Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Bottom Line: Martial Sports vs. Martial Arts

Numerous intrusions and life in general has kept me from posting lately; so, I'll begin with the thesis statement.

Bottom line: martial sports train competitors to win within a controlled environment at a predetermined time with a screened potential opponent where both accept the pretense of the rules to ensure that no one becomes seriously injured or killed; martial arts train practitioners how to survive at anytime, regardless of location, against an unknown number and type of opponents who likely desire to kill you, therefore, it's probable they are carrying weapons and so are you.

That is the long and short of it.  Everything else is a rationalization to discount the reality of either for the favored emotional attachment or being ignorant of historical and contemporary facts relevant to martial engagement, sports and survival.  

The excellent point of martial sport training is the method of intense, specific techniques utilized to maximize effectiveness due to the safety precautions involved.  This method of training allows for great development physically and a high degree of skill in a relatively narrow range of accepted movements.  The excellent point of martial art training is the high degree of overall skill demanded to be competent in a more comprehensive endeavor and the mental training required in order to change perspective to be effective.  Surely, sports requires mental training as well, but not nearly to the depth and breadth required in non-sport martial endeavors.  The mental fortitude to show up every day for training and workout three hours a day or more, and work through injuries or swallow pride when someone is beating on you with padded gloves knowing in the back of your mind you can quit or someone will stop them is nothing like overcoming the fear of working with large, sharp bladed implements live, or the training to fight three people at once who have lain in wait and there is no quitting or assistance.  

The problems of martial training that don't involve sport applications is the tendency to fantasy.  I've seen it all too often, and so has everyone else.  This allows those who are unqualified, or unwilling, to train those who don't know.  Therefore, they will never know, and they won't realize it until it's too late.  Thankfully, MMA, yes a martial sport, has awakened those who would have less knowledge than before.  I argue that MMA has become it's own style of martial sport even though all of it's techniques have come from martial arts that are non-sport.  I've watched it develop from inception when BJJ was virtually unknown to all but a few of us before UFC.  But those of us really old guys recognized Judo ne-waza when we saw it regardless of personal style that was inculcated in the Brazilian schools.  Truly, it only seemed new to those where the martial sports of boxing, kickboxing, semi-contact sparring, no-contact sparring, karate-do, and other arts were reduced to sport oriented training exclusively to obtain and retain students.  Those martial arts that didn't place marketing as the single most important endeavor, but the integrity of the art as paramount, remained obscure and non-sport martial arts.

Make no mistake, a professional athlete is something to admire.  A professional athlete who makes a living with martial sports would doubtless destroy many fantasists learning martial arts.  However,  there are those who hold no delusions and train seriously as well with an entirely different mindset and goal.  Truly, a competent martial artist has nothing to fear from a martial sport practitioner except perhaps civil litigation in today's society, maybe criminal  prosecution from others, or a bruised ego if you're having a bad day.

My students include law enforcement personnel, martial art instructors in other systems, soldiers (including those who instructed others in combatives), force on force instructors with law enforcement, security instructors, and others that have, and do, deal with actual lethal force decisions for a living.  They can go anywhere else and have almost to a person trained at least five years with most being over ten years in other systems and appropriately certified.  Surely, MMA or BJJ is much easier to find and learn than finding and staying with me, a semi-structured instructor in a little known martial art with a background in law enforcement, high-risk security, investigation, street patrol, executive protection, single operative surveillance, military active duty, and a short run with competitive shooting years ago.  But then again, perhaps I have something to offer than can't be found in rigidly controlled environments taught by those with no history of dealing with potential uncontrolled violence at any moment without notice, or rules when it's better for your opponent(s) and worse for you.

I wish to thank Uncle (Bapak Willem de Thouars) for sharing his art with me and allowing me to share it with others.  Truly a jewel that Uncle has carried forward, his art reflects the realities of pre-WWII fighting when modern society didn't even exist.  I'm honored to call his art my art as well.  I hope I can do Uncle and the art justice.