On Aliveness In Training - An Analytic Perspective

Thursday, November 11, 2004

On Aliveness In Training - An Analytic Perspective

What does it mean for training to be alive? Recently, this term has come into common usage in Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, and Jeet Kune Do circles. The claim is made that without aliveness in your training, you will not reach your potential as a martial artist. The claim is also made that arts without live training stagnate and are ineffective in comparison to arts with live training. Here are is my analysis of what this all might mean. Introduction

What is live training all about?

A number of martial artists now use the phrase "live (or alive) training" to distinguish more combative and improvisational practice from choreographed routines. I would guess that the term must have come from the military, as in live fire training exercises. Great benefits are claimed for training in an alive fashion. Is it aliveness that brings the benefit, or just use of better techniques? Has aliveness been responsible for improvement in some arts through evolution of more workable techniques? What does it mean for the training of techniques to be alive? I will try to shed some more light on this through my arguments. In this paper, I focus the discussion on training methods (e.g., live training versus choreography), and in passing discuss quality of instruction, personnel attributes, and technique.

Claims of the aliveness proponents

There are a number of proponents of aliveness. These include practitioners of Judo and Brazilian Ju Jitsu (BJJ), some Jeet Kune Do instructors, and most Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) instructors. The general claim by some Judoka is that Judo is better than the parent arts, various Japanese Ju Jitsu styles, because in Judo competitive training is part of the educational routine. The claim is made that the Japanese Ju Jitsu predecessors to Judo only use choreographed training (e.g. two person kata) and therefore exponents do not develop the same level of skill. The claim is also made that by eliminating the more dangerous Ju Jitsu techniques, a more intense competitive training can be used without as much risk of injury to the practitioners. Exponents of the other combative arts listed above might make similar claims.

Discussion of Context

What are we trying to accomplish?

We do not all share the same goals for training . Here is something to keep in mind - the context for the technique is crucial - it includes:

1 - Fitness - most of us
2 - Hobby - most of us
3 - Light contact sport - some of us
4 - Extreme combat sport (e.g., Thai boxing, boxing, kick boxing, mixed martial arts) - only a few of us
5 - Self-defence - some of us, maybe most to some degree

  • "drunken uncle" scenario
  • minor quarrels (but you don't necessarily know the intent of your opponent)
  • serious predation (mugging, gang attack, assassination)

6 - Security work - a few of us
7 - Law Enforcement (police, sheriff, correctional officer) - a few of us
8 - Warfare - a few of us
9 - Other

Context is everything but context can be highly variable as I have pointed out above. What works in one context might be horribly unsafe in another: you could be a reasonably good grappler, but get beaten by your assailant’s friends. A better solution would have been to run, negotiate, or employ a superior weapon (this may always be a better solution). You might find that all your boxing or grappling skill is negated by someone with a weapon, no matter how live your training, and how good you become. You might find that live training as a kick-boxer was of very little use on an ice slicked street and that grappling would be a better solution – even grappling done without much live training might be better – context again. Techniques workable in one context can be inappropriate in another.

What if the context is sport?

No matter what is said about the effectiveness of live training and sport, sport has rules – either written or tacit. Even if the sport claims to have no rules (an early Ultimate Fighting Challenge claim), the rule of law still applies. There are reputedly "underground" contests where there truly are no rules. These should be indistinguishable from street fights in some respects, but the assumption is that the two fighters should both be matched on skill to some degree. There is also not any uncertainty about the fact that both are there to fight – otherwise it is assault. It is undoubtedly illegal in most jurisdictions anyway.
In most matches, even if the intent of one or both fighters is to kill (as claimed by one MMA fighter in a public internet forum, who shall go nameless), the corner can still throw in the towel, a fighter can yield (tap out), or the referee can stop the match. The time and place of the bout is fairly predictable, and the fighters know that it is highly unlikely that one will pull out a gun. In some areas, I suppose that latter point is less certain.

What if the context is predation?

True predation (mugging, gang beating, other assault) brings a level of intensity and unpredictability that may go well beyond any sensible live training. The technical ability or the predator may not be as high as you might find amongst the better competitors, but the willingness to injure or kill may be there. The assault may be brutally furious, with full intent to maim.

What are the situational constraints?

Constraints may be environmental, ethical, legal, personal, situational, financial, temporal. Ethics and law are in general constraints, even in a street fight, and theoretically in warfare. In practice, they govern some folks more than others.

Role of Intent

Intent changes everything. Is the intent to tag and score one point, tag repeatedly to score points, touch lightly once, touch repeatedly, hit hard once, hit hard repeatedly, knock out your training partner, make them submit, break their arm if they don't tap, keep on going until one can't continue because they are physically or mentally spent, or just survive? The intensity and the techniques utilized will depend on the intent.

Competitive Live Training

Which arts use live training

Which arts have live training? Some arts art are more consistently training live than others. Aliveness is surely a matter of degree. As you relax the constraints on what the practitioners do while training, you increase the degree of aliveness. Short answer - any art that I have seen uses some degree of live training. Another short answer - most clubs don't use enough for strong skill development. Muay Thai, western boxing, kick boxing, judo, Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Sambo, wrestling and other have all been held up as examples of arts with very alive training. I don’t think that the situation is quite as clear as that. All are alive, but all have constraints. This is a good thing of course. I will discuss this later.

What is the state of the art in training?

Have all the best techniques been discovered by mixed martial arts (MMA) practitioners? The best technique today may not be the best tomorrow.. Other techniques will be invented, reinvented, or discovered elsewhere. Existing techniques will be improved for new contexts. Arts that are dismissed as archaic or ineffectual by the more extreme MMA proponents will have many potentially useful techniques, waiting to be used and refined with alive training.

Is competition training?

Is competition live training? This could be a point for debate. In general, you do your training for the competition, and don’t do competitions as your main vehicle for training. However, there are lessons learned in competition that will not be easily learned in any other way. The same can be said for dealing with combative situations outside of the training or sporting environment.

Is aliveness everything in the development of a fighter?

We are not all equal in our native gifts, and we cannot all train to a level of consistent tournament success.. There are a number of other crucial factors just as important as live training. These include commitment, quality of instruction, motivation, tenacity, temperament (timid, aggressive; kind or mean; empathetic or cold; inoffensive or vicious; easily discouraged or tenacious; ….), character, background (brutalized when young, always in fights, etc.).

Characteristics of Live Training

Choreography and improvisation mix

I will use improvisation as the opposite of choreography ( even though I don’t think that the word improvisation quite fits, I don’t have a better term yet).. In the improvisational context, your partner will act more like an opponent, and respond more realistically and unpredictably. Your partner will give you resistance and make it harder for you to succeed with your technique. Choreography is characterized by a fixed solo routine or a cooperative routine with a partner. The response of the attacker is not what you would get in a real situation, in many examples of the genre.
All arts need some choreography. How much is needed? What sorts are needed? Without choreography, there cannot be art - just raw and naive technique and personal attributes. Without choreography, there is no transmission of technique and skill will depend on intuition and native ability. This is not the way to develop an art.. Practice can vary along some continuum between pure choreography and pure improvisation; from total cooperation through varying degrees of resistance to full competition. Methods range from solo choreography, two person choreography, to almost fully competitive approaches.

How much better is alive training?

There seems to be a much better success rate in competition, formal or informal, for those who have a considerable degree of aliveness in their training, but that is not the whole story. Some techniques are better than others, some training regimes are better than others, some teachers are better than others, and some students are better than other. The phrase "better than others" must be taken to mean within context of the objectives of your game. Lots of arts, probably most, have some degree of aliveness in their training. In fact, the issue may not be only the aliveness of the training, but the appropriateness of the techniques of the art for the context.

Why does alive training work?

Alive training helps a fighter perfect technique against resisting opponents and develop skill that will work in context:

– Learn to deal with a resisting opponent and adapt to changing circumstances in real time
– Learn to counter more effectively and learn to counter the opponent’s counters
– Develop ability to deal with increased intensity on the part of the opponent, who will now be trying harder, be more fierce, be more formidable. Learn to handle high intensity – rate, speed, power
– Learn to deal with pain and stress
– Learn to deal with continuous attack
– Learn to work at high rates of energy expenditure - fitness, endurance, strength, power
– Achieve a deeper degree of learning
– Learn to see possibilities more quickly
– Learn to deal with uncertainty
– Develop the psychological characteristics necessary for fighting
– Validate your ability with your techniques
– Validate the techniques within your art

Learn to adapt to the opponent

Learn to adapt to changing circumstances in real time. Live training is a means of improving your ability to respond. Through live training, you learn how to adapt:

– To higher levels of intensity
– To resisting opponents who always attempt to counter
– To greater uncertainty in what will happen next

This will teach you grace under pressure, and the ability to modify your technique to handle your opponent’s counters

Learn to handle resisting opponents

Live training means that you are fighting resisting opponents. But, is this not true of any sporting martial art (e.g., Tae Kwon Do)?. What is different – do you learn to adapt better, counter the counter? Can this not be taught in a structured counter for counter fashion?

Resistance versus cooperation

How compliant is your partner?. With full compliance, you don’t learn to deal with uncertainty, don’t learn to deal with unpredictability, don’t learn to adapt to changed circumstances, don’t learn to counter the counter.

Learn to see possibilities more quickly

There is an old boxing adage to the effect that the punch that you don't see is the one that knocks you out. If you are not exposed to high intensity live training, you will not learn to quickly see the possibilities for defence and attack. You may know the techniques, but you won't pull them out of your pocket in time. You can improve your perceptual abilities and your choice reaction time. You will read a situation more quickly and accurately, learning to recognize opportunities, spot vulnerabilities, see openings. You will more rapidly and spontaneously deploy appropriate workable techniques.

Learn to counter more effectively and learn to counter the opponent’s counters

If you train properly, you will know the counters to standard situations, and how to counter the counters. This ability is promoted by some measure of aliveness in your training, but it also can be trained in other ways. These are discussed below.

Learn to deal with uncertainty

Uncertainty is the converse of predictability . Training can very in terms of predictability – what are the constraints (spoken or unspoken) on the situation? Are these: live but no throws, live but light contact, live but one point contact (not very live), live and no limitations on technique, but limits on damage, live with no limitations on technique or on damage, street fight, warfare, and so on.
Uncertainty gives one dimension. There is much more uncertainty in any true fight than there is any sporting arena, however, there is one area of greater certainty; if you are well trained in MMA, you have good reason to believe that you can beat most people based on any number of factors. These range from technique to personal attributes. You have verified this in the ring against partners or even opponents who are skilled. You also know that the history of BJJ and MMA challenge matches shows that most MMA fighters can toy with many other fighters, at least in context.

To what extent is this belief justified? If it is justified, is it simply because live training gives superior results, or are there other factors? Why do other competitive martial sports not count as having live training? Below, I will try to rate various arts.

Learn to handle high intensity – rate, speed, power, sophistication

Training in a live fashion gives greater ability to deal with increased intensity on the part of the opponent, who will now be trying harder, be more fierce, be more formidable, move with more power, more speed, come with a greater rate of attack, deliver continuous attack, and have an intent to win.
You can vary the intent of your technique, from just placing a blow out there in a cooperative fashion, to really attempting to hit your partner (or opponent) hard.

Targeting can vary as well. Some styles always aim off the target to avoid injury. This does not give your partner a good sense of how to deal with a real technique thrown with some intensity.

You can have a sporting competition where there is intent to hurt your opponent badly. Some machismo clubs carry that over into training with partners – this seems to be a bad idea in all.

You can independently vary the intensity of your practice. You can increase the speed of attack, the rate of multiple attack, the force of your techniques, the unpredictability of your technique, the willingness to damage with your technique, the targeting of your technique, the strength used, and perhaps other factors. You can allow for the use of potentially damaging techniques in a controlled fashion. A lot of damaging submission and choking techniques can be done in a live fashion, thorough the "tap-out" mechanism. Throws can be made more or less damaging by varying the intensity, hence the degree of aliveness. Some throws are very damaging by their nature, and should not be executed in a very live fashion if you value the health of yourself or your training partner. This would be true of throws involving head or neck cranks, or throws designed to break a bone or joint during execution. You could just go with safer throws.

Learn to deal with pain and stress

Pain can impair your ability to defend. It will cause you to flinch, to be intimidated, or in some cases, give up. Pain increases the level of stress considerably. Stress results in release of adrenaline and an increase in heart rate. When heart rate goes way up, performance goes way down. This has the result that fine and complex motor skills degrade drastically.
What sorts of training best prepares you to fight well despite pain?. Live training improves the ability to handle pain, fear and other stress factors – if your live training involves working at higher levels of contact, with grater impact and potential for damage, you will learn to deal with pain without suffering a complete breakdown of your technique due to psychologically being unprepared to deal with the pain and stress.

Learn to deal with continuous attack

One shot point Karate, one jab attack, or continuous combinations? If you only deal with one-shot arts, you will have trouble when subject to continuous attack.

Learn to work at high rates of energy expenditure

Although the best fighters are very efficient, against a formidable opponent, they need to be able to endure. Alive training increases your fitness, but also teaches you how to conserve energy, not panic, and breath effectively.

Achieve a deeper degree of learning

Unless you have some component of aliveness in your training, you will not get an understanding of many of the above factors. When your properly balance live training with somewhat alive choreography, you will make faster progress, and reach greater heights.

Develop psychological characteristics necessary for fighting

Certain psychological characteristics improve your abilities to handle combative situations. We could call these factors psychological toughness for short. These include some mix of confidence, self-assurance, aggressiveness, pain tolerance, a willingness to exert dominance when necessary, and courage (the ability to master fear). There are surely other factors. All of these are improved when there is a high component of aliveness in your training. At the very least, you must be successful in a number of contests in order to develop these attributes.

Validation and verification and evolution - personnel

Sport can serve as a proving ground for personal skill. Through both live training and competition, you find out how well you have developed your skill within the context of your game. Sport can serve as a proving ground for worth of your personal techniques. Through both live training and competition, you can determine which techniques work for you – and either refine or discard weapons from your arsenal.

Verification and validation and evolution – for the art

Live training can serve as a means to improve an art by refining of techniques, teaching methods, and elimination of techniques with poor workability.When a number of students train in a live fashion, over time the art itself can be improved, at least within the context of the training. It will become clear that certain techniques are not reliable, and should be either modified or discarded. In this way, the art can evolve

What approach should you take?

General recommendations

Train smarter, not harder. Injuries in training are the ones you will regret in your old age. Look for the best tradeoffs, considering costs, benefits, risks, opportunities, and requirements in context.

Costs and benefits

If you are often getting injured during training, you may take more damage than you ever would in a street fight – in fact, most adults never do have a fight – in lots of places, few adult people are mugged, assaulted or robbed on the street. There are costs to excessively live training. If your training is so live that you or your training partners are always injured, you will find that

– People don’t want to train with you, because of your club's reputation for injury. You end up getting very machismo students, and probably have good success with them, but you leave out those who may most need your training
– Your student's training suffers due to downtime
– You see a poor rate of retention of your students, because they don't like the risks
– You seem to attract more than your share of 'hard-cases' as students
– Lawsuits become more probable
– Your life outside of training can be negatively affected

There are benefits of appropriate live training.

– You see a reasonable rate of retention of students, because they are willing to accept the risks
– You build a good core of increasingly competent and confident students who see that the training works
– You are able to increase the abilities of those without natural gifts, and those with natural gifts will soar

Risk analysis

There is risk in live training, there is risk in sporting competitions, there is risk on the street. How much damage should be risked in training?. Using safety equipment can ameliorate the risk, but give some sense of false confidence too. You will not learn that unsafe techniques are unsafe. You will not learn to deal with pain. There is always a trade off. Even with safety gear, you will sometimes get hurt. Without safety gear, you will get hurt more. The minimum is a groin protector and a mouth guard (some grapplers find that groin protectors are unsatisfactory however).

Alternative approaches

There are graduated approaches to live training. Live training does not imply that aliveness is all or nothing. You can vary the intensity, the potential for damage, the compliance of the opponent, the unpredictability of technique, and so on.

You can do very limited drills that are still live in the sense that the training partner will not just compliantly let you execute the technique. It might be only one step in a much longer complex sequence, but it will be done in a live fashion.

You can use an analytic partner as a coach as you work with him in cooperative fashion. Partner work, where you partner coaches you, requires cooperation more than competition.

You can train so that your coach tells you what to do as your work with an appropriately resisting opponent. You may be focusing on some small portion of a technique in order to understand it and the counters, and refine skill in that area. I call this fault and failure analysis, and it should be done by a skilled coach. It can be real time and step by step (or video).

The approaches have to be geared to context, and that includes the students.

You would train a 60 year old differently than a 20 year old, if you have any sense of the limitations of most 60 years.
You can train an aggressive student differently than a timid student.
You can train a highly coordinated student differently than a poorly coordinated student.
You would train differently for pure self defence than for MMA competition.
What is the best training regime? All good approaches include a mix of choreography, and progression to improvisation at an appropriate rate. Alive training is essential, but only part of the mix. There are a range of good solutions, based upon analysis of the context and the tradeoffs. In the final analysis, the question is best answered empirically, which is what the BJJ and MMA folks claim to be doing. Within the context of their events, they are right. That stuff is pretty hard to beat.

Is there a best martial art?

What is the best martial art? Naive question! What is the context, what are the situational constraints, what are your objectives? Within that, all arts have techniques that are workable, and techniques that are marginal. Those with alive training have fewer marginal techniques - there are of course in all arts the techniques "for masters only". Training methods are important. Quality of instruction is very important. Hours spent in efficient training is important - if training is inefficient, expect to spend more hours, maybe many more hours, and expect to achieve poorer results for your investment. Personal attributes are important, and some techniques depend very much on a particular constellation of personal attributes. I'm sure that I have not addressed all of the factors. The answer is complex because the world is complex.


Aliveness Evaluation for Boxing

Art
  • Western Boxing
Type of Game
  • Combat sport - punching only, with lots of rules, but full contact
Resisting Opponent
  • Moderate to full resistance in sparring
Counter More Effectively
  • Definitely develops this ability
High Intensity – Rate, Speed, Power, Sophistication
  • Yes to all
Stress
  • Some stress in sparring, will depend on your level, your opponent, and how hard and competitive the club is
Pain
  • You will certainly take some good shots from time to time, and you will learn to keep on going despite the pain, or quit
Continuous Attack
  • Sometimes a single probing jab, but usually this will be followed by a flurry of blows in combination. This may be interrupted by a clinch, or because one or both fighters decide to retrench
High Rates Of Energy Expenditure
  • Pretty high energy usage, but probably not equivalent to hard ground grappling.
Deeper Degree Of Learning
  • Certainly your learn in this regime, and boxers are usually very effective at hitting their targets. However, there are other drills such as shadow-boxing, bag work, and pad work, and slipping and punching drills that also result in good learning
See Possibilities More Quickly
  • The speed and intensity of sparring really tunes up your perceptions, timing, and reaction time.
Deal With Uncertainty
  • There is less uncertainty here about what techniques can be thrown, since boxing has an limited set. The uncertainty is all about which combination from a limited set will be thrown, and when.
Develop mental toughness
  • You cannot spar the way the boxers do without developing some degree of ability to dish it out and to take in.
Validate Your Ability
  • Boxers certainly learn very quickly in their sparring if they are getting hit consistently, or doing the hitting.
Validate The Art
  • Boxing training validates the art only against boxers. Ring contests with other martial arts have validated its worth, and limitations with respect to those arts. In general, boxers must learn to deal with grapplers and takedown artists in order to be complete.
Constraints In Place
  • Sporting context
  • Timed rounds, limit to rounds
  • Referee can break for various reasons
  • Standing eight counts
  • Fights can be stopped due to injuries
  • Technical knockouts a possibility
  • Work within a ring
  • Standing grappling is limited to clinch and referee will break action
  • Lots of things are fouls: no takedowns, no ground grappling, no hitting below the belt, no elbows, no knees, no kicks, no back-hand blows (boxing backhand), no holding of arms, no eye gouges, no biting, no hidden weights in the gloves, and no weapons can be pulled.
Context
  • Sporting contest, at amateur and professional levels, but lots of applicability to self-defence, with modifications

Aliveness Evaluation for Modern Tournament Style Karate

Art
  • Tournament Karate
Type of Game
  • Sporting contest, with kicks and punches
Resisting Opponent
  • There is a mix of solo kata, two person kata (bunkai) and basic technique drills, and sparring. Sparring intensity will vary with the club and the style
Counter More Effectively
  • There may not be an optimal mix of choreography versus live training in many clubs, and the techniques themselves may not be a sound those found in some arts. This is not really an issue of live training, but of workability.
High Intensity – Rate, Speed, Power, Sophistication
  • Although action may be fast and furious, most clubs emphasize a single clean point then break.
Stress
  • Moderate stress, since contact is typically light, and knockout is not the intention, depending on the club.
Pain
  • Some pain, depending on the club. Some clubs are a lot rougher than others.
Continuous Attack
  • Generally going for a perfect "one shot" technique, so continuous sparring with continual repeated hits is not as common in training. Again, some clubs are more continuous sparring focused than others.
High Rates Of Energy Expenditure
  • Energy expenditure is high, but not exceptionally high. There are typically many breaks between flurries of blows.
Deeper Degree Of Learning
  • The limitations on technique, limited clinching, limited grappling, emphasis on a one hit win, high reliance of solo kata and choreographed techniques in many clubs does not result in deep learning for many students.
See Possibilities More Quickly
  • As above
Deal With Uncertainty
  • As above
Develop mental toughness
  • Some styles such as Kyokushinkai and Yokushai have very hard training with full contact with legs anywhere (except groin perhaps), and with hands to the body. Most styles do not train this hard, and some are really geared towards protection of students and avoidance of hard contact.
Validate Your Ability
  • The limitations on techniques used in sparring, and the avoidance of throw and groundwork tends to allow less ground for validation of personal ability, except within the constraints of the point sparring game. For styles where knockout is allowed, then the learning experience is more intense.
Validate The Art
  • The kata training method, and the philosophy of one-hit sparring has not on the whole produced the same level of skill as seen amongst kick-boxers, who generally moved from karate-based training methods and techniques to boxing-based techniques. The lack of clinching and ground work capabilities became apparent in the Ultimate Fighting Championship contests in the early 1990s.
Constraints In Place
  • The rules vary according to the association. In general, there is limited or no head or groin contact. Blows would be any kick, and punch or edge of hand blow. Elbows would be a foul. Knees would be a foul. Holding for long might be a foul. Hard body contact might be disallowed, but it varies. Hitting a downed opponent is a foul. The referee will restart after every flurry or attack as the judges try to decide if a point was scored. The throwing is limited and typically rudimentary, mostly sweeps, and there is no ground work in the sport, and little in most if not all Karate-based arts.
Context
  • The context is sport in today's world, for most clubs. Some follow older traditions. There are also differences amongst styles, with a fairly big difference between the parent styles found in Okinawa and the newer Japanese styles. Weapons are typically long and short staff, nunchaku, and sai. There seems to be little development of knife defence. Self defence is emphasized by some clubs, but there is not a lot of understanding of ground grappling.

Aliveness Evaluation for Brazilian Ju Jitsu

Art
  • Brazilian Ju Jitsu as sport (not Vale Tudo)
Type of Game
  • Combat sport - takedowns and ground grappling, striking not part of the sporting game, with rules and points or submission, but full intensity competition. Very sophisticated body of proven technique for fighting on the ground.
Resisting Opponent
  • Moderate to full resistance in sparring
Counter More Effectively
  • Definitely develops this ability
High Intensity – Rate, Speed, Power, Sophistication
  • Yes to all
Stress
  • Some stress in sparring, will depend on your level, your opponent, and how hard and competitive the club is
Pain
  • You will certainly take some joint cranks, painful pressure and body slams from time to time, and you will learn to keep on going despite the pain, or quit
Continuous Attack
  • Tends to be a fairly continuous attack for awhile, and then a waiting game where strategy becomes paramount
High Rates Of Energy Expenditure
  • Pretty high energy usage, maybe more breaks than in western wrestling, according to the players.
Deeper Degree Of Learning
  • Certainly your learn in this regime, and BJJ players are usually very effective at controlling their opponents. However, there are other drills that focus on more limited aspects of the game that also result in good learning.
See Possibilities More Quickly
  • The speed and intensity of takedowns and grappling really tunes up your perceptions, timing, and reaction time.
Deal With Uncertainty
  • There is some uncertainty here about what techniques can be thrown, since there is a large set, but within any one position, there are not limitless possibilities. BJJ players get hit with new techniques until they get used to seeing them and countering them. There are no blows through in pure sport BJJ, and these things may be trained in a less live fashion than you see in boxing.
Develop mental toughness
  • You cannot grapple the way the BJJ players do without developing some degree of ability to dish it out and to take in.
Validate Your Ability
  • BJJ students certainly learn very quickly in their grappling if they are getting submitted consistently, or making others submit.
Validate The Art
  • Pure sport BJJ training validates the art only against other grapplers. Ring contests with other martial arts have validated its worth, and limitations with respect to those arts. In general, BJJ players must learn to deal with kickers and punchers in order to be complete. However, if the standup artists have no anti-takedown skills, they soon have to play the BJJ game. If they have no grappling skills, they will quickly be dominated by many BJJ players.
Constraints In Place
  • Sporting context
  • Timed rounds, limit to rounds
  • Referee can break for various reasons
  • Can tap out
  • Fights can be stopped due to injuries
  • Being put to sleep with a blood choke is a possibility
  • Work on mats
  • Throwing and takedowns are de-emphasized, being mostly a prelude to ground work
  • Lots of things are fouls: no hitting, no elbows, no knees, no kicks, no back-hand blows (boxing backhand), no eye gouges, no biting, and no weapons can be pulled.
Context
  • Sporting contest, at amateur and professional levels, but lots of applicability to self-defence - very strong on one-on-one where there is no possibility of weapons or gang attack.

Aliveness Evaluation for Mixed Martial Arts

Art
  • Mixed Martial Arts (MMA)
Type of Game
  • Combat sport - takedowns and ground grappling, striking is part of the sporting game, with choking and submission, but full intensity competition. Very sophisticated body of proven technique for fighting one on one standing and on the ground without weapons. Generally incorporates techniques found in Brazilian Ju Jitsu, Catch Wrestling, Sambo, western boxing, and Muay Thai. Individual practitioners may add elements from other arts.
Resisting Opponent
  • Moderate to full resistance in sparring
Counter More Effectively
  • Definitely develops this ability
High Intensity – Rate, Speed, Power, Sophistication
  • Yes to all
Stress
  • Some stress in sparring, will depend on your level, your opponent, and how hard and competitive the club is. More stress than in Brazilian Ju Jitsu because of the hitting involved I suspect for many.
Pain
  • You will certainly take some kicks, knee shots, elbow shots, punches, joint cranks, painful pressure and body slams from time to time, and you will learn to keep on going despite the pain, or quit the sport.
Continuous Attack
  • Tends to be a fairly continuous attack for awhile, and then a waiting game where strategy becomes paramount. There is probably more continuous work than in Brazilian Ju Jitsu.
High Rates Of Energy Expenditure
  • Pretty high energy usage, and there may be few activities as demanding.
Deeper Degree Of Learning
  • Certainly your learn in this regime, and MMA players are usually very effective at controlling their opponents. However, there are other drills besides sparring that focus on more limited aspects of the game that also result in good learning.
See Possibilities More Quickly
  • The speed and intensity of takedowns and grappling really tunes up your perceptions, timing, and reaction time. The speed of punching and kicking in combinations forces you to learn (or quit).
Deal With Uncertainty
  • There is some uncertainty here about what techniques can be thrown, since there is a large set, but within any one position, there are not limitless possibilities. MMA players get hit with new techniques until they get used to seeing them and countering them.
Develop mental toughness
  • You cannot grapple the way the MMA players do without developing some degree of ability to dish it out and to take in.
Validate Your Ability
  • MMA students certainly learn very quickly in their grappling if they are getting submitted consistently, or making others submit. They learn what defences against blows work best, and what combinations score most tellingly. Some players focus on the grappling component, some on trying to play a standing game, and some on obtaining a dominant ground position and punching, elbowing, and kneeing.
Validate The Art
  • Pure sport MMA training validates the art against other styles. Ring contests with other martial arts have validated its worth, and limitations (not too many) with respect to those arts. If an MMA player cannot handle the standup game, the takedown game, and the ground grappling game with a good level of skill, he will not get very far. If a player from another art has not understood these components of fighting just as well, he will have a very hard time against an MMA fighter of equivalent hours of training.
Constraints In Place
  • Sporting context, rules vary according to various factors - different leagues for instance
  • Timed rounds, limit to rounds
  • Referee can break for various reasons
  • Can tap out, corner can throw in the towel
  • Knockouts happen, including technical knockouts
  • Fights can be stopped due to injuries or inability to defend
  • Being put to sleep with a blood choke is a possibility
  • Working in a ring
  • Throwing and takedowns are emphasized, being a prelude to ground work
  • Clinching and fighting from the clinch are emphasized
  • Some things are fouls: no eye gouges, no biting, and no weapons can be pulled. In some contests, groin shots have been allowed, but this is rare now, at least in North America.
Context
  • Sporting contest, at amateur and professional levels, but lots of applicability to self-defence - extremely strong on one-on-one where there is no possibility of weapons or gang attack. Undoubtedly formidable against a few multiple untrained attackers, particularly if this aspect has been practiced.

Aliveness Evaluation for Balintawak Eskrima

Art
  • Balintawak Eskrima
Type of Game
  • Stick fighting using a single stick. Training for dueling against other Eskrimadors, who might use various types of weapons, including: two sticks; stick and dagger; long sticks; short sticks; and in some cases; bladed weapons such as machetes; knives; swords. Kicking and punching, kneeing and elbowing, head butts and stick-butting, bone breaking and throwing were all included. Ground-work was not part of the duel, and hitting someone after they landed on the ground was a foul. The preferred range was arm's length or closer.
Resisting Opponent
  • During training, there were four levels of training:
  1. Learning the ABCs of block, counter, move
  2. Learning to respond to high intensity random hits and entangling techniques and kicks and punches.
  3. Learning to launch your own offense while countering more complex attacks including disarms, throws, traps, off-balancing, and other things
  4. Learning to counter in such a sophisticated fashion that your counter is routinely more effective than the attack (cuentada).
Counter More Effectively
  • Because the drills give varying degrees of aliveness, countering skills become very highly developed, within the constraints of the game (no ground grappling).
High Intensity – Rate, Speed, Power, Sophistication
  • The drills are all high intensity, high speed, good power, so you have to learn to give it and take it.
Stress
  • There is some stress, but the drills are progressive, so I would describe the stress as frustration at not being able to defend against a superior instructor.
Pain
  • Some instructors "liked to sting you", so there was some degree of contact, including kicks and hits with the stick and punches.
Continuous Attack
  • Starting from day one, the drills are continuous, with no letup in the action.
High Rates Of Energy Expenditure
  • The drills can be ramped up to any aerobic range you want, but there is not the intensity of ground grappling.
Deeper Degree Of Learning
  • The drills result in very good learning.
See Possibilities More Quickly
  • The stick travels pretty darn fast, and the drills force you to defend against strong, fast, unpredictable, continuous attacks.
Deal With Uncertainty
  • There is a high degree of uncertainty in the practice.
Develop mental toughness
  • There is a competitive spirit in some of the clubs. In the days when duels were fought, mental toughness was a prerequisite.
Validate Your Ability
  • The training validates personal ability pretty quickly, within the constraints of the game. Takedowns and throws were part of the practice, but were secondary to blows.
Validate The Art
  • The art had a good reputation for producing strong duelists as practiced in the middle of the last century. Now, the context has changed, and there are few who fought duels left alive. The art was used by resistance fighters in the Philippines against the Japanese invaders during World War II. Some of the leaders of the resistance were later known as Balintawak fighters. A number of boxers emerged from the Balintawak camp, and "Flash" Elorde, one of these, was a several-times world champion.
Constraints In Place
  • The constraints for training were dependent on the instructor - some were rougher than others. In general, throwing and defence against throws were used, but some instructors would only train that in choreographed fashion. Some undoubtedly trained it live. Since a duel would be stopped if someone went to the ground, no ground grappling developed in the art. There is apparently some Cebuano wrestling, Dumog, in Balintawak but I have not seen a significant ground grappling art.
Context
  • Dueling was the primary context for the art, but apart from the weakness in ground grappling, it seems to handle most self-defense situations. It has weapons usage and weapons defense, and defense against unarmed attacks are just and extension of the weapons based techniques. The live training found in the four levels of drills is solid.

Aliveness Evaluation - Rate your own art

Art
Type of Game
Resisting Opponent
Counter More Effectively
High Intensity – Rate, Speed, Power, Sophistication
Stress
Pain
Continuous Attack
High Rates Of Energy Expenditure
Deeper Degree Of Learning
See Possibilities More Quickly
Deal With Uncertainty
Develop mental toughness
Validate Your Ability
Validate The Art
Constraints In Place
Context
© Vorticity Martial Arts

posted by Vorticity Martial Arts at 1:24 AM