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improvised moves.

Post  Sean Wang the Drunken Mas on Tue Jun 16, 2009 10:51 pm

I came across a rough spot with my friends about martial arts yesterday and i am quite confused on the subject. My friend said that improvising moves into traditional martial arts mocks them. i Have been improvising almost all my moves for Zui Qaun and for me being a mere beginner all of them seem to be affective and work with the style. what I really am confused on is the fact that i have seen improvised moves all over the marial arts world and have them be considerd real. Take for instance in films such as Drunken boxer,Ong Bac the tai warrior and even movies like The Matrix feature moves that arnt even close to the actual style but still show affectivness when using them. I realize that yes there is a huge differance between traditional the current MMA and movies, but even still i see these kinds of moves even finding there way into real traditional martial arts tournaments around the world. I dont know if i should consider myself a bad martial artist for not truely knowing my stlyes or if i should consider myself a talented one due to the ammount of trial and error i takes to format your own unique move list. if someone could help set me straight on this sketchy topic that would be great.

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Re: improvised moves.

Post  Eryn on Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:27 pm

I think it all boils down to traditional vs contemporary. Some people think tradition shouldn't be broken, and some think it should for purposes of growth and evolution. Personally I really wouldn't consider one better than the other, just different ways of perceiving an art. My perception is a little bit of both, but for more scientific reasons than philosophical. Consider traditional martial arts; most were developed hundreds of years ago, back when people had different lifestyles. Horses were the common method of transportation, guns weren't as prevalent and powerful, and martial arts were developed more for open-field battle tactics (minus the Ninja). Now it's different; we have cars, more powerful and efficient firearms, a complicated legal system. Martial arts are also popularly practiced more for health and entertainment (UFC would be entertainment). It's a vastly different world, so I would think for that reason they should evolve for sake of modern times. However, I do think there are some things in various traditional martial arts that work well in today's world, and don't really need to be adjusted.

I actually thought Ong Bak had some fairly traditional Thai techniques with acrobatics thrown in for entertainment purposes. Tony Jaa also trained in traditional Muay Thai as well as gymnastics, and he probably has dabbled in other arts in addition to his foundation. Keanu Reaves has no martial arts/fighting background besides his somewhat short Wushu instruction in preparation for The Matrix, and it shows. He's not terrible, but he's also not good. Then you have people who haven't trained in any traditional arts but instead learned how to fight on the street. They may not know how to do pretty kicks or fancy techniques, but in a no-rules fight they are knowledgeable. I know one such person, and he would most likely beat me in a no-rules fight. Add MMA rules and I might win, but on the street he would probably be the victor. Cont-


Last edited by Eryn on Thu Jun 18, 2009 5:01 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: improvised moves.

Post  Eryn on Wed Jun 17, 2009 5:53 pm

- Cont. To sum this paragraph up, in a fight or forms competition Tony Jaa would probably do very well. Keanu Reeves would probably not because he hasn't put in the necessary practice time/hours for good achievement. Throw him on the street for several years or under the tutelage of a good instructor, and he'd probably do pretty well if he had the discipline. Time, effort, and smart training = improvement.

I don't know whether your friends are right or wrong, they may just have a different perception than you. It's probably unlikely that either side is right or wrong, just shades of interpretation.

I'm in the process of recording and uploading videos of myself doing some basics, which you can follow at your leisure. I'll post them here as soon as they're uploaded.
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Re: improvised moves.

Post  Sean Wang the Drunken Mas on Wed Jun 17, 2009 6:39 pm

thank you very much. I have the same perceptions about martial arts as a whole rather than two halves. I have seen people who really love tradition and i have seen people who think that any form of tradition is 'crazy' or 'illogical'. I Find it to be a bit of both. And even with my martial art i not only use what ive learned but i throw in the occasional Muay Thai strike or JKD hold. I know it sounds boastful but i feel as if though i have made the Seventh Wine cup style with as mixed as my ZuiQuan is, And if anyone knows what i meen by that you are incredibly talented! thanks Eryn for the advice you truely do answer all my questions!

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Re: improvised moves.

Post  Eryn on Wed Jun 17, 2009 7:19 pm

Doesn't sound boastful, just sounds like you're open minded and creative; both definitely good qualities to have. I forgot I was going to link you to a video of Blake (Whiteape) performing the 8 Basics, which is a beginner external wushu (longfist) routine. This is back when he was instructing at the UVa Wushu Club about a year ago. It is the second form you learn in traditional longfist by the official Chinese Wushu standards. It's very simple and straightforward, and is designed to get you accustomed to the various stances and physical movements in Wushu. This is more for conditioning than fighting, though there are some practical fighting applications in there. There is another video of him performing the beginning part of a Taiji form, don't know if it's still up though.

Here's the 8 Basics video:

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Re: improvised moves.

Post  wuxia_warrior on Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:49 pm

People who have significant experience in a style can add to and alter it after they have a lot of experience, but a beginner shouldn't be making up a style. Moves you come up with may have been invented hundreds of times and never became part of the tradition because the people who invented it didn't survive the testing phase.

People can learn to fight well without a teacher, but it's usually a natural selection process on the streets where it's luck as much as anything that you survive long enough to learn how to survive. Unless you're willing to risk your life at regular intervals, it's probably not the best way to train.

Bruce Lee made up his own style, but he also had a number of years experience in wu style taijiquan, wing chun, boxing, fencing, et al. He trained like crazy. He was also all yang and burned brightly and quickly and died incredibly young as a result. Not much use being a great fighter if the training will kill you as quickly as an opponent.

I don't know you personally, so all I can do is suggest you find a good teacher and learn at least one style well before improvising stuff. It sounds like your testing stuff out, which is good. Just taking stuff from movies or even forms/katas without really learning the style can get you killed.

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Re: improvised moves.

Post  Eryn on Sat Jun 20, 2009 7:06 pm

Well said!
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Re: improvised moves.

Post  Sean Wang the Drunken Mas on Sat Jun 20, 2009 8:07 pm

yes he did put it very well. but im going to just add that i am incredibly new to Wushu i meen i have had absolutley no training im self taught or have just read instructions here and there. plus any of the moves ive improvised actually do work when i do them. i normally try to go with the flow of combat and it works really well. its almost like when i fight im a huge wave rushung over evrything then i recede into the ocean and once again pounce but in a completly diffrent way than before. I know ususing such an analogy is pretty cliche but its really the only way i can describe the way i fight.

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Re: improvised moves.

Post  Whiteape on Sun Jun 21, 2009 11:54 pm

Sean Wang the Drunken Mas wrote:yes he did put it very well. but im going to just add that i am incredibly new to Wushu i meen i have had absolutley no training im self taught or have just read instructions here and there. plus any of the moves ive improvised actually do work when i do them. i normally try to go with the flow of combat and it works really well. its almost like when i fight im a huge wave rushung over evrything then i recede into the ocean and once again pounce but in a completly diffrent way than before. I know ususing such an analogy is pretty cliche but its really the only way i can describe the way i fight.

Whether or not you are a good fighter and physically talented, if you haven't trained with a master and learned first hand how to embody the type of movement required of a style (ie. shenfa or body method) then what you are doing is simply just your own thing. It is not said style. You may read about, be influenced by, and borrow all you want, but it is not the style itself. If you wish to learn the style then find a qualified teacher, but if you wish to train yourself to fight then call it whatever you choose, but it would be considered disrespectful to call it Zu Ji Quan or anything already developed ages ago. It's okay to give credit to your influences and use the concepts to the best of your knowledge, but you will not know the style without direct transmission.

That being said, in a real fight if you're stuck on set moves then you will be at a disadvantage. The ability to adapt and improvise appropriate to the situation is invaluable IMO. BUT, if you are training in a certain style then it is the body method of that style that will inform the way that you move. The style is not necessarily about techniques, it is about the quality of movement used. There are only so many ways the human body can move and thus a finite number of possible techniques that can be produced.

Also, I just want to add that Jason's (Wuxia..) post was quite well put and pretty much covered what I was going to post when I first read this.

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