Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Empty Hand: The Movie

Now this is my kind of reality show.
In this day of mixed martial arts craze, it's reassuring to see traditional Karate as it's meant to be practiced. It's also great to see the documentary is focused on young women, something that is occasionally overlooked in a macho martial world.
Across America, and perhaps across the world traditional martial arts are loosing favor to those who choose the more eclectic mixed martial art training.
Most people say it is because of the shortcomings in traditional fighting styles. I say it's because traditional martial arts training is harder work. You don't just go to the mat and punch and roll. You learn etiquette, cultural values, ancient yet useful weapons, and most importantly, rank and discipline. All these are missing in modern American culture, the ultimate "ME" generation.
-"Empty Hand" looks like a great documentary and something that could inspire this generation of traditional martial artists. I hope to give it further review later.


Charles James said...

Hi, DR:

First, I really like that in this clip it shows the competitors actually trying or using karate techniques to score points. I also appreciate the forms displayed as they do have exceptional form when doing kata competition. This would be a fun film to watch when it does come out in 2010.

With that said, this is "sport!" It is not traditional karate either Japanese or Okinawan. We will get into the flame wars on what is considered "Traditional or Classical" karate but in a nutshell from a Okinawa Fighting Art practitioner I feel this is strictly "sport" with a lot more life lessons incorporated by the teachers depicted in this trailer.

Listen to the mc, he stats many times "compete," "game face," "nationals," etc. This is sport "mostly." I commend the movie for what it depicts, i.e. the sporting or sportsmanship that is lacking in many competitive arena's so I like it and although I don't feel we should label it "traditional or classical" it is a good view of the sport of karate.

Just a nit piken me!

Ki Poh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Krisno P said...

Sorry about the deleted comment previously :( ... my bad!

I ran into your stuff on YouTube DR, great stuff, love your style and spirit!


Aric said...

This is my first comment here, I think. I'm with you on the value of martial arts, but I don't quite agree with your take on MMA.

I would say that MMA is more effective than traditional arts, because MMA focuses on the fighting much more, maybe even to the point of loosing the 'art' part. I don't think training MMA is any more or less difficult than TMA. The difference is that a MMA student will generally see a bigger return on investment in fighting ability. There is value in the parts of TMA that don't make it into MMA, but they should be 'sold' correctly. For years all types of TMA were promoted as the most bad-ass and deadly fighting styles. That's not really what they are though, since time is also spent teaching morality, history, etc.

I recently read The Shaolin Monastery, by Meir Shahar. http://www.amazon.com/Shaolin-Monastery-History-Religion-Chinese/dp/082483349X

In it Shahar claims open-hand Chinese TMA evolved into their more-or-less current form in early Qing dynasty. The empty hand styles were designed to train fighting, health, and spiritual cultivation. It was never just about fighting.

And that's how it should be taught and advertised today. Maybe MMA will still be more popular, but at least those who study TMA will know what they should be getting, and will be drawn to it for the right reasons.

Dojo Rat said...

Since we haven't seen the movie yet, I will speculate:
While they do depict sport Karate, they also have scenes of weapons training and self-defense practice. I think they want to show how much spirit these girls develop, and how that may carry on in their lives later.
-But I am generally in agreement with you.

The subject of MMA vs. TMA has been hashed over so much already, but here goes:
You are 100% correct that MMA will give you quick and effective fighting skills. I myself have said that Western Boxing and wrestling is the fastest path to fighting skills.
But there is a somewhat empty aspect of MMA that has no cultural identification of historical linkage. They merely borrow ancient fighting skills and combine them into fightsport without stages of personal development that greatly benifit young people. Established MMA guys likely all have backgrounds in TMA, but the armchair rookies and wanna-bees see nothing but bloodlust.
I agree with your Shaolin reference, TMA were never about strictly fighting, it was about personal and spiritual development and even social service.
Thanks for your comments, it gave me an idea for tomorrow's post!

Aric said...

Yes, I didn't mean to kick a dead horse with MMA vs. TMA. We are in agreement based on your comment.

I'm a fan of MMA because of the skills, but not the bloodlust.

Keep up the good fight.