• Dojo Creed


    For all the talk about how ineffective Traditional Martial Arts (TMA) is compared to today’s bigger and badder MMA cousins, there is still a lot to be learnt from the old Chinese and Japanese Arts.

    In my experience many of the students who progress well in BJJ and MMA have at least some experience or background in some kind of TMA training and this often affords them a mindset and attitude that is conducive to learning. In effect, they already know how to be good students. They have persevered in a structured and disciplined environment come to realise its shortcomings and then pursued more effective and alive systems like boxing or wrestling or BJJ. But they take the right attitude and intent to their new system and this speeds progress significantly. The same can be said for those who have a military or law enforcement background who have experienced enforced discipline over time that has eventually translated to self-discipline.

    In many ways today’s new students who have little experience of any kind of martial arts training and watch UFC wanting those skills, often seem to lack perspective on the time and dedication it takes to achieve theses skills. TMA on the other hand, instils these things through its culture and rituals from the start. Everyone is reminded from the beginning that there is a history and journey present that needs to preserved and respected. The journey is long and tortuous but ultimately worth the effort. The irony of course is that TMA aims to build a better human being through self-development but the skill set achieved from this type of training is now well demonstrated to be far from effective in real world applications. The challenge for me as coach is to strike a balance between these two worlds of what works and what makes good students.

    With this in mind I was thinking the other day about our karate Dojo Creed that was mounted on the wall to remind everyone at all times what values we were required to adhere to in our training. The words were there in English alongside their Japanese characters every time you trained. There was no explanation of their meaning beyond this and you added meaning to these words yourself in accordance with your own level of experience and training.

    I have yet to come to terms with the best way to merge these two things, to combine the best of both worlds, maybe its just Darwinian? Let those students who come, try and realise its hard work on the ego, attempting to survive and let evolution do its thing, sorting out those with characters not willing to train for real. I think we all as Coaches aim to develop a culture at our own clubs that promotes respect for our training partners and fosters a learning environment. But in the end real training is hard work.

    I believe that long term TMA training teaches you to expect to persevere and endure hardship. The generation gap is opening though; students today want the real skills now, with very little hard work indeed. I think the difference in expectations comes from the modern world that runs on instant money and instant information. We can buy things now or get any piece of information now. There is no longer delayed gratification and this attitude then stems into other areas of life. I often think to myself that these new guys should go away and do some TMA for 2-3 years first before even coming to BJJ so as to change their expectation’s of training and place some kind of perspective on their skill set and what works against resisting opponents and what doesn’t. Go ahead and see what’s out there and through experience come to realise the real value of the MMA revolution. Maybe I’m turning into a grumpy old man who thinks nothing compares to the good old days? Who knows? I just think there is gap opening now that MMA is the norm and TMA is something the rest of us did before this and with this widening gap a very different attitude to training has emerged. And that somewhere in this process something important has been lost.