Sunday, April 22, 2012

Safe Sparring: Todai Shunyuan (My Problem with Freddiie's Modern Kung Fu)

This is Freddie.



He teaches martial arts, among other things. He's in good shape and he seems like a very nice (his oversimplification and tearing down of MMA and MMAists notwithstanding) and intelligent man. He appears to have a love for the technical side of martial arts and likes to incorporate fitness and doing things like bag work. He even says that you shouldn't compete in things like MMA, because of the attitude involved and I can understand a non-competitive mindset as far as trying to teach not fighting within a set of rules. I love that he teaches his students how to be fit and even teaches about nutrition!

However, I have a problem with Freddie.

He only teaches safe sparring to his students. If he teaches anything else, I haven't seen it in the great long while I've been subscribed to him on YouTube. There's nothing inherently wrong with this style of training, just like shadowboxing or forms, perhaps, but if it's the only way that you train to fight, then there is a serious problem. It's not reasonable to believe that when the time comes to defend yourself you'll be able to do so effectively when all you've ever done is throw strikes at a person without any fear of getting hit or hitting. (Yes, I said fear of hitting. Sometimes people have a hard time hitting others.)

You will fight like you train. So, if you are trained to have your kick at full extension when your opponent is still six inches to two feet out of range, you'll most likely do this in a fight. I have never witness Freddie fight and, hell, he might be amazing! However, he would have to be a genius (and he might be) of martial arts to only ever practice "safe sparring" as his method of pressure testing and still be able to fight well.

But, I'm willing to bet his students are just like everybody else. They put their faith in him to teach the best ways to train their skills and I believe he is doing them a disservice. I'm not attacking Freddie, but it does seem a little strange, though, when you teach a method of combat and refuse to have it tested in sparring or competition. This is a reasonable thought process given what we know about sparring and competitive combat on the progress of martial arts to date. I would challenge Freddie to have his students use even light contact in sparring and I don't mean light touches. What I mean by "light contact" is actually striking the other person and putting some of your weight behind it, but at a reasonable pace and learning to control your strikes.

But, I don't think he'll do it, unfortunately. And that's my problem with FMK.
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