The limits of martial arts and combat systems
Even if saying that 90% of martial arts (in terms of self-defense) does not work may appear exaggerated, we must reflect on some important aspects:
- Exasperated violence – Most of the ancient combat systems (as well as the modern warfare ones) have been designed to kill the opponents as quickly as possible or, at least, to damage them so much that they are totally incapable of continuing the fight; thinking and acting in this way, in a civil social context, can mean spending our life closed in a prison (read Personal defense: the S.A.F.E. method)
- Excessive detachment from reality – On the other hand, it is not uncommon to study martial arts (“aimed” at self-defense) where sparring is totally absent (read How to do sparring); the illusion of knowing how to defend ourselves against a fierce opponent (the only ones from which we must really defend ourselves) without ever having taken a punch in our life is like deluding of being able to play football without ever having played a match against an opposing team (read Why martial arts do not work: 5 reasons)
- Excessive Sectorality – Many martial arts focus too much on single aspects of combat (ground fighting, armed combat, use of legs, arms, etc.); if on the one hand, this means to reach a higher skill level in a specific niche, it means at the same time remaining almost completely undefeated on all the others; in the absence of limits / rules of street fighting this means to drastically reducing our chances to survive (read 6DKF: what does it teach?)
- Excessive illusions – Without ever having to deal with truly uncooperative partner and multisectorial experienced adversaries, we can quickly delude ourselves that we have reached a level of technical effectiveness (eg. disarming a knife or a handgun) that is more than sufficient to prevail in any situation; unfortunately when it happens to face an aggressor who reacts, who moves quickly, in an unexpected way and who is not waiting us to be subdued it is too late to see the limits of our martial development (read How to use martial arts in a real fight)
- Excessive technical complexity – Not infrequently, to make a beautiful show, in a few minutes are taught techniques (to people completely unprepared) whose application in a real context would require months of specific training (eg. the Shaolin monks, before moving on to the real technical sector, train for years the basic psychophysical skills); the more complex a technique is, the more the practitioner’s ability must be high and the adversary’s skill low (in all the other cases we are completely at the mercy of any rough street beater)
- Poor mental preparation – Almost always a preparation related to self-control (read Warrior’s self control and especially ) is completely omitted (nothing beyond a “do not use these techniques to hurt someone” warning the first lesson) and, above all, the component of emotional stress is totally ignored; even athletes who fight in the ring (or inside the cage) can lose their lucidity in a situation of unexpected self-defense (not necessarily in terms of terror but also of excessive aggressivity), let’s imagine how will react those who have never taken a punch in their life
- Poor prevention preparation – Many instructors wrongly teach self-defense starting from the idea of physical confrontation (read The 6DKF’s diagram about the use of violence); any combat expert can confirm that each fight include myriads of variables that can determine unexpectedly their outcome and that, above all, no one leaves them unharmed ); reasoning this way we risk unnecessarily ten times more our lives, this way we expose ourselves to risks (even mortal) that we could easily have avoided without resorting to violence (read
- Poor tactical preparation – The classic preparation provided by most martial arts presents absolutely arbitrary assumptions (the fact of being assaulted by one person at a time, with specific methods, of being able to easily capture the limbs of the adversaries, etc.); in a real fight the ways in which we can be attacked are hundreds and each of them includes endless variations, the fact of thinking to face the same technical scenario studied in a gym is simply ridiculous (read The 6 types of martial clash)
- Exaggerated mental closure – For a big number of instructors (read Recognize a good / bad master: 5 characteristics) their style is absolutely the best and in comparison, the others melt like snow in the sun; it is not serious to talk this way, there is no better martial art than the others and each of them has something to teach us (both positive and negative); we must not miss any opportunity for learning or we will impose ourselves a colossal limit to our martial growth (this is the spirit of 6 Dragons Kung Fu, read Do not look at martial arts)
In defense of traditional styles and warfare systems
We do not want to discredit traditional martial arts, nor the modern warfare combat systems in terms of value, the discriminant lies in understanding what actually works in a real context and what does not.
It must be stressed that:
- The various types of traditional martial combat were developed in times in which life (and its value) was very different than today (the law was managed in another way, the war technology was considerably less advanced, etc.)
- The various types of warfare combat systems were developed for lethal and specific combat scenarios, not for expert martial artists but for soldiers and to be accompanied by extreme psychophysical conditioning
The point is that we can study any type of martial art but we must be completely aware of what we are doing, of their strengths (trough our teacher) and above all their limits (trough an open but rational mind, read The characteristics of a true master).
In the next article, we will see how should be a real self-defense preparation (read Best martial arts for self-defense).
- Martial art and self-defense: what are the differences? – An in-depth discussion about martial arts and self-defense
- Self defense: 10 correct attitudes during a quarrel – A few tips about how to correctly manage a dangerous situation
Reply in the comments and share your experience:
- What are the limits of martial arts from your point of view?
Author: Master Kongling
Founder of 6 Dragons Kung Fu.