I am drawn to the internal, especially yiquan and baguazhang, but I think judo will become and remain my “base” for a long time. My pro and con list based on what I want to learn is just really well weighted toward pros. Plus if people like Jan Kallenbach and Kenichi Sawai learned it first, and Cheng Tinghua mastered shuai jiao, that says quite a lot if we want to “seek what they sought”. My evolving list

pros:

1. covers two ranges well. it’s essentially “premixed” ma by a genius. doesn’t need much else to be fuller mma.

2. practice with cooperation, then practice against real resistance.

3. try to “muscle” it too much then you can clearly feel why and how soft can be better.

4. standard vocabulary, rules, etiquette, roughly standard promotion criteria

5. sport and/or art

6. shiai is about as close as you can get to simulating fighting while still being pretty much safe.

7. no-nonsense. the principles can be quickly grasped by anyone.

8. a lot of principles are similar to “internal” principles. so cross-training grappling or internal arts is quite compatible.

9. whole body power and controlling one’s own and one’s opponent’s balance is learned inductively via experimentation and demonstration in both kata and randori

10. if you can’t get something kinesthetically after a lot of hard work, you automatically won’t cling to it intellectually.

cons:

1. sometimes newcomers and others are uncomfortable about the idea of getting thrown or rolling around on the ground, or can’t do it due to injuries. that doesn’t affect me directly but probably limits the number of training partners.
2. striking is deliberately missing from the first part of the curriculum which is on the one hand a big benefit, but even appreciating that, sometimes an interesting entry i learn elsewhere can’t be used as a setup because it assumes a striker’s reaction or guard, or well, because i can’t really hit my partner, at least not too much or obviously. I’d like to learn the flow from strikes to clinch to throws to ground. to transition to mma or freer fighting requires transition to no gi, as well as striking of course.

3. some weird sport specific things around gripfighting and related considerations. similar to above point.

4. doesn’t work various “internal” things such as zhan zhuang and subtle postural principles for whole body power and balance and “listening” so explicitly. whole body power is arrived at inductively whereas internal arts try to instill it more systematically from the get go (yet most people miss this lesson anyway) and have a lot more specialization, concepts, and vocabulary in these areas, even without mentioning qi or even yi. and i am into yi and qi.

my list of cons are basically fine for me since I can cross-train the missing stuff, especially the stuff I love in that last point. A grappling background apparently worked for internal folks like Kenichi Sawai, Jan Kallenbach, Cheng Tinghua and others. Can’t be a bad thing to walk the same path. I like throws best anyway. Grappling automatically teaches sensitivity and “softness” even without b.s. philosophy giving one mental confusion. If people actually practice push hands this way, they would clear all those strange self-imposed roadblocks/cobwebs and make some real progress.
Too bad I can’t find one school for everything I want at the moment, say yq+bgz+judo. Or san shou. Or push hands with a tougher mentality that would seek the 4 oz. Or sambo. That would be cool. This base just makes sense. No wonder why the Japanese had so many fans at the Pride fights. They can probably follow more of the clinch and ground stuff since it’s pretty technical. The closer the range, the more technical. Well I’m assuming judo is still a big part of PE there and I’ve read it’s not necessarily so.

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