Monday, May 30, 2011

Boxing versus…Any Other Striking System

Tim Cartmell, quoted by Kennedy & Guo in CMA Training Manuals:

When the Chinese army was researching and developing their hand-to-hand combat (which later evolved into the modern San Shou/San Da tournament fighting popular today), they researched all the popular forms of martial arts, including their own. The conclusion was that Western boxing hand techniques, when it came to developing practical striking and defensive abilities in a reasonable amount of time, were superior to all others, including their own. Other Chinese hand techniques were included to round out the training, but the foundation of San Shou hand techniques is Western boxing. Western boxing was apparently taught at the Nanjing Central Goushu Academy in the 1930s and was later researched and incorporated into the Red Army San Shou in the 1960s.

(Emphasis mine.)

I’ve been thinking about this the past few days. It was the same undeniable conclusion that was one turning point in my conception of Isshinryu. I was having fun teaching karate, but couldn’t muster enthusiasm for the basics of the style. Even when I taught them in a functional manner, I still saw the technique itself as suboptimal. That was my state of mind when I discovered that Kyokushin karate had adopted Western punching techniques in addition to Muay Thai’s leg kicks. (NB: The various Kyokushin organizations differ in how thoroughly they integrate head-punching.)

Yet again, I found myself envying the rationality and practicality of another style. Why couldn’t my karate integrate boxing, as it so obviously should?

It was a simple comparison. Which would be a better use of my time for developing fighting skill: this drill or technique, or Western boxing’s drills and techniques? Logic led me to boxing every time. Middle blocks, Okinawan parries, vertical-fist solar plexus punches, and ridge hands don’t have close to the same body of evidence, even if trained hard and well. A nukite might be great in theory, but I’ve got my money on a well-trained jab every time.