Traditional Martial Arts Your Martial arts Ezine Issue 37

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Quotes of the day:

"I know not how many lives I have had nor how many battles I have lost and won to find my true destiny. Destiny, thy name is Jan.", Sensei J. Richard Kirkham

"Blink, and you die in the dark." Off of a t-shirt

"When good people do nothing about evil, that in itself, is evil enough", semi-quote from the movie Street fighter

How about submitting your own quotes.



Does kata (forms) help you with self-defense? Your Answer

Previous Responses to Karate Kwestions you may respond to

RK, here's some possible questions to throw out to all...(you can change them a little, if my meanings are unclear):

Is YOUR art a "technique" art, or a "form" art? What's the difference between the two? Which should I practice more of, technique or form?



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Can a good street fighter beat a black belt? Your Answer

Previous Responses to Karate Kwestions you may respond to


A subscriber has written in and was wondering what martial arts exercises he can do to help lose weight? Your Response

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Concerning The Myths of Internal Energy Strikes

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A Reader posed this question. It really happened: Question: What should happen to a martial arts instructor who uses his position to gain trust and then have a sexual encounter with a minor.

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I now have a place where you can add your favorite martial arts techniques. Even if it is already on the martial arts techniques page, feel free to add your martial arts technique again so martial artists may see how popular the martial arts technique is. Right now this is being done with form mail. If anyone can set this up as cgi with an autreponse email I'd appreciate the help.

Traditional Martial Arts

By Dave Murray, May 2000

We often hear the term traditional martial arts, often used with disdain by practitioners of modern CombatTM arts, but what are traditional martial arts? First we should define our terms. Although there are numerous definitions with different shades of meaning, I will state the ones applicable to this discussion.

Time honored properties passed on through the generations. The properties may be elements of culture, modes of thought, behavior, method, etc.
Pertaining to war, warriors, or the military profession.
A specific skill in adept performance, conceived as requiring the exercise of intuitive faculties that cannot be learned solely by study.

Traditional arts are not defined by wearing white pajamas, chambering your fist by your belt and yelling keeyaa. Many people who think that they are traditional martial artists are actually doing a façade of traditional martial arts. You do not need to associate yourself with a certain style to be a traditional martial artist, an eclectic could train in traditional ways.

The Approach

An architect must begin with the end in mind and has a top down approach to what he does. The builder that implements the architect's plan must have a bottom up approach as a structure is only as strong as its' foundation. As a martial artist we have an end in mind, it goes to the heart of our purpose in becoming a martial artist. More importantly we are building the finished product, so we must do our work from the bottom up. The training and practice are our work.

Often, when war comes, there are not enough warriors and armies must be quickly raised. Training methods must be efficient. The recruits initially share a common hardship (basic training) where they learn a common set of basic skills, the culture of their organization, and an esprit de corps that gives them unity. Militaries are hierarchical, and as the individual is transformed into a warrior by building his skills from he will achieve rank that designates his place in the hierarchy of his organization. These requirements have lead to standard, or traditional methods for military training.

The Agenda

There is a purpose behind all traditions, in some cases the tradition may have applicability to other purposes, and in others it may not.

The most obvious example is the tradition of building esprit de corps through shared hardship. War is a group effort, the mightiest individual warrior will be killed by a military unit made up of even mediocre warriors that work well as a group. From a military standpoint, it is essential that the individual have unwavering allegiance to his corps. This purpose seems to not apply to individuals studying martial arts, but if you study an art that practices techniques that could result in death or paralysis then this trust, and camaraderie, is just as essential as for the military. Also a teacher of a commercial school is served well by building an esprit de corps in his students for the purpose of maintaining student enrolment.

The common set of basics is essential for a military unit that must work together as a team. For our individual studies this gung-ho would not seem so essential. In order for a style of system to survive as the student progresses to the point that he will go out and start his own school the common core of basics, techniques, and principles is also essential. The purpose may have changed from efficiency of warriors that must wage war as a group to the survival of the style in the face of dilution and pollution.

Hierarchy and rank are essential to the military for the sake of command and control. As a martial school, style, or system becomes too large to manage by one person, the hierarchical structure insures that tasks are delegated to the most appropriate people. Sadly, rank is often reduced to either a money making vehicle (testing fees) for commercial schools, or ego gratification for the student. It can be used as a reference to map the martial artists progress through the curriculum of a system and therefore has some utility outside the military.

It's not ours to reason why

The age old saying that defines one traditional aspect of the martial way is, "It's not ours to reason why, but ours to do or die." When I think of traditional martial arts, I am not thinking of the façade of uniforms, rank insignia, shouting commands, etc. but of a method. The student is given training tasks to perform with minimal explanation. The learning process is to experience doing the tasks repetitiously that make up the basics of the system without question. As they rise through the ranks, they receive new information to support their new place in the hierarchy.

Many people do not care for this method. Some don't like someone else telling them what to do, some just arrogantly believe that they are so smart that they can improve upon the teaching method even though they have not yet mastered the material. The student/teacher relationship must be one of trust as is the leader/subordinate relationship in the military.

Other Traditions

Worthy of consideration is the fact that there are traditions for the study of martial arts other than in military fashion, though the art itself stays basically the same. Much of the method used by the military has to do with teaching/controlling large numbers of people efficiently and is not required when the number of students is small or one on one with the teacher.

The Grandfather Method

The grandfather method gets it's name from the idea of an old man passing his knowledge on to his grandson. Martial arts are a physical, rather than intellectual pursuit. The old man forces the boy to learn by repeatedly performing the techniques on the boy who learns how it works through the direct experience of having it worked on him. Words are few and far between and when a verbal explanation comes, it is not a piece of a boring lecture that does not register and is forgotten. It is the answer to a question earned (both the question and the answer) through effort. Lessons learned because they are earned are the best lessons as they are both wanted and appreciated, rather than being pearls trampled by swine.

Although this does not appear to fit the model described for military training, it is indeed a traditional method for some circumstances other than large group training.

Secrecy And The Need To Know

I remember well that when I was in the military I was often "in the dark". The obvious reason is for security. The fewer people that know something, the less likely that that knowledge will get into the wrong hands. Facts are required for logical decision making, if your place is to do or die, you have no need to know. For the most part, martial arts outside the military do not have these same security considerations yet it is common for the student of martial arts to not get all the data or the big picture right away.

A teacher of martial arts is not a prostitute that gives the customer whatever he wants just because he has been paid. A teacher of martial arts is someone that provides a learning experience that will lead the student to an end result that he wants. That process will be hard work, often boring repetition of arduous tasks. It is human nature to want to skip the basics and get right to the good stuff. It has been my experience that people think "OK, I've got that, what's next?" long before they've got it. Perhaps the biggest reason for keeping the martial arts student in the dark for a long time is that it often works best for the student to not know what the lesson really is. If the true purpose of the lesson is behind the veil the student will not put his own spin on it, and spoil the lesson.

Why Traditional Martial Arts

It is clear that much of the rational for traditional methods apply well to the military. If we are studying martial arts outside the context of that purpose, why cling to the tradition? It is mostly a way that knowledge can be preserved by people that lack understanding.

In the beginning of your training you are given things to do. These things are for building physical attributes needed for your style and to ingrain movement patterns used in your style. These things are known a basics, you continue practicing them throughout your life for improvement or maintenance purpose. They are practiced in as an ideal model. In actual applications they may be minor adjustments both physically and in mindset but the neuro-muscular groundwork has been established. Traditional training allows you to be ready to receive and apply the things that you learn while on your path at a level not available to those on other paths. It is a method that promotes quick functional competence with long term growth and improvement.

The reason that I most often hear people use for rejecting traditional martial arts for modern progressive methods is that they are rejecting out of date things that are not useful in this day and age. This "logic" cries out to be questioned.

When asked for a specific thing that is new, and unheard of, in the days of wooden ships and iron men pertaining to unarmed, or armed with blades, or bludgeons, the modernists are hard pressed to come up with an answer. Firearms are modern, what new movement was invented for dealing with someone armed with a gun that is close enough for an empty handed defense? Are stun guns treated differently than a blade dipped in poison? In a time when militaries devote their training time to firearms and high tech weaponry, I think that is arrogant to presume that we know more about close combat than the people that used it as their primary way of fighting.
This implies that their proposed change is an improvement, rather than just different. Perhaps I have a knee jerk reaction to the word since in the political arena it is most often used by socialist's to put a positive spin on their desire to take away some of my freedom. It is just a buzzword until improvement is proven.
Out of date
Once again, what specific thing in traditional martial arts has become obsolete because of some modern thing, if such a thing exists?
Not useful
This is probably the major reason that people reject traditional martial arts. "If you chamber your fist at your hip, you'll get punched in the mouth", etc. If all you know is long range punching and kicking, that would seem to be a valid criticism. Martial arts are not always about sports, ask a cop what he thinks you are doing when you move your hand to your hip. It's where people have carried their weapons for centuries, and still do in these modern times. Parry an arm and move to an arm bar, does your fist (hand grabbing wrist) go to your hip? The movements from traditional martial arts have "universal movements" that can be found in all fighting arts, often used for different purposes. If you think something from a traditional art is not useful, it may be that there is nothing wrong with the move, just your understanding, look around a bit.


The world is full of armchair experts that can pontificate from ivory towers but the traditional methods of teaching martial arts, or military science, have stood the test of time, and have been tested in battle where the consequences of failure are brutally harsh, and final. You may be betting your life on your training methods if you need to call upon them in an attack on your life. I for one don't care to discard the wisdom of warriors throughout the ages for the theories of people that can't figure out why those traditions lasted long enough to become traditions.

Sensei J. Richard Kirkham is a 27 year martial art veteran. He is a dual certified teacher with a Bachelors of Science Degree in Physical Education with a background in Special Education, Exercise Physiology, Movement Education, and Behavioral Modification. He is presently an in home tutor, self-defense instructor, and body guard. Mr. Kirkham is presently teaching in Honolulu Hawaii. He can be reached at 808-528-5775 Ext. 5. He has one challenge which has yet to fail him, he can increase anyone's striking power 50% to 100% in one lesson. For those who cannot see him in person, he offers the same service with others on affordable custom video tapes. Sensei Kirkham has the unique service of offering in home classes so that people may learn self-defense in the privacy of their home without worrying about travel after a hard days work.

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Dear Sensei Kirkham, As always it is very interesting, informative and a pleasure to visit your website. I need to have my URL updated on your page in your links section. My ISP has changed my websites address due to a merger with another ISP and I need to get the URL updated. It is for Mieir King Services/King's Kung Fu. The new URL is:
here is my link and thanks Mike
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Fitness Pros Bodybuilding Resource. Free Newsletter, articles and book reviews. Walter Jennings Personal Trainer Certified by the IFPA Fitness Pros Bodybuilding
Please add link to my martial arts web at:
Please consider my link:
Fitness Pros Bodybuilding
Fitness Pros Bodybuilding Resource. Free Newsletter, articles and book reviews. Walter Jennings Personal Trainer Certified by the IFPA Fitness Pros Bodybuilding
Arnis Balite
Koinonia Productions
my name is David Garcia and my
I am a 6th generation disciple of Master Man Kwong Fong who was the youngest student to train eatensively and learn the complete system of Pak Mei Kung Fu also known as White Eyebrow Kung Fu under the personal instruction of Grandmaster Cheung Lai Chun. PAK Mei is a rare,unique and advance form of self defense which is rarely seen is the martial art circle.Pak Mei Kung Fu is one of the few system that combines both shaolin and Taoist practices into a single fighting style.
Sifu David Garcia.
Hi Richard,>> I've have added a link to your site from my MartialArts Link-Site. >> I was hoping that you return the favour and add alink from your site to my > Link-Site.>> > > Sincerely Yours,>> Adam W. Gibson> (Martial Arts Author)


 All right that's about it this time. How often will this come out? You let me know how often you would like to come out by submitting articles, space ads, and or classifieds. Have any suggestions yourself? Let me know.


Sensei J. Richard Kirkham

Traditional Martial Arts Martial Arts Ezine 37

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 36 Vital Areas
Understanding and Applying the Art: Martial-Arts-Theory Martial Arts Ezine Issue 35

FIGHTER'S FACT BOOK: Over 400 Concepts, Techniques and Drills to Make You a Better Fighter Martial Arts Ezine Issue 34

Martial Arts Sensitivity Drills Seeing Without Sight Martial Arts Ezine Issue 33

Martial Arts Ezine Issue 32 Martial Arts, Crime, Our Children

The Myth of Internal Energy Strikes in Martial Arts


Shower Power Martial Arts Quick Training Methods for Martial Artists with No Time for Martial Art Training

Admiral Yi Sun-shin A Historical Warrior

Training Your Unwilling Spouse in Realistic Martial Arts


Modern Teaching Methods of an Ancient Art, A Humble Courtesy to All Martial Arts Instructors


Martial Arts Swindlers and Martial Arts Egomaniacs

Rape A True Story Of Survival

A Martial Arts Poem - Tygre

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Fifth issue

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Seventh issue Japanese Weapons

Eighth issue Another Martial Arts Ezine Nineth issue Martial Arts for Disabled People issue Martial Arts Blocking Drill Issue A Martial Artists Path

12th Issue An Eastern Fable - The Stonecutter Issue Knife Drills

Knife Drills and Evasive Drills

Conguering Fear Push Ups

Offense Defense

Martial Arts Festival for the Handicapped

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