08 July 2010

Martial Arts

After an initial bad experience ten years ago, I am interested into getting back into martial arts. But so far it isn't working out. I have very specific requirements and a weird situation.

When I was younger, I trained with Grandmaster Sergio Barriga in his art of Shim Shin-do®. Remember that "®" - God help you if you forget the ®!

I don't think much of Shim Shin-do now, but I was brown belt in short order, training for black belt, teaching younger kids at the dojang. The "Art of Spirit, Mind, and Body" was created by Barriga in the late 90s. Barriga is an Argentinian, a black belt in seven different martial arts, and is a master of four of them as well, he has 150 first-place finishes in tournaments, and is super-Christian. He used to tell me stories while we trained.
I was on vacation with my wife, and we were in a taxi. I said to the taxi, I want to go here. But the taxi driver wasn't listening to me. He just kept saying, okay okay okay. He was going the wrong direction. I knew we were being kidnapped. When he came to a stop, I got out of the car, but he kept driving with my wife in the back. I ran up next to him and I just went POW POW POW. I had never been like that before, never been in a situation like that before. There was blood. I took my wife and left.
For a little Argentinian guy, he was scary sometimes. He hit like a truck.

He was very concerned about someone "stealing his art." My father stopped by a couple of times, and the Grandmaster trapped him into a long discussion about how important it was to safeguard Shim Shin-do from the people who wanted to steal it. This might have been a real concern, I don't know.

After a little less than a year, I kept seeibg kids run outside and immediately start kicking each other in the face. I started questioning the whole thing. There was very little philosophy behind it - it was kind of slathered on as an afterthought. I suppose this is because it's very difficult to incorporate traditional Korean and Japanese notions of discipline and qi without the spiritual aspects, which may not mesh well with the "First Christian Martial Art." And without the philosophy of it, what was I doing?

There are several ways to approach a martial art. It can be for practical defense, for personal well-being, and for enlightenment through physical motion. Shim Shin-do was not the most practical martial art, even though the Grandmaster would tell me about how it was the first art to be computer-modeled. For general fighting, Brazilian Ju-jitsu and associated mixed martial arts are pretty much the most effective, and for real-life defense, running is almost always the best option (combined with very simple groin kicks and eye gouges). For general fitness: well, I'd been in better shape when I was in cross-country, and I didn't have to be responsible for teaching children how to bloody noses. And for enlightenment... let's just say that no amount of spinning side kicks will teach you about inner quiet.

I'm not knocking Shim Shin-Do, really, although I sometimes have some harsher words about it in private and a lot of people say really nasty things about Barriga. It's great for what it is. But what it's not what I want.

I am interested in something to keep fit and help my mind grow. I am uninterested in anything that is about hurting other people. I thought about Tai Chi, but no one here who teaches it will agree to teach a foreigner (I think because of language or my age). I thought about Aikido, but even though one particular teacher is very impressive, more investigation of Aikido tells me that it's still almost all about hurting people. Maybe Judo? I don't know. I think it will still just have to wait.


  1. Hmm...let me know what you decide on. I considered studying Aikido for a time, there was a therapist that worked with me at PAR who taught it. From the way that he described it to me, it was the least violent form of martial arts...concentrating more on using the strength of the person you're engaging with, against himself, rather than attempting to overpower your opponent with your own force. I could be wrong though. Actually, I'm sure that you are more informed, because I haven't done any additional research into it as I'm sure that you have. If you don't want to engage in violence, have you considered something like Tai Chi?

  2. Aikido mostly consists of people fake-attacking you, and practicing dealing with them. Tai Chi is by a wide margin the least violent, although Judo is a close second.

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