Is it legit to ask if…
On the web, one of the most frequently asked questions about the various martial arts is the one relative to their legitimacy. Masters and combat systems are often evaluated in terms of:
- Overall efficacy
- Effectiveness in self-defense contexts
- Effectiveness in a ring / cage
- Technical effectiveness
- Effectiveness against other specific martial arts
It’s a positive attitude, it helps to divide what is good from what is not.
Before choosing which martial art to undertake is absolutely right and lawful to inquire but, simply asking a question on the web, unfortunately, is not at all sufficient: we have to carefully choose our sources.
Get valid information: whom to ask?
To obtain valid and reliable opinions on martial arts is essential to:
- Ask real experts – In the digital age, anyone can improvise quickly assessing about things he does not know or have only heard about, we have to ask for people with a multicultural experience and a serious training behind
- Ask disinterested people – In the field of martial arts everyone thinks they’re right, it is very rare to hear someone speak in a detached way of people that come from other martial settings
- Ask different people – We must listen to people with points of view similar to ours but we must also ask even to those who think in a completely different way (because we could have wrong prejudices)
- Ask open-minded people – We have to try to identify people able to see beyond prejudices, people who are able to recognize in every situation, positive and negative aspects (avoiding those who only emphasize one or the other)
- Ask people that come into play – People who have an online reference, who put their photo, who specify their path (etc.); they are infinitely more reliable than strangers who could, potentially, disappear at any moment (eg. in a forum, in a social network, etc.)
- Evaluate the answers – In any case, we always are the last barrier between us and our choices, let’s listen to the others but let’s never forget to use our mind to do our final considerations
To rely on random persons’ advice (who types for example protected by the anonymity of a nickname) is very dangerous and potentially misleading (he could be a joker, an interested person, a kid, an envious, etc.).
Some of the most common martial arts’ prejudices
The prejudices towards the various martial arts are almost infinite, let’s see some example:
- Today’s mixed martial arts (MMA) do not work on the street – False, the level of training of these athletes is so high that they can still enjoy a considerable tactical advantage (in terms of physical confrontation, not in terms of situation management)
- Studying ancient martial weapons is useless – False, weapons educate the body to move with maximum effectiveness and to improvise the use of improper weapons in case of need (this if their study is not limited to a repetition of sequences)
- Traditional styles are fake and ineffective – False, most of the traditional fighting techniques gave rise to the modern ones and in the past were used to make the difference between life and death (what has changed is the training level and its depth)
- Modern fighting systems are superficial and limited – False, in many cases, they represent the evolution of millennia of study and have also the advantage of having been coined in our time (what is often missing is a serious teaching / training method)
- Martial arts that do not make sparring are useless – False, the fight is just one of the possible purposes; there are many psychological, sportive and cultural aspects (the important thing is not to pretend to be able to fight without having ever faced anyone, read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons)
- Ring fights are rough and physical – False, these athletes have a good technical background and to this, they add an excellent physical preparation (even if the inexperienced observer does not realize it, many fights are true “chess games”)
- Traditional styles are useless – False, techniques can become old but principles and concepts are an immortal inspiration (going to the root allows us to reach a higher quality level, even if we then decide to follow other ways)
- MMA does not have technical depth – False, they tried to draw from the best of various traditional styles (overcoming, with all the possible limits, the various limits of each one)
The day will come when they will also speak badly of 6 Dragons Kung Fu (there is no martial art that is exempt from criticism), it does not matter, the people to whom this project is addressed are those who can make free and consistent evaluations.
A path to evaluate the legitimacy of a martial art
The correct way to evaluate the practicability of a martial path is to:
- Understand what we want – Are we searching for a way to socialize? A way to happiness? A way to find something against which to fight? A way to avoid / manage dangerous situations? A way to keep fit? A way to live an ancient tradition? A way to build self-discipline or self-esteem?
- Search for what we really want – We do not necessarily have to become a boxer just because we have a gym downstairs, serious martial arts are a lifelong path, it is very important to dedicate the right effort in the choosing process
- Try its teachings firsthand – What are the benefits? What are the limits? Is that we can / want practice? Is there something fake / doubtful / paranormal that does not convince us?
- Ask reliable people – We have to keep away from pedants who speaks ill of everyone (except themselves and their martial art / category), we will not get any useful information from them
A note by Master Kongling – Many years ago (when I became aware of my martial personality), I decided to draw a precise path: I opted for a serious daily training, open to multidisciplinary, deeply technical, able to fully involve mind and body but above all based on solid principles. This is what, in my small way, I have chosen… however, not everyone has the same objectives, if you want to write me we can talk about it together:
- The characteristics of a true master – The common traits of a good martial arts master and their significance
- Recognize a good / bad master: 5 characteristics – A simple and fast way to individuate a potentially bad (or good) instructor
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.