AMA June 2023 - Combat Moves and Martial Arts

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So, another season is nearly upon us, and it's high time to give our brain cells the workout they also deserve!

@Damer was kind enough to leave me the floor for this one (even though his benevolent presence should be felt floating around), and even though I can't claim the same credibility on a competitive level, I guess have enough years of practice under my belt to answer whatever questions you guys may have on the topic.

A few pieces of info before we proceed:
- I have a black belt in ninpo-taijutsu with nearly ten years of regular practice. Which, depending on how you train and who you train with, may mean a lot... or very little. What I mostly mean by that is that my "field of expertise" rather leans towards traditional martial arts. But I'm also interested in self-defense and combat sports (especially MMA).
- "AMA" means "Ask Me Anything" and I will answer every single question to the best of my knowledge. I'm very much aware that the field we're dealing with contains few undisputable truths, and my answers aim at being informed and honest rather than set in stone. At the very least, we will have some enlightening discussions and compare points of view, which can never be harmful as long as it's done respectfully.
- Do not worry if I don't always answer you immediately - I'd rather give myself the time to research a subject a little than feed you generic keyboard-warrior wisdom. But this thread will remain open for three weeks, until June 22nd, which means we'll have plenty of time for some fruitful exchanges.

Now hit me with everything you've got! :kungfu:;)
 

Redline

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Hi! I guess I'll start ;)

I know very little about martial arts but they do interest me. So here's a beginner's question: what exactly is ninpo-taijutsu? What kind of skills has a black belt mastered?
I guess you'll start, then. :LOL:

Ninpo-taijutsu, also sometimes known as Ninjutsu, is - theoretically - the martial art of the ninja.
Which, depending on where you stand, may look like the coolest thing, or the most preposterous thing in the world, and frankly, when I see what some self-appointed ninja senseis post on social media, I don't know if I should laugh or cry.

To be completely transparent, precisely because he wasn't comfortable with all the mystique that surrounds ninjutsu, my own MA teacher decided to stop using that name a couple of years ago. But since what we actually do in training hasn't changed, I guess it may still apply.

First, a little context, if I may:
Even though movie, games and pop culture as a whole have imprinted in the general psyche the image of black-clad silent assassins capable of great physical prowess, the real ninja (or shinobi) of feudal Japan were nothing more (and nothing less) than spies and messengers. Their main talent was their ability to look like ordinary people, even in regions they were not originally from. Fighting was not a big part of their training, because fighting is what you do when you got yourself noticed by the wrong people. You may say there is as much difference between real ninja and their movie counterparts as there is between real spies operating nowadays and James Bond.

... Which means that the very idea of a "ninja martial art" is highly debatable in itself.
But since it does exist, let me explain what it's about.

The "nin" in "ninpo" or "ninjutsu" both means "to hide" and "to preserve". "Po" means "law", "jutsu" means "technique". And the "tai" in "taijutsu" means "body".
So, "ninpo-taijutsu" could be translated as "the law of self-preservation using your whole body as a weapon".

Ideally, it aims at being a genuine, well-rounded martial art where efficiency comes before purity of form. There are no katas and most techniques are practiced with a partner. It includes striking with all of the body's natural weapons (feet, fists, knees, elbows, shoulders, head...), takedowns (often inspired by traditional Japanese wrestling) and grappling (including joint locks and chokes, just like in jujutsu). There's also some weapon practice for measure (mostly swords and staffs, and yes, every once in a while, shuriken. Because. ;)).

Moving, rolling and evading is a big part of basic training. Dodging and deflecting is favoured over hard blocking.

In my dojo, black belts are expected to understand the logic behind a (rather large) group of key techniques, how they can work together, how to use your whole body when trying to apply them (how footwork plays a big part in wrist locks, for example), how to transition from one to another when needed... and how to use them under pressure against resisting opponents.

I hope this answers your question, @Montserrat . Do not hesitate if you want to know more, of course. :ss:
 
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lpf

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Rogue Posts: 293
"“I am, and always will be, the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes, and the dreamer of improbable dreams.” (Eleventh Doctor)"
hello there....

I also have a question.... it's something I noticed during practicing kicks. Maybe it's just me or my weird working body,
but why does it feel and is it easier (for me) to reach higher when doing hook kicks than for example side kicks or turning kicks?
Is it because of the movement itself, as you have to balance and work differently than in a turning kick or side kick? Or is it just me?
 

LionAlpha

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Hello!

I used to box for about 2 years. There was a time that I asked my coach to shift into kickboxing because I also wanted to learn kicks, but he said that my body type was that of a pure natural boxer. I could see what he meant because I always had trouble with kicks. I dunno if it was (or is) because of bad flexibility in my lower body or just because of my body type, but I'd love to learn how to kick properly (currently through the workout here).

I guess my question is if there is truth behind the body type part, and what kind of stretches should I do to improve my leg flexibility for kicks?
 

TopNotch

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Ranger from Australia
Posts: 1,780
"Motivation is temporary. Discipline is forever."
There seems to be a major misconception that a black belt knows everything and is an expert in whichever MA they train in. I held that view myself - until I became one! :LOL: Now I shake my head over how little I know, particularly in relation to using it in any real self-defence situation. So, my questions:
1) In your opinion, does training in a MA make someone any more capable of dealing with a self-defence issue than someone who doesn't?
2) What would be the most useful combat move (apart from running away!) for someone to practice to give confidence and a sense of ability?
3) If someone has absolutely no training at all and they want to do DAREBEE's combat workouts effectively, what else should they work on? I know "everything" would really be the answer here, but just in the first instance, pick one - flexibility? leg strength? balance? or...?
 

Redline

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why does it feel and is it easier (for me) to reach higher when doing hook kicks than for example side kicks or turning kicks?
Is it because of the movement itself, as you have to balance and work differently than in a turning kick or side kick? Or is it just me?
Hey @lpf !

Don't get me started on how weirdly your body works. :LOL:

Seriously, that is a very interesting question, because I'm pretty sure that most people would say they have an easier time kicking high when doing turning kicks, for example.

Of course, it may have to do with the way your hips are built (we're not all the same in that respect). But I suspect practice and muscle power also play a major part.

The thing is, a lot of people associate the ability to kick high with flexibility, but that's only a part of it. I personally know another ninpo black belt who is much more flexible than I am - I can see that easily when we work on splits. Still, I've also noticed I have an easier time with high kicks - especially side kicks... and the reason for that is I'm a fitter person on the whole (I'm sure he would agree with me on that part. ;) ).

So, because I can put more muscle power into my kicks without losing balance, I'm able to put more momentum into them, and using that momentum (a little like what you do with ballistic stretching), I can reach higher.

I suspect the same may apply to your hook kicks. Depending on how easily you can recruit your hamstrings and how much practice you've put into them, you may use those advantages for better effect.

Does that make sense to you?
 
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Redline

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I guess my question is if there is truth behind the body type part, and what kind of stretches should I do to improve my leg flexibility for kicks?

Hi @LionAlpha , and thanks for joining in!

As far as proportions are concerned, yes, body types do exist. Some people are taller, some have longer arm reaches or shorter legs. But our bodies are also adaptive and quite a few traits, like muscle mass or flexibility, can definitely be acquired if we force them to do so through repetition and a gradual increase in intensity. Genetics will make things easier or harder for some people, that's true. But with enough time and effort, everybody adapts in some way.

What makes your question particularly interesting in my opinion, is the fact it addresses the reasons why we do martial arts or combat sports. Is it for competitive reasons, because we want to prove we can be better than others ? Or is it because we want to improve ourselves physically (and/or mentally)?

I'm not your coach, of course, and I can only guess why he took that stance with you. But if what he saw in you was your ability to compete, and also noticed that you possessed some natural advantages (such as a longer arm reach), then I can understand why he told you to stick to boxing.

But the truth is, if you want to learn to kick properly while increasing your lower body flexibility, not because you think it will give you an edge in competition, but simply for its own sake... well, I can't think of a proper reason for you not to do so.

Darebee has a guide to kicks you may put to good use, if you weren't already aware of it.
Regarding flexibility, static stretches may not be the most effective here because of the intrinsically dynamic nature of combat moves. But the Liber8 workout I referenced in the post above will definitely deliver results. Note that due to its pretty taxing nature, it should not be seen as a cooldown, but really as a training session in itself.

Now, training for martial arts on your own comes with its own challenges, but it is a matter I will come back to when answering @TopNotch's questions. ;)

I hope this helps!
 

lpf

Well-known member
Rogue Posts: 293
"“I am, and always will be, the optimist. The hoper of far-flung hopes, and the dreamer of improbable dreams.” (Eleventh Doctor)"
Hey @lpf !

Don't get me started on how weirdly your body works. :LOL:

Seriously, that is a very interesting question, because I'm pretty sure that most people would say they have an easier time kicking high when doing turning kicks, for example.

Of course, it may have to do with the way your hips are built (we're not all the same in that respect). But I suspect practice and muscle power also play a major part.

The thing is, a lot of people associate the ability to kick high with flexibility, but that's only a part of it. I personally know another ninpo black belt who is much more flexible than I am - I can see that easily when we work on splits. Still, I've also noticed I have an easier time with high kicks - especially side kicks... and the reason for that is I'm a fitter person on the whole (I'm sure he would agree with me on that part. ;) ).

So, because I can put more muscle power into my kicks without losing balance, I'm able to put more momentum into them, and using that momentum (a little like what you do with ballistic stretching), I can reach higher.

I suspect the same may apply to your hook kicks. Depending on how easily you can recruit your hamstrings and how much practice you've put into them, you may use those advantages for better effect.

Does that make sense to you?
oh this makes totally sense to me...
the same might apply for your best side, or your stronger side, I think.... e.g. kicking left is easier than kicking right (for me)
 

Redline

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There seems to be a major misconception that a black belt knows everything and is an expert in whichever MA they train in. I held that view myself - until I became one! :LOL:
@TopNotch , my thoughts exactly. :please:

In theory, receiving a black belt means one has become skilled enough to be able to keep learning by oneself. But the operative words still are to "keep learning", of course. ;)

In fact, when I got my own belt, it wasn't after some kind of formal test. My teacher just walked up and gave it to me one day, in front of the other students. I wasn't expecting it and had definitely never asked for one. But I've tried to be worthy of it since then, and that may have made me actually better.

Now, you've asked several questions, and some of your questions have more questions inside of them :LOL:, so I'll do my best to answer them in turn below.
 

Redline

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1) In your opinion, does training in a MA make someone any more capable of dealing with a self-defence issue than someone who doesn't?
I would definitely say yes, with a few caveats, depending on the exact nature of your training. To see what I'm getting at, there's a video by jujutsu expert Stephan Kesting I heartily recommend.


If your training methods do not take into account some kind of resistance or some incentive to avoid damage, then they may be useless in a self-defence situation indeed. That doesn't mean that you have to spar hard all the time. But there are progressive ways to bring you there. Even a "safe" sport such as judo will teach you more about overcoming adversity and dealing with physical violence than a martial art that boasts about teaching "lethal" techniques but always has you punching the air or practicing with fully compliant partners.

By no means am I claiming that MA training makes one able to deal with any type of dangerous situation. But a person who has worked on their ability to avoid damage and deal it against moving, resisting opponents will definitely have an edge over someone who hasn't. There are other factors to take into account, such as size, weight and physical fitness. But these being equal, practice does make a difference.

Also, since we're talking about self-defence, and that doesn't always include fighting, there is another thing to factor in, which is how likely you are to be the target of an attack. Most martial artists, as they get better and more experienced, will see a positive change in their posture, their gait and their sense of balance even in everyday life. Meanwhile, studies also indicate that people who exhibit a lack of self-confidence (see here and there) are more likely to be victims of muggers. So, your better posture may have helped you completely avoid finding yourself in a self-defence situation without you even noticing it. ;)
 

Redline

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2) What would be the most useful combat move (apart from running away!) for someone to practice to give confidence and a sense of ability?
Now, I believe we're reaching the "questions within questions" part. :LOL:

I'll start with one: are we looking here for a useful combat move... or for a way to gain confidence and a sense of ability ?

The latter rely on psychological, rather than physical traits, even though better body awareness (acquired through various means) can tremendously improve a person's self confidence.
And this does play a major part when confronted by a potentially violent antagonist. I'm not going to repeat everything I said in my latest post, but if I may speak from personal experience... knowing what it means to get hit in sparring (i.e. within a safe, controlled and psychologically sound environment) went a long way in showing me that 1) it's not always a big deal and 2) if it was to happen in more dangerous circumstances, I wouldn't necessarily die on the spot and would still have some options available. It certainly hasn't made me a more belligerent person, but I believe that on occasions, it has allowed me to remain calm and composed when dealing with anger from other people, hence making de-escalation easier.

Now, I haven't forgotten the "useful combat move" part. But I guess this is where I let everybody down by saying such a thing does not exist. Not in the "ends-fights-in-your-favour-100%-of-the-time" sense, anyway. ;)
To quote my own teacher : the technique that works is the one you don't see coming. But while surprise, by definition, will work every time, it's not a surefire guarantee of success.... and it works both ways.

Of course, some techniques are more likely to succeed than others from a purely statistical perspective. But their chance of success usually depends on various factors such as distance, positioning and angle of attack. Punches are faster than kicks, hitting certain parts of the body will deal more damage... But one could as well object that it is difficult to hit both fast and hard enough and that angry, belligerent opponents will be less sensitive to pain. Also, if you get close enough to hit them, it usually means they can also hit you.

Finally, let's not forget that striking first, while being tactically commendable, is legally reprehensible, and this is something I say in all earnestness.

So, to sum things up - while it is perfectly possible to get more skilled as a fighter, mastering a single combat move cannot be enough, in my humble opinion. Of course, with luck, anything can happen. But then we're talking about chance, not skill.

I hope this makes sense to you, but of course, if you think I missed something important, please let me know. :please:
 

Redline

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3) If someone has absolutely no training at all and they want to do DAREBEE's combat workouts effectively, what else should they work on? I know "everything" would really be the answer here, but just in the first instance, pick one - flexibility? leg strength? balance? or...?
Well, another way to see things would be to consider that the workouts themselves will make you more effective with time. Good form is not a pre-requisite here, rather a consequence. Practice the moves enough and you will get stronger, more flexible and less likely to fall down when standing on a single leg.

Of course, you need a basic understanding of what it means to punch or kick. You also need to understand the difference between, say, a turning kick and a side kick. And for a complete beginner, there are a few advanced moves I wouldn't recommend at first. But such things can be obtained with a little forethought and theoretical study. Darebee has lots of guides on the subject.

The logic behind the Darebee combat workouts is acquiring good form through repetition. Good form is efficiency. It is the ability to produce power with as little energy expenditure as possible. And as the muscles tire out, the body (i.e. the nervous system coordinating the muscles) will try to optimize the movements, to make them more ergonomic.

Of course, that won't be perceptible on the spot. As fatigue sets in, even the most experienced martial artists will think their kicks suck. And newbies will suck right from the start, even though they won't always notice it. :chuckle:

But with each training session, things will improve, providing they are done with sufficient focus.

To draw a parallel with traditional Japanese martial arts, there are two concepts the practitioners are expected to get familiar with, and those are Zanshin and Kime - loosely translated as "situational awareness" and "attacking with intent".

Practicing combat moves on your own will not improve your Zanshin, your situational awareness, unless you include your ability to remember that there is a bedside lamp behind you when you're working on your spinning kicks. It will not teach you how to defend yourself against an opponent's attacks.

But if you do the moves with Kime, with intent, if you try to put power into them... then, little by little, they will become more effective.

The workouts are a means to reach your goals, not an end in themselves.

I hope this helps.
 

TopNotch

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Ranger from Australia
Posts: 1,780
"Motivation is temporary. Discipline is forever."
Thanks for all that, @Redline I think many people, especially those who've trained in any MA, has been asked for a 'move' that someone can do if they were in a bad situation. It'll be nice to be able to cut-and-paste your response!
My first sparring competition, my arm got broken. I blocked poorly, my coach said. :muahaha: As a result of that, however, even though I still suck at sparring, I block brilliantly!
As a beginner, I couldn't actually tell the difference between side and turning kicks! My brain simply didn't get it. Now I am baffled how that could ever have been. :gotq: So I do very much like the DAREBEE guides which clearly show the difference.
With regard to what @lpf said, yep, I totally find I can do way higher turning kicks than hook kicks. You said it was about ability to recruit hamstrings. Looks like I've got to focus on that again. I so often forget that.
 

Montserrat

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Rogue from The Netherlands
Posts: 879
Hey @Redline!

So true! Even though I have no experience at all with martial arts (except for a bit of judo as a child), in all my clumsiness the moves do seem to improve just by repetition.

Practice the moves enough and you will get stronger, more flexible and less likely to fall down when standing on a single leg.
and

But if you do the moves with Kime, with intent, if you try to put power into them... then, little by little, they will become more effective.

So nice to see that happening!

I was browsing through this article. Would you say that just training through Darebee at home would be sufficient to eventually work up to even the level 5 combat workouts? Or would you recommend some form of in-person teaching?
 

Redline

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I was browsing through this article. Would you say that just training through Darebee at home would be sufficient to eventually work up to even the level 5 combat workouts? Or would you recommend some form of in-person teaching?
Glad to hear you're managing to make things work better for you , @Montserrat. One could say it only takes time and perseverance, but we all know that's a pretty big "only". :LOL:

In-person teaching definitely has its merits, especially because it makes things faster. Nowadays, there are so many resources available online that you can learn millions of things by reading articles or watching tutorial videos. Of course, having someone to watch you perform and comment on what you do in the flesh will help you avoid some basic mistakes, even though it won't replace the need to train so your muscles can memorize what you want them to do. Actions that require a high degree of prior knowledge and/or technicity to be performed safely, or to be performed at all, will also greatly benefit from the presence of a teacher.

Still, punching and kicking do not fall into that last category. And if you look at the Darebee combat workouts that are labelled as advanced, you'll see that there is nothing very complicated about them - complicated in the intellectual sense at least. They do not include very technical moves (such as flying spinning kicks) either. What makes them truly hard is how much endurance you need to see the end of each set. :soaked:

And since endurance is often sport-specific, the best way to improve it is... yes, you've already guessed. It does take time and perseverance. "Only" that. ;)
 

Redline

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Hello @broli !

Depending on the sport or martial art you refer to, definitions may vary somewhat. The ones I'm going to give you are the ones we use in ninpo, but they are still widely accepted.

- Blocking means that you accept getting hit, but position your body and limbs in such a way that you minimize damage by protecting the more vulnerable parts of your body. Pressing your elbows against your torso to protect your ribcage against a punch is a good example of that.
It requires a firm stance and won't work very well if your opponent is much bigger and stronger than you are. But it can also be done very quickly and doesn't require much space to move. When fighting in very close quarters, it's often your only viable option.

- Parrying means that you were able to move away from the blow and at least partially dodge it, but you still use one of your limbs (typically one of your arms) to push away (or even strike) the limb your opponent attacked you with. Which may cause your opponent to miss you completely, thus effectively deflecting the blow.
Bruce Lee's Jeet Kune Do ("the way of the intercepting fist") put that technique at the core of its martial tactics.
Of course, this can only be achieved if you have enough space to move around and have enough time to see your opponent's attacks coming.

I hope this helps.
 

broli

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Ninja Posts: 141
Hello @Redline and everybody!
Depending on the sport or martial art you refer to, definitions may vary somewhat. The ones I'm going to give you are the ones we use in ninpo, but they are still widely accepted.
Right, I was asking for general fighting, like street fighting.
I like to hear also the nimpo version however.

I never did MA, except at home using Darebee WOs/programs.


Is there some difference between parrying and deflecting?
 

Redline

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Is there some difference between parrying and deflecting?
Theoretically, they are not exactly the same. But in fact, parrying a blow will usually cause to deflect (or deviate) it, since applying force to a moving object (for example, your opponent's fist) will often alter its course, unless said force is negligible.

Does that make sense to you?
 

Redline

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All right!

@broli, I guess using these gloves is not advised for bag work mostly because they are a little too light. The heavier the gloves, the better the padding provided. 14 or 16oz gloves may be a safer choice here.

The commonly held belief that boxing gloves make the sport less dangerous is only partially true. Wearing gloves actually allows you to hit harder with a lower risk of damaging your hands, which is not necessarily good news for your opponent's brain. And since heavy bags do not dodge our blows, we normally punch them harder, faster and more repeatedly than we would punch an actual opponent. As a rule, punching solid objects is far from being risk-free :rage:, and the human skull is one of the toughest part of our skeletons. Which is why, in traditional martial arts, when hands are not protected, punches to the face are often disregarded in favour of palm strikes.

Note that boxers don't only use gloves, but also hand wraps. Those are essential to keep the fists clenched as tightly as possible, hence reinforcing their skeletal structure, which in turn makes them less likely to suffer fractures when punching. Even the recent fad which has brought bare-knuckle boxing back into the spotlight requires fighters to bandage their hands. Please bear that in mind when training on a heavy bag. :please:

Again, I hope this helps.
 

TopNotch

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"Motivation is temporary. Discipline is forever."
@broli I'll just add a little here. When I was boxing, 12oz gloves were what the younger children/teens were using. Adults were using 16oz. And yes, as @Redline mentioned, we also wore handwraps under our gloves. Not strictly necessary, but if you're going to be punching hard, or for a long time, certainly advisable. They are relatively cheap, and easy to use, and after a few practice tries, you can wrap your hands easily in about five minutes, and spending an extra few minutes in preparation is nothing compared to hand fractures!
 

broli

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Ninja Posts: 141
I have a 35 kg / 77 lbs bag so that is pretty a light bag I guess.
When I do bag work I use only the 4m boxing straps, no gloves.
I am selling them, eventually.

I never used the bag a lot, and recently I use it rarely.

These gloves are max 14 oz, according to them it depends on your weight:
35-45kg 45-65kg 65-78kg 78-90kg >90kg
6 oz 8 oz 10 oz 12 oz 14 oz

fkt.png
These gloves are clearly not for professionals.

Thank you both for your explanations.
 
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facuzayas

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Posts: 121
"“Go straight to the seat of intelligence–your own, the world's, your neighbors.”"
Hi @Redline ! just read great responses here!!

My first novice question here is: (I'm an absolute beginner) is doing shadow kicking good for kick performance? because I find a little hard to kick with all of my effort without anything to kick.

the second is: if I do some shadowboxing and combat routines, how can I combine it to a schedule focused on definition/hypertrophy ? there are some moves that are better for it?

I know that this is a AMA focused on combat moves, but I think that is interesting to think it as an excercise for definition.

thanks!!
 

Redline

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Hey @facuzayas ,
I'm delighted to hear you've enjoyed reading everybody's contributions.:ss:

Regarding kicking (or punching) the air VS kicking a bag...
It is true that both are not the same. A bag will offer much more resistance and lead your muscles to adapt for strength. But if you kick or punch it with improper form, it is also more likely to get you injured.

Putting all your effort into each kick when practicing is not what I would advise, mostly for two reasons:
- if you're kicking the air, since there is nothing to stop your movement, you are more likely to lose balance if you don't keep a certain amount of control;
- just like you can't sprint for miles, doing long sets of kicks will just be too exhausting for you to complete your workout if you go flat out with each and every move.

As time goes by and practice makes you better, you will find that you're able to kick with more power without feeling fatigue. But that's always a work in progress, of course. ;)

Now, if you're working on muscle-building and hypertrophy, shadow boxing is the perfect way to complement your training. Use it on active rest days to loosen the muscles, work on your flexibility, improve your cardio and increase your caloric output. The latter (provided you don't overcompensate your efforts with excessive eating) will help you shed fat, which really is the key to better muscle definition.

I hope this helps!
 

Redline

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Also, everyone, note that I will close this thread on June 22nd (that's next Thursday), so if you have any questions pending, there's never been a better time to ask them. ;)

And if your curiosity has been satisfied so far, I actually have a question of my own… :grab:

For those of you who have some experience of martial arts or combat sport training: do you think your practice has benefited you on a psychological level? Has it made you feel better mentally in some way? Or have you experienced any drawbacks in that respect?

All opinions welcome!
 

Fremen

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"“Keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change.” Percy Weasley, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone."
For those of you who have some experience of martial arts or combat sport training: do you think your practice has benefited you on a psychological level? Has it made you feel better mentally in some way? Or have you experienced any drawbacks in that respect?
It's a very interesting question :)
A little background, I've practiced karate, tai chi, aikido, kendo, iaido, and now I'm practicing muay thai, totaling nearly 30 years of martial practice.
The main advantage of seriously practicing a martial art is the discipline, you don't get anywhere if you don't commit yourself consistently and the initial advantage of those who are more physically fit ends soon.
The other big advantage is that of feeling more secure, maybe it will never happen to you (hopefully) but you will have one more chance to get out of a bad situation and that security acquired through sweat can be found in everyday life, without no fight.
The psychological benefit depends a lot on the martial art, some also train mentally with meditation or concentration exercises others are more physical and that type of training you have to do it yourself.
What I missed most about practicing martial arts, until I resumed, was a training that makes you master of your body, when you really engage your mind and body they move and strengthen in unison, in that moment it's as if you really can give the best of you :)
 

Fremen

Well-known member
Shaman from Italy
Posts: 3,664
"“Keep an eye on the staircases. They like to change.” Percy Weasley, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone."
I forgot about the possible downsides :LOL:
Thinking that what you do in the gym also works on the street and wanting to put what you've learned to the test are two bad ideas that lead to bad results :eyes:
 

TopNotch

Well-known member
Ranger from Australia
Posts: 1,780
"Motivation is temporary. Discipline is forever."
What's that? We Bees have to answer the questions now?
For those of you who have some experience of martial arts or combat sport training: do you think your practice has benefited you on a psychological level? Has it made you feel better mentally in some way? Or have you experienced any drawbacks in that respect?
Big questions.
When I started Taekwondo, I wasn't particularly fit. I did very little (but still some) exercise, so the first class was a complete lesson in humiliation. At the time, I didn't realise it, but there was another lesson there too - I stuck at it because I was determined not to be defeated. Sure, I sucked at so many things, but bit by bit, I felt I was improving. After a year or so, someone new asked if it got any easier. Someone else said it did. I said it didn't, but you got stronger. I found it easier to ask for help, to get a bit more knowledge about the exact purpose of that kick which would (theoretically) help me do it correctly. I focused more on poomsae and I was pleased with my memory for patterns and for the exactness that was required in Elite poomsae as opposed to regular class. I think I became a little bit arrogant (only in my own mind, not towards anyone else - I have manners!)
But -
One day in Elite poomsae I had a complete meltdown. I was watching the older teens/young 20s and suddenly felt completely pathetic and unable to do anything. They did it so beautifully, so easily, whereas I felt old and unco-ordinated and useless. What was the point? I had a deep discussion with the coach. He told me that those teens had been training for 7 or more years, whereas I'd only being doing it for just over two years (and half of one of those suffered Covid shut-downs). I was the only coloured belt among black belts. I was learning patterns that they already knew. I think it was then that I truly realised the importance of not comparing myself with others, and of only comparing myself of today with myself of yesterday. I lost my arrogance.
I realised that as I was learning/doing something, I'd rate myself as, say, a 5 but my standard was at 10. But I'd never seem to get there - I'd never reach that 10. And that was because as I learnt and improved, I didn't recognise that I was improving. As I improved and learnt more about what I was doing and what I was supposed to be doing, I was better able to see the tiny ways, rather than just the big obvious ways, that I could improve. So as my ability crept up towards that initial 10, my standard had leapt up to 20! As I got better, I was also better able to notice my flaws. I know that I'm never going to be as good as I would like to be!
Good thing or bad thing?
Has MA training helped me in any other way?
I had a deep-seated phobia of dentists. I mean, who doesn't, hey? But I simply had to go. And as I lay back in that chair, shaking like a leaf, I kept telling myself, "I'm going to be a black belt. If I can do that, I can do anything." :LOL: I'm okay at the dentist now.
So, in short:
question 1: yes
question 2: I learnt to look at myself and judge myself only against myself, not to be so hard on myself, and (this one is still hard to do) try to recognise improvements even when I'm not where I want to be. I think also, as I approached and then became a black belt, I became more humble with regard to my abilities - though that could be just because I totally suck! :muahaha:
question 3: having your balloon burst, even if you do it yourself, is a painful process. I think doing any martial art or combat sport is going to deflate your ego at some point, either in a small way or in a big way, and if you can't handle that...
 

Redline

DAREBEE Team
DAREBEE Team
Ninja from Marseille, France
Posts: 82
Why should I start a MA? and, If I start, why should I choose a "traditional martial art" than a newer one? i.e : muay thai vs kickboxing
Well, to answer your first question... "because you want to" is a perfectly acceptable reason. ;)
As you get to discover what it actually implies and if you manage to stick to it, your reasons may evolve. That's perfectly fine as well. And my own reasons may not be the same as yours, and that doesn't necessarily make them better.
The physical and psychological benefits have been discussed in this thread at length, so I'll spare us both the tedious task of repeating them all here. :LOL:
We do have a few Darebee guides that tackle the subject, especially this one.

Regarding the "traditional VS new" debate, I would say, speaking from personal experience, that it matters much less than the goals and educational principles the head coach (or sensei, or whatever) decided to set for themselves.

I've been to combat sport classes that were mostly about physical conditioning and very little about technique, and it commpletely makes sense, after all, since physical strength and endurance play a major part in the outcome of a fight. I've been to others where form and tradition were put above all else, which does lead to personal discipline and inner balance.
The fact is, two coaches officially teaching the same style, whether it be karate, jujutsu or kickboxing, may actually have pretty different ways of going about it.

My personal advice would be not to put too much emphasis on what the school you go to labels itself, but on what is actually taught there, and if that is actually what you are looking for.
 
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Redline

DAREBEE Team
DAREBEE Team
Ninja from Marseille, France
Posts: 82
I had a deep-seated phobia of dentists. I mean, who doesn't, hey? But I simply had to go. And as I lay back in that chair, shaking like a leaf, I kept telling myself, "I'm going to be a black belt. If I can do that, I can do anything." :LOL: I'm okay at the dentist now.
The powers of the mind, right ? Thank you for sharing, I think that's something we all can relate to in some way. :please:

For myself, I distinctly remember feeling tired just thinking about all the household chores I had to do one day, and how watching TV or playing video games would have been soooo much more enjoyable. Then I tought - "Come on. You work out on a daily basis. You sweat to get stronger. You can do push-ups and pull-ups and pistol squats. You're NOT going to be scared of washing up a few dishes."
I have to say, my home is much cleaner now than what it used to be. ;)
 
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Redline

DAREBEE Team
DAREBEE Team
Ninja from Marseille, France
Posts: 82
Anyway, we have now reached the end of this AMA… which also might have been called AMT ("answer me this") near the end ;), but you guys rose up to the challenge magnificently. :please:

Those of you who wish to further explore the psychological benefits of martial art practice may want to take a look at this study, which takes a rigorous, in-depth look at the cognitive and behavioral sides of the matter.

I would like to thank all of you for the time you took asking and answering questions, for your honest, humble approach of those topics, and simply for being here, willing to share information and learn new things with an open mind. :ss:

See you all very soon!
 
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