Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons

When the problem occurs, it’s too late to understand

In most self-defense situations, martial arts (both traditional and modern), do not work as we expect and unfortunately, when someone attacks us and / or threatens us it’s too late to understand that:

  1. The aggressions are always different – No one attacks as it happens in the collaborative gym-simulations (read Self-defense: why 90% of martial arts does not work); no one will wait passively to be beaten by our preconfigured techniques, people react and their blows are not caresses (read How to use martial arts in a real fight)
  2. The gym is not the street – Even if we tap on our opponent’s shoulder he does not stop to strangle us (read The 6 types of martial clash); there is no soft mattress on the ground to cushion our falls (read What are breakfalls and how to learn them)
  3. Titles, prizes, and participation to seminars have no value on the street – As Bruce Lee teaches, a belt, even if colored, only serves to hold up the trousers (read When a belt becomes a blindfold)
  4. Real skills require deep study – Spatial intelligence, timing and cunning are worth a hundred times speed, strength and technique (read The most important skill in combat); a skill truly acquired is the one who comes at the right moment, spontaneous like breathing (read How to acquire special abilities)
  5. To fight is the last option – If we attack first, we are the aggressors and not the victims (with all the legal consequences that it involves read Best martial arts for self-defense); in terms of personal safety, prevention, escaping and negotiation are 100 times more effective than any combat system (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method)

It’s at that exact moment that we catch the difference between:

  • What we think to know and what really we know
  • What is really effective and what absolutely not
  • What we are truly able to perform and what not
  • What we should have focused our preparation on and what we did instead
  • How we were trained and how we would have to train
  • Physical training and mental preparation (to the stress level of a real aggression)
  • The limits of human reflexes and the importance of constant attention(read Constant attention: what is and how it works)

The limit lies in us

In front of the failure, the illusion fades immediately and instead of blaming ourselves for our superficiality (lack of reasoning and concentration), we unload the responsibility for our errors on the martial art, which, in a lot of cases (directly or indirectly):

  • Has been adopted in life vs death battlefields for thousand years (eg. traditional styles)
  • Is employed by the special military forces of half of the world (eg. modern warfare fighting systems)
  • Is used at the highest levels of athletic competition (eg. sportive martial arts)

The real fact is that in 75-80% of cases, the guilt is ours and the most common reasons are:

  • Too high expectations and too low preparation – Through movies, poor “instructors” (read Recognize a good / bad master: 5 characteristics), too high reference points (etc.), we have been introduced to an all-exasperated and imaginative view of martial arts (“magic” shots that annihilate anyone, effortless victories, one-week secret technique’s learning, etc.)
  • We do not focus on learning the right things (in the right way) – We spend more time dreaming of being good rather than training, chasing titles rather than real abilities, calling us experts rather than searching for / correcting our defects, criticizing the others rather than facing them in no-cooperative sparring sets, focusing on physical violence instead of learning to use the mind to prevent / manage critical issues, etc.

There are no shortcuts

It is foolish to wait to jeopardize our safety (or that of those around us) to open our eyes and draw a furrow between reality and fantasy, between serious training and waste of time.

A real self-defense preparation requires dedication, sacrifice, focus and this is not for everyone. Anyone who thinks to be smarter searching for shortcuts, using effortless tricks or anything else, soon or later will find himself having to deal with the tough reality:

  • People become good at what they do most – Probably an exquisite pastry is likely to be, at least, a discreet cook but it is equally unlikely that he could compete with an expert who has devoted his whole life to cooking (for example) fish; the same reasoning applies to martial arts, if we have spent our lives doing sublime acrobatics (or cool moves), how can we hope to resist to those who (for the same amount of time) have done nothing but fighting (even at a rough level)?
  • The only working techniques and tactics are the ones we have completely mastered – While, on the one hand, it is true that a good knowledge of combat technique gives us a remarkable advantage over an inexperienced opponent, it is equally true that an average knowledge puts us below his level; everything that does not comes simple and spontaneous as walking should never be used in a real combat (read How to learn faster)
  • Forms, sequences, drills, techniques and fighting sets are useless without sparring and conditioning– While, on the one hand, it is true that forms (eg. from Karate or Kung Fu) help us to train precision, balance, trajectories (etc.) is just as true that they do not give us any rudiment for a real clash; the struggle is something live, unpredictable and always different; forms have not been studied for this (without conditioning and sparring they are useless)
  • Even if our body is athletically prepared, we are only at the 50% of the work – If our mind is weak we will probably fail; prevention, negotiation, planning, stress management (etc.) are fundamental abilities that no one who is seriously interested in self-defense can ignore; if we think that things like muscles and aggressivity can solve any kind of situation we are simply foolish

Have a wide range of possibilities

To gain good results, we must carry out all that is fundamental to our goal (not necessarily linked only to the struggle):

No one can excel in everything (mental aspects, strength, etc.) but we must, at the same time:

  • Privilege what we are good at
  • Improve what we are lacking

On the street, it’s only maintaining a broad vision that we can get (at least) a possibility to prevail; this way we can always count on a small advantage (eg. good use of legs, advanced flexibility, deception capability, speed of execution, etc.) in front of eventual opponents with overwhelming skills.

In-depth articles

Questions

Reply in the comments and share your experience:

  • Have you ever faced a fighter stronger than you?

Author: Master Kongling

Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.

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