I feel you have hit upon the crux of the "performance competence" issue that has the combatives/rbsd market laughing at traditional martial art training. I came up through the old-school style of training under Sifu Dan Cepeda (Brian Adams lineage) in San Diego back in the 70's. We were a full contact school where black eyes, broken bones and blood were the norm rather than the exception. We all know AK basically has three categories of training, techniques, forms/sets, and freestyle. Many schools though usually use the techniques and forms as testing/advancement tools while focusing on the freestyle/sparring aspect. My first school was no exception but our sparring has hard, knockouts happened, and blood was earned as it was in most of the schools at the time. Along came "The Karate Kid" and everything changed. There is a lot of money to be made teaching martial arts/self-defense and if the kids aren't having fun, mom gets a busted lip, or dad gets a black eye, there goes part of your BMW payment. Cut to today where many of the instructors out there have come up through "The Karate Kid" era and have no concept of old school training. While I consider kenpo a progressive/modern martial art, most consider it a traditional martial art because of the uniform, bare-feet, forms/sets, and formalities. The RBSD types, Krav, Haghana, R.A.T, S.P.E.A.R., etc. have been marketing themselves as real self-defense because they dont have any of the afore-mentioned stuff, they are military/LE based, and they have lots of simulated contact. They also emphasize stress and scenario training, which most traditional martial arts dont.
Now, what can we, as traditional kenpoists do to ensure that our students are getting the real deal? Well, here are few things I do to ensure my students dont become paper tigers.
Education: Gather as much info as you can on the training methodologies of the
professionals and implement them into your training.
Contact: Inform your students at sign up, they will get hit and hit hard. Then begin an
acclimation process. In my school, its white belts dont get hit, yellow belts
get hit a bit, purple harder, and so on. By blue/green, there is some serious thumping
going on. Dont forget to wear a mouthpiece. As for sparring, all my students start on
the ground and boxing only. Once they get a yellow, above the belt kicking is added once orange, they can kick below the belt, once purple, sweeps, throws, and take-downs, once blue, full freestyle with ground work, once green, we incorporate hair pulling, biting, knees, and elbows. All controlled, most padded.
Surprise: Step out of the box, throw a wrench into the class now and then. This kind of falls
under the education line above. Create scenarios and drills that increase the pressure
on your students to rise (or fall) to the level of their training.
Define: Define yourself and to your students as to what your goals are in teaching in the first
place. Ive noticed that many TKD schools no longer emphasis self-defense in their
marketing but are now pushing Krav and other RBSD programs within their school.
Mr. Parker once said Kenpo is for everybody but not everybody is for Kenpo. I teach
part time so I have no need to have students to put food on my table.
As an AKKI guy, I have placed my emphasis back on the techniques and forms/sets. As you can tell. we still fight although not tournament style. The goal in our sparring is all the way to a take-down or pulling off part of a technique. Except for the brown belt fighting add-ons, my kids (6 and above) learn the same thing the same way. Bottom-line, some people want to learn this way and others dont. Unless they really want to undergo this type of stressful training, good luck in getting everybody to train this way.
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