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Thread: Does current TCMA training culture need to change?

  1. #1

    Does current TCMA training culture need to change?

    I'd like to make the argument that the current TCMA training culture is flawed in how it prepares students for practical real life situations and needs to change if it wants to survive. I believe part of the reason is that there is a misguided over reliance on forms as a sufficient means to prepare TCMA students for real fights. Now Im not knocking forms because I feel they serve a very practical purpose to learn new techniques, improve coordination, balance, etc. But I also believe they are being misused in many TCMA schools. I myself was even taught to think that practicing forms over and over and over will somehow make a technique second nature to me in a real fight. This just simply isn't the case. Watch any fight, sanctioned or not, you rarely ever see a TCMA fighter utilize any techniques outside of basic kickboxing moves. Why is that?

    TCMA has so many practical techniques to offer, yet MMA fighters (who pride themselves on reducing a fighter's repertoire to just the simple and practical moves) seemingly execute more techniques than TCMA fighters during matches. TCMA boasters a plethora of unique techniques, forms, chi-na, etc, but watch any youtube fight (sanctioned or not) and all you see are basic kickboxing moves. Why is that? Where did all that training go? We train all these moves for years to NOT use them in a real fight?

    Yes, you could argue that sanctioned matches have rules that eliminate a great deal of a TCMA fighter's repertoire. And there is validity to that argument... but only to an extent. Because when you watch a video of TCMA fighter in a street fight, where there are no rules, nothing changes. You don't see an increase in the amount of unique techniques being utilized. You don't see a difference between one TCMA style and the other. You just see TCMA fighters resorting to the same basic kickboxing moves despite training in vastly different styles. Why?

    People want to argue that TCMA is not practical because the moves are too flashy or too complicated to be used in a real fight. But you watch an MMA fight and you can see these MMA fighters executing complicated grappling moves, and depending on their opponent, sometimes with relative ease. So complication of techniques certainly can't be the reason. So why aren't more TCMA fighters executing chi-na moves with the same kind of ease as MMA fighters executing leg/arm locks in fights?

    Here is what concerns me about the current TCMA training culture...
    TCMA fighters are most likely not even thinking about these moves.

    They've never had the real chance make it second nature to them. Let's take the Phoenix Eye Punch as an example. It's a very simple, practical, and straight forward technique. Nothing complicated about it in anyway and depending on where you strike can have a far more devastating blow to the opponent than a standard punch. Any and all TCMA style practice it.

    Now you can argue that you don't use it or want to use it because you care about your opponent. I totally get that and would feel the same way. I wouldn't want to wish harm or death on anyone. But that's not the point Im trying to make. The point Im trying to make is, do you even think about Phoenix Eye Punch as an option to execute during a real fight or sparring match? If the answer is no, does that not concern you? The same goes for any technique unique to your style. The idea that you put all this time and effort into trying to master these unique techniques and it doesn't even cross your mind while engaged in a high pressure environment against a resisting opponent is problem to me. Unfortunately, MMA fighters do not deal with this problem. Their training culture allows them to confidently know that if engaged in a fight, they know they can and will executed their personally battle tested techniques.

    If the technique you've learned doesn't cross your mind in a fight then it means it's most likely not second nature to you. So what was all that training for if all you're going to do is basic kickboxing moves as everyone else?

    This applies to me as well. It's something Ive been thinking about for quite a while now. I studied TCMA mantis for years and very very rarely did I ever think about using a mantis claw technique when sparring. The mantis claw is the entire center of the Mantis system, its very practical, and I practiced it over and over and over in drills and forms, yet, I rarely ever thought about executing it in a free sparring session against a resisting opponent. Why?


    Let me conclude this by saying that I disagree with MMA enthusiasts that TCMA is not realistic or practical. I strongly believe TCMA is very practical. My issue is that TCMA is not teaching those practical moves in practical ways. This is why MMA fighters keep dominating TCMA fighters. We want to blame MMA for implementing rules that hinder a TCMA fighters capabilities, but the unfortunate reality is that TCMA has implemented its own rules that have hindered its own fighters. The vast majority of TCMA schools utilize 3 point win sparring system while wearing heavy pads and only strikes to the body. TCMA's love for those cheap karate pads prevent it's own students from training a mantis claw or chi-na technique in a sparring match so that the technique becomes second nature. Unique TCMA moves are not going to be second nature because you practiced them over and over in forms or in padded drills. The become 2nd nature when they've been battle tested and unfortunately the current TCMA training culture has restricted its own students from battle testing practical moves unique to TCMA.
    Last edited by Gweilo_Fist; 09-01-2017 at 09:37 AM.

  2. #2
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    You made some good points.

    I will point out that this subject has been brought up many, many times here. The fact is, it's not the styles that are superior or inferior, it's the training approaches, methods and mindsets. That's it in a nutshell. There is nothing at all wrong with safety gloves, as long as you are aware it's an aspect of training, and not the only approach used. The fact is, we can discuss techniques that are 'too deadly', etc., but someone can be killed by a simple punch to the head (trained or untrained). OTOH, some people on the street have taken full-power 'foolproof deadly tactics', such as groin kicks (or had someone try to rake their eyes out) and, due to drugs and/or adrenalin, either gave the person who attempted to use them on him a serious beatdown, or got away with apparent minimal injury. So (IMO) the 'too deadly' argument is a bit weak. There is no way to safely and realistically approximate actual eye-jabbing with bare fingers in 2-person training, other than by wearing safety equipment (gloves and perhaps safety masks?) and approximate it with standard jabbing w/the fist. That is only one example.

    Jigoro Kano, founder of Judo, created a streamlined, safer and more realistic method of practicing some aspects of Jujutsu, and in a contest, his students basically beat the students of the 'deadlier' Jujutsu methods.

    It should also be noted that not all TCMA groups train the same, even within the 'same' system. If you have trained your style for actual application (including lots of drilling and sparring with it), it can become second nature. You must start out simple, with the most basic of skills. You're not trying to incorporate every possible technique, just a few at a time, first slowly and then gradually under pressure. Then you gradually incorporate more into workable fighting combinations. Otherwise, if you try unrealistically to incorporate things from forms without a good foundation, you'll say "Eff it" and just spar like substandard PKA kickboxing. I suspect many schools find the latter way much easier than actually analyzing and incorporating realistic training drills and various sparring methods to apply the style.

    Fighting with CMA does not look like a "Shaw Brothers movie", as many love to point out. There's no wild poses or doing fancy moves to the air as you face off. If it's thoroughly ingrained, there will be no self-conscious attempts to 'look like kung fu'. Some things will initially look like kickboxing, but if an observer knows what they're seeing, they ought to be able to spot the differences. I remember once in the '90s competing against another advanced-level fighter from another CLF school/lineage who fought strictly with kickboxing. When I used simple CLF combination attacks, he seemed confused and a bit flustered. I also out-landed him, but for some reason received a warning for using Kup Choi. Afterwards, I wondered why he was so unfamiliar with basic CLF, but didn't ask.

    A classmate of mine in another division had a similar experience with another CLF guy that he fought. After their match, the guy said, "Wow, you're using CLF!" My classmate asked him why HE wasn't using any, seeing that he was also a CLF guy. The guy told him that kickboxing is easier to learn to fight with, so that's what their school uses in fighting.

    It has everything to do with how you train, as opposed to the style itself. It requires a degree of streamlining.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 09-01-2017 at 06:04 PM.

  3. #3
    Like Jimbo said, this topic was a main thread starter on this forum for years. I realized that I don't have a great answer for this question. IMO, you study a TCMA because you enjoy it for the sake of practicing it. Leave it at that and don't make too much out of it. As far as self defense - I say sure, why not - because it doesn't really matter. There are so many variants to what people mean when they use the words "self-defense" - The reality is that it's all Hogwash. Violence. That's the key variable. You have to understand violence. No MA can teach you how to prepare for violence. Some martial arts are really good for the octagon, or acting tough with bullies. But they all fail to prepare anyone for real violence.
    Last edited by MightyB; 09-01-2017 at 11:03 AM.

  4. #4
    My advice to anyone who's able and young enough - do what my kid did - 13 weeks OSUT on Sand Hill. Wish I would have done it. That's the real martial arts.

  5. #5
    @Jimbo
    I agree with pretty all of your points. And provided some great examples.
    The example of the CLF sparring competition you provided is a great example of how TCMA's training culture is not helping itself. Judo fighters dominating Jiujitsu fighters is a great example of how not being able to practice your style's techniques in full contact will most likely not benefit you in a real fight.

    I absolutely agree that real fights are messy, unpredictable, and do not look anything like a Shaw Brothers movie. My apologies if my initial argument insinuated that a real fight would look like one. For me to suggest that a fight should would be utterly delusional. However, it does not negate the fact that the majority of TCMA fighters are struggling to utilize techniques unique to TCMA in a fight thus making it very difficult for the fighting community to argue for the practicality of TCMA. For example, when you see a Muay Thai fighter fight, you can usually recognize Muay Thai techniques. When you see an MMA fighter, you see MMA techniques. When you see a wrestler, you see wrestling moves. Judo fighter, you see Judo throws. You see a Boxer, his style shows. But you watch a TCMA fighter and you see basic universal punching and kicking techniques that make it indistinguishable. Executing unique and practical TCMA techniques should not have to be equated with flashy kung fu movies. Why is it that MMA fighters don't seem to have a problem with executing an arm bar, but TCMA fighters struggle to even consider the option of executing far simpler chi-na moves?

    @MightyB
    I agree with your sentiment. There is absolutely nothing wrong with training in TCMA because you enjoy it, appreciate the historical cultural aspects, or that you do it for self-cultivating reasons. I, myself, started learning TCMA because I appreciated the aesthetic element of its forms and the theories behind each of the techniques. There was no necessity for me to learn how to actually fight. My contention is that the TCMA community, not helped by Sifus and Sigungs (most of whom don't have actual fighting experience themselves) who perpetuate near prophet-like loyalty, are making statements with such confidents and grandeur that the training received in current TCMA culture will adequately prepare students for real fights against anyone, professional or not.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gweilo_Fist View Post
    I'd like to make the argument that the current TCMA training culture is flawed in how it prepares students for practical real life situations and needs to change if it wants to survive.
    The simple answer to your concern are:

    - Try to spar/wrestle as much as possible when you are still young.
    - When you are 60 years old, you can start to learn as many forms as you want to.

    It makes no sense to say that CMA is

    - "more than" for fighting when you are 30 years old.
    - "only" for fighting when you are 60 years old.
    Last edited by YouKnowWho; 09-02-2017 at 11:53 AM.
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    Quote Originally Posted by YouKnowWho View Post

    It makes no sense to say that CMA is

    - "more than" for fighting when you are 30 years old.
    - "only" for fighting when you are 60 years old.
    Well said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by B.Tunks View Post
    Well said.
    50 is like the cut off point to learn Bak Mei unless you are an athlete...the average pot belly weak knee 55 year old can not do Sub Jee fast so when they learn 9 step push it looks soft they never developed the kill him fast explosive intent that they could have built up as a teen when the body can take damage and strain to knees etc.

    But if you master Bak Mei at age 30 like doing it for 20 years you will move like you did when you were 30 when you are 65. after 70 your organs come into play and then only genetics like bad heart or general old age can slow you down.

    One of the younger guys told me a few years ago that our Bak Mei Si Gung had like Cancer surgery in his mid 70`s and when the doctor cut his stomach open he lost all of his Ging like he couldn`t snap and explode anymore with Bak Mei power while doing Jik Bo he passed away age 85 almost 10 years ago I think.

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by diego View Post
    50 is like the cut off point to learn Bak Mei unless you are an athlete...the average pot belly weak knee 55 year old can not do Sub Jee fast so when they learn 9 step push it looks soft they never developed the kill him fast explosive intent that they could have built up as a teen when the body can take damage and strain to knees etc.

    But if you master Bak Mei at age 30 like doing it for 20 years you will move like you did when you were 30 when you are 65. after 70 your organs come into play and then only genetics like bad heart or general old age can slow you down.

    One of the younger guys told me a few years ago that our Bak Mei Si Gung had like Cancer surgery in his mid 70`s and when the doctor cut his stomach open he lost all of his Ging like he couldn`t snap and explode anymore with Bak Mei power while doing Jik Bo he passed away age 85 almost 10 years ago I think.
    ok then show ur sub jee fast

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    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    ok then show ur sub jee fast
    I had Sub Jee Fast a few years ago lol it took like 3 years but I know how to fight from MMA friends and I lift weights and do Cardio lol. I`m working on Ying Jow now.

    My Muay Thai Choy Li Fut buddy has been doing Bak Mei as long as me but his Sub Jee sucks compared to how it should be he wasnt a fighter when he was young he just doesnt have fast intent and he went back to school half way through his Bak Mei training so even his MMA has slowed down. His Sub Jee is not as good as it should be if he was training Bak Mei since he was 14 like the Bak Mei Lion Dance students or if he kept up his MMA training so his cardio would give him a more faster intent.


    LOL when we started 10 years ago our Sifu was 60 and he had like 3 over 50 year olds help him teach and one of the older guys who recently passed away would always yell at the Lion Dance students GO FASTER, KILL HIM when doing Spear vs Staff 2 man forms which I thought was very impressive to see a grandpa tell his 10 year old grand children to KILL HIM GO FASTER. It made sense 5 years later to me every move in Bak Mei you like tighten your eyes, neck, teeth and stance to feet like when you pull back and punch everything snaps and you tighten to explode with full body for the quick second when you pull back and punch like you sink, then you float finger jab everything snap tight explode...step forward pull back snap tight explode...pull back snap tight explode punch step forward do rolling hands like a dj and snap explode side palm, step to side sink hands turn snap explode side chop knife hand pull snap tight explode and center step forwards snap tight explode figher jab continue Jik Bo.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eZEiLXs7iI8

    sub jee and ying jow fast.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dyA0_qmRu-Y

    Bak Mei Staff vs Spear KILL HIM FAST drill lol


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7RLnHgwiXDc

    Vancouver Bak Mei 9 step push...here in 9 step I think this is his first year doing 9 step push so his form is still slow but it doesnt suck. This video is from like 2-3 years
    ago I think so his 9 Step looks a lot more explosive now. You can learn 9 step in 4 years if you want but it looks like crap unless you are some kind of Gung Fu genius lol I noticed from the younger Lion Dance students who started young I saw most of them just do Ying Jow until they hit like 18-20 years old like 9 step push would be better to learn as an adult I think as you start to have more muscle to explode and put your whole body into the movements with grace and athleticism. You are kind of just waving your arms around until you put on some muscle to move the heavy bag.


    Same with old guys...young guys have no fighting muscle to back up grappling and old guys who learn they don`t explode like they should going low stance to high stance with the jumping and twisting movements...Basically their spear and staff moves at half speed and when young it moves at half power.


    Do Karate age 10 to 20 then do wrestling weightlifting and cardio, age 25 you will be fast and explosive. wrestlers learn striking age 20 they lack the speed, karate guys only do kata age 25 they lack the explosive power.
    Last edited by diego; 09-06-2017 at 02:02 PM.

  11. #11
    post video of u doing a bak mei technique and I will post one of me doing it faster

    I have never done bak mei

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    Quote Originally Posted by bawang View Post
    post video of u doing a bak mei technique and I will post one of me doing it faster

    I have never done bak mei
    lol the Sub Jee video i posted was filmed 3 years before those two guys taught me Sub Jee in 2011 I have nothing to prove but i think it would be awesome if you watch the Sub Jee video at slow speed on youtube then show us how fast you are.

    I`ve seen guys good at kickboxing and good at other Kung Fu styles be too slow at Sub Jee they don`t have relaxed tendons to do the float, sink and twist one hand grabs one hand strike hands with fast footwork and explosive knees going low to high.

    Sub Jee, Ying Jow 9 Step Push the videos are less than 2 minutes but it takes 10 years to perform from instinct..I posted my seniors videos so its even better than me showing and good for you it only takes 30 seconds to do Sub Jee when I first learned it it took me like 50 seconds to perform, even now if I dont train for a month and dont warm up it takes like 40 seconds, but for you it should take 25 seconds. lol

  13. #13

    random thoughts on this subject

    If you give your art enough time, have an open mind and are actively seeking trying to make your art more effective for you, you'll succeed.

    Sport martial artists get really good at relatively few techniques from their system - they theoretically know way more than they'll ever be able to use and that's ok.

    Nothing looks perfect in execution therefore it's really the principles behind the techniques that matter.

    If you practice self defense which includes any type of weapon disarms - grow some ballz, invest in or make some safe approximations of the weapon, and have someone come at you like they want to kill you with intent and see if the sh*t you're spewing works. If not - keep analyzing the principles and improvise until you can make it work close to 100% of the time. I guarantee that most of what you think will work doesn't but you'll run across one or two techniques or principles that actually work.

    You lose skill quickly without constant practice.

    The core will always be Shuai, Na, Ti, and Da. You have to include some improvised rough-housing in each of those areas to be able to use your system. Most, if not all TCMA include the core.

    In spite of what you may have heard - being crazy strong and in shape does increase effectiveness.

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    One good, eye-opening exercise that is (relatively) safe is to try to fight off and/or disarm someone coming at you freestyle, armed with a red Sharpie permanent marker, which represents a knife. At least some eye protection is still recommended. The other person doesn't have to be trained in 'knife combatives'. Even a child will be almost impossible to disarm without getting marked ("cut") up to some degree or other, if you make it into a game for them: "Try to mark me up, and don't let me take it away from you." They don't even have to "stab" you; they can mark the hell out of your hands and arms which, if it were a real knife, would/could be debilitating. It wouldn't matter how much kung fu or any other MA you know.

    As far as forms go, showing speed, intent and 'killing power' in a form (or not) is not always an indication of a person's fighting ability. There are many MAists who look very aggressive and powerful, with lots of obvious and subtle techniques, who for whatever reason show none of that during sparring or fighting. One thing you learn, if you're around MA long enough, is not to underestimate (or overestimate) anyone you've never faced based on superficial impressions. Even if their technique doesn't appear worthy of your standards. Some people just have "it" in them and can fight with whatever they have, even without much (or any) formal training. And there are others who don't have "it" in their nature, regardless of how good they look doing a form, or how much training they've had.
    Last edited by Jimbo; 09-07-2017 at 08:49 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimbo View Post
    One good, eye-opening exercise that is (relatively) safe is to try to fight off and/or disarm someone coming at you freestyle, armed with a red Sharpie permanent marker, which represents a knife. At least some eye protection is still recommended. The other person doesn't have to be trained in 'knife combatives'. Even a child will be almost impossible to disarm without getting marked ("cut") up to some degree or other, if you make it into a game for them: "Try to mark me up, and don't let me take it away from you." They don't even have to "stab" you; they can mark the hell out of your hands and arms which, if it were a real knife, would/could be debilitating. It wouldn't matter how much kung fu or any other MA you know.

    As far as forms go, showing speed, intent and 'killing power' in a form (or not) is not always an indication of a person's fighting ability. There are many MAists who look very aggressive and powerful, with lots of obvious and subtle techniques, who for whatever reason show none of that during sparring or fighting. One thing you learn, if you're around MA long enough, is not to underestimate (or overestimate) anyone you've never faced based on superficial impressions. Even if their technique doesn't appear worthy of your standards. Some people just have "it" in them and can fight with whatever they have, even without much (or any) formal training. And there are others who don't have "it" in their nature, regardless of how good they look doing a form, or how much training they've had.
    Just thinking out loud lol.

    I think there is a level of skill where you are fit and flexible enough to adapt to any style.

    Punching takes tight core

    Kicking full range of motion with hip flexibility

    wrestling and grappling basically imo the best strength BJJ guys have is moving a 200 pound opponent around on top of him so if you are on your back doing a 200 pound bench press you can only bring the bar to your chest and extend it forward like a kickboxer lifting weights for fitness the BJJ guy on his back is pushing a 200 pound guy up like a bench press but then he has to rotate the 200 pound weight from side to side while also doing the push off 200 pound bench press which would break your spine if you tried to roll side to side with a 200 pound weight.

    So stand up guys do basic weight lifting workout wrestlers and grapplers do that too but also get dynamic weightlifting from moving guys heavier off of them.

    Then kickbox the best thing you get is defensive reflexes in your guard sparring against guys heavier or faster than you, I don`t like MMA stand up offensive techniques because it seems like a false sense of security if you are a lightweight thinking your Muay Thai lightweight Pee Wee Herman champion belt can take out Brock Lesner or Tyson Fury for the Heavyweight belt, lol.

    So if you have tight core, good flexibility in full range of motion punching and kicking with your shoulders and hips, strong grapplers back and float like a butterfly sting like a bee Heavyweight boxing reflexes I think you could learn any style easily.

    For Kung Fu my sifu has taught Bak Mei for over 4 decades and I know he knows the 3 internal styles so if you are a good fighter like mentioned above with the tight shoulders and hips, grapplers back and Ali reflexes then for Chinese Martial arts you have southern two hand short fist and Northern Long Fist all the weapons from staff to throwing darts and knowing the difference between the hard and soft styles...If you have UFC fighting and Mastery of general Kung Fu forms you could easily say go learn other cultures styles from Philipino Stick fighting to Brazilian capoeira.

    Like if you have an old guy who knows 1 hard kung fu style but knows the 3 internal styles and is good with weapons and fighting who then teaches his style to a younger guy from a different hard style who only does his style. The younger guy will perform the new style he is being shown with elements of his old style, but if the old guy performs the young guys style it will look good after a month of learning it from the young guy but the young guy will take a few years to adapt to the new hard style from the old guy.

    the young guy just got good at sparring with his original style but has trouble learning the new style as he lacks sparring with all the weapons and movements from the new hard style which may be too Longfist for him so he has to be more athletic to explode long or it could be too short hand so his longfist isn`t tight enough so he looks awkward while doing the floating and sinking short fist twisting movements. I was like that for 5 years with Bak Mei lol I had an injured hip and did white crane before I kept leaning in Sub Jee...Jik Bo and the Bak Mei Staff helped with that.

    Anyway it would be Ideal to start martial arts as soon as you can walk then when you get to college fight until age 30 and then you have to take in to account not everybody lives in towns with good schools to even learn all the good stuff.

    But really even if you had all the good stuff it would cost like half a million dollars to be black belt BJJ, Muay Thai Champ and Sifu in Tai Chi, Wing Chun and Choi Li Fut or Hung Gar...Soft, Hard, Internal External styles. and then go 10-0 8 by ko UFC fighting record. Most people dont have the genes or the cash to do all of that.
    Last edited by diego; 09-07-2017 at 05:18 PM.

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