The Reality Factor
Looking around at different martial arts and the practitioners there is one thing that surprises me very time. Many, may people don't have an R-factor in their training and techniques
You see people who get almost punched in their face and they just stay standing up with a big smile on their face. Others get almost kicked in the groin and keep moving on as if nothing happened and their "parts" were made of steel. Even worse are those who tell you to go with the flow...???
all these people a lacking an important part in their training: the reality OR reality factor (R-factor)
If you get hit in the face you won't be laughing, your head will be propelled back or sideways, you will lose balance because your body follows your head. The kick in the groin will make you think your stomach wants to come out and the floor will be very close by. Those who practice"flow jutsu" are rather hilarious. Who to make a street fighter to go with your flow. Will you tell him who to catch you, hit you or how to roll? Oh and tell him also he can't resist because if he resists your Ki can't flow.
These are only a few examples but take a look around. You will be surprised how many people are lacking the r-factor. no matter what martial art they practice Even high ranked practitioners often make these mistakes on seminars you can see them teaching elaborate techniques of 10 different combinations who lack every sense of reality. They will give you some explanation like this one: "First you block his attack, you kick him in the groin, break his right at while you stick your finger in his eye, than you turn around, kick his right knee, enter on the opposite side , break his neck and throw him head down. subsequently you go and sit on top of him, pull his head back by grabbing his hear and applying a lock to his arm."
This looks very macho but not realistic. If you block and kick someone in the groin, than the fight is over. He will go down so fast you can believe it. If you kick would miss the target than you can break his arm as a secondary option.
There are really very few people willing to continue a fight with a broken arm. If this too misses I suggest you review your techniques and train more because there is something lacking in your execution of the techniques or the martial art you practice.
A true fight doesn't take long, all is over and done with in just a few seconds. Give it 2 OR 3 seconds more between 2 equally experienced fighters who know how to counter and block but it's over before you know. The first one to make a mistake will loose.
The 2 things that have most influence on the R-factor are the teacher and the martial art. as a practitioner you must clearly distinguish between martial arts and martial sports. Martial sports are as the name already suggests a sport. Based on martial art but with rules, regulations, protection and competition.
The forefather of these sports, Martial arts has no rules , protection or competitions. Therefore the mind set, techniques and approach is different So ultimately their goals are also completely different. Whereas the sports oriented martial arts give their practitioners a chance to demonstrate themselves and their skills to others , martial artists on the other hand can only fight with themselves and every real confrontation with another person results in big damage for one of the two or both. Martial arts are more realistic oriented than sports because of their different goals. So let's focus on them. Those who claim to be highly effective in true cases.
Be carefully with those martial things who claim to be martial arts (on the outside they look LIKE martial arts) but who surround themselves with a vail of mysticism and special powers. (these special powers may exist but they will be accompanied by a very special personality) Those martial things are easy to recognize : no intense physical training, a lot of talk about Ki, their masters and instructors hardly get involved in training, and you need many years of practice to develop these special mental powers. During these "many Years" you will be brainwashed and teaching this mystical martial art yourself to other people in order to make the NEXT generation of "flow-kas"
Until you meet reality on the street...
The other risk factor is the teacher. as a basic rule you can tell his R-factor by his Macho behavior. The more macho he acts, the less R-factor he holds. His macho behavior will tell you all. Why is there a need FOR a teacher to act macho? Who does he have something o prove to? What does he need to prove? If his techniques are ANY good than they will speak FOR themselves, no need to prove this to people with no OR little experience. OR maybe he has to prove his poor students that he is the best? (Keep in mind that there is always someone better than you are) This points more to a weak character rather than a martial
some masters are very professional and perfect teachers but they feel the urge to test the affectivity of their techniques. This is very understandable and unfortunately this occurs many times. How ELSE can you know if your techniques are ANY good? The problem is not to be found in the fact that they want to test their skills but in the fact that they use there students to do this.. The students who are already convinced of the affectivity of the techniques and impressed by the teachers authority usually don't resist the techniques. off course this will make the techniques work perfect. If they dare to resist than there are 2 possibility's: 1) the technique works just fine. 2) the technique must be forced.
This is the cause of technical quality going done the drain. when USinG a lot of physical force most techniques can be forced upon a weaker opponent but onLY by superior technical skill you will be able to EXECUTE your technique on everyone. A perfect technique needs a balanced use of skill, speed and force.There is no need to be a superman to be a great master. The best way to test your techniques is to do this with someone of your same skill LEVEL/grade. This apply's for both students and teachers alike. Both will learn a lot from this type of training.
How can you bring the R-factor in your training as a student?
one of the problems is the great amount of techniques to be found in the Genbukan Ninpo Bugei system. We have over 300 techniques from 10th kyu up to 1st dan. How do you cope with this? First of all you must understand that as a kyu grade you are learning to write and read so to speak. ( kyu waza) some of the kyu waza are taken out of their context, other look useless in true cases. Other look like old fashion and the last group of techniques seem to be very effective. Which one do you train? The answer is very easy:
All techniques must be trained...
Useless and old fashion looking techniques will teach you concepts or moves that will result of the highest importance later in your training. Out of the effective techniques you can take 15 or 20 techniques and repeat them thousands of times Until they become a reflex. This is what I call your F.H.T.C. box (first help in true cases) Training the basic form though is not enough. Try to do your techniques in another form. Against a body grab, wrist grab, attack from different sides, sitting on the floor or in a chair,. etc...
Soon you will be very skillfully in defending yourself. But a warning is in place here: This training must only be done under a master instructor with many years of experience. If I have enough with 20 techniques , why must i train hundreds and hundreds of techniques?
Because techniques are not the final goal. They are only a way to... We use them in the same way we use mathematic formulas to solve complex questions and get to the core of the technique. Those 20 techniques won't save you when confronted with a specialist. Especially noT if you don't understand the underlying principles behind each and every technique. Ma-ai, metsuke, kuzushi, etc... are only a few of them Every technique and kata you learn will teach you a lot about the essence of combat. to discover them you need a good teacher and lots and lots of training. 3 hours/week is not enough. You need daily practice to be able to discover the secrets within the techniques. Every discovery will make the R-factor go up and up.
During all these century's the way to make war has changed enormous but the CLOSE combat, man to man fight is still the same. A punch is a punch and a kick a kick. We didn't grow 3 arms or legs suddenly. The same principles and concepts discovered in century's of wa and man to man combat are still actual and highly effective. The world changes but man is still the same man he was 2000 years ago.
About the Author: Peter Vermeeren is a martial arts practitioner and teacher for over 30 years and runs the martial arts and fitness information portal called Kamikaze : http://www.kamikaze-portal.com , home of the magazine called RENSHU. Peter teaches traditional martial arts and self defense all over Europe. Here is his personal site : http://www.takaharudojo.org