joint locks, 5) Pressure point control tactics, and 6) Knife defense.
The problem with this system is that it was developed around a "use of force" continuum. That is, staff should use a level of force that is slightly higher than the resistance the subject is using, thus allowing staff to regain control of the situation without getting sued!
While PPCT has some value for police or law enforcement, in my opinion it is not the ideal self-defense system. In fact, were you to try 60% of the tactics in a street fight you'd likely get yourself hurt. That being said, after looking at PPCT through the lens of the Jeet Kune Do, there are some core techniques that can be kept or slightly modified.
Wing Chun Kung Fu -- 2004
Currently I am studying Wing Chun Kung Fu (or gung fu if you prefer):
Wing Chun has managed to retain its focus as a practical fighting art. It has avoided being modified into a competitive (rule based) point-scored sport or demonstration art. Wing Chun tournaments are rare or unknown.
The more effective Wing Chun strikes (eyes, throat, knee) are too dangerous even for freestyle competitions. Wing Chun is therefore rarely seen in competition.
Wing Chun is not just a collection of unrelated techniques. It has a core set of guiding principles which allows practitioners to decide what is correct or incorrect Wing Chun. This keeps the art a pure and integrated fighting system, while allowing direction for refinement that is consistent with its principles.
These guiding principles are strictly practical and is part of the reason for Wing Chun's uniquely scientific and logical approach to fighting. It is likely that Bruce Lee managed to develop Jeet Kune Do from Wing Chun because Wing Chun trained him to think about fighting in a scientific way.
So, after applying Lee's philosophy of Jeet Kune Do to the styles that I have experience in, I have been able strip away the useless and adapt what is useful. In other words, my personal expression of JKD includes techniques and strategies that I have learned from Tae Kwon Do, Karate, Aikido, PPCT, Wing Chun--not to mention the dozen or so use of force situations that I experienced while employed in corrections. Seen through the lens of Jeet Kune Do, these experiences make up my own personal "style of no style."
In other words I know enough to hurt myself!

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