Are Martial Sports better for self defense than Martial Arts?

Discussion in 'General Self Defense' started by Hanzou, Oct 23, 2018.

  1. Hanzou

    Hanzou Senior Master

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    This question has been bugging me for awhile, and it mainly comes out of Rickson Gracie's arguments in regards to self defense BJJ vs Sport Bjj, and the age old Martial Art vs Martial Sport debate. When I think about what a martial sport can bring to a table vs a martial art, I simply have to give the edge to the sport. They develop speed, cardio, strength, and are applying their skills over and over again in a controlled environment. MMA is a sport that is currently giving traditional arts a run for their money. Their exponents just appear to be better fighters overall than their traditional peers. People constantly say that Boxing is great for self defense, and Boxing is definitely a sport at just about every level of practice.

    Here is vid of a sport Bjj practitioner in a fight on a basketball court:



    While he was consistently interrupted by bystanders, he still executed his moves well, and clearly controlled his opponent at every stage of the fight.

    Anyway, I'd be interested to hear what others think about this.
     
  2. ShotoNoob

    ShotoNoob Master Black Belt

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    Why can't TMA schools provide conditioning levels?

    AND, I simply.... another sound bite sum it for my MMA school marketing prop. No need to think about it folk, it's simple to me it should be simples for you!

    What peers? The ones who decide to compete in MMA forums? Here we go again with sample bias.

    Here's my question. I don't why anyone would question the effectiveness and practicality of BJJ? The Gracie propaganda that it was the best style of martial arts, nothing could compare is what sent BJJ's reputation spinning down. A realistic assessment of Gracie BJJ in practice (even take commercial MMA as one test venue) would both highlight it's advantages and point out it's weaknesses too.

    We've seen great demonstrations of grappling skills featuring BJJ in both MMA and Grappling only competitions. In current MMA contests. Certainly skills all applicable to self defense. And particularly with that Gracie BJJ emphasis on the take down, many, many self defense situatons do turn into ground fights on one score or another.
     
  3. Martial D

    Martial D Senior Master

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    I get it, man. I think everyone that is ever going to get it, has got it. Got it? Good.

    Once you get it though, isn't the rivalry a little pointless? I mean, it's all martial arts.

    TMA is blueprints and applied theory. You need this or nothing new will come, and basic foundation things will be lost.

    MMA is the testing grounds, where ideas are put to the fire and refined. This is where fighters are created.

    For martial arts to continue to get better as a whole, and to get better as martial artists in general, its good to be both. I am both a traditional martial artist and a sport martial artist..in the sense that I test things with gloves on in front of a moving opponent, and actually train my body for strength and cardio.
     
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  4. Steve

    Steve Mostly Harmless

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    Yes and no.
     
  5. Hanzou

    Hanzou Senior Master

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    Perhaps I didn't make this clear. There ARE many TMAs that have competitive aspects, so I'm curious if that competitive aspect produces better martial artists simply by way of the benefits of sport. Further, do those sportive benefits translate into a better self defense result than a martial art that avoids competitive aspects completely?

    Interestingly, I could see my style splinter into non-sport vs sport as the gap in competition widens and Gjj simply doesn't produce as many competitors as Bjj because of the former's self defense focus. I'm curious if when that happens, will Gjj begin to devolve while competitive Bjj continues to evolve? If that happens, would Bjj be a better self defense option than Gjj?
     
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  6. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Yellow Belt

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    As a starting point, if you look at my other posts I think you'll see I'm pretty positive about martial sports in general. With that out of the way I'm going to try to give you another perspective on this topic.

    Just talking about self defense, as opposed to any of the other many reasons to practice a martial art or sport, I think a big part of the disconnect in these sport vs art conversations is what people mean by self defense. When I read these threads everyone throws around the term self defense but nobody clearly defines it and it's pretty obvious that very few people are talking about the same thing.

    One big divide seems to be between those who think a semi-consensual street fight is a self defense situation (what I'm going to call Type 1 SD) and those who think that street fights are best avoided through non-physical means. If a street fight seems like the most common self defense situation for you then of course martial sports seem like the best thing for self defense because a street fight (like this video) is a lot like an MMA fight, except your opponent is frequently not as skilled.

    If your definition of physical self defense (and by that I mean ignoring conflict avoidance, de-escalation, situational awareness, and other approaches to preventing violence altogether) ISN'T about street fights then things aren't as clear. Frequently, people seem to be talking about unexpected, completely non-consensual assaults and that the goal in this case is to minimize the risk of injury and legal complications (what I'm going to call Type 2 SD).

    In a lot of Type 2 SD situations, what might be most helpful is enough stand up grappling and striking skills to avoid being taken out or down and to make space to run as early in the encounter as possible if it can't be avoided altogether. On top of that, enough strength and stamina to sprint for a couple of blocks at high speed would be really valuable. Could MMA and related sports arts provide those skills? Sure, and so could a number of appropriately taught traditional arts.

    Either way, from my understanding of motor learning theory, these skills need to be taught specifically for this purpose if the students want to optimize their skills for self defense. Of course at that point you're starting to leave the realm of sports even if you're basing the training on MMA fundamentals. Also, please note that I didn't say I could point to anyone in particular who's providing better training for this than MMA sport training, just that there are better ways to approach this in theory and some people believe that their training is doing so and some few of them are probably right.

    If you have a reasonable expectation that you're going to get mugged or assaulted by an armed and potentially murderous assailant (Type 3 SD?), you probably shouldn't be wasting your time on martial arts or sports at all and instead either make different lifestyle choices, or if that's not possible (and you live in the US), buy and carry a suitable handgun and get really good at using it. Also, don't forget to take some classes on weapon retention and really practice it.

    The other thing that people don't talk about is the difference in practitioners themselves. If you're 19, working a job that doesn't care if you come in looking banged up and you're single, then spending hours at the MMA gym getting in prime shape for 5 - 5 minute rounds and to take and dish out a real beating might be the best thing for you. If you're 50, married with 2 kids and have to give regular client presentations it probably isn't even an option.

    Even if it is theoretically an option at that point, how long will a standard MMA gym remain functional for you? And if the 50 year old is strictly interested in self defense (Type 2) and cares not a bit for the sport as a sport, there's an awful lot of time spent on skills and conditioning that is superfluous and to some degree likely detrimental to their goals. Now again, you could create an MMA based class tailored to this sort of person, but then you're starting to leave the realm of sports.

    Now that I'm approaching 50, I can sympathize with the theoretical 50 year old above. I work a lot of evenings and I'm married which makes it tough to attend more than a couple of classes a week. I'm lucky enough to work a job where I could probably get away with black eyes and cauliflower ears but it wouldn't be the best career choice I could make. I work out, I'm in reasonable shape, but I've found that it takes longer to get in great cardiovascular shape and it goes away faster than it used to. I'm a lot more committed to strength training, where the gains are a little slower than in my youth but they still stick around, and a lot less interested in spending my limited time doing hours of road work and skipping rope.

    At this point I have close to no interest in competing in boxing, Muay Thai, Judo, or MMA events, though I do have some interest in competing in BJJ. And while I think there's value in BJJ for (Type 2) self defense, I'd personally be far more interested in something primarily focused on stand up grappling for that purpose because I want to get away from an attacker, not role around with him. Even if they're hypothetically the best choice for self defense for someone, from what I've seen the MMA gyms around here aren't a very good self defense fit for me at this stage in my life.
     
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  7. marques

    marques Master Black Belt

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    There is nothing preventing martial arts from being as good as martial sports. Potentially, they can be even better and specifically focused for self defence.

    But sport implies competition from day one; and martial arts are very often trained (only) with compliant partners. So, the sport trains better for non-compliant opponents...

    Both have technical restrictions, while for self defence only legal or moral/ethical restrictions would make sense.
     
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  8. Finlay

    Finlay Green Belt

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    Having sparring in your martial art does make you a better martial artist. You understand how to work against an active person.

    However having sparring doesn't also mean sport.

    There is a difference between self defence and fighting although obviously there is crossover.

    The guy in the video is impressive. I really like how he moves. In this situation maybe self defence went into fighting. I especailly like his reaction to the sucker punch.

    Some (self defence) questions

    - Do you think he could have de-escalated the situation?

    - Was there a point where he could have disengaged.

    - What would happen if the 'interrupting' people had decided to join in? Ot seems that they were more on the other guy's team

    - What would have happen if the woman didn't break the fight up?



    It may seem like splitting hairs, but if you are studying self defence all these questions and others have to be looked at. As well as the physical self defence.
     
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  9. Kung Fu Wang

    Kung Fu Wang Grandmaster

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    Old CMA saying said that if you don't spar/wrestle for 3 days, your arms and legs will no longer be yours. If you have not used your single leg to take down your opponents 100 times, how will you know that your can use it to take your opponent down the 101 time?

    I truly don't understand how will you be able to develop your MA skill without the "sport" format?
     
  10. Buka

    Buka Grandmaster

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    I can’t really answer. It’s like asking me which of my feet I like better.

    But I do believe competitions have an advantage over students who never compete.
     
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  11. JowGaWolf

    JowGaWolf Grandmaster

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    I'll let these guys answer your question. You can skip to 12:15 for a direct answer
     
  12. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    I'm curious, what part of this...
    "They develop speed, cardio, strength, and are applying their skills over and over again in a controlled environment."
    ...do you not see as part of non-competition MA?

    To me, there's not a hard line between "martial sport" and "martial art". Martial sports are the organized competition. Martial art is the training. Some folks train entirely for the sport. Some folks don't use the sport (the organized competition) but use the same training approach, while limiting their application to within the school (I think @drop bear falls into this group).

    I think we too often (and I include my past self in this, from the opposite side of where you seem to stand) draw a hard distinction between these. Competition - any competition, including friendly, in-dojo, and organized events - adds useful feedback to training. So, if you give me two identical people and train them identically, but one of them uses competition and the other doesn't, then the one who uses competition will probably be the better able to defend. As with other areas of training, intensity in the competition matters, to - and we have to figure out where we make our compromise on safety vs intensity in all areas of our training.

    But there are more variables than that. Light-tap point sparring is a martial sport. I'm not sure it is helpful - and might actually be counter-productive - for developing self-defense fighting ability. That would not be the case for MMA or Kyokushin. So the ruleset used will matter, as will the training used.
     
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  13. DaveB

    DaveB Master Black Belt

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    What about a martial art that is trained like a martial sport?
     
  14. jobo

    jobo Senior Master

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    Yes i think your right, allowing that its a big world with lots of different types of training in ma in it, someone who is in peek condition for competition, will quite probebly be in bettet condition than someone who doesnt compete, and so in any real world situation will be fitter and have sharper reflexs, than a non competition ma,

    You could further argue, that any body who does any contact sport at a reasonable level, will also have a marked advantage over a hobbist ma,
     
  15. FriedRice

    FriedRice Master Black Belt

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    TMA/SD in general (<- this means, not all. thanks), is kind of like Larping. All of the disabling, incapacitating moves (eye gouge, nutstrikes, etc.) are all trained and sparred with make believe contact to light contact. This was why Kano developed Judo, by eliminating all of the cheap moves and made it a sport, which in turn, created fine tuned athletes that can be legit killers if they wanted to.

    People often claim that if you train under MMA sports rules, you'd end up fighting with rules in the streets....so does this mean that a TMA/SD will pretend-kick someone in the balls if they're attacked in the streets for real?

    Here's a good example of pretend-strikers vs. real-strikers:

     
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  16. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    Your martial art has to work first and foremost. Which is sport when painted with a big broad brush.

    And then it should be applicable to the situation. Which is street.

    The 90/10 rule.
     
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  17. Headhunter

    Headhunter Senior Master

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    As always the style makes little difference. If one guy trains boxing once a week then spends every other day eating junk, smoking and drinking and another guy trains karate 7 days a week, eats healthily, practices outside class, doesn't smoke and does regular exercise. The karate guy will be better. If you reverse the situation the boxer will be better it's really as simple as that
     
  18. gpseymour

    gpseymour Sr. Grandmaster

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    In general, I'd expect a branch that has competition to be better for the purpose than one that doesn't. That's assuming the evolution spurred by competition (as with your reference to BJJ/GJJ) doesn't take it too much into specialized moves that favor competition rules only (as we see happen in some areas of TKD).
     
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  19. MetalBoar

    MetalBoar Yellow Belt

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    I think that in most cases if you don't make a special effort to train to actually follow through with those kinds of techniques there's a real possibility that you'll "pretend-kick someone in the balls" under stress. I think there are a number of ways to mitigate this but I don't know how many schools even think about it. If they train all the less "lethal" techniques with real resistance it probably isn't the end of the world, but if they are just LARPing, as you suggested, then yeah that's a problem. Just like most sport based schools that don't contain a self defense curriculum don't think about the less than ideal habits they ingrain. It's just not such a big problem there because, in general, they aren't training with such a limited rule set that this cripples their techniques outside the ring.

    This is one of the things that gets me up on a soap box. Lots of things can work to improve one's self defense to a greater or lesser degree, but if you just go through the motions without thinking about how it will actually work and then testing your beliefs to see if they're correct you can miss a lot.
     
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  20. drop bear

    drop bear Sr. Grandmaster

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    What if both people have the same lifestyle?
     

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