I'm sad to say I've become very skeptical in recent times about martial arts. I no longer just assume that the person with the higher grade knows best. The reason being, I've come to realise after possibly 35 years of interest in the martial arts, and cumulatively maybe 10 years of direct involvement, that there's a lot of misinformation out there. I'm embarrassed to admit that for years I believed that Mr Miyagi from the original karate kid was an actual grandmaster, because a club I was in at the time claimed his as some kind of accolade, and being pre Internet I had no way to verify that and no reason to do so.
Despite this, I still recognise a lot of good in martial arts. But I have an issue with impracticable techniques.
To pick just one example, let's say the rising block, jodan uke if I remember the Japanese terminology right. It is often taught as a way to block a punch coming towards the face. So in the fraction of a second that it takes for a punch to travel to us, we must: extend our spare arm (the one we're not going to block with), twist our torso while chambering our blocking arm to the opposite hip, twist our torso back the other way while moving our arms in a crossing motion, and raising our blocking arm, all with our head, the intended target, straight up, and all in the time it takes for a punch to happen, minus the delay in reaction.
Now here's the thing. I'm not rubbishing the technique. I've tested it in a controlled friendly way, and it's a great grappling tool, but I doubt if anyone will convince me it is effective as a block against a punch.
So I ask myself why it is sold as such. I've got three theories.
1. I don't understand the technique or can't perform it well enough. It does work, but I can't make it work.
2. Instructors generally know it doesn't work, but they are teaching the mechanics of it first, and will explain the application later.
3. Some instructors actually don't know, and are just relaying, parrot fashion, what they were told.
I singled out one technique as an example here, but I have similar thoughts on a number of techniques.
I think I'd be comfortable with any of those theories, if folk were honest about it. I think the issue I have is that sometimes I doubt that honesty.