Hiding Behind a Cheap Shot
I wrote a blog about relics being revitalized to provide new benefits to a new generation without damaging or destroying the essence of the relic itself. And of course I sometimes believe relics should be preserved as relics; museums inspire us with past triumphs in creative development.
Anyway, one commenter quite bluntly wrote in that the source martial art from which To-Shin Do evolved is completely sufficient in and of itself and required no “updating” at all to be effective. He went on to surmise that the reason I had changed my teaching was that my “ego and bank account” needed something more.
Brushing that cheap shot aside, out of curiosity my staff and I looked at my critic’s web site and links to videos of him in action. There he was, performing flat-footed robotic slow motion single action responses to a listless attacker who lurched in with a punch that resembled a bad bowler stomping forward with a right step and then a limp straight-elbowed right arm upward swing. The “punch” came to a stop almost a foot away from the defender when it ran out of what little steam it had. Made me shudder just to watch it.
Oh-ho. OK. Now I know why he does not at all approve of my insistence that we train against scary threats. He can’t handle those with what he is teaching. He then dodges the problem by requiring his students to attack him in a quirky stylized manner that fits what he wants to use for defense.
One difference between what I taught in the old days when I was an apprentice explorer and now 30 years later is that we usually avoid that lurching lunge that would never happen that way in a real fight. We insist our To-Shin attack simulations reflect what a real assailant would do to start a fight.
Many (most?) of the techniques that work so well against the extended straight-line-from-knuckles-to-neck arm need major modification to be effective in a real fight where the aggressor keeps angularity in his arm and shoulder joints. That’s why I had to create To-Shin Do.
Does that mean we do not teach defenses against leading-leg leading-hand attacks? No, not at all; we cover those. Boxers jab off the same-hand-and-leg-forward position, wrestlers lunge in with a same-side step and grasp, and MMA cage fighters fly in with a same-leg-and-fist lunge punch. We do train to protect against such fighting sports assaults that could end up on the street.
BUT when we do use a lunge punch, it really is a punch.
I suggest to my critic that to avoid embarrassment the day a real challenger struts into his dojo for a trial, my critic should think hard and carefully every time he is tempted to blow off and ridicule that which he does not want to understand. Save the cheap shots for later once you have earned your reputation.
That’s exactly what I learned to do in my decades of martial arts training. And that’s how I came to earn in the public arena the right to demand we revitalize the relic.