The most effective martial art…
When we run into the age old debate of which martial art is effective or who’s better than who, we often leave out one of the most important components, context.
Context will either place a valid martial art (applicable in combat and more…) as incomplete or ineffective when comparing it generally to another completely different contextual art. Like for example, saying Iaido is useless in the cage. This is not an untrue statement, if you took the sword out of their hands and dropped them into a cage match and rang the bell, I don’t think they can adapt to the guy who has spent hours of training in the cage. However, put the sword back in their hands in the cage and you’ve got a completely different picture, and a morbid one at that.
Simply put, those two are not made to be in competition with each other, not to mention MMA is a mixture of martial arts, selecting what’s best for in the ring, which easily translates over to what is necessary in most other types of fighting. Since there’s no swords in the ring there’s no need for fighters to learn the weapon. With that said, it also doesn’t mean that training with the weapon wouldn’t benefit them either. Whether it is heightened focus, or a more in-depth understanding of distance and angle, with the right mindset and serious training, the martial artist can benefit from all sorts of training.
Another way context is missed is when an art has a specific type of training, like push hands, or chi sau, that can be misunderstood by the general public. It’s usefulness can also be completely misunderstood internally and schools their students will devote their entire training to excel at that particular drill. This again, is really not a bad thing, one learns many lessons on the journey to mastery whether it be of movement or interaction, so a benefit will be there. However, such a hyperfocus removes the big picture of combat. This results in a student believing in techniques that work at a particular speed or forum to be universally effective which can be very dangerous. Take, for example, compliance when drilling joint locks. Compliance keeps both martial artists safe, but the lack of aggressive tension and spontaneous movement from Uke can leave Tori a variety of other available attack variations. Tori can explore, but will most likely find that there are a lot less options when Uke is trying to get out of a lock, fight a throw, or aggressively strike back.
Looking at it that way makes it seem like the training is unrealistic an invalid, but it is not. Compliance training, Uke and Tori, those are important to help a martial artist recognize options in the heat of the moment. Push hands and chi sau allow the martial artist to read an opponent after making contact, to better prepare them for those moments in the scuffle.They each possess a specific piece of combat in them.
All are valid, but at the same time cannot be compared to each other. Each is a piece of the puzzle, some will fit easily into the big picture, some need to ease into place, and others need to be forced or modified to fit, but all go back to the same big picture, and a pretty nice one if you ask me.
So instead of comparing art to art, drill to drill, look at the context and try to connect it to the big picture. You will find we’re all moving in the right direction.
*This is a repost of a Blog I wrote on my Tumblr October 2016