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Rick Shank <email@example.com> wrote: >Stephen O Gombosi <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote: >>Neil Brydges <Neil.Brydges@dpb.co.nz> wrote: >>>One reason I heard for belts being black was that you started off as a >>>white belt. As you trained the belt gathered dirt and eventually after >>>many years became black. This was then modified in more recent times <snip> >>... The kyu/dan ranking system, and the white/black belt >>distinction that goes with it, is a recent (post-1880) invention. >But your accounting does not deny that the motivation for the chosen >colors was consistant with Neil's version does it? Well, let's examine this fable in a little more detail. First: the rank system predates the practice uniform itself (although only by a few years). The obi distinction is a bit later than the rank system and a bit earlier than the modern uniform and its (modified) obi. Kano originally had his students practice in formal kimono, as some traditional jujutsu systems *still* do, complete with a wide, traditional obi (really closer to a sash than the modern "belt"). Let's just say that Kano's students were as likely to show up with a dirty kimono and obi as you are to show up for a job interview in a mud-caked suit. Second: the notion that there would be a certain cachet associated with filth in a culture as obsessed with cleanliness and ritual purity as Japan is pretty absurd to begin with. Third: very high ranks in Japanese and Okinawan arts are often indicated by red and/or red&white belts. It's hard to see how this is consistent with the idea that colors result from progressive staining or overdyeing. To clarify: such systems tend to reserve red obis for 9th or 10th dan. If the staining theory is correct, why is this the case? Note that this accounts for the unease many practitioners of such systems feel around 14 year-old TKD red belts ;-). Steve ======================================================================== Below answers the following Groaner: 9) A three-day course does/doesn't make you invincible. ======================================================================== Can you really learn to defend myself after only a three-day course? Many people are so uncomfortable with the notion of being attacked that they "freeze". Many people have been so conditioned against responding to an attack that they simply don't feel *capable* of resisting. There are short "self-defense" courses which seek to break these inhibitions by confronting students with an "attacker" in a safe, supportive environment where physical resistance is not only permitted, but strongly encouraged. Many people have reported that such courses have been useful to them. If you feel you're in the same boat, you may wish to investigate these courses. Note that *none* of these courses can provide you with the sort of conditioned, automatic response that constant repetitive training provides, nor will they do much to increase the power or skill with which you execute those techniques. In other words, they're not a *substitute* for long-term training in a martial art. What they *can* do is help break down the psychological barriers which may impede you from defending yourself to the limit of your current knowledge and abilities. ======================================================================== Below answers the following Groaner: 19) What's the best martial art for self-defense? ======================================================================== The answer is "it depends". Before you can answer this question (and, make no mistake about it, you *are* the one who is going to have to answer it), you need to ask *yourself* some other questions: 1) What do you *mean* by the term "self-defense"? What sort of situations do you envisage that require some sort of "self-defense"? Single or multiple opponents? Armed or unarmed? Size relative to you? Do you expect to be grabbed, thrown, kicked, or punched? Can you speculate on the motivations for an attack? Do you expect merely to be robbed, or do you consider rape, maiming, or murder a possibility? These are very unpleasant questions to think about, but they're necessary to figure out what your *personal* definition of "self-defense" is. Essentially, what you have to figure out is: a) What do you consider an "attack" that requires some sort of response? b) What sort of response do you, deep in your heart of hearts, consider appropriate? Note that the law where you reside may have a very different definition from the one you have in mind. 2) Who are you? What sort of personality type are you? Are you timid or assertive? What are your physical attributes? Note that an art which works well for a 220lb (100kg, for those of you in *rational* countries) 18 year-old female body-builder may prove useless for a 70 year-old man half her size, or for a small child. 3) How much time and effort are you *really* willing to put into this? Note that most people *drastically* overestimate this - you're probably no exception to the rule. Almost any martial art can be used for "self-defense" *IF* you're willing to invest the effort to become truly proficient at it. This includes a lot of arts which don't look too practical at first glance. A lot of martial arts practice is repetitive, boring, painful, sweaty, exhausting WORK. How much of that are you really prepared to endure solely for something as nebulous as "self-defense"? Now that we've scared you sufficiently, let's discuss some specifics. Almost all martial arts have some "self-defense" application, but that application may be of marginal utility to you. For example, the art of Shindo Muso Ryu Jodo is probably hard to beat if you have to fight a traditional Japanese swordsman while armed with only a stick. But few people find themselves in that situation these days. Nevertheless, such an art develops excellent timing and an instinctive sense of distance - both of which are of great utility in defending oneself. More mundane, and, if you will, "practical" specialties include throwing, punching, kicking, groundfighting, and so forth. There is endless argument about which of these is more "street applicable", with not much general consensus. Some are probably better for one class of attacks, some for another. To sum up, what you need to do is peruse the various style descriptions in the "Martial Arts FAQ", and read the "Newbie Guide" which was written explicitly to help you begin to look for a school that suits you, even if you know relatively little about martial arts. Both are available at: http://www.users.fast.net/~paiyili/faq.htm#top . Look these FAQs over in light of the answers you've given to the questions above. Then, see what's available in your area. If you still can't decide, feel free to ask on rec.martial-arts.moderated (and rec.martial- arts). If you phrase your question carefully, you can avoid being flamed and probably get a lot of helpful advice. In other words, *don't* ask "What's the best martial art?", "What's the best martial art for a street fight?", "What's the best martial art to learn self-defense?". Instead, ask something more like, "I'm a 28-year-old female, about 5'2", strong, but not aerobically fit. I have a two-year-old child I take with me everywhere I go. When I go shopping, I'm always afraid that some guy is going to try to rob or rape me in one of the parking ramps. Of course I can't run away and leave my two-year-old, and I don't really want to hurt anybody, just get away safely. I can devote four nights a week to practicing *something*. Does anybody have any suggestions? ======================================================================== Below answers the following Groaner: 20) 90% of all fights end up on the ground. ======================================================================== Many people feel that ground-fighting is an important aspect to consider in a potential attack, citing an often quoted (but never attributed) statistic that "90% of all fights end on the ground". This may or may not be true. It's kind of hard to tell, since the sources for that statistic are unknown. Note that even if it is true, it may simply mean that 90% of all fighters are incapable of punching or kicking effectively enough to do any real damage, or that 90% of the people who get into fights are too drunk to stay on their feet. Having said that, if you ever *are* taken to ground, being able to fight there is a useful skill. Note that this doesn't necessarily imply grappling. Note also that being on the ground can place one at a disadvantage when dealing with multiple assailants (especially armed ones), and can make escape or evasion rather difficult. Not to mention the condition of the ground itself at the time (broken glass? gravel? mud? snow?). There are frequent discussions about whether ground-fighting is, or is not, an essential aspect of most attacks, and whether one needs to be versed in ground-fighting tactics to be considered sufficiently versed in self-defense techniques, in order to be prepared for an attack. There is not, however, a lot of consensus on the answer. ======================================================================== Below answers the following Groaner: 21) Is a gun the best martial arts defense? ======================================================================== Should you get a gun? Especially in the United States, there's a lot of concern about the use of firearms in self-defense as well as their use by assailants. In the martial arts newsgroups, there is considerable disagreement about the entire topic of gun ownership and usage. Never-ending debates are easily resurrected about whether a gun: ...is safe; will be available when needed; can be made readily available if needed; might be taken from you and used against you; can be brought into play fast enough against someone [unarmed/armed with a knife/armed with a gun]; the legalities of if and when a gun can be used; etc.... Three key questions if you are considering the purchase of a gun for protection: o Are you willing to put the time and effort into learning how to use it, and maintaining those skills? o Are you able to deal with the psychological consequences of injuring, permanently maiming or disabling, or killing someone as a result of you pulling the trigger? o Are you able to deal with the possible legal consequences of injuring, permanently maiming or disabling, or killing someone as a result of you pulling the trigger? If you want advice on the purchase or use of such weapons, it's probably best to seek it in the newsgroups devoted to firearms: rec.guns, and for the verbosely masochistic, talk.politics.guns. The NRA certifies instructors in a well-proven basic pistol syllabus, and can probably help you find a local gun club that offers an NRA-type course. Most gun stores and ranges will also be able to direct you toward one, perhaps more efficiently (note that this is neither an endorsement nor a rejection of the NRA's political views). If you feel you must have a gun for self-defense, at least have the good sense to learn how to own it responsibly and use it safely. ======================================================================== Below answers the following Groaner: 22) What are the chances of an unarmed martial artist versus a gun-wielder? ======================================================================== As far as defending oneself from firearms is concerned, the best advice is to avoid getting yourself into situations where this might be necessary. From close range, it's certainly possible for an unarmed person to effectively deal with a gun - but it's *very* difficult and *very* dangerous. The odds of failure are pretty high, and the cost of failure is death. Remember that the next time you see someone kick a gun out of someone's hand on TV. If the assailant is out of reach, unarmed techniques are practically useless. ======================================================================== Acknowledgements ---------------- Thanks to the following people for contributing their wisdom, prose, suggestions, and encouragement to this guide. (The appearance of their names here does not signify agreement with everything written here, of course.) Stephen Chan Steve Gombosi David Poore Terry Chan Peter Hahn Lauren Radner Joe Chew Michael Lawrie Bill Rankin Doug Cohen Mary Malmros Michael Robinson Bud Glunt Jeff Pipkins Andy Vida-Szucs (C) Copyright 1997, Lauren B. Radner. All rights reserved.