This week I added squats and a lot of low stance work to my workout. I've been keeping it light, because I've been there when it's an agony to walk because you've overdone it. The next step is going to be adding standing stance work to really work it.
I remember someone trying to tell me that traditional training methods were only because folks didn't have access to modern equipment. You know, because in a agrarian society, they totally couldn't find heavy stuff for you to lift, pull, push, etc., right?
Putting that aside, I'm sure folks who work with modern kettlebells would recognize this:
Usually the full context of traditional training, which seems all too absent these days:
1. Start with a few basic moves and a weapon or two for immediate protection
2. Time and need demanding, add further conditioning and movements according to the person's needs.
So, if you already live on a mountain and hike up and down all day and have super buffed legs? You're not going to be doing a lot of horse stance. If you're a dancer, you'll probably master movement and angling in short order. Etc.
The long-term training we see now that is considered "traditional", which often involves long stance work or simple exercises which have no immediate practical combat value, are based in developing conditioning first. Since most people aren't, you know, getting attacked by bandits regularly, the general pressure to immediately teach weapons and violence is reduced greatly. There is also the fact that we're not farmers and fisherfolk anymore, so conditioning is a necessary tool.
Slow or static holding ends up developing postural muscles, which take longer to develop but also are much, much slower to atrophy, which is where you see the old folks who have a wicked strength despite doing "nothing but forms". This is the same sort of strength you see in rock climbers and ballet dancers - holding positions ends up developing this kind of strength.
The second thing is a lot traditional exercises that focus on slow movement with weight develop stabilizer muscles, which are crucial to preventing injury.
There's a lot of folks who have good strength with active muscles, and still end up tearing and straining muscles in everyday activities, because when you take a sudden stress, it's your stabilizer muscles which need to work in concert to keep things from getting hurt.
The modern problem you often see is that people did a lot of isolated strengthening exercises, but didn't do enough complex movements for the body to integrate getting all those muscles to properly work together- and boom, torn rotator cuff, strained back muscles, etc. (A friend of mine torn some back muscles when he reached to pick up a 3 pound bag. He regularly hits the gym, but...)
I'm not going claim that traditional training trumps modern training- I'm going to say that there's some valuable elements which are often overlooked and neglected. I think traditional training should be supplemented with modern strength and endurance given that most of us spend more time behind computers, desks, or in cars, than farming.
And like anything else- people who don't know what they're doing or why, but just repeating movements with the guess that "it makes you better", eventually run into cases where it makes you worse, or gets you hurt. A qualified teacher will customize exercises or training according to your body and abilities. Talk to the elder students and check out what kind of injuries they've incurred over training. See if they had different training customized to their needs.