I was raised in a traditional Tang Soo Do school when I moved here at like 7. It was brutal because Koreans love a good fistfight but looking back it was a once in a lifetime thing to be not only raised but educated by the guy who taught Chuck Norris the art (which is among the most extensive outside traditional Chinese Gongfu or Kung Fu) which is akin to white crane style brought from the Okinawan isles. It also involved a lot of etiquette and social training, such as how to be a better bargainer and leader. Interestingly enough Tang Soo was basically the curriculum of the old governing society of the royals in Manchuria. Hwang Kee and the Mu Duk Wan was my middle childhood. I have a lot of warm memories of having my ass kicked regularly, breaking boards and having epic, film-worthy gang battles across the Dojang floor with about 13-25 other 7-10 year olds. Seriously, the shit us kids did in there was jaw-dropping. We would start talking smack before class and wind up facing off like west side story meets MMA smackdown. Old man Kim would laugh half drunk from his office while we literally kicked and beat each other wildly. Some of those kids could jump well above your head and land kicks that could topple grown men. I recall during second year they made us start donning full sparring gear the moment we arrived because we would do that crap. Donnie Yen (played donatello in the original teenage mutant turtles movie) was one of those instructors and one of the kids in that class with me ended up in 'romeo must die'.
A lot of good my kickboxing skills will do me now, but most of what I learned with my hands still works. Martial arts are not a skill, they are a way of life. If you want skills to hurt people with, go krav magra all the way. Kung Fu will take a lot of practice but it teaches some damn good mental and physical skills.
Vey nice post Leon , though I'd debate with you as regards " most extensive" , there are many systems that could be construed to be that , and all of 'em are argueable.
If you don't mind though I'll add a few things by way of correcting some common modern misconceptions , by way of qualification , though I generally am very closemouthed about this as regards personal info. I've been at this for well past 40 years and hold advanced rank in four systems and brown belt lrank in the old *pre-olympic style* Judo , and I boxed and kickboxed both as a professional and amateur and wrestled from grade school through college , having gone to college on a wrestling scholarship , two of those four systems are rather noted for their outright brutality , another is a pure combat system with NO sport adjuncts. By the way I have quite some degree of respect for pre-Norris Tang So Do , having spent quite some time in Korea and other parts of the Far East.
Firstly , UFC oriented methods are geared towards *in the ring competition with rules and a referee* , not that such techniques won't work in a street environment , that said certain reflexes developed for sport competition can *get you hurt or killed* in the street environment. You *do not* go to the ground as a matter of course on the street , you folks think about the street environment for a moment , pavement , curbs , trash , broken glass , gravel , hard/sharp projections.........and in a confrontAtion the possibility of a half dozen of your opponents friends standing around waiting to kick your head off when you're getting the best of their boy.
***SUBMISSIONS*** , beyond controlling a drunken friend or someone you really have no wish to injure they are of *limited use* on the street , *every* submission started as a *transitional* move to the BREAK or dislocation within the original combat oriented Jiu-jitsu systems , if the situation is serious enough that you have moved to the submisssion then one may as well go right ahead and carry through to the break/dislocation and remove one of the opponents weapons , if it's that serious then don't waste time trying to make him " cry uncle" , break it and he cannot use it.....not any time soon.
BJJ/GJJ is NOT I repeat NOT " Ju-jitsu" , it's the old syllabus of combat Judo as is existed previous to the '30s , any who doubt this can do the research for themselves.
*ANY* given single system/art is a based to START from , this goes across *all* " style" lines.
NEVER , not EVER should one discount a style or system because it's *simple* , one will find that many allegedly simple systems aren't quite so simple , in addition one will find that certain allegedly simple systems can be so efficient by dint of constant repetition and practice so as to be HIGHLY effective , examples of course being boxing , wrestling and Judo , though at advanced rank Judo is actually not quite so simple............the KISS principle is something to keep in mind on the street , a double left hook followed by a reap or sweep is more effective in the street for most folks than the best " dojo ballerina" techniques.
ANY given system is only as effective as it's training methods , that's again ANY. And systems that were highly comabt effective can be completely ruined by compliant , nonresistive and non-contact training methods , if you never ever get banged in the gym , dojo ,dojang,kwoon then it's gonna be one HELL of a shock when you catch a good one on the street , getting hit or thrown is not the end of the world if you're used to it , if you aren't then it CAN be exactly that.
And folks , forget what you see on televison or in the movies , or for that matter what you see on the UFC shows , and NEVER underestimate an opponent in the street environment based upon size , sex or body structure..not EVER.
When you;re looking into schools , if they try to get you to sign a contract.WALK , if they are traing completely non-contact...WALK...if you walk in the door and the head instructor is some twenty year olf claiming advanced rank in 8 different styles/systems.....WALK.