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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Martial Artist - How long does it take? How to go about it?

I am often asked - How many days/ months to complete training? - by anxious parents who wish to see their kids wearing a black belt or people who watch some martial art movie and decide to join a martial art class. To them all I say is it has taken me 25 years and am still learning. Martial Science is like education can a 3 year old become a Doctor or an Engineer in just a few months? Even after completing his education and becoming say a Doctor if one does not keep on learning and upgrading he will not be a good Doctor. Similarly it is with Martial Science too.

It takes a lot of discipline, devotion, dedication, effort, perseverance, determination, sacrifice and lots more.  It is the study of something which in no time completely takes over your life - the way you walk,  talk, think,  behave and lots more. It is very very demanding. No wonder at any authentic martial art school say if 30 students join at a time, by the time a few years go by there may be only 5 or lesser left from that batch. Many give up mid way not because they are weak or they cant just because they decide to GIVE UP. 

In most activities you can learn something but may not decide to be a professional  at it. However to  be a martial arts practitioner you have to decide to be a professional or you can not train or improve at it . That does not mean give up your job or education. It means be committed to it completely with your every breath. To be a martial arts practitioner one has to train everyday not with the mindset to stay fit or be healthy but with the focus to better our self than we were a few hours back. Every technique is practiced 100's of times repeating it again and again and again till the body just can not move anymore. This is the level  of  focus one needs to come close to understanding the wonderful world of martial arts. It is a path that once taken properly will last a complete lifetime and yet will not be enough to master it. For - Perfection is a mirage always visible but never reachable. 

If one is ready to commit to the very high level of dedication required then the first and most important step is to find a true martial artist to teach you. I have been blessed with wonderful teachers and always will have complete respect for them. Selecting a proper teacher is vital so that the right guidance and direction is given. Please do not go for teachers who promise belts or show pictures of fancy flying kicks or breaking things. Tamashiwara ( breaking things) or jumping kicks are part of martial art but that is not the only thing in martial arts. Most youngsters fall for them as they hope to copy their favorite film stars and do the same tricks. Search for someone who will only talk of training. Talk to the students in the class. Once joined in a class just train and sweat and sweat and sweat more. Do not bother which belt you have or which you may or not get that does not matter. What matters is can you say that you have improved in the last few hours or not. In a few years of training you will notice improvement in health, higher concentration levels, great inner and external strength and lots more. Consistent training for more years will lead to a change in the spiritual levels too. The practitioner is always in a kind of state of meditation. Always pondering and thinking about techniques or training methods. To give an example -  Master Yamaguchi a legend in Karate had developed spiritually to a level where he could catch any lie spoken by anyone. It has been said that the Japanese government use to request him to be present while interrogating spies or people where the matters were of serious nature and he has never been wrong in catching the lie.

The journey may be a tiring and testing one but not taking the journey will not take you anywhere either. 

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Conditioning



The above video is a variation of conditioning our students came up with so that all of them can do conditioning together and for different areas of the body.

Conditioning is a very important aspect of martial arts. It is sad that many martial arts are moving towards point scoring in fights or sparring competitions also called as sports sparring. The sports sparring does not involve full contact kumite (sparring). As a result over the years organizations that have moved towards sports kumite have stopped or drastically reduced conditioning the body by kicking, punching or striking the various striking areas of the body. I was really shocked and upset when I met a black belt from an organization that follows sports kumite. That black belt told me that he is training from last 6years but he had never been punched or kicked any where on the body. He had never ever done any conditioning training in the 6 years that he had trained and reached to black belt. This is very very sad and upsetting. 
In  Jukaado we give lots of importance to various conditioning practices from kicking and punching each other to striking metal poles and trees with our forearms, shin bone, palm, fist and so on. We believe and train in full contact Kumite (sparring) for martial arts is not a sport. Most people train to learn martial arts to defend themselves, how will a person defend himself if he trains to fight only to get points for on the road there will not be a refree or any points to decide the winner.  

In my opinion training in martial arts without conditioning the body is like sitting for dinner with a plate but no food in it.


 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Muay Thai

Sawadee Khrab

I had recently gone to Bangkok and was eager to train in Muay Thai (Thai kick boxing) which is the national sport of Thailand. There are many Muay Thai gyms in Bangkok and it should not be difficult to find one to train at. Many American and European Tourists come to Thailand to train in Muay Thai. Most MMA fighters too train in Muay Thai. There is lots of passion for Muay Thai, as a matter of fact professional Muay Thai practitioners train for a minimum of 6hours a day 6 days a week. This is the level of dedication that is put in its training. There are many stadiums too where Muay Thai bouts are conducted regularly and a student needs his teachers blessings and permission only then can he enter the competitions. I personally was not satisfied by my brief training in Muay Thai. In view of that some of my senior students and myself are planning a trip soon to Bangkok to train for 6hours a day for a week at a well known gym there. Children start training and competing at stadiums as early as 8- 10 years of age. Even the training of the children is very intense. Like most oriental martial arts Muay Thai too is a way of life. Completely encircling the practitioner and changing him not only externally but also internally, a few years of training also changes the spiritual outlook of the practitioner. Having been training in martial arts for almost 3 decades now I was impressed by the intensity, discipline and passion with which they train in Muay Thai. A word of caution to people who intend to go there to train - there are many many gyms in Bangkok and quite a few of them are only interested in collecting money from foreigners in the name of training. A bit of inquiring around before selecting a gym to train at is ideal.

Khob Khun Khrab.