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Compare and contrast hard and soft Martial Arts

Written by Katherine. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

Karate for women, adults martial arts, ladies self defence, kung fu for women, martial arts basingstoke, taekwondo

Katherine White

2nd Dan Project

 

The main element to my research project, as part of my 2nd dan grading, is to compare and contrast 5 “hard” and 5 “soft” styles of martial arts – looking at their key underlying principles and methods of power generation and also looking at how these different styles encourage and develop effective techniques.

 

(Admin’s Note:- As part of the Black Belt grading requirements in 2013, candidates will have to complete and publish a given research project where they have to justify and prove all conclusions that they arrive at.

The aim of this is to challenge the individual on a personal basis to broaden and deepen their knowledge base over a longer period of time and ultimately with the goal to significantly improve their physical and non-physical skills.)

At first glance this looked fairly simple and easy to organise but after a quick scout round the web I realised it was more of a Tardis-like question, or one of those children’s joke snake- in-a-jar – it looks small and simple outside but somehow there is a HUGE amount contained within!  Even the question of what counts as a hard or soft martial art is open to interpretation and there does not seem to be a handy black and white list of what fits what category. It is sometimes down to personal interpretation; how the particular Martial Art is carried out by each practitioner; or if, over time, the style has adopted a variety of techniques rather than being a “pure” single style.

 

My plan is to research these martial arts in a couple of different ways. Obviously the great god google will provide an easy way to look at the different styles – I’d look at personal, dedicated sites rather than something generic like Wikipedia. There are a lot of blog style sites where senseis and teachers have written ideas so they will be a useful resource.  If possible I would love to visit a lesson of each style although for dull practical reasons – training 2 or 3 nights a week, doing 4 gym runs with my children other nights, a travelling husband etc I will not guarantee I can do this for each of the 10. It would also be lovely to “interview” senseis from these different styles to get a personal view on how they interpret their particular martial art.

 

It is quite hard to “prove” this research as it is such a subjective issue – how one person carries out their martial art, their reasons for choosing a particular style and how they apply any principles taught will vary for everyone. At this stage I am open to see how any “results” prove or disprove anything – I suspect it will be on the majority thinking and also looking at the historic principles of the style – rather than from one person way down the food chain who trains in it.

 

My plan is to look at these disciplines one at a time – and in doing so will discover their underlying principles and also find out any areas where there is common ground and also where they differ. It would be a huge undertaking to report on all 10 in one go – I think it will be more of a “build up the collection” type project – where each report adds on a new style to look at but will also refer back to previous styles and will compare and contrast. As the project moves forwards more styles will be added and by reading them as a whole it will be able to see where they overlap and where they differ.

 

My chosen disciplines are –

Soft: (from) judo, ju jitsu, aikido ,tai chi, hapkido, wing chun

Hard: TKD, kendo, boxing, muay thai, bajiquan (though these may change this is my intention now!)

 

I felt “kung fu” and “karate” were too woolly titles and were often umbrella terms encompassing many styles or branches and also it was interesting to explore unknown styles. Judo is the exception – I have taken part in this for a couple of years now!

 

Extra topics to also research are to look at the validity of Tai Chi as a fighting martial art and this is an area I admit I know very little about and, for personal, preconceived ideas, have tended to write it off as “floaty” relaxation techniques rather than practical. As I have progressed in my own training I have started to see how it can be used as part of a martial art – but have yet to understand it as a stand alone martial art so watch this space…

 

Another area to look at is what martial artists can learn from yoga and meditation. This is the area I will struggle with most – on two levels. The first is that I know very little about either, and have never practised or felt the need to practise either. I see Yoga as a stand-alone exercise programme – good for flexibility and core stability but this is not the only way to achieve these ends.  Due to my background growing up in a Christian family I have an embedded belief not to practice meditation or yoga in the sense of “emptying the mind” as this is not a practise endorsed by the Christian faith and also because it has its roots in Buddhism and Hinduism and other non-Christian beliefs.  As such, I am happy to research the benefits etc but will not be actively taking part. Again, I am open to learning new ideas and will see where this path takes me.  I am not against focus, concentration or visualisation which are elements of meditation but not completely emptying, or focussing on other gods for example.

 

The final area is about what we can learn from modern sports training methods for speed and relaxation.  From this I am defining “modern” as utilising new technology or new ideas – obviously getting speed out of runners’ blocks for examples is a practise that has been around for years. This will probably involve a bit of stumbling round in the dark as I am not even sure of a starting point so will hope to find a way in. The focus will probably be on technological advances and better understanding of the make-up of the body – from blood types and even genetics.

 

Between now and December I will endeavour to write up a report on each of my 10 styles (2 at a time)– hopefully each will build on the previous one and ultimately there will be links throughout the  threads as well as elements discrete to each.

 

The Tai Chi; Yoga and meditation; and Modern sports will all be separate articles, presenting my findings and how they can be applied.

 

The class at the end…will absolutely depend on what happens between now and then.

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Philosophy and the Martial Arts

Written by Sue. Posted in Black Belt Research Project 2013

Ladies Karate Basingstoke, Self Defence for Woman in Basingstoke, Ladies Judo in BasingstoklePhilosophy and the Martial Arts

by Susan Pogmore

 

Philosophy & Martial Arts

a)       What, if any, is the relationship between philosophy and Martial Arts in today’s society?

b)       What do you think the intention of the ‘old masters’ was with the philosophical aspects of their practice?

c)       People like Funakoshi are attributed to writing things like ‘The 20 precepts’ relating to Martial Arts. What would be a modern day equivalent?

d)       Karate is often said to be ‘Moving Zen’. Why?

 

Admin’s Note:- As part of the Black Belt grading requirements in 2013, candidates will have to complete and publish a given research project where they have to justify and prove all conclusions that they arrive at.

The aim of this is to challenge the individual on a personal basis to broaden and deepen their knowledge base over a longer period of time and ultimately with the goal to significantly improve their physical and non-physical skills.

Definition of PHILOSOPHY   from Collins Concise Dictionary of the English Language

1: the academic discipline concerned with making explicit the nature and significance of ordinary and scientific beliefs and investigating the intelligibility of the concepts by means of rational argument concerning their presuppositions, implications, and interrelationships.

2: the particular doctrines relating to these issues of a specific individual or school

3: the basic principles of a discipline: the philosophy of law

4: any system of belief, values or tenets

5: a personal outlook or viewpoint

6: serenity of temper

Definition of MARTIAL ART

1: any of various philosophies of self defence and techniques of single combat, such as judo or karate, originating in the Far East

The word “philosophy” comes from the Ancient Greek   φιλοσοφία   (philosophia), which literally means “love of wisdom”.

Documented philosophy dates back to the Ancient Greeks, but I suspect that man has been philosophising for as long as he has been able to express himself. And despite the enormous length of time that has passed, Philosophers are still not in complete agreement about the nature and methods of philosophy; what philosophy and its methods are, or should be, itself a philosophical question.

I really like Vincent A. Cruz’s conclusion that philosophy is most appropriately described as “unusually persistent attempts to think things out”.  

So for the purposes of this project, I will attempt to understand other people’s views of the Philosophies of Karate-do. Entering the minds of some of the greatest Karateka the world has ever known and the minds of those whom are yet to be recognised as great, maybe….

My research will take two forms. Firstly; copious amounts of reading about the ‘old masters’ and the greats. Their personal journeys & the lessons they valued. The second; talking to modern day Karateka about what karate means to them.

I also need to discover the meaning of ‘Moving Zen’. I have briefly touched upon it in my initial investigations and believe this to be more of an intangible concept than an actual practice or process.

Proving my research is going to be challenging. I will be able to list literature I’ve read and there will be proof of interviews I’ve conducted. I hope to be able to provide rational arguments to support my theories, but as this is philosophy, I shall leave it to the reader to decide whether I have ‘proved’ anything at all.

I strongly believe that the fundamentals of life haven’t changed over the years just the dressing that they are packaged in. Once I have discovered the principals of the ‘old masters’ then I will need to put together a ‘modern day’ equivalent and uncover the commonalities of our lives, decades apart.

I intend to provide a report at the end of March, April, May, June, July and August, and then a short summary of findings and conclusions and a 60 minute lesson plan for the beginning of November, in preparation for a class.

 

25th February 2013

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Brainy Black Belts

Written by bryan. Posted in Health and Fitness

According to the BBC a Martial Arts Black Belt’s skill in punching has more to do with his brains rather than his brawn. This is what the article had to say on the subject.  

Karate punching power ‘all in the brain’

By Jonathan Ball BBC News

Brain images Black belts show structural differences in specific parts of their brains (in white)
Packing an impressive karate punch has more to do with brain power than muscle power, according to research.

In a close-range punching contest described in Cerebral Cortex, experts consistently out-hit novices. Scientists peered deep into the brains of the experts to reveal alterations in regions controlling movement. These changes were linked with better coordination and speed of punch, a team from Imperial College London and University College London concluded.

Karate punch The research shows that experts consistently out-punch novices

Ed Roberts from Imperial College London, who led the study, said: “The karate black belts were able to repeatedly coordinate their punching action with a level of coordination that novices can’t produce. We think that ability might be related to fine tuning of neural connections in the cerebellum.” To determine the speed of the punch, the researchers filmed and timed the movement of the infrared sensors attached to shoulders, elbows, wrists and hips of the people. The study of brain structure and function has been accelerated by the development of new medical imaging techniques, such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). The current study used a special MRI technique called Diffusion Tensor Imaging. This is useful in the investigation pharmacy of a variety of brain disorders such as multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, brain abscesses and brain tumors.

Brain image The brain’s grey matter stains more darkly than white matter

The brain contains two main types of tissue – grey and white matter. The regions controlling and coordinating movement are known as the cerebellum and the primary motor cortex and are composed of both. However, the study showed that changes in the structure of the white matter were associated with improved coordination. Changes in white matter structure have been observed in other individuals engaged in repetitive physical activity – pianists for example – and can also be induced simply by thought. In a study published in the journal PNAS, the authors showed that regular meditation resulted in white matter changes in regions of the brain associated with emotion. Commenting on his findings, Dr Roberts said: “Most research on how the brain controls movement has been based on examining how diseases can impair motor skills. “We took a different approach, by looking at what enables experts to perform better than novices in tests of physical skill.” Also, by looking at healthy subjects, it is hoped that scientists will gain a better understanding of how movement is controlled. One of the main diseases affecting white matter is multiple sclerosis (MS). This is a chronic degenerative disease that affects millions of people around the world. But the cause of MS remains unknown.

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