Tag Archives: Jujutsu

Link: Frank Gotch’s 1908 “Wrestling and How to Train”

Follow the link for a transcript of Gotch’s classic wrestling manual, Wrestling and How to Train.

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Evidence Based Practice in the Fighting Arts: Appraisal and Suggestions

The practice of martial arts has come to be diverse in terms of the wide range of  arts and schools available and in terms of the population that is involved. Physical fitness and talent may only be required to a small degree, or they may be paramount to success. Students may be dedicated about conditioning, or they may be “weekend-warriors” whose primary physical activity is a class.  An instructor may be qualified in a technical realm but not be a good source of information in others, such as the nature of violence. The need for Evidence Based Practice (EBP) is just as high as in any other vigorous physical activity, yet appeals to tradition, history and authority and “experts” often lead students and practitioners to accept dubious information or ignore new information, which can have consequences on a number of levels. For this discussion, the practice of the various martial arts can be divided into two realms: non-competitive recreational (i.e., oriented at self defense, fitness, cultural pursuit, etc.) and competitive (amateur or professional competition). Most of this discussion will focus on the recreational realm.

What is EBP?

Briefly, evidence-based practice can be seen as a tool for:

  • finding evidence to support decision making and for analyzing the quality of the available evidence
  • distinguishing low quality sources of qualitative and quantitative information from high quality sources
  • promoting critical thinking and synthesis of the literature
  • recognizing that best evidence may change over time

Evidence-based practice is a key feature in modern medical education. In the above diagram of EBP components, it doesn’t take much effort to exchange “patient” for student and “clinical expertise” for instructional expertise

It’s also important to recognize what EBP is not:

  • A cookbook approach to training and decision making
  • Not based solely on hard evidence- empirical experience, intuition and active experimentation have a role. EBP considers personal experience, judgment, values, etc. alongside information from objective, quality sources.
  • Not restricted to RCT’s and meta-analyses

Failures of EBP in the Fighting Arts

An extreme example of a lack of critical thinking and evidence-based practice can be found in  the cult of personality that has developed around Ueshiba Morihei, founder of the Japanese art of Aikido.

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Linked Video: Old Sambo Video

I ran across a great video of Russian Sambo training that looks to be from the 1930’s or 40’s. Lots of good throws, leg reaps, arm locks, flying scissor takedowns, and thighs like tree trunks.

And if the first few minutes are any indication, don’t mess with Russian women.