Sometimes, the perfect analogy to explain something can come from an unexpected place. For me, I recently found a way to organize some thoughts I’ve been having about martial arts, and it’s all thanks to VTuber mega star Ironmouse.
As I peer more into the world of kung fu and the like, I’m frequently encountering the idea that many martial arts are not built around merely being a catalog of techniques one can add to their arsenal. Rather, they’re often systems of efficient power generation for particular circumstances, which then form the foundation for executing techniques.
Something like western boxing has been proven effective for fighting, and it’s a system where specific implementation of techniques can be made functional by anyone if initially taught correctly. From what I understand, a less experienced person can learn to throw a 100% proper and effective punch even if it might not be as good as a veteran boxer’s. In contrast, many techniques across various kung fu disciplines will be largely ineffective without having trained extensively in how a style is meant to generate power and having passed a certain point in which your body has adapted to this counterintuitive movement.
It’s a difference that can be hard for people to grasp, myself included. I’m not a fighter or a martial artist, so it’s not something I can intuitively understand. But this is where Ironmouse comes in.
One of the many impressive things that Ironmouse is known for is that she actually has training in operatic singing. However, her opera voice is not her “normal” singing voice. During her 2023 birthday concert (see below), she sang well but without going into opera mode, and the difference is noticeable. In other words, a person can’t just improve their singing until it reaches “opera level”—it requires dedicated training in a particular way of producing sound.
While not the only VTuber to have studied opera (Tokino Sora from Hololive and Banzoin Hakka from Holostars EN), Ironmouse is probably the most powerful example of how specific the training can be. This is because singing opera style can literally cause her physical pain due to chronic health issues, so she doesn’t often perform that way. When she does, though, Ironmouse sounds incredible.
The similarities to different types of martial arts also extends to the topic of subjectivity. Opera may require a certain type of training to make a certain type of sound, but is it inherently better than other forms of singing? Not necessarily. It’s all down to personal wants, needs, and preferences, as well as what you aim to do with it. Is it the right move to train for years in a specific way of generating power found in certain martial arts, or to work from what one’s body can already do?
So thanks, Ironmouse. I don’t know if it makes sense to everyone, but your singing has helped me in a most unexpected way.