View Full Version : Martial arts: Or; Fighting without weapons

08-16-2007, 02:23 PM
Martial arts: Or; Fighting without weapons

Every martial art depends on one basic skill, that the user is capable of fighting an armed enemy using nothing but physical skills. Those who needed to defend themselves with out weapons created all of them; peasants who were not allowed them or people who assumed their enemies would have superior weapons. French peasants for example created savate because if you struck an aristocrat with your hand or fist, it was punishable by death, but the law never considered using your feet.
Regardless of the martial art used, all of the skills boil down to blocks grapples sweeps and strikes.

Before we go any farther, I should explain that even here, there is a primary difference between the different martial arts. They are divided again into hard middle and soft forms.


The three primary soft forms are Judo Greco-roman wrestling, and Aikido. Each is based primarily on grappling, blocks, and sweeps. Each have blows at specific points, slaps in Greco-roman and Judo, that kind of thing. The only purely soft martial art is Aikido itself.


While grappling and blocks are part of the hard martial arts, hard arts depend on strikes and sweeps more than anything else. These are epitomized by boxing and karate. A boxer for example concentrates only on strikes and blocks. But Boxing and Greco-roman wrestling are stylized forms little different from their origins among the Greeks. Both have very specific rules of what you can do. But both when practiced by a professional are lethal. The full nelson has been banned for several decades because if the person held resists too much, it is too easy to snap your neck.

Ronald Green commented once that a modern army such as our own facing a terrorist or guerrilla threat is like a boxer facing a street fighter. He has specific targets he is allowed to hit, but cannot attack other equally vulnerable ones. The street fighter can hit anywhere, but has little or no training so he has little or no real force to his blows; he must pummel his larger stronger opponent weakening him for the kill. The boxer on the other hand regardless of class has to have a bodyguard in modern society for the simple reason that he cannot claim self-defense in a fight. If a boxer punched you in a bar he could be arrested for assault with a deadly weapon assault with intent and if your injuries are severe enough, attempted murder.

Both have advantages, but the primary weakness of a street fighter is he is not really physically conditioned to take punishment. While the street fighter will dance around hitting the boxer here and there, if the boxer has a legitimate target and strikes at it, the punch will be with devastating force. As many time as you might have seen a Kung Fu movie, you should remember this. A real strike will kill or disable your enemy, not merely have him spitting blood and making sarcastic comments.


Middle forms mix all four versions of an attack seamlessly. Kung Fu Tai Chi and Suu-chi are the premier versions.

Kung Fu is the fodder of a hundred bad movies, and a few good ones. It combines all forms of attack and defense. If you have seen the movie Karate Kid, you see what I mean. The technique used by the teacher, sanding waxing then painting looks like rather ridiculous but the same technique was used in an ancient Chinese story of an oafish prince who is taught fighting by a master who refused to come to the boyís palace.

Anyone who has a colony of Koreans and Chinese from the nearby provinces knows what Tai Chi is. You see old and not so old people slowly moving through the kata as they exercise. But what most of us donít realize is that those slow steady movements are actually training to kill someone. Tai Chi was a martial art long before it became a form linked to exercise and meditation.

The last form, suu-chi was developed by of all people, the Apache Indians of the American Southwest. It came into being because they faced an army armed with lances, horses, and guns.

They faced the Spaniards.

Instead of trying to avoid attacks by blocking they used sweeping throws that would divert that energy. A lance wielded from horseback is a fearsome weapon, but by grabbing it near the head as the rider comes by, it becomes a lever that will throw the man from his seat. On foot facing swords, they would get inside the sweep of the blade, where their own shorter blades and fists were more efficient. They would grapple and throw as they did so not only the attacker but the defender as well was thrown. But as the initiator, they would end up atop their enemy, where a quick thrust with a knife or fist would end the fight quickly.

Whether you describe Kung Fu, Aikido or boxing, blocks imply redirecting the attacks to either weaken the enemy strike, or divert it so that you are not struck. Every martial art has this basic principle. The classic arms up hands before the face defensive position of a boxer uses the arms to slide the blows of the opponent to the side, where they are wasted. Kung fu and Karate use the same basic method, deflecting strikes away from your body so they do not hit you. With Aikido, you also add the energy of your attacker to your own movement so that you injure your enemy not by your actions but his own. Examine movies where they show actual fights, and you will see where a sweep of the hand or arm is used to stop an enemy attack.


Grappling with an enemy is meant to restrict his movement, and control it. Any time you grab an enemyís hand or leg, it cuts down on his mobility. It is the primary method used in Greco-roman wrestling.

A sweep diverts you enemyís energy, or is used to direct his energy so that he is either disabled or at least discommoded by it. Whether it is an uppercut, a throw or kicking the legs from beneath your enemy, a sweep strikes primarily at the balance of your foe. Aikido is known for this primarily because the enemy delivers all of the energy of his attack and it is directed back against him.

There is an old story about an Aikido master crossing a bridge when half a dozen bandits attack him. The attackers donít even remember clearly what happens next. All they know is one moment they have surrounded him, and the next the old man continues his journey as if nothing had happened.


Striking, whether it is a punch, a chop or a kick is meant to transmit as much energy as possible to your enemy. It is meant to break bones, rupture soft tissues, and end the fight. But as one man in a Star Trek book commented, a punch pits meat and bone against meat and bone. If misdirected, any strike can hurt you as much as your enemy.

One of the reasons bare-knuckle boxing went out of vogue was because a lot of those boxers ended up with broken bones in their hands and crippling injuries. The addition of boxing gloves lessened those injuries, but that did not make it any safer. Instead of a mere fist striking you now you have a 12 to 16 ounce glove as well with all the focused energy of someone trained in the use of this specific weapon.

That is also why full contact martial arts use padding and gloves in training after a certain level. You have reached the point where your kicks and punches can be lethal. The one thing you will notice in a full contact bout is it is unlike the standard Kung Fu movie; it does not go on for minutes. The opponents stand facing each other, there is a flurry of movement sometimes too quick to be clearly seen, and the judge calls it. Unlike Boxing, you have a simple point system, and you pause between them. After a certain number is reached, the judge declares a winner.

That is because unlike Boxing, Karate and Kung Fu tends to aim at eliminating the threat in as few moves as possible. You block as necessary, intent on striking your opponent with the one blow that will end the fight.

In Boxing, your punches are meant to wear your enemy down. It is rare that a Boxing match ends with one punch, but it does happen. Instead you strike to limit his sight, to weaken his wind and strength, and finally to cause him to collapse. Boxing rounds are only three minutes long, with a minute of rest between them, but look at that boxer during those rests. After the third round they are drenched with sweat, gasping, sometimes looking as if they cannot go on. That is why they added the TKO, or technical knock out, when your opponent is too dazed to continue.


If you are going to describe a hand-to-hand fight, really describe it. It isnít really necessary to do so most of the time; in real life it is almost always a flurry of blows, gut-wrenching terror, and then it is over. But smaller battles, just one on one fighting, go for it. But like my comments on different lightsaber styles, or comments made about fighting with a sword, remember that there are differences in them which makes each unique.

12-28-2008, 02:02 AM
Oh crap. At this stage it's starting to look like I'm running around second guessing all your threads, possibly confusing them, which is not at all what I want to do.

From early teens to my late twenties I was a tremendous enthusiast. I studied to a greater or lesser degree, Judo, Karatedo, Nunchakukata, Wing Chun, Budo Taijutsu and Kobudo (including kendo, iato, bojutsu and so forth), quite fervently for extended periods and having lost family, winded up in some very rough boarding houses and so on, unfortunately found many occasions to rely upon that training and anything else I could get my hands on. Small build you see, a preferred happy disposition and some real rough nuts to deal with.

I could go on about martial arts, from the philosophical to the historical to the physical for hours. Perhaps I would confuse things too completely.

12-28-2008, 11:46 AM
Oh crap. At this stage it's starting to look like I'm running around second guessing all your threads, possibly confusing them, which is not at all what I want to do.

From early teens to my late twenties I was a tremendous enthusiast. I studied to a greater or lesser degree, Judo, Karatedo, Nunchakukata, Wing Chun, Budo Taijutsu and Kobudo (including kendo, iato, bojutsu and so forth), quite fervently for extended periods and having lost family, winded up in some very rough boarding houses and so on, unfortunately found many occasions to rely upon that training and anything else I could get my hands on. Small build you see, a preferred happy disposition and some real rough nuts to deal with.

I could go on about martial arts, from the philosophical to the historical to the physical for hours. Perhaps I would confuse things too completely.

Van, if you have something to add, remember that more information is always better. A lot of Americans don't understand the psychological links behind the martial arts.

12-29-2008, 04:28 AM
Well I sincerely hope I do not make you regret the invitation :D

At the higher level forms become important. These are based in philosophical sciences. The idea is that you practise what you claim. Thought, word and deed.
There is no differentiation from hand to hand combat with weapons use. One is grounded in the other and they are inherently interchangeable.
It is easier to begin with natural weapons. Later, tools may become an enhancement.
Your first weapon is your mind. So martial arts begins with a little academics.

The various styles of Japanese martial arts represents what individual family traditions had to offer. One soke (head of the family) called his koshijutsu (unarmed fighting). Another developed koppojutsu (bone smashing techniques). A series of sokes evolved taijutsu based upon some Chinese principles. Others again developed yet more based in local beliefs.

These would roughly be considered your forms. You build a toolbox, you use your tools.

Most forms have a series of basic postures. Each have their own character and emotional attachments.
Generally speaking it's best to answer circumstances with completely unexpected emotional responses with particular forms attached to them, given that we're talking about combat.

You attack. I let you hit me. It doesn't hurt. It's over.
That's one possibility.

You attack again, I break your toe with a stomp. Couldn't care less if you hit me. You probably weren't expecting it.
That's another possibility.

As you can see, when we stop playing punchies down the back of the school oval, when we're talking about genuine combat scenarios, the stakes escalate quickly. That's your first lesson. Fighting is not a competition, it's dangerous stuff. People get hurt, bad.

Do not fight.

What we're going to do is something else.
First be fit. You'll need it for all the running you're going to have to do. Get up in the morning and do some push ups and sit ups. Eat well. Go for a jog and say hi to some neighbours. Feel good.
Second be healthy. You'll need it to recover from all the wounds you'll be receiving. Get up in the morning and do a full stretch routine, head to ankles. Eat healthy and take multivitamins if you need to. Look out for your health doing things like jogging and be nice when saying hi to neighbours so you get all your happy vibes making your immunity system strong.
Third, know your business. Train. Go to a dojo, pick some favourite styles and go enjoy yourself two or three times a week. Make some new friends. Run yourself through some routines at home. With some buddies if they're up for it. Buy some padding, bags or whatever. If you can't get to a dojo, buy some books and train out of those. Read up on some background, for your style and MA in general, historical books, fun stuff, whatever you feel like reading. Take it to the limit, it costs no more than a few hundred bucks over an extended period and is well worth it.
Fourth, be in life. Get a job. If you're a student, get a summer job. Be responsible for yourself. Then be responsible for everything in your immediate vicinity ("the honest warrior finds himself responsible for everything in his world"). If you can't find a job or you already have one, get a hobby. Turn that into an income earner. Find a girlfriend. Or get your life into a state where girlfriends seek you out. Be famous. Be a genius. Be wealthy, whatever you have to do to love yourself. And here's the trick: never, never go against yourself. Never be evil. Never do wrong. Never be backwards. Make the whole world good if that's what you've got to do to get good. If you think you're damned by past or circumstance, then go do some charity. Go get a job in aged care. Get religious. Find a saviour (always please ask them nicely and be tremendously grateful if you don't mind). Act. Do. Get off your backside in everything, all the time. Take charge, and be good.
Fifth, it's not arrogance when you're the one who cares. Yep, here's what I'm talking about. You're going to stab me after I've been running around like a mad chicken doing all these things? Erm...you're gonna get hurt, pal.

You see in combat your first, greatest enemy is yourself. Everytime this is how it works. Many times, and in many tales this has been mentioned but is rarely well understood. Your own psychology is your first, biggest enemy, so get that part of you right with the world. And you'd damn well better, because get in real life combat and you won't even see the knife before you feel it otherwise.

Okay, so you've done all these things. You've trained for many years in a dozen styles and you've got your mind and body right. Congratulations, you're a martial arts infant. Now you begin learning.

We need a system to work with, for purely academic purposes and the elemental method is as good as any, based in mediaeval scientific philosophy.

Divide up all your forms into the elements. This is the taijutsu system of combat, each is represented physically by a characteristic posture.
Wind, centre of movement is the spine. Evasive. Hira no kamae.
Fire, centre of movement is the chest. Offensive. Jumonji no kamae.
Water, centre of movement is the hips. Defensive. Ichimonji no kamae.
Earth, centre of movement is the backside. Repulsive. Shizen no kamae.

At different times during a kung fu technique, say for a deflection, angling and rolling punches covering the offensive weapon, for example, one may find themselves moving through hira, ichimonji, jumonji and finally shizen no kamae throughout the approximately three second process. This is how it works. To apply the given forms and techniques to your elemental system, simply exaggerate the motions greatly. Treat it like a big theatre. You can safely toss the strict dojo regime at this stage and whatever sifu said, but if you're unsure then go talk with him and see what he thinks. Remember to make up your own mind in the end.

Same goes for karate, aikido, whatever. Martial arts should be treated always as a foundation upon which castles are built rather than the castle itself, but indeed keep in mind that in a capitalist world it is also a business and even your enlightened instructor may be far more concerned about his business interests and personal life than developing actual human enlightenment. I've known more than a few highly experienced martial artists to be a little...erm, competitive.

The idea is to get your existing martial arts toolbox, add to it and develop it, plus learn to apply it to your everyday life.
Someone comes a little close to the kerb in their car, whilst you're walking down the street? Ichimonji to the side and hira in a circular direction so that you'll roll and tumble if struck, rather than flop and thud. Get this to an instinctive level.

Got a sword on your belt? Shizen your opponent with an iai-draw. Make sense?

That should keep the black belt student occupied for a while longer. Beyond this there is the ultimate form, but for the moment this sort of thing should be considered the higher martial arts. Actual battlefield application.

I'll get onto the further stuff presently. It gets pretty wacky but it works. For the moment, google search some of the terms I've provided so you can see what the various postures look like and such. If you're going to practise them, make sure you concentrate the associated emotions as it is a character protrayal, not a kata stance. That part is crucial.

Hehe, puts the "art" back into martial arts, huh.