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Sunday, October 14, 2012

My Karate Experience

So some of you may know that before my Wing Tsun days, I spent a number of years practicing Shito-Ryu karate. It was my first real, committed, take-it-seriously, exposure to martial arts and it was great. I started in high school and I was a fat kid. I always loved martial arts and wanted to one day kick ass and it was Karate that was able to work with my limitations and over time, i got better and better at it.

But obviously I left. Why?

First off, the karate dojo was awesome - the people were amazing. I loved the structure, the traditionalism of the school, much of the moves, katas and drills were expressed in Japanese and the head sensai's trained and competed in Japan..and in turn, built great students that really established the reputation of the school.

Till this day, the dojo is still there and thriving and i always have a place in my heart for that school.

As my training progressed, i watched the senior students, i watched the quality of their skills and I watched the instructors skills..and i looked at how they fought and really wondered, will this work in a real street fight scenario?

I figured nothing's stopping from earning a black belt as long as I stay the course, learn the katas and do the tests and attend class. But at the same time, you saw people who probably couldn't do anything in a real fight (although great with katas, drills and weapons) and it was something I struggled with.

I ended up leaving because i graduated high school and had to figure out my education plans thereafter.

Before finding the current wing tsun school, i actually tried a variety of other kung fu styles - shaolin, choy lee fut. it was fine. To be honest, it was really not that different from karate - just the nature of the moves. but you still did the warm ups, drills, forms, etc..but again, the same reservations i had about karate was also there in these kung fu clubs. One thing i didn't like about some of the the kung fu clubs, though, was the lack of structure that my karate club had.

I actually visited my old Karate club again..thinking that maybe i just gotta get back into and train with a different mentality.

Of course, I never returned once I found the current school I'm at.

But the point of my post is not to say or imply that wing chun is better than karate.

The reason for my post is simply a result of me seeing this karate clip on one of the facebook updates..and it just jogged my memory of my karate days and thought i'd share my experience with you.

You can see how, although the punches can knock someone out, there's a lot pulling of the punches (as shown in the first scene of the video), tagging punches and just all the bad habits of what can be developed through point sparring...full contact or not.  there is no finishing off the opponent, or really looking to hit..it's about getting the point (but again, i stress, these punches and kicks still hurt!).

But at the same time, the habits formed depend on a ref going in to stop the fight.

In the street fight or free fight scenario, I've seen the punch pulling and ki-yai occur and it's weird to see. Ya you hit him, but the opponent's still standing there..while the karate guy steps back after the reverse punch makes contact and you can see him retract his punch to his waist..

It kind of looks dumb...no wait..it does look dumb.

The opponent is still there, standing ..and sure, maybe he's hurt a bit, but he's recovering every moment that he's not being attacked...and the karate guy...after a second..realizes, shit, it's not over.

And there in lies the rub of my experience with Karate.

Until then.

1 comment:

Pablo said...

I both agree and disagree with you.
I agree with you on the pitfalls of traditional martial arts which you pointed out (not training with real intent, sloppy pulled back punches).

However, I don't feel that this is something that Wing Tsun doesn't have at all. Though it's true that a good teacher emphasises training with intent, all too often you see people not focusing on this enough. They go through the motions, but they lack a certain ferocity in their movements. It's on of my main gripes with most Wing Tsun training, and something I try to remedy myself by trying to do more freefighting, sparring, really training with a certain mindset. But it's not easy.

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