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Martial arts criticism


For centuries, traditional martial artists have been able to differentiate between the art of the martial arts and the way of the martial arts. They have had the ability to separate, or combine, form and function, like the way a bodybuilder is able to pose in an artful, precise way, and then lift heavy weights in a functional way.

Some, to justify the existence of their own “new" or "realistic” martial art, seem to think that this cannot be done, that it must be one or the other. This is must be due to their own personal limitations since the rest of the martial arts world has no problem combining and using both the art of their martial art and the way of their martial art.

Apples and oranges

Most criticism of the martial arts comes from comparing "apples and oranges"; they are both fruit, but they are totally different things. You cannot compare the grades of two students in a history class taught in English when one of the students only speaks French. Critics say, "Look what happens when a traditional no-contact fighter enters a full-contact match and gets slaughtered." It is still a competition match, not a real fight; rules are still used, and the full-contact fighter has experience fighting under these rules.

What if a combat-hardened Marine who is well versed in the LINE combat fighting system steps into the ring with a full-contact fighter using full-contact rules, the LINE fighter would be at a disadvantage. However, if the full-contact fighter stepped into a war and attacked the LINE fighter, he would die. The LINE system only trains at stopping and killing the enemy; it is not concerned with punishing him, controlling him, or getting him to surrender. If you want to compare two martial arts, you should use rules of comparison that neither help nor hinder either art.


The following are some common criticisms of the martial arts:
  • There are differences between techniques used in patterns and those used in sparring. Most martial artists would agree that the techniques used in patterns are pretty much useless in sparring, but then, that is not the intention of the techniques. Patterns may be physically demanding at times, but the movements and techniques are relatively easy to perform. Patterns are intended as a mental exercise, not a sparring exercise. Patterns teach mental discipline; being able to concentrate, focus, and perform precise movements while under stressful situations. 
  • In patterns, everyone must perform stances and techniques the same way. Since people are not physically, mentally, or emotionally equal, identical techniques do not produce identical results for everyone. This being true, only a few people can perform all techniques with ease. Most people have some techniques they do well and some techniques they may not be able to do at all. In the performance of a pattern, each student is judged on how well he or she performs the pattern using numerous criteria, one of which the use of identical stances and techniques (to judge competitors you must have an established standard to judge by). 
  • There is a difference between sparring techniques and actual fighting techniques. The claim is that the pursuit of perfection of techniques stifles the learning process; that since fighting does not require perfection, it is useless to waste time on trying to achieve perfection. Many professions train in ways that are different from the ways used during actual use. Police officers carry firearms on the job. Firing range practice (no matter how realistic it tries to be) is not the same as firing at another person, especially when that person is firing at you; however, it is as close as may be accomplished safely. Most police officers will never fire their weapon on the job and most martial artists will never have to defend themselves. Therefore, both are training for something that will probably never occur but they want to be prepared if it does occur.

    Race car drivers drive with helmets, a seat belt harness, a roll bar, and numerous other safety devices because of the level of danger involved in their driving. The driving public is also exposed to danger in their daily driving, but they are not willing to accept the inconvenience of all the extra safety equipment. Not everyone has the same needs or requirements for self-defense. If you are a fighter, then you need to train in fighting. If you are an ordinary person, then you train to spar. 
  • Punching and kicking in the air are useless. As an example, critics say that professional bodybuilders do not lift air; they use weights since they need weight for resistance to work the muscles and develop their strength. The claim is that the same principle applies to martial arts training, that techniques must be delivered against resistance to achieve any gains. If air training is useless, why do bodybuilders flex their muscles for hours in front of a mirror without weights? Why are professional weightlifters seen on the sidelines performing the lifting motions without weights? Why do professional boxers shadow box? Why do golfers practice imaginary putts in their offices? They do it because it enhances their sports.

    With no or light-contact sparring, people may spar every day for a lifetime without serious injury. With heavy or full-contact sparring, people cannot sustain this same level of sparring without serious injuries. You do not see many active, alert old professional boxers; blows take a toll. Since most people will never be involved in a fight in their lifetime, is it worth jeopardizing your health for something that probably will never occur? People who always have to “defend” themselves are not average citizens, they have a lifestyle problem.

    Controlling techniques means movements "start and stop" with no follow-through and elbows and knees are locked-out when techniques are executed. Arms and legs have a limited length, so a kick or punch must stop at some point, and then be brought back so it may start again. This criticism of control is brought up all the time by the “realistic” arts. They pervert it to suit their own agenda. Control means controlling at what point in space the hand or foot is at when it reaches the end of its movement, and this is controlled by range, not by stopping a technique before the end of its movement. A black belt may throw a full power jab that ends just short of a nose or just past the nose. The two jabs are identical except for the distance the puncher is from the opponent. The first jab ends in a point in space just before the nose, the other results in a broken nose. If a jab is “followed through” and it misses, the puncher is vulnerable to a counterattack since the arm is overextended, while a controlled missed jab is merely snapped back to the guard position and ready to attack again. 
  • Kicks and punches are not locked out. In training, that could cause repetitive stress injuries to joints. The kick or punch travels until the limb fully extended, but it is not moved the extra millimeters required to lock the knee or elbow joint. In addition, with a lockout, the reaction force from a hit would travel back through the joint and could injure the joint. Also, when locked out, the arm or leg will be stationary for a few extra milliseconds, which could result in the arm or leg being grabbed.

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