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MidknytOwl

Alternative to Kung Fu

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Hi.

 

I had wanted to learn a martial art for a long time, wanting to be able to protect myself combined with something that had history versus a McDojo, so in the summer of 2011 I found a local Kung Fu school (Northern Shaolin) and went for it. 

 

loved it. Loved it. Drank the kool-aid hard, went religiously and was sad on the days there weren't class, participated in the Lion Dancing (I was a Buddha) that enabled the school to run as a non-profit and keep class costs down. With classes and practice I was at the school 10-15 hours a week, happily sweating my little butt off.

 

Then I busted my knees. 

 

The first one was a meniscus tear just a month in (though I didn't know that until much later). After a week my knee felt mostly better, so I just went right back at it, and after a month it didn't bother me at all. About a year and a half later, I busted the other knee. That one would be fine until forms, where suddenly I would twist just right and barely be able to walk for the rest of the night.  After a couple months of this happening I finally went to a doctor, where I found out I had a meniscus tear and needed surgery if I wanted it to stop doing that.

 

A month after that I went snowboarding for the first time...and tore my MCL, of my good knee! (I know. I apparently shouldn't do things.) It was from that MRI that I found out I tore my meniscus that first month and had just been going around with it torn for two years.

 

Cue 9 weeks in a leg brace that went from my hip to below my foot 24/7, which was followed by double knee surgery (where thankfully the MCL had just healed enough he didn't have to reconstruct), and six weeks of physical therapy. My final follow-up appointment had good news and bad news: I was clear to hike again (I'm a Park Ranger, this was a big deal)...but I should never do Kung Fu again. 

 

Turns out I'm a little knock-kneed and the twisting motions of Kung Fu and my anatomy are not a good fit. If I went back, it was just a matter of time before I would tear my meniscii and have to have surgery again, and each time upped later arthritis and pain, since there's only so much to cut out.

 

In my heart I knew it was coming, because I had never had a single knee problem before I started Kung Fu, and it seemed to be all I had since. I also wasn't the first person at the school to have knee surgery, and while the 19 year old went back after surgery and went hard until she had to have the same surgery on the other knee a year later, it wasn't worth the risk for me. I'm in my 30s and need to be able to walk to do my job; as much as I loved Kung Fu it wasn't worth giving up hiking and my career.

 

So now it's almost two years since I last did Kung Fu. I've gained about 70 pounds (the injury and not being able to walk coincided with getting hypothryoidism - thanks body!) and am ridiculously out of shape. I can go to the gym, but I think I'll really benefit from some type of organized class that makes me go. Plus I still want to be able to defend myself, and I feel I've lost what training I had in that arena.

 

What do you suggest?

 

My ultimate goal is to be able to defend myself and hold my own (though I'm not sure why this worries me so much). I'm very short (4'10") and I'm a very dense human (healthy weight for me is actually 170-180, which is 100 pounds from where I'm at now). Speed is not a strong suit, but I'm naturally strong and muscular under my fat. I liked sparring a lot and won gold in continuous sparring at the ICMAC tournament, so I don't suck at it either, which is nice. (I kind of sucked at Kung Fu otherwise though. My body was not really meant for Northern, but we didn't have a Southern school.) While I liked the forms, culture, and history with Kung Fu, I think at this point I'd be okay too with just being able to kick ass and take names. Obviously, anything with excessive jumps and twisting is out, because of the knees, but otherwise I'm open.

 

Thanks for any suggestions! :)

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Have you ever considered grappleing arts? Judo or sambo might be rough on the knees, lots of turning and pivoting into/out of throws, but Brazilian jiujitsu should be plenty safe.

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So sorry about the knee injuries.  That must stink to have happened.

 

Ever considered Tai Chi?  It really is a Chinese martial art with actual martial applications and with the right teacher, you'll learn those.  Of course the trick is finding the right teacher who knows the applications and not the normal run-of-the-mill Tai Chi classes.  Perhaps other "internal" styles like Xing Yi / Hsing I could work for you.

 

I'd suggest when checking out a school that you inform the instructor about the knee injuries and ask if their style puts a lot of torque on the knees.  

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I'm going to write this because I'm working on my narcissism. I trend to doing impractical but awesome instead of practical and boring. I would much rather be training Capoeira than MACP. I can't use MACP on the dance floor.

Unfortunately, a realist self defense journey requires getting yourself into situations you are uncomfortable with,

If martial arts for self defense is your *only* goal, you need to cover the following:

1. You have to defend yourself on the ground. It's not supposed to happen, but it does. A long fight on the ground is the worst self defense situation ever. Your not seriously covering self defense if your not working that.

2. You need to be able to defend against wrestlers and tacklers, and know how to be taken down from all four cardinal directions, both from a clinch and from a large circle (arm drag,etc). Know how to fall by yourself, and with someone on you.

3. You have to be able to get through someone's striking (block/achieve a clench while being punched), and then take them down, you have to be able to take down a larger opponent from a clinch/headlock and from a large circle (like an arm drag or weapon takeaway gone wrong)

4. You have to be able to strike (at least defensively) while being attacked (push kicks, face palms, elbows, knees).

5. You have to be able to fight from the natural flinch.

6. You have to be able to stand up while under attack.

7. You should to know some basic wristlocks/weapon takeaways.

8. Sprints and Parkour are part of a good self defense training program, but pretty rare in a dojo.

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I'm going to write this because I'm working on my narcissism. I trend to doing impractical but awesome instead of practical and boring. I would much rather be training Capoeira than MACP. The real bitch about being somewhat narcissistic is the "all or nothing" mentality. Constantly looking for the next way to be "Awsome". At some point, we all have to contend with pushing through age or injury, and we have to be able to continue to train what we can vs being a champion at a sport or other awe inspiring feats of dexterity.

Unfortunately, a realist self defense journey requires getting yourself into situations you are uncomfortable with, working around whatever injury or disability you currently have. My biggest step these days is attending training even if I am too injured to train, then waiting an extra class just to be sure I don't re-injure myself.

As far as an art or dojo, if martial arts for self defense is your *only* goal, you need to cover the following:

1. You have to defend yourself on the ground. It's not supposed to happen, but it does. A long fight on the ground is the worst self defense situation ever. Your not seriously covering self defense if your not working that.

2. You need to be able to defend against wrestlers and tacklers, and know how to be taken down from all four cardinal directions, both from a clinch and from a large circle (arm drag,etc). Know how to fall by yourself, and with someone on you.

3. You have to be able to get through someone's striking (block/achieve a clench while being punched), and then take them down, you have to be able to take down a larger opponent from a clinch/headlock and from a large circle (like an arm drag or weapon takeaway gone wrong)

4. You have to be able to strike (at least defensively) while being attacked (push kicks, face palms, elbows, knees).

5. You have to be able to fight from the natural flinch.

6. You have to be able to stand up while under attack.

7. You should to know some basic wristlocks/weapon takeaways.

8. Sprints and Parkour are part of a good self defense training program, but pretty rare in a dojo.

P.S. "won gold in continuous sparring at the ICMAC tournament"...GRATS!!!!! Looks like you have most of these down already. So you may chose to train at something different for now. Take a BJJ class at an MMA school (most pure BJJ schools I find to be more focused on NAGA, not self defense). BJJ at an MMA school will talk a lot more about "ground and pounds" and other things that are practical to self defense.

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Ground and pounds practical to self defense?

Maybe in the mystical realm where you're attacked by honourable men. Ground > Dangerous land of rock, glass and pain. Straddling some one on the ground > vulnerable from all angles.

Ground is bad! Bad! Unless it's one on one like a square go

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"My ultimate goal is to be able to defend myself and hold my own (though I'm not sure why this worries me so much). "

 

Sort of a broad goal...defend yourself against 1, 2,3 + attackers, against a knife wielding attacker, weapon disarms etc

 

As for holding :) - "I don't want to get any messages saying that "we are holding our position." We're not holding anything. Let the Hun do that. We are advancing constantly and we're not interested in holding onto anything except the enemy. We're going to hold onto him by the nose and we're going to kick him in the a$$. We're going to kick the hell out of him all the time and we're going to go through him like crap through a goose!"

 

 

I've torn my meniscus twice, 2nd time I was out of work and had no insurance it was about a year later before it was "fixed". After the surgery I was informed of a bit or arthritis in it...along with ongoing back and shoulder issues (I was not kind to my body in my youth).  Pretty much something pains me every morning when I get out of bed, between that and my age (I have stuff to do work, volunteer work) I wanted something simple..I found a gym that teaches Krav and I love it (I did Tang So Do for 10 years and American Kenpo for about 2 earlier in my life). 

 

Wyrmmaster's points are all valid in regards to selfdefense, I'll add a couple of my own.

 

In regards to security/defense it should be a layered approach (like Ogres, onions and cakes) this includes not making bad decisions, situational awanress, having a plan and backup plans, not freezing when danger is close and coming for you.

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Ground and pounds practical to self defense?

Ground > Dangerous land of rock, glass and pain. Straddling some one on the ground > vulnerable from all angles. Ground is bad! Bad! Unless it's one on one like a square

We can all agree that being under a ground and pound sucks. It is possibly the worst self defense situation ever, but it almost as common as a sucker-punch haymaker. Almost all other situations become worse (multiple opponents, weapons, etc..) under a top mount/flat back mount, or someone just holding you down so they can punch you.

I don't know any serious martial artist/use of force professional that thinks being under a ground and pound is cool.

So you can chose never to train for it, or one can chose to spend a lot of time training to get out of it.

I personally don't think your addressing self-defense*/Combatives*** unless there is some component designed to escaped or control the ground and pound.

First, I will present some BJJ experts on what does and does not apply about ground fighting outside the ring:

Stephan Kesting on what does and does not apply from BJJ to the "Street"

Gracie Academy on Grappling with Multiple Opponents

Perhaps my wording was poor, but I would like to specifically clarify what I was saying about ground and pound.

The person grounding and pounding is, in most cases, a bully surrounded by friends, a stronger attacker in a house, a stronger attacker in secluded area. While being on the bottom of a ground and pound is VERY BAD, that does not mean you should do it yourself. You should train to defeat bullies, not to be a bully. Fighting in public** is not self defense in most jurisdictions. In my state (Florida) fighting in public means you are both committing a crime. Also, if YOU are "grounding and pounding" a person then you are putting your opponent (or victim) in a very serious self defense situation, and (at least in Florida), lethal force can be used against YOU.

*By self defense I mean YOU are being attacked (battered) and have not instigated mutual combat through verbal or gestured assault (i.e. communicated a threat), and the person attacking you does not have a legal right to do so, and your goal is to survive and escape the encounter.

**By fighting in public, I mean that YOU, through verbal assault or gestured assault (i.e. communicating a threat from close range, pushing, etc.), instigated mutual combat, and neither party is a property owner, property owner's agent, law-enforcement, or have other legal jurisdiction.

***By Combatives I mean training in the Professional Use of Force, and Combatives assumes you may have a legal reason (or obligation) to physically attack, restrain, or move another person at hand to hand range, regardless of the opponents desire to engage in a physical altercation. This includes Police, Military, Bouncers, Security Guards, Protective Details, Property Owners, etc...

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Have you considered Jeet Kune Do?

 

Bruce Lee's martial art was design to work with natural body mechanics and allows the learner to adapt it to their 'style', so you only do movements that you are comfortable with and are able to perform.

 

If you want to get started on it without damaging your knees, you could try the wing-chun techniques Bruce used as a foundation for the upper body fighting in JKD.

 

Hope this helps!

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I suffered a crippling ankle injury about  a year ago, Tai Chi really helped me get my flexibility back and took care of a lot of my ankle pain. I now train Shotokan, Danzan-Ryu and Fiorie Longsword, 5 hours a week with little problems and a bit of ice. I would highly recommend looking into a good tai chi class, it helped me very much and it would jive well with your previous training.

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I'm partial to Okinawan Kempo or Jeet Kune Do (JKD).  I have been in enough to know that the ground is NOT the place you want to end up, so learn enough to be able to stand back up.

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Before recommending something new, it would be interesting to know how you got your knees busted. Did you speak to your Kung Fu Teacher about your knee problems? I would try to figure out what caused the problem in the first place.

Question i would ask:

* Which particular movement may had caused the problem? Did i do them correctly?

* Has the teacher any advice on this?

* Was i practicing with to much intensity?

* Was my stance to low?

 

To analyze the problem could help not to run into this again in other martial arts. I'dont know that much about the shaolin stuff. How does the training look like? Do you do forms? Standing excecises? Sparring / Shanshou / Sanda?

 

From my taijiquan training i have the experience that you can hurt your knees in the long run if you don't watch out for certain mistakes and correct them.

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