Monday, April 21, 2008

We're now an MMA school

It seems that at Lavallee's, at least for the moment, MMA is in. And kata are out. I noticed last week at testing that there were NO kata. Bbth the junior and adult classes earned their new belt without performing a single Kata (except for the basic appreciation form)! No XMA, no weapons, no three set kumatai, no bookset, no 6/8/10 count kicking, and no long or short ones. The entire evening was the basic strikes, pad work, and MMA style holds and grabs.

Today was an A day. Traditionally, A days means Kata work. But today, it was all MMA. The same thing was true last week (I've only made two classes in two weeks). It's a dramatic change. And how far will it go? So far, our take downs and ground work are drills. I go, you go with no resistance. But, are we on a path to real wrestling and jutsu? Will we start resisting the moves and trying counters in free form? Will sparing include take-downs this year? How far will Kyoshi take us on this MMA path?

When I joined Lavallees, in the summer of 2003, all of our holds and grabs were of the kenpo variety. Then, the holds and grabs disappeared from the curriculum for awhile. When they returned, they were much more MMA and street style self-defense. Kenpo holds and grabs were structured as releases, strikes, and then the creation of distance. Now, our holds and grabs are about holding and maintainng control, elbow and knee strikes, taking the other person to the ground, and maintaining a dominant position.

It's interesting to see how far down this road we'll go. And it helps make us more rounded martial artists.



Steve said...

I have mixed feelings about things like this. I recently read an article by John Will (a Machado BB in Australia) just posted an article on this very subject, called "The New Combative Epidemic".

It talks about this shift in instruction. He also mentions confusing two cultures.

How do your fellow students feel about this shift?

BBat50 said...

I have mixed feelings. One is simply that I sweat, a lot. And I feel awkward about having that much close contact. Also, being my age, I worry about injury and agility. And, I really really liked the kata and old curriculum. But, new stuff is fun. I like the concept of experimenting. I like being with the mainstream trends and so far, the balance of traditional and MMA is fine for me.

Other students have shared similar concerns with me. One lady (not one who sweats) was sharing with me her concerns about "some situations with other people".

Rich Holmes said...

Hi, I just discovered this blog. I too was bringing my son to a Lavallee dojo (in DeWitt, NY) and found myself wanting to give it a try... at age 52. I started in March and hope to get my yellow belt next week (and my son to get his purple).

Interesting reading this post. Sounds like things are different there; at the DeWitt dojo the katas are still very much with us. I don't know enough to know how much of what we're doing is kenpo style and how much is MMA, but it sounds like more kenpo than what you're describing.

Maybe they're trying it out in Florida before changing things in New York?

BBat50 said...

It's a few months later. But returning to this post is interesting. Basically, most of us love the MMA. Some people don't like being that upclose and personal. But mostly, we like the exposure to the basics of something that most of us are spending a lot of time watching on TV.