Martial Arts are the best workout. Why would I say such a thing? First, let me say that any kind of exercise is good. You can run, swim, lift weights, etc. There are many ways to get in shape. Martial arts are more than exercise in that you learn technique, theory, and application. You go to class, warm up, review, learn new techniques, apply those lessons and condition your body. You test what you learn in stressed environment. You spar with your classmates and test your will. You have to deal with fear, fatigue, physical limitations, etc. When you are getting ready for a belt test or competition, you have deal with nervousness, anxiety, etc. If you can get on the mat and look another person eye to eye and punch, kick, throw, and submit them (with them doing them same to you), you learn who to keep your ego in check. Not many forms of exercise can do this. Martial Arts can. You have to be social, so if have trouble speaking in front of people you get over it. You develop confidence and learn through trial and error of what you need to do to get better. The is the risk of failure is there. There is the risk of pain. Learning to deal with these things you will improve in all areas of life.
Jack Of All Trades And Master Of AllWe all heard the expression, "Jack of all trades and master of none". As a martial artist, I've decided to pursue mastery of all. Most of us will be good a one thing or maybe two. I have devoted my lifetime to trying to be good at all. Am I great at all of them, maybe not, but I feel that it is the goal. In school, you might have an A in some subjects, B in others, and so on. Let's pursue straight A's and to be great in all we do.
How do you know what you learn will work in reality. There are many instructors that will tell you that their systems is this and that. Some will criticize other systems and say that their system is superior to others. Well don't go for any of that if that person can't demonstrate to you that they are telling you the truth. In order for something to be effective, you have to be able to apply what you learn against a resisting and non-compliant opponent. For effective fighting technique you have have to have fighting experience. You don't have to go get in a real fight (it would help), but you have to spar with resistance. Don't get caught in concepts. Learn from those who have real life experience applying those techniques, not just those who have belt and certifications and no fights.
I just got back from some fights in NY with one of our guys fighting for a title in the semi-main event. In the fight his opponent gets hit, moves back, twists or hyperextends his knee, falls and can no longer continue. I assume that my guy wins that title and the referee calls the match a No-contest. A No-contest usually results when something beyond the control of the fighters stops the match. In the case of a fighting moving and falling and not being able to continue, I don't think that constitutes a No-contest. Having torn ACLs in matches, I hoped back up and continued to fight. If I couldn't have continued, then the other other fighter should be awarded the victory. I don't think it should be declared a No-contest.
In looking at decisions determined by officials (refs, judges, etc.), I think that they should do all in their power to let the fighters determine the outcome. I would rather extensions rounds be added in the case of a draw. Depending on the sport, rulings should be based on the basic definition of the sport. For example in combat sports, the objective is dominate one's opponent with the most efficient techniques for that sport. In a boxing match, we know a right cross hits harder than a jab. So, if it boils down which wins between the two, the right cross should win as opposed to looking at it as both landed a punch.
It would be great if all officiating had competitive experience or training in what they are judging (believe or not, many times it is neither), we could see better decisions. As professional as commissions and organizations want to be, they main area the fail in is getting credible experienced people to officiate.
Even though Reality Self Defense claims to be different and superior to Traditional Martial Arts, in some cases they are alike. The argument is theory versus practical application. My thoughts are that you have to get experience applying it yourself. As a combat athlete, I've been fortunate to experience hand to hand combat to the fullest (striking and grappling in individual and mixed formats). From a reality perspective, I know what it's like to have bullets fly past and I have seen first hand the results of knife and gun violence. The first thing I will tell you is that awareness is the most important skill you can have. Reading body language is second. Controlling your emotions is next (appearing aggressive, passive, oblivious, etc.). All of these must be present before you can apply the physical or tactical skills. Combat sports will teach how to control emotion, pressure, stress, pain, and give you psychological aptitude that will help in a situation.
The techniques of Shidokan Karate have been adopted from various systems (those considered most effective). With techniques from traditional Karate, Muay Thai, Judo, etc., this style is constantly modified and the efficiency of its techniques are constantly verified in various full contact arenas. The Shidokan is best known for the Triathlon, "Karate, Kickboxing, and Grappling". A champion must defeat three opponents under all three rules in one night. This is a grueling test of one's mental and physical strengths. Shidokan tournaments show us that there is something substantial in Karate. They highlight the powerful techniques that often get lost in the intricacies of kata. Shidokan is Karate's most complete answer to critics of Karate. The skill it takes to develop expertise in Karate, Kickboxing and Grappling cannot be argued.
If you train to be defensive, you are already behind your aggressor. You have to be offensive. My belief is hit hard, hit fast and hit first. When sense danger, act first. Be proactive no reactive.
The fitness business is big these days with all kinds of workouts to do. There is yoga, spin, cross-fit, rock climbing, etc. People will mix up there workouts where one day they do cardio, the next strength, the next flexibility and so on. For me, my primary way of staying in shape is through martial arts training. I train in several styles of martial arts that have different fitness requirements and develop different attributes. The aspects of power, endurance, flexibility, coordination, reaction, and many more more are met through these different martial arts. For example, with Judo I have to be explosive and have the constant resistance of another body along with isometric strength development in grappling. With kickboxing and boxing, I get an all around body workout developing explosive power, reaction, eye/hand coordination, and a lot of cardio. Through karate and taekwondo, I am working on flexibility, fluidity, focus, and precision. From time to time, I will squeeze in some Kendo and Kobudo (weapons) training which help with focus, grip strength, timing and distancing. I spar, grapple, skip rope, etc. So, through the martial arts, I am able to train myself mentally, physically and spiritually in what I consider the best way to do it.
In today's time we have a lot of resources to learn from. You can go online and find out how to do a lot of things. In martial arts we look for exciting things to do and want to the impressive moves we see other fighter and martial artists do. When do so we see the end result of years of practice that the person we are looking at has done and we want to be able to do what they do right now.
When I started kickboxing and boxing, there were no classes for it. You went into a boxing gym and a trainer would show you the basics (how to stance, move, basic punches) and initially he would give you a routine to follow. He didn't stand over you. He would check on you and see how well you worked on the given task. Once you got it, he would show you something else. You would watch the gym veterans and see how they trained and learn from watching. Once you started sparring you would learn what works for you and what doesn't.
Nowadays people sign up for classes and want instructors to prescribe their entire training. As I said, back in the day the coach would get you started. Then you would develop your method of training and learn what worked for you. After a few months, you should be able to do a workout and motivate yourself. You shouldn't have to be told to focus and do the work. Despite all the resources available through books, media, etc., I find that some people are unable to think for themselves. If a kid only plays with video games and never goes outside and uses his or her imagination, the won't know how to play without the game. The same is for the fighter who doesn't discovery their own path.
I had a quick ride through memory lane and just decided to jot down some of the many great people I had the opportunity to meet and train with. I started training in 1974 as a kid in Ft. Bragg NC. My first instructor was the late Grand Master Jimmie Brown (one of the founding members of the House of Discipline) and the school was the first martial arts program at Ft. Bragg. Upon returning to Atlanta in the late 70s, I trained under my big brother, Charles Trammell. In the mid 80s I started training with Master Issac Thomas (who has one of the longest running Taekwondo schools in Atlanta). Through Teakwood I had the opportunity to see some of the best kickers in 80s and 90s. In 1985 I went to a martial arts demonstration by Atlanta's first World Kickboxing Champion, Jeff Gripper. Afterwards I asked him a lot of questions and he referred me to the late James Asa Gordon, who was the premier trainer of Kickboxers in the hey day of PKA. I had the opportunity to train with the top in the sport at that time (Jerry Rhome, Jerry Trimble, Eddie Jones, Tony Reed, etc.). I got to see Evander Hollyfield, Don Wilson, Bob Thurman and Bill Superfoot Wallace train at Asa's. I even ran with Bad Brad Hefton. I fought my first amateur and first pro fights on Joe Corley promotions. Gripper took under his wing and contemplated coming out of retirement, thus making me a sparring partner. In boxing I had the opportunity to train with some of the best local fighters and some high level fighters (Sam Garr, Ebo Elder, Romalis Ellis, Robert Allen, David Taylor, JC Candello. O'neil Bell). In the 90s I met and became pals with Kelly Leo and Pedro Solona we got to see Muay Thai become popular. We saw NHB become MMA and American kickboxing give way to K-1 Kickboxing. I trained Judo with Master Nak Jun Kim (former Korean National Team Member), Bob Byrd, Dr. Gary Berliner. I would later train with Olympian Leo White and top international Judokas Josh White and Ernesto Serano. Upon seeing the Shidokan Triathlon (Karate, Kickboxing and MMA) on TV I set out to pursue the sport. After competing in the 2000 Shidokan Team USA, I learn more about the organization and art of Shidokan and in 2001 established Shidokan Atlanta. I have trained un Shihan Eddie Yoshimura and in Shidokan and Urban Combatives. So I end this rant of the past to say that I've had a fun ride over the years.
World Champion Richard Trammell shares his experiences, views and thoughts on fitness, martial arts and fighting.