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Bushido Brown
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Joined: 21 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 5:29 pm    Post subject: Movement Reply with quote

I should say that my specific interest is in comparing movement (rather broadly speaking) as found in karate-do and kung fu, Shaolin kung fu in particular. I am well aware of the broadness of these terms, but they serve for my purposes.

Allow me to put my query into some context. I am a noob. For the past six or seven months, I have sought out local martial arts schools in various styles searching for a place that might fit my needs. I observed classes, participated in classes, and exchanged a non-trivial number of emails with several sensei and sifu in the area. Being overweight and extremely sedentary for the vast majority of my life, one of the aspects of martial arts training that most intrigues me in the immediate sense is simply the ability and knowledge regarding movement. Simple control over one's body and the ability to move in ways relevant to martial arts (as well as other things).

That being said, I've begun to notice a seeming systematic difference between the practice of karate-do and kung fu in the places that I've visited. It appears to me that kung fu (and I do not mean what we've come to call wushu, but rather explicitly martial kung fu) training involves a much greater deal of focus on movement, flexibility, intimate control over muscles and reflexes than does training in karate-do. I wonder if this is a phenomenon that seems to be true more generally, or if it is simply the artifact of a limited viewpoint.

I would also welcome thoughts on the value of the sort of movements found in Shaolin kung fu (and the styles that derive from it). I don't mean this solely in terms of forms and sets and the like, but also in terms of martial application.

I ask because, as I reevaluate what I want from a study of martial arts and how I want to achieve it, I find that I am torn between many different qualities that various arts and schools embody. I thought that coming to the Comparative Styles forum might help me in this regard. Thanks.

(Sorry for the long post... short posts are not my specialty. I tried to keep it short )
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Wolfman08
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 6:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
It appears to me that kung fu.... training involves a much greater deal of focus on movement, flexibility, intimate control over muscles and reflexes than does training in karate-do. I wonder if this is a phenomenon that seems to be true more generally, or if it is simply the artifact of a limited viewpoint.


That's fairly common, actually. There are plenty of exceptions (Southern Kung Fu is generally more rooted than Northern Kung Fu, with Wing Chun being a great specific example). The difference is in general mentality and culture. I'm not very familiar with Karate (having only developed in interest in Karate relatively recently), so I'll draw the example of the development of Boxing.

Boxing originally was a general strike based form of fighting, compared to wrestling which was general grappling. In both styles the rules of any individual fight was agreed upon before the fight, but they tended to be relatively similar. However, there was no rules against kicking, rounds would only happen sometimes, the length and number of rounds completely random, and things like referees and judges were rare. Matches tended to end in a very bloody affair. Eventually, an agreed upon set of rules was developed, which set the length of rounds, and limited the number of rounds. It also created things like weight classes, referees and judges. One big thing that was developed in these rules: No kicking. Why? Well, in England at the time kicking was considered something the poor and ungentlemanly did, and the developer of the rules wanted Boxing to appeal to the upper classes who might be willing to pay people large sums for fighting. And so, Boxing became a punch-only style.

This basic idea of culture affecting the development of Martial Arts can be seen in China (where generals encouraged sneaky maneuvering to open mano y mano conflict), Japan (where generals encouraged troops to be brave and bold in facing the enemy head on) and Korea (where the culture said that the hands should only be used for cultural acts such as painting, not for fighting).

Now, none of these things are necessarily bad. The light on your feet, bounce around and don't get hit mentality is a great fighting attribute if you have the flexibility and endurance (mentally and physically for both) to pull it off, since you're less likely to be hit. In the same way, the more rooted, stand and deliver way is great too if you can take a few punches, since you're going to generate quite a bit more power in each strike. So, yes, there are differences, and these differences tend to be influenced heavily by the culture of the population at the time of the development (see: MMA), and these differences can be good or bad for the individual training.
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Bushido Brown
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Joined: 21 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 6:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, Wolfman; a good response.

From what I've read, I suspected these sorts of cultural influences, but it also helps to have to fact of these apparent differences confirmed.

Also, I wasn't trying to suggest any sort of value judgements regarding movement. I'm more concerned with the difference being actual or merely apparent.

Again, thanks for the reply. Further thoughts are very welcome.
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 8:44 pm    Post subject: Re: Movement Reply with quote

Bushido Brown wrote:
That being said, I've begun to notice a seeming systematic difference between the practice of karate-do and kung fu in the places that I've visited. It appears to me that kung fu (and I do not mean what we've come to call wushu, but rather explicitly martial kung fu) training involves a much greater deal of focus on movement, flexibility, intimate control over muscles and reflexes than does training in karate-do. I wonder if this is a phenomenon that seems to be true more generally, or if it is simply the artifact of a limited viewpoint.


I don't think Kung-fu involves a greater deal of focus on movement, flexibility, etc over Karate. It does have a different way of moving, probably more circular type movements, where as Karate styles tend to be a bit more linear and emphasize hard striking.
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Kuma
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 10:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Much like there are many different types of kung fu, there are many different types of karate. Body movement and coordination is a key principle in all martial systems. There are many subtle details in even the simplest of techniques. I can't think of any martial art that does not constantly attempt to improve the movement and reflexes of its students.
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MasterPain
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PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2011 11:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think the OP is talking about hard vs soft styles.

In which case I quote Roy D Mercer "How bigga boy are ya?" If your a big, strong guy that doesn't move really fast, go with a hard, linear style. If your small and quick, a soft, circular style may be for you. I like a blend of the two.

As a general rule Kung Fu will be more soft and circular, but there are soft styles of Karate and probably hard styles of Kung Fu as well.
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 10:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kuma wrote:
Much like there are many different types of kung fu, there are many different types of karate. Body movement and coordination is a key principle in all martial systems. There are many subtle details in even the simplest of techniques. I can't think of any martial art that does not constantly attempt to improve the movement and reflexes of its students.


Agreed. Different styles just tend to do it in different ways. Like in TKD, we put a lot of focus in our basic kicking technique, along with all of the advanced variations that come along with them. Take Boxing, on the other hand, that focuses so much on punching techniques and body and head movement. Both would likely be considered hard styles, but with different emphases.
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Bushido Brown
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Joined: 21 Nov 2010
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 2:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all for the replies.

In hindsight, I think that my original post was unnecessarily ambiguous. I meant to ask about movement, flexibility, and body control in relation to these two families of martial arts (karate-do and northern shaolin kungfu). I didn't mean to suggest that, in absolute terms, one tends to place an emphasis whereas the other does not. My question was to the relative emphasis. It seemed to me, after visiting 11 or 12 local martial arts schools, that there was some sort of systematic difference, and I brought the question here given the much greater level of experience to be found on the forum.

As I said, I think that I asked my question poorly. As a noob, I'm currently in the midsts of a little martial arts crisis (I ought to post seeking advice... perhaps I will), and I'm trying to get a better idea about broad trends in martial arts.

Again, thanks!
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bushido_man96
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PostPosted: Sun May 15, 2011 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I do agree there is a systematic difference. I wouldn't necessarily say that Kung Fu styles "flow better," but instead tend to flow differently, and an observation I would make is that they appear to have more continuity between techniques than do some other styles.
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sensei8
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PostPosted: Tue May 17, 2011 8:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Transitional movement is transitional movement no matter the style of the MA, imho. However, is THAT transitional movement smooth or is it jerky or is it overly loaded with a lot of bothersome sine wave or is it short, yet quick or is it arrested by self?!

I find no transitional movement better than another per styles. While Kung-fu has its own properties within any said movement, that lends itself to be a proponent of fluidity, it's transitional movement is for THAT individual.

Transitional movement must be understood firstly, appreciated secondly, and believed in thirdly before one can start to master it. Transitional movement is akin to a baby learning to walk; and before one can walk, and walk effectively, one must first master crawling.

Within transitional movements, the nomenclature would be preparation, movement, targeting, distance, and recovery. Not of the many movements, but the execution of each INDIVIDUAL movement, and in that, fluidity begins.

Transitional movement belongs to every martial art as it belongs to each martial artist. It's not just the transitional movement(s), but it's what one does with it at that moment; effectiveness or the lack thereof.


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