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Tuesday, February 5, 2013

The importance of "tradition" in modern martial arts: What say you?

As some of you may know, I host a radio podcast called "Dynamic Dojo Radio", and we talk about subjects ranging from fitness, training methods, running a school, guest interviews, etc. This past weekend we briefly touched on the subject of "tradition in modern martial arts training", and I will be featuring this subject in an upcoming episode....probably in March.

However, I want to hear from you, the reader. For those of who train in martial arts, there are those that train in traditional, sport, or modern arts. How important is "traditional ettiquette" and "cultural martial traditions" in today's martial arts training venues?

I'm aware that there are many things to consider....such as "are you in a traditional Dojo?", "are you doing MMA?" and "what does you teacher/coach prefer?"  Granted, simple courtesy is number one....regardless of  martial style, regardless or whether or not your gym uses the language of the country the art us from, I would venture to guess that we all would value common courtesy...."Please", and "Thank you" and good sportsmanship to name a few.

Are you a modern arts practitioner that observes the traditional "salute" at the beginning or end of class? How important is it at your gym to address teachers by given titles? Do you find value in learning the terminology of the techniques you practice? (i.e. "Kiba dachi" for horse stance, or "chuan" for fist, etc). I'd like to hear your views....and maybe....have you on our upcoming radio episode discussing this very subject.

Sound off!


Scott Irey said...

The "tradition" and or etiquette in traditional martial arts is really what keeps them alive. I have seen plenty of "knock offs" of traditional MA, some of them pretty convincing. But what always gives them away is the lack of or misrepresentation of the etiquette and traditions. Classical MA tend to teach that the tradition and etiquette are the heart of any given art and that by denying or neglecting the traditions you lose the art as a whole. Does this mean you can not learn the techniques of a traditional art if you don't learn the traditions and etiquette? In my opinion the answer is "NO". Tradition in modern martial arts is another thing. I think each given art needs to develop traditions in order to help pass the art on completely. Without tradition you are simply passing on a catalog of techniques in loose leaf fashion. The tradition is what binds the techniques and turns then from a catalog into a story.

Mike Winderman said...

Whenever You hear the " traditional " vs. modern m.a. argument,the modern side implies that the traditional m.a.'s are fixed in time, like a movement museum.
If a martial art has been around for centuries,it is because it has proven itself to be effective,period. The customs and etiquette provide the socio/historical context that the art comes from. That is key because it is not enough to understand the movement,you have to understand the mindset of the people who created it.

Anonymous said...

Two more bits from a traditionalist... The traditional aspects of a martial art are what connect it to its cultural identity. They also give it context and situational relevance, especially in regards to the practice of archaic weapons. In some systems the traditional trappings of the art give insight into the techniques themselves, how they should be practiced, their meanings and tactics, both theoretical and practical. There can sometimes be hidden lessons in the traditions of an art that without them would be lost. They bind the art and make it a “tradition” and not just a practice, giving it continuity from one generation to the next. By codifying and entrenching the techniques in the traditions of an art the founders created a vehicle for the knowledge to be passed on with minimal loss, and provided a way for further knowledge to added by later generations while maintaining that which it was built on. Without the tradition of knowledge you risk having to re-invent the wheel every generation.

Richard Elias

Restita, Seattle Wushu Center said...

I agree, Richard, Scott and Michael. Sometimes, its the newbies that get into MMA (with no prior training) that jump on the "traditional arts suck"bandwagon. Or they try to quote Bruce Lee , trying to turn his words into "tradition is. Without traditional systems and the practice of archaic weapons as Richard points out, we lose the heritage and the history of why we train the way we do ....whether in modern systems or traditional.

However....I do see the point in that people are drawn to non traditional systems because it fits their personality more. To each their own, but for people to poo poo traditions merely because "its the 21st century", already limits their understanding of what martial arts was and currently are. The Asian arts that have long lineages and effective fighting methods were meant to evolve and change with the times....but the traditions remain.

I'd love to be a fly on the wall when someone tells a Silat practioner that his traditional Jurus (forms) are meaningless. :) For me, the rich culture, history and traditions are the backbone of many long lived systems...this backbone is an integral part of my own body.

I look forward to discussing this at length on my radio podcast next month!