These come from the below bibliography. I found them to be an interesting aspect to the differences between sport and combatives with a healthy section in the middle for self-defense. I have enough interest in these three terms that I wanted to put forth a personal point of view concerning them and self-defense. I apologize if they seem a bit questionable. That is because my experience in the world of self-defense is very limited. Take what ever I present here and let a professional provide you with some validation.
When it comes to sport as the book below will tell you it comes down to how you apply your art. In order to live with rules and safety most often techniques are either eliminated or restricted or changed. Angles of application are changed to remove the possibility of damage. The intensity of application also meets that goal. The striking area’s are also removed so those that would result in damage or death are avoided at all costs. This is what happens to make things safe for sport.
Yes, all this is discussed in detail in the book. That is why I express this a bit here because I really feel you should get and read the book then take what you learn into the dojo.
Now, as to self-defense. To achieve self-defense requires you know a lot about that model along with a lot of peripheral things such as Use of Force and Self-defense law. These are huge and complicated categories and are not all of what you need to know.
For this exercise I wanted to touch base on the necessity to change how you apply techniques with angles, intensity and area. This is a presentation that is martial arts oriented. I have some experience here and it seems a lot of today’s self-defense training is around various martial disciplines from the Asian Worlds.
Remember, in the book they talk about the crossover of the sport vs. drunkle vs. combat applications. That “critical juncture” where these all meet and slightly cross over is important to your training, practice and teaching of self-defense. In the world of self-defense within our society changes in angles, intensities and striking areas can mean the difference between winning a competition, adhering to the requirements of society for self-defense, and to accomplish the goals and needs of combat. The book really does a wonderful job of telling you about all three of these areas as well as the three areas of this post subject.
Then you have to ask yourself how you make that slight shift to the angle of application, etc.? Can you actually do that and remain within the laws of self-defense that include use of force?
In addition this subject and the book made me think of Okinawan Karate. Almost all of the original military who brought it back this country in the fifties and sixties assumed that what they were learning was combative. They felt, as I did when I started in the mid-seventies studying Isshinryu, that what we were learning was perfect for combat and self-defense.
Then I began to contemplate what I was learning in the history books such as Karate 1.0 by Andreas Quast. Most of what we were taught by those who had mastered karate in the early 1900’s may have been taught and were teaching the Karate that was modified for the educational system. After all, the masters of the 1800’s had to modify it to suit the young adults who would be learning Karate in the schools. This may have meant that really deadly techniques were removed and many of the dangerous techniques modified so that students did not inadvertently use those abilities to hurt other students in the “school yard scuffles” that I am sure occurred on occasion.
I then would theorize that the modifications were the reason that “kata based training” was implemented for the educational version of Karate for educational instruction. This also meant that what techniques remained needed modification of their angle of use, the intensity of that application and the elimination of all striking areas that would do damage or cause death.
Then, in regard to Isshinryu karate as taught to the military, it seems plausible that what Tatsuo-san taught them may have been the form taught at their educational systems or schools. It is known that Tatsuo-san understood that the shorter time of duty for the Americans warranted he teach the physical. If the physical still consisted of the more combative aspects of karate then the time of about one year would not be enough to reach a true black belt.
Add in that to achieve enough of the physical then teaching the watered down educational version would best suit Tatsuo-san’s requirements in teaching the American Servicemen. After all, it is known that Tatsuo-san when appointing a person to a black belt would try to communicate to them the necessity to wait a period of time so their practice could achieve the mental, physical and spiritual requirements of the martial arts. He also provided them with a key that would unlock what was necessary by a presentation of the ken-po goku-i. He also wanted them all to seek out further guidance from other higher level karate-ka but also understood that this may not be achievable unless they returned for more instruction in Okinawa.
If this is true then all the techniques taught at that time may have been without instruction on applying proper angles, intensity and targeting to achieve the more combative side of this martial discipline. The time limitations also meant that the fundamental principles of all martial systems would be mostly missing meaning “no philosophy, little or no theory and only parts of Physiokinetics and technique, i.e. as to technique, they lacking the gokui of angles, intensities and targeting.
Many of the early pioneers recognized this deficiency and with such materials as the Bubishi actually started to make adjustments that would allow for karate to achieve its capabilities as a self-defense system and for those at a higher need, combatives. The only limiting factor being a method to validate the changes made by those early pioneers. This may also explain why bad technique and bad information were propagated to students until some of the professionals with adequate experiences and knowledge were able to provide a higher level of education on self-defense, etc.
Remember the quote, our karate of that period predates self-defense law and may have been watered down due to educational implementation of karate? How many of today’s martial arts have differentiated between sport, drunkle/self-defense and combatives?
Note: Thinking of these three it makes me wonder just how complicated it is to implement them in the category necessary to get the job done and still have the ability to distinguish which category you encounter and how to use them to achieve your goals without exceeding requirements for any one, i.e. sport, drunkle and combat with angles, intensities and targeting?
As I have already stated, the book is a good beginning to get to this level, start by getting your copy!
Wilder, Kris; Kane, Lawrence; MacYoung, Marc; Miller, Rory. “Dirty Ground: The Tricky Space Between Sport and Combat.” YMAA Publishing. New Hampshire. 2013.