Monday, June 18, 2007

Attribute Building versus "Practicality."

When was the last time you used nunchaku in a fight? Since it probably happened fairly recently, I'm sure it is still fresh in your memory. Let me ask you, did you find it best to stick to "traditional" methods of locking and trapping, or did you use more circular spinning strikes? Of course, your last fight could have been different, so feel free to consider all of your prior nunchaku duals before answering my question.

Wait, what?

You've never been in a nunchaku fight? Hmm, well, surely you have used your 6 foot staff in battle recently. I see that it is quite clean, so I can only assume you are fastidious in its care.


Well, surely you plan on getting in a nunchaku melee in the near future? Perhaps Outlook is even programmed to remind you, preferably in advance, as showing up without nunchaku would be less than honorable to your and your clan.

You disappoint me.

I have no beef with "traditionalists." My beef is with "traditionalist snobs." You have your way, I have mine, wonderful. When you just have to tell me how your system of twirling a stick while wearing pajamas makes much more sense than mine, you might be a traditionalist snob.

"My school practices koryo methods handed down by Joe Blow, which he used to survive a minor skirmish in the late 1600s. Your methods are quaint and would obviously get you killed on the streets. I don't know why you even bother."

Of course snobbery then usually falls to the wayside for jaded cynicism, where they can boast that I teach these skills "to cash in." If you think I'm cashing in, I'll give you the number of my loan officer and the two of you can have a nice laugh together.

For me, first and foremost, weapons teach attributes. I am not particularly interested in recreating the dueling culture of a caste system that has very little to do with Korean arts in the first place. What I am looking to teach is confidence, dexterity, hand-eye coordination, good movement and creativity. The hand strength used when practicing sai (not to mention the motions) transfer extremely well into grip strength and the ability to perform wrist locks. If you want to explore the possibilities and get into flipping the nunchaku over your head, striking it in mid-air and changing the rotation, or whatever, I don't care. Eventually, the skills I teach you will make you a better fighter and a better, more efficient martial artist.

Should I teach nunchaku as a self-defense skill? Well, I could. Unfortunately, nunchaku are stigmatized to the point where they are illegal in some states, and quite damning in others. Let me be clear: if you go Bruce Lee on your attacker, you stand an excellent chance of being incarcerated after the prosecution paints a picture of a "Martial Arts Expert Weilding a Deadly Weapon." Not to mention concealed carry laws rarely extend to nunchaku or any of the other lovely buki you see in the catalogs. Speaking of concealed carry, firearms have pretty much negated the nunchaku to performance art anyways. And guess what, whether you're spinning them over your head or mimicking the "old ways" it is still a performance art.

You want practical? Buy a gun and learn to fight with a pen and belt and maybe a cane. Mmm, Bic Hyung Il Bu anyone??

Of course, then the haters will just give you grief for not carrying a "Real Pen" like a Mont Blanc.
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