Martial Arts for Outsiders
December 19, 2008 2:02 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to watch some classy martial arts bouts. Recommendations?

I've looked through past posts on martial arts. Didn't find any that could yield the right video links or technical jargon that would allow me, an outsider, to look at a variety of martial arts. Ideally, I'd like to sample the best of many, visually, so I can start to see what they have in common, how that is all continuous with yoga, and such. But plenty of punching and slapping is fine too. So share your insider knowledge, please!
posted by stonepharisee to Religion & Philosophy (18 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
You could do worse than to find videos of Morihei Ueshiba, who founded Aikido.
posted by jquinby at 2:19 PM on December 19, 2008

Some good Tae Kwon Do fights in this video, including an impressive jumping spin kick knockout by North Korean fighter Ri Chol Nam (around the 0:50 mark).
posted by pravit at 2:19 PM on December 19, 2008

He is totally yoda! Yum. More. I grew up as a kid feasting on Bruce Lee. My parents thought it was a violent streak. They didn't know it was ballet.
posted by stonepharisee at 2:36 PM on December 19, 2008

Carlos Condit vs. Hiromitsu Miura - a mixed martial arts bout showcasing some excellent judo, muay thai, and jujutsu. (the actual fight starts about 6:35 into the video)

Here are plenty of judo competition videos

Here's some Savate

Here's some Tomiki Aikido (Most forms of Aikido don't have competition, but Tomiki Aikido is the exception.)

Here's a good Kyokushin Karate match
posted by tdismukes at 2:54 PM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

"He is totally yoda! Yum. More"

Just to clarify your question - are you looking for "bouts" (i.e. sparring or competition fights) or are you wanting demonstrations of techniques, as in the Ueshiba video you linked to? In most cases, they will probably look pretty different.
posted by tdismukes at 3:04 PM on December 19, 2008

Thank you tdismukes. This is great.
posted by stonepharisee at 3:05 PM on December 19, 2008

I'm curious about what distinguishes one "tradition" from the other. Which verge towards the boxing end of the spectrum, and which veer more towards the ballet-like tai chi. I have no experience, but I study movement, and it seems like there are very many ways to approach the basic fight scene. I want to see what that spectrum consists of.
posted by stonepharisee at 3:10 PM on December 19, 2008

If I were to approach this I would basically go on Wikipedia and find a list of the more popular martial arts and google those martial arts names into YouTube and sort by most viewed. Something like that. I don't think it should be that hard to look at some videos and say 'ok so this is muay thai, this is TKD, this is karate.' They are as distinguishable as languages if you just surf around youtube for a bit watching videos. As for movement, there is a lot of ineffective flash in martial arts that doesnt translate to a real fight at all (ie. tae-kwon-do and akido) and there is some beautiful movement you can see that is also beautifully effective (ie. judo, bjj and muay-thai).
posted by GleepGlop at 3:32 PM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

Yes, GleepGlop, I agree, and I could have done that, if I were quite sure what I want. But I thought the personal nature of AskMeFi might help here in defining my question. Wikipedia is a more vulgar distillate, if I may be allowed.
posted by stonepharisee at 3:43 PM on December 19, 2008

"I'm curious about what distinguishes one "tradition" from the other. Which verge towards the boxing end of the spectrum, and which veer more towards the ballet-like tai chi. I have no experience, but I study movement, and it seems like there are very many ways to approach the basic fight scene."

Okay, just so you know, in many martial arts systems the practitioners do not practice any form of free sparring or competition (what you would normally refer to as "bouts"). Often, these systems are the ones which look the most "ballet-like". It's a lot easier to get those beautiful, graceful dance-like body mechanics when the movements are choreographed for both parties. The demonstration by Ueshiba that you linked to falls into this category.

On the other hand, in competitive matches, such as the ones I linked to above, each participant is doing his best to keep his opponent from being able to complete an effective technique. It's a lot harder to look graceful when your opponent is continually trying to mess up your range, your timing, and your balance.

There are important differences in the underlying body mechanics of different martial arts traditions, and if you're interested in movement it can be fun to examine those differences. Just remember that if you're comparing body dynamics in a fight vs body dynamics in a non-competitive demonstration, it's sort of an apples vs oranges situation.
posted by tdismukes at 3:43 PM on December 19, 2008 [1 favorite]

To further clarify my comment above, even in those systems which do include competition, the same practitioner may look much more graceful and dance-like when demonstrating techniques than he or she will in a fight.

Therefore, if you're comparing/contrasting the movement patterns of different styles, you probably will want to compare demonstrations to demonstrations and fights to fights.

You can get an additional layer of understanding by comparing demonstrations to fights within the same system (Judo for example). What you'll want to avoid is comparing demonstrations in one system with fights in another - that would probably give you some misleading ideas, especially since you don't have a martial arts background yourself.
posted by tdismukes at 3:52 PM on December 19, 2008

That's very helpful, tdismukes, thanks! My background is studying both language and movement, so I'm drawn to the apparent rule-basis of each 'system' which needs to be unified, or understood together with, the graceful coordinated movement within each system.
posted by stonepharisee at 4:25 PM on December 19, 2008

Here are three styles of Capoeira for you they are all Capoeira just different types of games.

Angola- Low & (some times) slower game players play to trick each other.

Benguela- Slow medium paced game played low and close player move together like gears moving constantly transforming one movement to the next.

Regional- Fast stand up game acrobatics, fakes and take downs are dominant.
posted by jade east at 4:41 PM on December 19, 2008

You might get a kick out of the highly idiosyncratic, break-dancing, KFC-bucket-wearing, spinning-backfist-launching, completely unique Genki Sudo.
posted by googly at 5:23 PM on December 19, 2008

Some awesome Kendo footage. Slow motion so you can see the strikes during the bouts, and how the attack and defense develops.
posted by forforf at 7:09 PM on December 19, 2008

Since you are coming from a total outsider's perspective, I recommend the History Channel's Human Weapon series. The hosts travel to different regions, meet with martial artists, watch demonstrations of forms and techniques, then take part in a sparring match with a practitioner. If you ignore the questionable physics formulas in the animations and the reality tv-style editing, you are left with a nice introduction to a martial art you might not have known about. The show might help you find a few styles you enjoy, you can then research those further.

The show's official site is here, but you will be able to find most of the episodes already uploaded to youtube.
posted by stachemaster at 8:50 PM on December 19, 2008

tdismukes has pretty much told you all you need to know about effectiveness and choreography in martial arts. In fact, his explanation of the dichotomy is the best I've ever seen.

All I have to add is a few recent matches that spring to mind as visually impressive:

Dustin Hazelett vs. Tamdan McCrory at UFC 91

The actual fight starts at the 6:30 mark. At 10:00, it starts to get Escher-esque when the fight hits the ground, and some rather esoteric joint locks are attempted.

Anthony Johnson vs. Kevin Burns

This is just a clip of the end of the fight. Although they're fighting tooth and nail, I thought it was rather elegant.
posted by ignignokt at 10:57 PM on December 19, 2008

Oh, and here's an awesome flying armbar.
posted by ignignokt at 11:56 PM on December 19, 2008

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