Friday, 3 August 2012

What Are You Trying To Achieve?

It's said that discussing subjects such as religion and politics will always result in an argument. You could probably add martial arts to that list too. Martial arts training is a personal experience that practitioners take very seriously - possibly too seriously sometimes. In the past I have seen people react to a comment about their style/system/founder with the kind of anger you'd expect to see if a member of their family had just been publicly insulted.

Comparing style with style is somewhat pointless (unless you’re talking about the genre of classic kung fu films: my snake fist versus your tiger style etc. etc.) I say this because I think it depends heavily upon:

1. What you personally are trying to achieve through your training, and
2. What's most important to you as an individual

If you're training to be able to defend against anything, you're going to need to know everything, right? Therefore, if you're training to be a well rounded fighter, your selected style would need to encompass punches, blocks, kicks, grappling, throws, chokes, joint locks etc. A single martial art style may not be enough to cover each of these disciplines sufficiently, hence we have the booming mixed martial arts scene.

So what are you trying to achieve?

Do you want to be a fighter?
Do you want to be healthier?
Do you want to be stronger?
Do you want to socialise?
Do you want to be able to defend yourself?
Do you want to have fun?

More importantly, is your training helping you to achieve the things that you want?

Some martial arts serve a niche, while others strive to be all things to all people. I believe Choi Kwang-Do's niche is health, both physical and mental: utilising martial arts training to enable practitioners to lead a more happy, healthy and more productive life. This philosophy is encapsulated in one of Grandmaster Choi’s sayings:

"You may go through life without ever having to use your martial arts skills for self defence, yet good health is important to everyone".

(Similarly, but on a personal note, I enjoy teaching and working towards the personal mastery of performance and the self discipline that requires. I take self defence as a 'by-product' of all the components of the system).

Yes, the biomechanically correct techniques in Choi Kwang-Do have power and practical application. Yes, the Defence Drills and Close Range Drills create scenarios to develop self defence skills. However, the focus on health means that when placed alongside some martial arts, Choi Kwang-Do doesn’t really compare on equal terms.

Choi Kwang-Do may not cover the wide array of combat skills as some martial arts, but it's fluid Patterns and Speed Drills will help to improve your aerobic capacity enabling you to run for the bus without passing out from exhaustion should you actually reach the bus stop in time. Choi Kwang-Do may not teach you how to disarm a knife-welding attacker, but Shield Drills will help to tone your muscles enabling you to do some gardening at the weekend without having to take the rest of the week off from work.

This focus on health is important to note as it underpins a lot of what takes place - or doesn't take place - in a Choi Kwang-Do class, and also the on-going development of the martial art as a whole.

Jason Wright is a 5th Degree Black Belt and Master Instructor in the martial art Choi Kwang-Do. For further information on Choi Kwang-Do classes in Ealing, West London visit

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