I received the following posting from Russell Stutely as I’m signed up to his newsletter. I what I’ve been saying for years about martial arts being dumbed down, so I decided to share it with you. It emphasises the point that I keep trying to make about learning your kata bunkai and understanding what the moves are really for. I hope you enjoy it.
“The paradox of making the MA simple yet incorporating a lifetimes of study. How can it be achieved? Has it been done before? What will happen to our system?
Of course this has happened before. It has happened with every single MA out there. Every single one has been simplified from where it was, made easier than it once was.
The knowledge of the art has become much more superficial. Lifetimes study to truly understand Kata has lost its real meaning. It does not mean, keep training till you can perform the Kata correctly all the way through and score 10 out of 10 from every judge. It means it takes a lifetimes study to truly understand why every move is made and what it is really for.
Now, maybe in the old days with slow communications it took a lifetime, but not now. We can be anywhere in the World in a day, back then it took a day to travel 30 miles.
This simplification that has happened in for example Shotokan, has resulted in a system with 3 or 4 punches, 7 or 8 kicks, a few blocks, a few stances and a load of Kata.
Which, for the majority, is just some combinations of the above in a set order. Is that really a lifetimes study? To put this into perspective, about 15 years ago I was watching a tape with all 26 Shotokan Kata on.
My sister, a Dance Teacher, saw it and said that it looked real easy to learn. I told her she knew nothing about the MA and not to be so silly, as these Kata are known by only the very top people who have taken years to learn them.
She replied, with “I could learn them in a week”. The bet was on. I lost, convincingly.
She performed them superbly well. No in depth knowledge, but the performance of the moves was beyond reproach!
Does this sound like a watering down to you? The performance of the moves is there, but with no depth of knowledge.
A perfect singer, who is singing in a foreign language. Hitting all the right notes, but not understanding a word!