Evolution of Martial Arts

An article was brought to my attention recently and it prompted this little brain dump. Let me know your thoughts.
I came to the realisation a while back that while based on combative principles, Chinese martial arts have evolved and therefore our teaching methods and intentions should also evolve. I think it would be foolish to train any style in the way it was even a couple of centuries ago. They had short term survival as their primary goal and were able to train day in, day out and therefore reach much higher levels of strength, conditioning and ability. 90% of their training was weaponry, only a small portion dedicated to unarmed work. Obviously the introduction of firearms had a major quashing result on martial arts weapons and as a result we have now reversed those percentages.
Tai Ji is no longer required for battlefield use but has built itself a niche in the older market as a gentle and safe form of exercise. While I advocate knowing what the Martial purposes of Tai Ji moves are for intention and historical purposes, and personally think that Tai Ji can in fact be a fantastic style for self defence, I no longer expect the student to be an effective fighter as a result of their Tai Ji practice. There are many quicker and simpler methods to gain sufficient self defence or fighting skills in a shorter timeframe. I believe Tai Ji to be superior to many styles, however it’s downfall is a much longer learning period. Kung Fu likewise is a longer arc to effectiveness, however it is my belief it similarly offers a broader range of benefits than just combat ability.
I credit Martial arts for saving my life (I was suicidal at 17), and saved from several other intense situations over the years and thus my wish has long been to make a similar difference in the lives of my students. After some 20 years+ of teaching I discovered that I had indeed saved some students lives and improved/enriched others but not necessarily as I expected.
Whilst some students did in fact survive life threatening situations (a couple of students have survived knife attacks), many more have said that I had helped them through major depression, immense social anxiety, lack of confidence etc.
Many more students train in martial arts as way of staying in shape, focussing on fitness, posture, and flexibility etc. In our current technology fuelled world, exercise is sadly lacking for many. Many primary schools don’t even have regular afternoon sports any more! As a result I’ve had students unable to touch their knees from a standing waist bend!
So I’ve come to realise that while self defence is still important (and the original point of training in martial arts), that the extraneous benefits are increasing in importance (and are more so for some). However, common sense tells us that even in the technical realm it would nowadays be more beneficial to learn de-escalation skills, self defence moves and improve personal fitness than say, learn how to defend against a spear attack!
There is nothing wrong with training in the styles of yesteryear as long as you are aware of the pros and cons. If you want to stay effective in the modern era, than by all means evolve and continue to evolve as martial arts have done since the very beginning.

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Jason King

ShiGong Jason King has been studying martial arts for 30+ years. Jason is highly regarded in the martial arts community for his great skill and comprehensive knowledge of martial arts, and his excellent, accessible teaching style. Jason’s first substantial involvement in martial arts began with studying Togakure Ryu Ninjutsu for three years under Sensei John Nalder until he chose a new journey and direction. Mr. Nalder helped Jason to develop confidence, positive mentality, combat attitude and survival skills that remain with him to this day. He is an ongoing mentor who continues to inspire and encourage.

In 1990 Jason met Master Yi-Yen (Ian) Lee, who was at the time founding the Wu Zen Dao School in Brisbane, Australia. Initiated by Master Ian Lee, Jason was inducted as a disciple (private student) and trained daily in both the Internal and External martial arts. Jason lived with Master Lee for a year and in 1992 they travelled to Taiwan to meet and train under Master Lee’s own Grandmasters. By 1993 Jason achieved the rank of Tai Ji Instructor, and the following year that of Shaolin Kung Fu Instructor. In 1995, Jason took over the running of classes at the school.

Jason has several referee accreditations including a 2nd level national judge within the National All Styles Tournament circuit. As a competitor, Jason has received well over 100 trophies in various tournament categories including forms, demonstrations, weapons and fighting. The combat events included points sparring, grappling, push hands, continuous fighting and full contact bouts in various competitions. More than 30 awards have been for State, National or International Titles. Proudly, ShiGong Jason can also boast several National Title holders amongst his ranks.

Jason has coaching qualifications recognized by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC). As well as having the school registered with the Martial Arts Industry Association (MAIA) which provides accreditation, insurance, and is a peak Industry body for Martial Arts in Australia, Jason has been previously involved on the Queensland committee of the Kung Fu Wu Shu Australia (KWA).
[ShiGong Jason King]In addition to his martial arts work, Jason is an accomplished stage Fight Director, one of only 8 recognised in the country with numerous stage and film credits.

In recent years, Jason trained in several security courses, culminating with not only security qualifications and extensive work in the security industry, but certification as an Executive Protection Officer (bodyguard) as well.

Excitingly 2013 saw ShiGong Jason inducted into the Australasian Martial Arts Hall of Fame in recognition of his long and dedicated service within the industry. In 2016, The Hall of Fame Sokeship Council awarded Jason to his current (ShiGong) level.

2017 continues to see ShiGong Jason and his school in high demand for demonstrations, workshops, and displays with regular invitations to perform at National Titles and International events. In the near future, there are plans to expand the academy and to publish several books and DVD’s.