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Author Topic: Question for Martial Artists
Mankind
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I have a question for the serious martial artists on Hatrack.

I'm interested in getting into the martial arts.

Now first off, I'm not a teenage kid who just saw his first late-night ninja flick and wants to learn to beat people up. I'm thirty, trying to get fit, lose weight, etc (as of last Monday, I am no longer obese!) and thought Martial Arts would be a fun way to fit with that.

However, I'm not interested in kickboxing or "commercial" martial arts. I have a lot of interest in the art itself--the discipline, the history, that sort of thing.

So--here's the catch. I can't afford to go to a real school this year. Next year, probably, but for this year, it's not really an option (along with losing weight, I'm trying to get all my debt paid off).

So my question is, do you know of any decent books (yeah, I know, uggh!) or DVDs (yeah, I know, even worse, right?) that would serve as a decent intro to martial arts, that wasn't overcommercial pulp, and that wasn't something somebody shot in his backyard with his Mom's videocamera?

I realize that asking for a noncommercial commercial product is a serious oxymoron, but trying to nose around Amazon on this made me feel discouraged, and I was wondering if anyone here could either dissuade or confirm my suspicions.

Have a nice day!

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mr_porteiro_head
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There is a saying -- "It's better to spend ten years looking for the right instructor than ten years studying under the wrong one."

I would never recommend trying to learn martial arts from books or videos. Spending a year doing things wrong and not being corrected by an instructor could do more harm than good.

Once you get to a certain point, videos and books can be superb resources to learn more, but you have to already have the foundation built. Most mortals cannot build that foundation on their own.

I recommend two things to do during the next year while you are waiting to be able to train: get yourself into getter shape and figure out what and where you want to study.

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Mankind
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Hey, I'm in shape.

Round is a shape.

Seriously, though, thanks for the reply. That's about what I figured.

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mr_porteiro_head
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I would recommend that you start looking now for where you want to train. In many ways, where you study is more important than what you study. Start looking around. Sit and watch classes in every dojo you can find. Talk with the instructors and get a feel for their philosophies.
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aspectre
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I'm not a martial artist but...
Tai Chi Chuan "slow hands" is all the exercise you will ever need to get into shape. Slow-form non-contact for-balance only: "push hands", wushu, and fighting forms involve unnecessary wear&tear without accomplishing much beyond ego inflation.

And no, slow doesn't make it easy. I could run sub6minute-miles to catch my breath between running wind sprints, and still broke into a drenching sweat during early lessons.
And no, it's not physically difficult. It's just that you end up stretching stuff that you didn't know you could stretch and using muscles in ways that you don't normally use them.

Since I started workouts with an experienced friend, I haven't a clue as to good books or videos...
...but there are plenty being offered over the Web. For self-teaching, I suspect you'll need a couple of mirrors angled so that you can watch your movements and compare them to those in the videos.
Eventually you'll need an instructor to teach you about true balance. Which will involve some "push hands" just to show you how you aren't balanced (and you won't figure out true balance from self-teaching). But don't let the "push hands" become "fast hands" unless what ya really want is to learn how to fight.

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Rico
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You should look into possibly taking it at your local community college if you can. A semester of it may cost you under 100 dollars total and a lot of the times the instructors are usually people who own a school but want the extra money or publicity.
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AvidReader
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Our local Daoist Tai Chi studio has scholarships and reduced rates for students. Check into it, and be sure to stretch first. [Big Grin]
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xxsockeh
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Well, I don't know of any good martial arts books/DVD's, but I do know that going to an instructor is great. I'm in taekwondo and it's really fun. I do realize that money is an issue. But maybe for a while you could just exercise on your own to try to get in shape? Like, take a walk, jog, bike ride, etc. Sorry, I'm probably not being much help. [Big Grin]
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Advent 115
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I feel dwarfed by the great wisdom of the people in this place.

*shrinks slightly*
All I know how to do is do proper workout at a gym. I don't have the dedication to be involved in the martial arts.

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signal
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Reading up on the art or arts you are interested in learning isn't such a bad idea. You'll have a better idea as to how you should get in shape. For example, you may need more flxability and coordination versus strength, or maybe its more active and so you may want to improve your cardio endurance.

Like previously mentioned, check out community centers or local colleges for cheaper courses. MPH is right about learning it correctly the first time. There is a lot of practice for muscle memory, and it will be more frustrating to try and correct bad habits.

When researching schools, go around and ask to observe a class. They may even give you a free lesson. Be sure to ask them any questions you may have. For example, different schools and arts have different ranking systems. varying number of levels, frequency of tests, price for each test... If they tell you that a black belt is acheivable in a year, I'd be a bit wary of the quality of teaching. I did hapkido and kungfu for years when I was younger. When I was visiting my little cousin last year, he had been going to taikwando for less than a year and said he was a month or so from a black belt. When he was showing me what he had learned, I had to correct a ton of mistakes and even his stances, which is one of the first things you learn.

Also, when you go for a while, if its not quite what you were looking for, don't be afraid to scout out other martial arts or schools. Its not worth your money if you aren't happy. It takes some work, but I think you'll find the results are worth it. Its also great stress relief.

edit: Advent, funny you should say that. I was just thinking how lame I was for not having the motivation to even hit the gym, much less do a proper workout.

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Juxtapose
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What kind of disciplines have you been considering, Mankind?
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cheiros do ender
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Mankind, are you a WWe fan by any chance? As for the tapes and books, I suggest you learn from friends (especially the more flexible ones) and save the money on the books and DVDs for paying off the debt. (Saving is, after all, the best way short of winning the lottery to do so.)

For next year though, if you want to learn a specific martial art, I recommend Capoeira (number 4 if you have Dial Up). It's fun, active, acrobatic and you learn portuguese and several musical instruments. And it has the most amazing history I've ever heard, including a religion ( Candomble ).

quote:
Derived from the Yoruba people of West Africa, Candomblé seeks harmony with nature. The religion is organized around religious centres known as terreiros, which are usually led by high priestesses, mães de santo (mother of saints) or priests, pais de santo (father of saints). Followers worship a pantheon of orixás in an annual cycle, like the liturgical cycle of the Catholic Church . . . In the religious ceremonies, practitioners dress in the colours of the orixás and place food at the altar before singing special songs and dancing precisely choreographed steps to the sacred drums. The anthropomorphic nature of the orixá allows an intimate contact between believer and deity, and the highlight of the Candomblé ceremony is the epiphany, or possession, when the orixá takes over the believer's body.


[ February 28, 2006, 06:52 AM: Message edited by: cheiros do ender ]

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Storm Saxon
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Mankind, check out Krav Maga.
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cheiros do ender
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Originally posted by Mankind:

quote:
Have a nice day!
Yeah, you're a WWe fan. [Big Grin]
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Ryuko
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Capoeira is gonna be hard for someone at your age to get anything out of. I recommend looking at local studios/dojos and seeing what might suit you. I know you probably don't want to hear it, but you probably won't get much out of a video or book if you haven't already had some martial arts lessons.

If budget is a concern, ask for different rates, like a class-by-class rate or like they said earlier, try community college.

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cheiros do ender
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Actually a man of fifty-three once joined my class. He said he hadn't done Capeira before. He's now on a higher belt than me (mainly because he goes four times more often [Blushing] ). Thing is though, he had months to work on his flexibility before he joined. Mankind has even longer by the sound of it. Any lets face it, you don't need superhuman strength to start doing Capoeira; I'm proof of that.
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Mankind
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I was a WWE fan, five years ago when I registered this user name (and two others--any guesses what they are?). Now, not so much.

There's no definite style I'm set on, really.

Back when I was a kid, I studied Shito-ryu for a while and American Kenpo after that, so both of those still hold appeal for me.

Ja sei falar portuguese, but as you can probably imagine, I am attracted to capoiera (right now, I'm about as quick and limber as poeira).

I would like more in the way of Kobudo than I had when I was a kid, but again--that's something I'm willing to work to.

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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by Mankind:
I was a WWE fan, five years ago when I registered this user name (and two others--any guesses what they are?).

Cactus Jack and Dude Love? [Big Grin]

I trained in Gojo Ryu style Karate for a number of years. The training was also supplimented with some jujitsu, kobudo, and general self-defense techniques. It was fun, and I'm glad I stuck with it for so long (about 10 years!)People of all shapes, sizes, and ages were able to train. Unless you're competing, martial arts training (at my dojo at least) is about doing the best you can. So it doesn't matter if you're not in good shape now, because that will come with the training.

[ February 28, 2006, 02:18 PM: Message edited by: neo-dragon ]

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ricree101
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Mankind, have you thought about what exactly your goals are? It will definitely help you out when you are looking for a school.

Personally, I've had good experiences with mixed martial arts (mostly focussing on muay thai and brazilian jujitsu). I've also done a couple years of Kuk Sool Won, and found it to be enjoyable. In terms of getting in shape, I found the mma school to have better workouts, but that is going to be highly dependant on the actual school

Of course, it's also going to come down to what is available in your area.

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Tinros
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I started TaeKwonDo when I was thirteen and got my black belt when I was fifteen. However- I didn't feel like I deserved it. I felt the organization I was with(the ITA) gave away belts far too easily.

When you're looking for an instructor, look for someone who doesn't give belts based on a timeline. Make sure they make YOU feel like you deserve your next belt before you get it. That's the point of EARNING belts- anyone can buy a black belt out of a magazine.

I would actually recommend Karate over TaeKwonDo. The Karate a friend of mine does also has weapons training- bos, swords, nunchakus, things like that. That's soemthing I always found interesting, that I was never able to do through my organization. Karate also uses a lot more hand techniques than TKD, which specializes in kicks. Then there's Judo, which has a lot of wrestling type moves, designed to use your opponent's inertia and momentum against them. It's your choice what you want to do.


Make sure, also, that the school gives you an opportunity to practice on human-shaped targets. You won't be able to hit critical areas hard when sparring, but if someone attacks you in a dark alley, they're not going to stay within the target area you use when sparring.

Above all else, make sure the school is SAFE. If they allow you to do things that could get someone seriously injured or killed, GET OUT and STAY OUT. Now, by injured, I don't mean a sprained ankle or a bruised rib- those are normal when practising a fighting sport, as with any other sport. But if you notice that people in the school are BREAKING bones or bleeding heavily on a regular basis, get away and find another school.

Martial arts are an incredible sport, and art. THe beauty of a well-done form or kata is simply breathtaking. I hope you enjoy your time with them- let us know how it comes along!

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aspectre
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If you're willing to put up with bruises as normal training rather than as unlikely accident, ya ain't nearly as interested in the exercise as much as in the "I can kick butt" fantasy.

Your choice. But either way, mr_porteiro_head has it right: good training isn't so much in the discipline you choose, but rather in choosing the right school and the right instructors.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Let me plug Aikido -- it's well worth checking it out if there is any in your area.
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password
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quote:
Originally posted by aspectre:
If you're willing to put up with bruises as normal training rather than as unlikely accident, ya ain't nearly as interested in the exercise as much as in the "I can kick butt" fantasy.

On the other hand, if you're really going to learn to *fight*, getting bruised is essential. You need to know what it feels like to be hit. But I would still recommend, even in those circumstances, a school that emphasizes control and working slowly... you don't train someone to be a fighter in a few months.

If you are in it for the workout, any tournament art will emphasize physical conditioning, because in a tournament, rules and relatively similar skill and strength levels combine to make endurance a prime factor in who wins.

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Sterling
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Tjiminde Tulen Poekolan (Indonesian kung-fu) got me in shape faster than anything I've ever done in my life, but good luck finding schools outside of a small area in the Pacific Northwest. Aikido (my sister's art) has a great community, a lot of variety, and is frequently taught at community colleges, YMCAs, community centers, and the like. Just take the business of learning to fall seriously (my father mucked up his neck by not doing so.)
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Tinros
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Actually, learning how to fight REQUIRES more physical fitness than you might think, especially in a martial art. Reson being you have to have the strength to hit, but you have to have the strength to control the power of your punches and kicks. And it takes quite a bit of strength. That's why, in TaeKwonDo, red belt comes before black- the red is meant as a warning that you have the skills of a black belt, but you are more dangerous because you don't have the control of a black belt.
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ricree101
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If learning to fight is a goal, I'd strongly recommend looking for a school that has some sort of regular sparring.
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mr_porteiro_head
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"Sparring" can mean very different things in different schools.
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Tullaan
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I have a question to sort of resurect this 'dead' thread.

I have 4 daughters. Ages 6,5,3 and newborn (well, on the 7th she will be).

Anyway, I've been thinking martial arts could be a fun activity for our family to do together, as well as teach my girls a bit of self defence.

What style do you think would be best?
What age should we start at?
Do studios/dojo's offer family rates?


I have talked with a coworker who used to be on the US karate team. She said that Judo would be most benificial for a female. Mostly because if they are going to be attacked they will be grabbed from behind etc., the close in style of judo is more effective. Whereas karate requires a bit of space.

What do you all think?

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El JT de Spang
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quote:
All I know how to do is do proper workout at a gym. I don't have the dedication to be involved in the martial arts.
I've done both, and maintaining a proper workout split is just as difficult as 3 days a week of karate class, IME.
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password
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Wing Chun was invented by a woman.

Kung Fu San Soo is incredibly good at using your weight efficiently.

Shuai Jiao and Chin Na do as well and are a part of several Chinese arts in addition to being considered separately.

Jsut some Chinese alternatives that are good for little people. [Smile]

I think doing this as a family is an excellent idea... but don't push too hard when one or more of the kids balks or gets bored. The last thing you (and your instructor)want is enforced family "fun". Any instructor is going to be a businessman as well and I'm sure they'd give you "group rates".

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ricree101
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Judo would probably be an excellent choice.
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mr_porteiro_head
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I would never recommend martial arts for anybody younger than 8-10. In most cases, I thought that it's best left until age 12.

For younger children, I would recommend gymnastics classes.

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JemmyGrove
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My brother has dabbled in martial arts for years, though he doesn't really have any serious credentials. He studied Karate for a few years (I don't remember which style) before he switched to study Judo and Chin Na, and he always said that these last two were much more useful in terms of practical self defense. His claim was that styles which primarily emphasized combat sparring with punches and kicks (like Karate or Tai Kwon Do) were more sporty but less practical in the kind of brawling or street fighting you might encounter if you ever found yourself in the kind of situation that required real life self defense. His experience with Judo and Chin Na was an emphasis on subduing and controlling an opponent (preferably inflicting as little damage as possible) and avoiding taking damage from an opponent.

Keep in mind this is my brothers experience, not mine, so I'm relating it all second hand. And while it all makes sense to me from his perspective, I haven't done the research to support his claims or to compare styles. Feel free to let me know if I'm misrepresenting anything.

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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
I would never recommend martial arts for anybody younger than 8-10. In most cases, I thought that it's best left until age 12.

For younger children, I would recommend gymnastics classes.

I think it really depends on the child and the dojo/school/club. I think I was 7 when I started learning karate.
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Eduardo_Sauron
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I was around that age when I started Judo. I remember there were other children, same age, training there.
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Maria
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We started my youngest daughter in Judo when she was just a month from turning 5 years old. She loved it and played for years, until she found out it wasn't "cool" for a girl to be in a martial art. [Roll Eyes] It depends on the child's attention span, whether or not they can get through an hour long class or not.

My whole family started Judo at the same time. I had enrolled my two older kids, a boy & girl, age 6 & 7, in the local "Parks and Recreation" judo class because they'd both had falls and taken head injuries, and I figured it was important for them to learn to fall right. It looked so fun that my husband and I got permission for the rest of us to join the class and all five of us took up the sport. [Smile]

My kids all stopped after a few years, but by then we were confident that our girls could never be pinned down by an assailant or date rapist. I kept going to class until I became a brown belt, but an injury finally convinced me it was time to quit before worse happened.

My husband is still in the club and is now a 4th dan black belt after 9 years in the school. [Smile] He loves it and teaches the class most nights.

I took a year of Kung Fu in college a couple of decades ago, and I really, really enjoy the mindset in the judo class a whole lot more. It seemed that the Kung Fu class was always trying to find ways to make us more paranoid, and see everyone as an enemy... which I don't need, being naturally inclined that way anyway!

The judo is taught as a sport (at least in our club) with the object being to defeat your opponent within the rules, preferably without hurting them. It is very important NOT to hurt your opponent, because then you won't have anyone to work out with next time! [Wink] The injury rate does seem to be higher in judo than in the kungfu class I took, but most of that is due to the fact that you REALLY do all the moves. When you throw someone, you really throw them and they really fall. They fall onto a thin mat and if the "thrower" is nice, they'll pull up on whatever body part they are still holding onto of the "throwee" and try to break their fall a bit... but the actual moves and forces involved are the same as you would use in a self defense situation.

Anyway, learning to fall is probably the most important thing I learned in judo. Someday I'll be a little old lady, and I hope that if I fall, I'll remember enough that I won't break a hip. Also important was the knowledge gap that the kungfu training left me- what to do once you are down. Judo training filled that out magnificently. Matwork grappling was a heck of a lot of fun, and I miss it still.

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mr_porteiro_head
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quote:
I think it really depends on the child and the dojo/school/club. I think I was 7 when I started learning karate.
My recommendation wouldn't change. Many, many schools pay their rent by teaching very young children, and this is a big benefit for those schools.

I just don't think that there's that much of a benefit for the children.

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Juxtapose
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quote:
They fall onto a thin mat and if the "thrower" is nice, they'll pull up on whatever body part they are still holding onto of the "throwee" and try to break their fall a bit...
See, we were taught not to do that, since the idea is to hit the ground with as much surface area as possible. A guy did that to me once and just my heel hit the mat, and it hurt like hell for weeks. If you do it the right way it stings a lot more, but you won't hurt anyone.

But yeah, judo was a lot of fun as a sport, and the armbars and chokes are indeed effective at subduing someone. I still have my gi...now I just need someone to practice with.

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neo-dragon
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quote:
Originally posted by mr_porteiro_head:
quote:
I think it really depends on the child and the dojo/school/club. I think I was 7 when I started learning karate.
My recommendation wouldn't change. Many, many schools pay their rent by teaching very young children, and this is a big benefit for those schools.

I just don't think that there's that much of a benefit for the children.

Well, the reason why I brought it up is because I feel that there were benefits in my case. Like I said, it really depends on a lot of things. As a general rule of thumb, you're probably right though.

quote:
I still have my gi...now I just need someone to practice with.
You know, I still have my gi as well! I should try it on later. It'll give a good indication of how much I've grown in the last 5 years or so.
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Earendil18
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I trained for about 1 college quarter in Karate and found it to be a good class. In all honesty though, I was a little chicken and didn't have enough trust with my instructor that I kind of went beyond respect into the fear territory, so I quit that. Teruo Chinen was his name I'm pretty sure he's well known.

Then my dad introduced me to a brown belt in a system of kung fu called Dupneumas (dubious spelling). It incorporated crane, mantis, tiger, and it's own moveset. I don't know if this is specific to just this system, but it also encouraged the use of freeflow forms which forced you to try and be creative with your moveset instead of a kata. Interesting stuff, but the instructor wasn't qualified to teach, and didn't know how to teach very well even though he was very good.

Tai Chi is very good for getting in shape. I remember taking a workshop and getting the biggest endorphin rush(<correct?) in my life.


Does anybody else live in WA state and know of good instructors? I'm still interested in taking classes.

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mr_porteiro_head
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Are you talking about Tai Chi instructors specifically? Because there are several superb Aikido instructors in Washington.
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oolung
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he said he DIDN'T want to beat people up, so I don't recommend Krav Maga [Smile] . You can get pretty serious injuries during training.

Tai Chi - yes, although it can be boring in the beginning (mastering the first moves and so on). But the further you go, the more interesting it gets.

Wushu - hmm. It still can feel great, but if you haven't practiced acrobatics or anything, it will probably be a bit difficult (I'm talking about the 'modern' wushu: what we see in the movies and all the sports stuff, not the traditional kung-fu styles). Wu shu has changed enormously in the last years end it now evolves toward very acrobatic routines. Before every style had it's own feeling: you could see this routine was based on a dog's movements, and that on a crane's and so on. Right now it's more about how many turns can you do while jumping.

I heard kendo is really great (I'd like to try it myself), anyone here trains it? (I really like the fancy pants [Smile] )

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Maria
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quote:
Originally posted by Juxtapose:
quote:
They fall onto a thin mat and if the "thrower" is nice, they'll pull up on whatever body part they are still holding onto of the "throwee" and try to break their fall a bit...
See, we were taught not to do that, since the idea is to hit the ground with as much surface area as possible. A guy did that to me once and just my heel hit the mat, and it hurt like hell for weeks. If you do it the right way it stings a lot more, but you won't hurt anyone.

But yeah, judo was a lot of fun as a sport, and the armbars and chokes are indeed effective at subduing someone. I still have my gi...now I just need someone to practice with.

I've taken many falls, and the ones where someone just slams you to the floor definitely hurt the most. Once I got thrown by a very talented player, and as I flew over his shoulder, I got scared because I was going so fast I just KNEW the fall was going to hurt a lot. But somehow, the guy pulled up a tad at the last minute so it was only a minor impact at the end. I was impressed. To be going so fast that it scared me, yet to soften the blow at the end like that so well that my arm wasn't yanked was a demonstration of extreme skill. [Smile]

This was the same guy that we tried to film in a tournament one time (before digital cameras were available) and we were using VHS, so we could use a computer to pause it and get a good shot of a throw. It was a really cool throw, where his legs were off the ground while his opponent was flying over his shoulder... but we COULD NOT get the shot to work, because no matter where we paused the video- his legs were a blur. He was just moving too fast for the camera to catch. I wonder if digital video would work, nowadays, for something like that?

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Earendil18
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It's a matter of getting the shutter speed up high enough so fast motion doesn't paint itself across each frame. Then again a little motion blur helps convey the...motion.

/end

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human_2.0
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"I wonder if digital video would work, nowadays, for something like that?"

No. What Earendil18 said. If your camcorder has a "sports" setting it might make it better. The difference between digital and analog video is in the way it is recorded to tape, not filmed.

I really wish I had the time to learn something. I have an older brother who has done all kinds of martial arts for like 20 years. But I've never been able to get into it. Judo sounds like what I would like. I did a little wrestling in high school, but a surgury kept me from getting good.

And to extend Mankinds' question, last year I got into rollerblading by downloading videos off the web. I didn't learn to blade that way, but I got interested in it that way. And I learned some of the names of stuff. But I had to take a class and yeah, I was corrected about stuff that I had wrong ideas from the videos. So for that reason, I guess videos are a bad idea....

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pH
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I've only skimmed over the rest of the thread...

I took both judo and kung fu. Overall, I think judo was more fun, but kung fu was better for getting in shape.

But judo is cool because you get to practice on other people.

-pH

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Maria
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We get a lot of ex-wrestlers in our club, Human. There are many similarities. [Smile]

We have a camera with a stop action setting, and we can sometimes catch a throw using that... but not real ones in tournaments. They just happen too fast, with no warning. You start the camera, and you get a picture of the person hitting the mat.

The only way we've gotten decent throw pics was by staging them, so that you know when to start the camera going.

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Earendil18
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You could just record the whole tournament. You'd get everything.
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