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  • It's Supposed To Hurt
    I have visited many martial arts schools over the years and I am struck by the lengths some teachers go to provide a fun, enjoyable experience for their students. Pleasant, colorful atmosphere, crisp, starched uniforms with no blood or sweat stains, minimal contact and almost no danger of injury.  One of my favorite new martial arts fads:  padded weapons such as sticks, swords, long staffs, etc., that are nothing more than PVC pipes covered with nobody gets hurt.  Believe me, you learn a great deal from getting your fingers mashed by a wooden sword (boken).  

    You will not learn anything about a fighting art unless you fight...constantly. This means applying the techniques of your given style as close to reality as possible against someone having a skill level equal to or higher than your own. It means frequently placing yourself in uncomfortable situations so that you learn how to deal with physical and mental stress in a calm and focused way.

    Be it karate, aikido, mma, etc, a serious sensei or coach will create and maintain an atmosphere that poses real danger to you and you will experience pain, especially during the beginning stages of your training. Your body and most importantly your ego will suffer. That's what budo is about. It's not supposed to be a warm, fuzzy experience. If you are seeking enlightenment through martial arts, you simply cannot avoid pain and discomfort because that's where the real training is.

    Things like comradery, respect, trust and friendship happen in places and experiences where people suffer together and are exposed to the same danger and discomfort.   It's not supposed to be like going to a tennis club or the bowling alley. 

    ​It's supposed to hurt.  ​

    Dave Magliano
    Jissenkan Aikibudo
    ​Dojo Cho
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      • 2
      Kathryn Carson My caveat is, MA is supposed to hurt...according to each student's ability to take and dish it. Realistic training *must* be balanced against potential injury, especially for folks with medical issues (like myself) or for special needs kids (like an increasing percentage of our student body). As an adult, I've learned to respect my body enough to be honest about what I can do on any given day. (Cancer will do that for you, fast.) But a special needs child requires an experienced, focused, and careful teacher to help them prove *to themselves* what they're capable of. And (to start at least) MA shouldn't hurt (much), or the student might bail--because, frankly, for many special needs kids, life already hurts...a lot. Yet some of the toughest, most amazing students begin far behind the proverbial ball.
        • 1
        Will - Black Belt Wiki Kathryn

        Excellent points. Martial arts school also need to worry about legal issues if someone is hurt as well as driving away younger students if things are too tough (for many schools, younger students are their meal ticket... I mean main focus :). Toughness can increase with adult classes... and lots of signed consent waivers!!

        • 0 1 vote
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      • 1
      Trevor Hill I sometimes earn money doing puppetshows. When I practised eskrima for a short while I ended up getting a pair of MMA gloves because my fingers were getting hit with the plastic tube pretty hard.

      If I can't fit my finger in Mr Punch's head, I am out of pocket.
      • 1
      Justin Bean I too have had a similar discovery. I think the primary difference is between providing an art and a sport. And in regards to martial arts it tends to be a gray area depending on the teacher. PPE is import in improving skill levels while training combat, and if the art requires conditioning it should be a progressive part from the beginning. Systems like Chow Gar Tong Long and Kyokushin that require conditioning, introduce this from the beginning. In saying that I have witnessed teachers/instructors teaching conditioning drills poorly that have ended up with students being out of action for extended periods of time. So yeah. For the padd ed weapons, I use both, it really depends on the desired outcome, using standard training weapons for forms, i use padded weapons ( depending on the weapon) in combat training until the student demonstrates suitable skills for handling the weapon/s. Development of skill has to be progressive, skill development can take the time through progressing from padded to training to actual. The view of martial arts has changed a lot and so like all thing adaptation through the introduction of padded weapons is to cater for this. Some insurance even requires that padded weapons are mandatory up until a certain rank skill level. Ha ha not like the old days when we learnt by fire. For the fun side etc, I think that’s just there for the numbers game so that some instructors can put food on the family table. Being a full time instructor can be a hard road.
        • 1
        Dave Magliano Hmm, I did not realize insurance companies had that kind of control over one's curriculum. We try to look for a happy medium when possible. For example, we use rolled up magazines for knife and stick training. Still hurts, but won't cause bad injury.
      • 1
      S.P. Sorry to slightly disagree and to totally agree with Jerry Fielden more. In 50-some years of martial arts, there's been bearable pain, and other pain that literally drove home the point of why and how to block, avoid and/or counter.
      There have also been times when the option of some kind of protective pad, etc. would have made it more possible to get to work the next day; or like last night, try to walk my 4-legged dog when I could barely use 1-1/2 of mine due to (probably self-inflicted due to over-exuberance) my lower shin having swelled up like a ripe mango.
      That said, working in a corporate setting, going to school where bullying may arise, can also be painful.
      I suggest a bit of flexibility: what may be painful to some, may be educational for others; and for some, make them give up when they in fact hoped to continue. JMO.
        • 1
        Dave Magliano Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying we should never use padded equipment. In our dojo, for example, we use boxing and mma gloves, head gear and some times chest pads. But padded weapons? Can't agree with you there. I can tell you that in aikido, use of the boken and jo are not only for stealing the nerves and practical application but also as a method of training in footwork. Engaging in weapons against a partner with equal or higher skill reinforces the empty-handed technique. Training with real weapons also gives us a healthy respect for the consequences of poor training. Same for unpadded kumite.

        Have you ever noticed how a person's technique changes when they put pads on? People tend to forget their basics and kata because they have a false sense on security (in the pads) and just want to hit the other guy. In some ways, I believe the over use of pads is more dangerous. Wearing pads during kumite negates techniques such as shuto, shote, kokato geri, etc. It also tends to over-emphasize distance techniques that may not be practical for actual confrontations, e.g. roundhouse kicks to the head. Again, I'm not saying we should never do this. I believe padded sparring is a great exercise but should not be used exclusively. I don't see how a person can learn proper control and use of force if we wear pads all the time.

        I should point out here that my dojo is and always has been donation-based. I'm not trying to run a business. I do not teach children. The guys that come and train here know what their getting into and understand the risks. That said, I take everyone's safety very seriously, perhaps more so because the danger of injury is ever-present. Because of that, I have a very rigid system for training novices. He or she will spend a lot of time learning how to fall, roll, move and strike long before they train with a partner. Furthermore, they will quickly the importance getting into and staying in shape. It's part of a molding process very similar to military training. I do not have many students, but we are all a very tight-knit group because we all share the same risks and discomfort, e.g. no heat or air in the dojo, small training space, etc.

        What I am saying here is that in order for us to reap the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of the arts we practice, the training atmosphere needs to be a serious one. In my experience, the best dojos I have ever trained are the ones with few creature comforts, a strong commitment to practical training and cohesiveness gained by the respect of having (and continuing to) push ourselves to reach the highest level of, for lack of better words, physical and mental toughness. That's what it has always been about for me.

        With Respect.
          • 1
          S.P. So good that novices are well-trained. All the best!
      • 1
      Jerry Fielden Oh yes. totally agree. In Kyokushin, we get hit ... a lot. But at the same time you don't want to put yours' and your classmates' lives in danger (especially children) so a certain amount of protective equipment is necessary during most kumite.

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