This is an excerpt from
a message posted in a online forum about the
necessity of getting into the fighting enivornment
as part of ones training. Written by
"Your post relies on many assumptions
-- so let's begin from a simple proposition:
that a person can *only* learn to fight skillfully
or competantly or improve their fighting skills
(like swimming) by getting in the water (by
actually swimming). WCK is an approach to fighting
(swimming). So one can only become competant
in that approach to fighting by actually using
that approach in fighting. You either accept
that or you don't. The evidence we can actually
see -- people that fight skillfully regardless
of style or lineage -- all follow that "paradigm"
(if you will) in their training. And it comports
with how human beings learn any physical skill.
If you do accept it, then all the assumptions
and the BS begin to fall to the wayside.
You talk about "good" people. How
do you determine whether someone is "good"
-- by what they can demonstrate (forms, drills,
one-steps)? Or by how they can actually use
their method in fighting? From my perspective,
if they don't fight as part of their training,
they can't be "good". To determine
skill, we need a way to measure. If you wanted
to measure your strength and how well your training
helped develop strength, you could lift and
record your pounds, then do training, and measure
again to see your progress. In any fighting
art, we want to measure performance as well
so that we can see how we are progressing and
tweak our training. But what do we measure?
We measure what it is, the performance, we are
trying to do -- fight; we measure our performance
Chi sao (and the touching hands stuff) is a
drill, sort of like "point sparring"
-- which as a drill, has certain advantages,
but also certain drawbacks in terms of developing
fighting skills. Many things "work"
in point sparring that will get you killed in
a genuine fighting environment; the same with
chi sao. By actually fighting, one can determine
what those are, and then remove them from their
point sparring to get greater benefit from the
drill. Same with chi sao. Or, they can never
fight but continue to "refine" and
"refine" their point sparring skills
-- what they would call "improving"
-- and become great point sparrers without ever
realizing that in so doing they are actually
moving further and further away from developing
good fighting skills (their "refinement"
of point sparring tactics and tools are actually
make them a worse fighter!). Same with chi sao.
Moreoever, when one actually fights and compares
that to point sparring or chi sao, they'll see
that those methods of training really didn't
develop attributes like timing, sensitivity,
awareness, etc. for a fighting enfvironment
(as they are intensity-dependent). The point
sparring and chi sao are useful as drills, but
nothing more. They aren't indicative of fighting
skill and can't be used as a measure.
Form and function (application) are not two
different things, they are the same thing. By
making it work, whatever it is, we learn the
"proper" form for ourselves (as individuals).
And if it doesn't work, our form is bad.
Whether folks have trained a certain way for
1000 years is irrelevant, even if true. But
tell me, where are all the tremendous "kung
fu" fighters that this way of training
has produced? Don't give me stories or legends.
And so what if they have done it that way for
1000 years -- does that make it good? Or efficient?
Or effective? Let's say that it has produced
a *few* highly skilled people, a small percentage
of folks that practice the art -- perhaps they
were just "exceptional" in the first
place. The important question is whether it
works for you. Has it? There is only one way
to know -- by testing it. What we do know is
that the "paradigm" I'm putting forward
has, and continues to, produce good fighters
regardless of style (because that's how humans
No one becomes a good fighter by aping or mimicing
his "master." To blindly follow, even
as a beginner, demonstrates neither the master
or student have a clue as to developing fighting
skill. "Form" is not static, but in
action, in the performance. Good form produces
good results, as form and function are the same.
A good teacher or coach doesn't just tell their
student to do things a certain way (because
that's how things are done) but rather shows
their student **how to produce a certain result
in application by using a certain "form".**
Bad result equals bad form. For example, you
learn the "form" of a hip throw from
your teacher but you take that and try to make
it work for yourself. The student through application
(fighting) learns to find *their form*. Good
teachers invite questions, invite experimentation,
invite challenges, etc. from their students
-- they want the student to figure things out
and understand for themselves. Understanding
and skill only come from the doing.
WCK people get beat, including beginners or
"masters", because they have little
to no fighting skill -- skill that is developed
by fighting. You can't separate form and function.
And attributes like timing, sensitivity, etc.
are all intensity-dependent -- forms, drills,
including chi sao, will not develop them beyond
a superficial level. You can only develop them
by fighting. So if someone doesn't fight, they
won't have the necessary attributes, nor form,
It is simple -- if you never get in the pool,
you may be able to dogpaddle a bit but that's
the limit of your skills regardless of how much
time you put in on the side of the pool doing
drills and forms. To develop into a competant
swimmer requires that we get pool time. To develop
even greater swimmming skills requires even
more pool time. So all the "good"
tai ji people and "good" WCK people
that never get into the pool will only be able
to dogpaddle; and anyone who does get into the
pool regularly will most likely be able to swim
much better. You can try and "analyze"
swimming but that won't make you a good swimmer
without getting into the pool. And you are just
"analyzing" in the dark.
Folks can make all kinds of excuses for not
fighting. Fighting with protection is better
than no fighting at all (just like getting in
a pool with a flotation device is better than
not getting in). Boxers wear gloves when they
get into the ring but the fighting skills they
develop, and which can only be developed by
getting in the ring, will serve them on "the
street" when they don't have the gloves
on. Never boxing in the ring just means one
will never develop good boxing technique, good
boxing skills, or the attributes to make a good
boxer. But maybe they'll look "good"
You learn form from fighting. How does one
*know* where or how to position their tan sao,
for example? From application, from seeing what
works and what doesn't, not from someone telling
you how to do it. The problem with drills is
that they can be done is such a way as to presuppose
a certain way of doing things (a drill is performed
in a prearranged way) but that doesn't mean
it will be effective for that person in a fighting
environment. One needs to experience that firsthand.
And I'm not talking about being a professional
fighter -- if you went to a BJJ school or boxing
gym or any other place that trains fighters,
you'd fight as part of your training because
they are all martial arts. If you don't fight,
you're not practicing a martial art. And it's
not a case of hobby vs. serious fighter either
-- there are hobbiests at every BJJ *but they
still fight.* They can "converse intelligently"
with Rickson because they all practice the same
art and have experience . Maybe the hobbiest
will never be as good as Rickson but to have
any skill in BJJ they need to fight. "