Posts Tagged ‘taekwondo’

The colored belt ranking system is a commonplace feature of modern martial arts. It’s even a part of the Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP), with colors like tan, grey, brown, green, and the ever-present black. Most other martial arts still use what have become the usual colors, with white, yellow, orange, green, blue, purple, brown, red, and black. I’ve even earned a camouflage belt in Taekwondo once. Every organization has their own order for the colors, as well as their own meaning. Some systems even assign meanings to the colors themselves (white means a blank slate, purity, and so on). What is clear is that, whatever you think of the current trend in belt ranks, it will probably be a feature of martial arts training for a long time.

As for Jiu-jitsu, I stumbled upon a nifty explanation for it’s belt system. The visual metaphor is effective and makes use of the popular martial arts visual of seeing techniques as tools. Read and tell me what you think…

A nifty visual for understanding the Jiu-jitsu belt system...

A nifty visual for understanding the Jiu-jitsu belt system…

How do you define your art’s belt system?


Now that we’ve had some posts and a few readers, I think it’s only fair to take a little time to reintroduce us, the writers, to you, the readers. As we’ve discussed before, there is a lot of pressure in martial arts for the instructors to be seen as legitimate or authentic. The first step of that, of course, is to let you guys know who we are and why we’re writing.

The interesting thing about this is as part of this post I’m going to be introducing Patrick, the guy who posted the last video. Unfortunately, I can’t get a hold of him since he dropped his phone in a river, so I’m going to have to summarize his pedigree and background as best I can and let him correct me later.

As for me, I’m Brian Brock, also known by beforethefire on my blog. I’m a black belt instructor in Applied Martial Arts, a mixed-discipline self defense style. Applied Martial Arts is a flexible, adaptable self defense system for helping people develop the martial skills required to survive a wide range of violent scenarios, from simple one-on-one encounters to the more complex, high stakes situations often only encountered by law enforcement and warfighters. As an instructor for the system, I can also be seen as a researcher. I try to develop my understanding of interpersonal violence and fighting from case studies and my training in other disciplines. I’m belt-ranked in both Taekwondo and Gracie Jiu-jitsu. Another one of my responsibilities is to continue developing Asay Jiu-jitsu, a basic grappling and ground defense program in Applied Martial Arts.

Left to right: Jared Emfield (Gracie Jiu-jitsu black belt), me, Ryron Gracie

Left to right: Jared Emfield (Gracie Jiu-jitsu black belt), me, Ryron Gracie

Outside of martial arts, I’m a father of three and a dedicated husband. I’m also an English teacher, hence the insane amount of writing I seem to be comfortable with. I live in Idaho.

Patrick Asay, the other contributor to this blog, is a black belt in Taekwondo, Kung-fu, Uchudo, and the creator of Applied Martial Arts. Patrick developed Applied Martial Arts as a way to find practical applications for the martial skills he developed in his traditional martial arts training. He was motivated by his need to protect himself while living in Hawaii, where he became engaged in numerous street fights. Patrick crossed-trained with numerous martial artists and law enforcement professionals on his quest to refine his system. As a result, Applied Martial Arts is a system that covers many ranges and conditions that occur in real-world violence, such as striking, grappling, ground fighting, weapons, obstacles, and injury.

Patrick is currently looking for a new phone.

There you have it, the men behind the proverbial curtain. The last thing you need to know about us is the reason for our blog. Our vision when we first started posting was to create a community of martial artists who could discuss training and application of martial arts in a respectful, objective manner. So far, we’ve had great input from some of our readers on everything from belt ranks to training journals. Check out the comments on our posts to read them! We hope to see more people following this blog and responding to the posts (especially if they disagree), and I look forward to reading your responses.

What is your martial arts background?

I believe there’s a lot of pressure nowadays for martial artists to feel like they’re effective. There was a time, perhaps some twenty to thirty years ago, when having a black belt in Karate meant you were a good fighter. Now it’s not so simple. With the rise of family-oriented martial art centers, which focus more on promoting self-esteem and hard work rather than martial prowess, we’ve seen a depreciation of the value of the black belt when it comes to actual fighting. This made room for a new kind of martial art, a genre which characterizes itself with phrases like “reality-based” and “street proven”. These include arts like Krav Maga, the Keisi Fighting Method, and pretty much anything else with the words “tactical” or “combative” tacked onto the title. These are the arts that try to instill martial skills in people without the fluff of philosophy, tradition, and artistic form.

Typical modern self-defense mindset...

Typical modern self-defense mindset…

But are they effective? And by “effective”, I don’t mean “dangerous”. My concern is this: many martial artists: feeling the pressure to be seen as “effective”, have adopted a brutal, uncompromising mindset based on the need to fight off aggressive, armed opponents with intent to kill. I call this mindset “The Hammer”, as in “I am the hammer that hits the nail!” This mindset encourages you to  dispose of your opponent as quickly as possible in as few moves as possible. They basically train to fight against murderers, muggers, and rapists. Is this wrong? I don’t think so. But are these the only kinds of people we will be fighting? Are we so much more likely to be attacked by a terrorist than by a drunk friend or a mentally handicapped person with no control over their own anger? I have my doubts…

This is why I’m a big fan of the responsible use of force. Put simply, the responsible use of force dictates that we use the least amount of force possible to meet our objective in a fight. Legally speaking, it means one should only use the same level of force to protect themselves as their attacker. It means that gouging someone’s eye out just because he shoved you during a heated argument is inappropriate and possibly punishable by law. Even the US Marines, who actually do fight terrorists and enemy soldiers, are expected to follow this rule. After all, arresting a terror suspect instead of killing him often leads to preventing terrorism in the future. Police officers are also obligated to observe the appropriate use of force, especially since they want to make arrests, not executions.

A police officer making an arrest has rules he must follow, even if his suspect doesn't...

A police officer making an arrest has rules he must follow, even if his suspect doesn’t…

It’s one of the things I appreciate about Jiu-jitsu. Though the grappling arts can be as brutal and deadly as any martial art could require, they also are easily adjusted to control instead of maim, and to disable instead of kill. How much more peacefully can you end a fight than by simply exhausting your opponent until they can no longer continue their assault?

I think there is an underexplored aspect of self protection that includes defending yourself from inappropriate contact, whether it’s an unwanted hug, a shove, or just someone violating your personal space. In my own experiences teaching young women martial arts, these are the lessons that seem to make sense to them most. I would be very interested in seeing those techniques on a first belt test!

How does your training center teach the responsible use of force?