Caveat: This rant is mostly based on a couple conversations I had with the most violent-minded people I’ve met, both of whom are in the upper economic strata with tertiary education or higher, and both of whom are family men. I should add that the less wealthy people I know that do martial arts do so because they like fighting and don’t make excuses for it. Finally, the best and most qualified people I’ve ever met in martial arts (especially Muay Thai) are just about the nicest most laid-back people ever —- probably because they let it all out in the ring and don’t feel they have to prove anything outside of it.
Somebody recently told me he was no longer into things like boxing or Muay Thai or BJJ or wrestling because these need youth and strength, while “combatives” are easy, effective, efficient, and practical (I think they call that “functional” these days), like headbutts, eye gouges, and I’m guessing biting.
OK first of all, if your body is destroyed training anything, then you’re either a professional athlete or an idiot. It is a pro’s job to destroy himself to be competitive and entertaining, not so for a civilian who wants to learn to defend him/her self. If you insist on training with BJJ guys who think torn rotator cuffs and ACLs are membership cards to an elite club, that’s your choice. If you think that fighting every week or month in full contact matches is necessary to learn to apply the techniques, that’s your choice. If you think that you need to destroy your knees and ankles or shoulders through overuse injuries to learn to kick someone in the thigh or elbow them in the face, that’s your choice. If you think that it makes more sense to only do things that any untrained person could do, rather than say, train in something and also be aware of the things any untrained person could do, then that’s your choice.
Me, I think that martial sports are healthy and improve reaction speed, timing, strength, stamina, health, etc etc, and everything else is about mindset (not my term, thanks sir) —- a mindset that a trained person OR an untrained person could have. The difference being that a trained person can have the mindset along with totally useful skills, while an untrained person can have the mindset, eye gouges, groin shots, teeth, and would probably collapse like a sack of potatoes if you punched him in the nose or kicked him in the leg.
Furthermore, I find it silly when people come along telling me they’re learning X or Y martial art for practicality. Practicality is studying hard, working hard, being a nice guy, and avoiding dangerous situations. Practicality is technology: a gun, gloves that can’t be cut, hidden edged knives, poison.
Efficient techniques are making money so you can pay someone else to put their lives on the line for you, or getting in a fight with someone and then telling them that you have had his family kidnapped.
We practice martial arts because they’re cool. It’s probably a tiny minority of people that got the snot beat out of them as kids but then practiced martial arts and then managed to save themselves and their friends and family from muggings and gang violence. To say nothing of the fact that saving the environment and working in education or simply wearing a cop uniform and driving around the block a few times with an unloaded gun do a lot more for public health and safety than any number of ULTRA REAL NO BS MARTIAL ARTS.
Nobody looking for practical solutions to everyday problems will learn how to hit things with sticks, knives, swords, fists, or feet. No society ever became better or won a war because of the ability to throw down (sharper rocks, longer spears and automatic weapons, hello!).
We think it’s cool. We want to be like the masters. We want to feel strong. We’re upholding traditions.
Martial arts won’t make you feel strong. Walking in a dangerous place at night will always be walking in a dangerous place at night. And in fact, looking badass can make you a more inviting target. Winning streetfights can make you a more inviting target. Being the toughest guy around WILL make you a more inviting target. And as much as I hate Penn and Teller’s “Bullshit”, they’re right about one thing: martial arts practice is a surer way to get injured than random violence. More expensive, too.
Please, I’m still not sure what I’m doing martial arts for, but if you just want you and your family to be safe from violence, be a good person and do good things for and with good people.