16 May, 2011

Training for Reality

I have been looking around at blogs and vidoes with regards to koryu, jujutsu and silat.  My interest stems from what the goal of these systems is - training for reality.  And I have seen a sort of similar approach to how they handle a given situation.

What is mean is that, in karate, the key points of training are fitness and conditioning, kata (solo forms), and sparring (pre-arranged and free-style).  I would like to be clear that sparring in this context does not mean point sparring - our dojo long abandoned that path.  The distancing and timing that you learn from sparring in a more realistic manner can be very enlightening, and I think this is something that karate shares with kendo.  But sparring, in any case, is a recent invention, and previously the kata and conditioning were the primary tools, along with some application of the movements.

Contrast this to silat, koryu arts or jujutsu, where a specific attack (or set of attacks) are launched.  The order and nature of the attack is understood, but the slight variations required to handle the attack at speed with intent to harm is very different from the approach found in karate.  I would like to think that karate can learn a lot from this approach, but the key item that I try to include in practice is intent.

In some ways, the application of kata are like the above - some pre-determined situation of attack(s) that must to countered or eliminated.  But what I find important to note is that the senior is usually the "kata-side" in such drills (contrasted to koryu where the senior is the opponent), and that we do not have an agreed upon and remembered opponent side to the kata which is practiced (this was missing for several decades, at least, in almost all styles that I know of).  Since my interest in koryu, I try to perform the attacker side for such drills, to put myself in the right frame of mind.  The Budo Mind is a curious thing...

DISCLAIMER: I don't think any art is the peak of the mountain - different strokes for different folks, as the saying goes.  But I do think I understand my own art to a decent degree.  I think I know what I want, and this has affected the way that I perceive my art, my training, and colours my view of others.  In addition, it brings me to examine what I know and what I can learn to cover what I perceive I need to learn.

One thing which I am concerned about is that karate is not a combatic discipline along the lines of others.  I feel pretty confident that this is not the case, but I want to ensure that what I practice is practical, realistic, and will keep my family, friends and myself safe from harm.  I liked a quote, I can't remember from where, but the gist was that "wherever I am, the people around me are safer from my being there".  If anyone knows the source, please remind me, at least so the credit can go to where it is due.

So, what it comes down to is, what is training for reality?  What is your training about?  Do you think it is practical?


  1. I trained in Yoshinkan Aikido under Kushida Sensei in my youth.

    Nowadays, I practice Wu style taijiquan, and some basic yiquan methods.

    What my training is about is the cultivation of a calm, clear mind. It has been my experience that this approach is quite practical and is certainly realistic.

    At my age, with my habits I am very unlikely to have to fight anyone, although that can't be entirely ruled out. I am much more likely to find myself in a situation where a calm clear mind is an advantage.

    If you study a martial art, if you can't apply it, you're not doing it right. That being said, there are many more practical uses to which martial arts training may be applied.

    Best Regards,


  2. Thanks for your comment Rick.

    I think my age is showing - my biggest worries are physical violence, but your advice is spot-on with regards to the true reality.

    Most of us (thankfully) will never need the physical aspects of our arts to defend. But the focus and calmness may be so key in life, anything from dealing with a stressful job to catching a falling mug.

    Your wise words are duly noted.

  3. I spent about a decade on the night shift as an unarmed security guard in one of the most dangerous sections of a big city and I can state with confidence that it all works [Aikido, karate, Escrima, boxing]. The cliche that it's all in the mind is absolutely true. Most of the time, a 'real' fight lasts for only seconds and your training takes over.

  4. Thanks for your comments JC and Charleyhorse.

    I agree Charleyhorse, there is so much of a mental aspect to the arts. If there weren't, I don't think that any of us would stick around longer than it took to become proficient.