Sunday, February 6, 2011

Fancy book learnin'

If you learned everything you know about Karate from books and the Internet, then this post is for you. If you are a student of Karate, taking instruction from a Sensei in a karate school, then this post is not necessarily meant for you, but please continue reading.

At this weeks class in Hampton, the senior students were going over Tehodoki-no-waza, and when we got to number five, there was some interesting discussion. When we were initially taught the technique, it results in a choke-hold. When I was acting as a bunkai dummy during my brown belt test, my partner performed technique number five as a take-down. Basically, I learned it as herp, and he learned it as derp. Now, both techniques are valid, and they are both very effective. The question that arose last night was "Which technique is correct?". My Sensei says herp is correct. The book, on the other hand, clearly shows the technique as derp.

Once the discussion was finished, we determined that, for the time being, we were to perform the technique as herp rather than derp, which was fine by everyone there, as that was how we learned it. Last night in Apohaqui, I discussed this with Renshi, and he says that derp is correct, no matter if you want to perform the technique as a take-down or a choke-hold, but the herp technique is very effective. We took a few minutes, and he was able to assist me in fine-tuning both techniques even further.

We have a technical manual so that we understand what we are required to learn and work on to achieve the next level, not so that we can learn the techniques out of them. Discussion about the techniques with others in the class, or better yet, with your Sensei, is essential. If you are learning everything about Martial Arts from a book, you only have a small portion of the story, and are lacking very important information and training that can only be received in a class with a knowledgeable teacher. You're not getting the whole story.

I'm not saying that Martial Arts books are a bad thing. On the contrary. I own several books, and refer to them on a regular basis.  Books should not be your primary source of Martial Arts instruction. They should be a secondary resource to broaden your understanding of topics and re-enforce what you learn in the dojo.

Find a local school. Attend a class. Give it a try. You'll see that it is well worth the investment. If you end up in a McDojo, then that's a whole other ball of wax.

"Karate is a traditional martial art that is meant to be conveyed directly from a properly qualified teacher to a willing student. It cannot be learned from a textbook, however well put together."
Dr. David R. Smith - President, Canadian Chito Ryu Karate-do Association

1 comment:

  1. Yes I would agree with your assessments here. Even as a writer I wouldn't be so bold as to suggest that one could learn everything they need from books and videos. That direct transmission is crucial to the process.

    As an aside, I once did an interview with William Dometrich Sensei which I thought you might find interesting -

    I have lots of love for Chito Ryu :-)