Like many people during the ninja craze of the 1980’s I was fascinated by this art. It really had everything: hand to hand combat, weapons, stealth. And most alluring was the implied secret knowledge that only the masters possessed.
I was eventually disappointed by the art form, not because there aren’t any qualified practitioners (I think there are a few) but because it seemed to me that their practice methods left a lot to be desired.
I’m going to attach a few videos to this post that I find highly suspect. Some of them are more flagrantly staged than others but they all lack a realistic approach to training. What Bruce Lee called an aliveness.
When somebody throws a punch at you, they don’t keep their arm extended and wait for you to do your technique. This is just not realistic.
I see too much of that in these videos.
Here’s one of Shoto Tanemura, a practitioner I used o love during the 80’s.
His technique is sound, and Tanemura certainly has experience in real life scenarios since he was a cop for many years. I just don’t know why he would demonstrate in a way that doesn’t really mimic real life combat. Things are way too clean here. Real combat is messy and uncertain and your practice needs to incorporate this alive element of it.
I guess when you’re doing a demonstration you are staging certain things, and that’s inevitable, but still, the time for this practice is done.
Here’s another culprit, Masaaki Hatsumi. This guy is a very skilled and knowledgeable martial artist and yet look at the techniques done in this video. You be the judge.
The “ukes” or partners are just throwing themselves down. They’re waiting for the master to demonstrate the technique.
What he has to say about the changing times and how a martial art needs to adapt is very good. This is a skilled practitioner who’s been doing this for a long time. But those of us who are involved in combat sports know that fights don’t look like this.
Here’s a video in which the practitioners are taking a much more practical approach. This is much better. At least the speed is right. You’ll notice that it looks more like MMA.
I would love to see this with full contact hitting incorporated as well.
And here’s one that I don’t even know what to make of it. Is it real? Is it a joke? I’ll let you decide.
In order to preserve these unique and incredibly interesting martial arts, we must bring back the realistic approach to training. It’s the only way to keep the art alive.