OK, Sure. Maybe The Kinect Can Teach Me Kung Fu.

"It's just good for dancing games." That's been the unofficial but commonly held belief about the Kinect for a good while now — Dance Central and Just Dance have long been the most impressive games to play with Microsoft's motion-detector.

But what about a fighting game? Specifically, a kung fu fighting game? Several fitness games have involved fighting components, but Kinesthetic Games' newly announced Kung Fu Superstar looks to add a lot more story and action to the mix. From the game's press release, "Players will relive the epic journey of Danny Cheng, a young aspiring martial artist, as he rises through the ranks of international fame and stardom. Aided by his trusted Sifu, Danny will discover the secrets of Kung Fu and become the most popular martial arts stuntman Hollywood has ever known."

Kinesthetic Games is headed up by former Lionhead developer Kostas Zarifis, who is joined by a small team of fwllow game developers from other studios — Kung Fu Superstar started out as a project for one of Lionhead's "creative days," but eventually grew into something more.

Players will use real kung fu moves to fight against digital enemies, and will use their whole body to do so — given that the Kinect can feel a bit slow to respond, the game will obviously sink or swim based on its responsiveness. But this trailer, at least, is good fun, and certainly leads me to think that the game will really teach players a few honest-to-goodness kung fu moves.

OK, so now computers can teach us kung fu. Next stop: the Matrix.


    It seems like a bit of a laugh but if I seriously spent hours and hours with Dance Central to get some moves down and using the right ones to go with the right music, I'd probably be a half decent dancer. Not anything like if I actually danced professionally or took classes, but half decent, for an average joe.

    With martial arts, people tend to not do it right even if it looks right, and I doubt that's something the Kinect can detect. Back when I did tae kwon do I had a friend who knew the moves, but he was always getting chewed out for not putting in the proper effort, his kicks and punches lacked actual power. I blame him for that - he was more interested in looking tough and wanted to learn flashy techniques, not actually applying himself to any kind of skill or progression of ability. We started the class at the same time and after a year there was a noticeable difference between us.

    So there's no reason you can't learn a martial art from a kinect video game, as long as you're not deluding yourself into thinking that doing the moves to match up an on screen sillhouette is the same and throwing a real punch. This is probably where the actual game aspect comes in - once you're in the middle of a fight against virtual opponents you're going to want to move faster as the pace and difficulty of the game picks up, and that's likely going to mean putting more power in to keep your speed up. If the game can accurately measure your precision, you're learning both at the same time.

    However I think it's more likely that you'll be able to cheat the game by wildly flailing your arms.

      I thought (correct me if I'm wrong, I have no experience) that learning martial arts is largely useless without any sparring?

        See, this is why I could never take up martial arts.

        The point in an actual fight is to disable the opponent to the point that they cannot fight any more.
        So, that means, KO, broken limbs / serious injury or death. You are not allowed to do any of these things in a sparring match (and rightly so), so it's hardly a proper test of ability, because both sides are holding back

        It's a play fight, and while I can see it being useful for learning 1 move, technique or reflex (like learning to use an opponents attack momentum to assist your throw), I can't see it being a way to test the full thing. It'd be like learning a dance 1 step at a time in isolation, without ever having practised the full thing start to finish.

          While I see your point, we had full contact sparring (with pads and helmets, naturally), so the idea what to kick the everloving crap out of your partner while at the same time not really being able to hurt each other. You still benefit from playing defensively of course because 1) your arms aren't padded so you need to know to block properly lest you want to break something or at least enjoy a few days of bruising, and 2) you CAN still get hurt, like when I had my eyebrow split open through my helmet because I dropped my guard at the wrong moment.

          Of course we didn't use below-the-belt techniques, but we certainly learned them. For all the high kicks and hand techniques we used, something that was drilled into us was the fastest way to finish a fight (apart from not starting one) is to hit a guy in the knee or crotch. The faster and harder you do that, the sooner you're walking away.

            Even if you're not doing full contact, it will improve your reaction times and teach you how to read your opponent.

          The foundation of training is the basic techniques - stances, blocks, strikes, kicks, etc. Then built on top of those is kata, which is the core of the training - that's where you learn how to apply those basic techniques. Sparring is more about just getting used to having a person there trying to hit you while you're trying to hit them, and still being able to apply your techniques under that kind of pressure.

          I trained in Japan a couple of years back, and the guy there told us that kata is where you learn how to fight. Kumite (sparring) they regard more as a game - it's how you learn strategy, how you learn to adapt what you learn through kata/basics into a more fluid, unpredictable situation. It's also just about building fitness - it's bloody hard work! You still cop (and, hopefully, dish out :P) a fair few bumps and bruises, but the goal of it is not to seriously injure your opponent.

          But ultimately it's not even about fighting. The fact is that most people don't get into many (or even any) serious fights over the course of their lives. So spending decades training for that 2 minutes is probably not a good use of your time, since it's not all that likely you'll ever reach that 2 minutes. Learning how to defend yourself is certainly a handy side benefit, but you ask people who have done it for a long time and for most of them it's more about the physical/mental training rather than the fighting. Personally I just find it's a great head-clearing exercise. After spending all day at work chasing round after a million different things I usually go home with my head going in a million different directions still. But going and spend a couple of hours at karate training focuses my mind back inwards - spending a lot of time and effort just concentrating on tiny things like whether my foot is in the right position or whether a muscle is tense or relaxed at the correct time. By the time I've finished, all that other stuff is out of my head and I'm back in one piece again. Mentally at least - physically I'm usually pretty shattered :P

        Any knowledge is useless until you're shown to to properly apply it.

      I don't now much about Kung Fu, but I've got about 10 years of karate training and yeah, I wouldn't expect this to actually be a useful teaching tool. But reading the article, it does really sound like it's trying to be a serious teaching tool. Sounds more like it's just going to be another arm- (and leg-) flailing party game, of which Kinect already has enough. Too many, in fact.

    My four year old started Kung Fu this year, so if this is half decent Ill get it for him.

    I think this looks like it could be fun. I wouldn't expect to learn martial arts this way, though.

    For one thing, if you've never actually hit anything then you're going to bust up your hand the second to try to apply a punch.

    I'd also be worried that people were going to hyper extend their joints while throwing all of these air punches/kicks, which can be quite damaging.

    YouTube is going to explode with parents and older sibling accidentally kicking toddlers in the head after this is released.

    I'll have to pass. Only a matter of time before I accidentally kick my TV screen in.

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