Are all martial arts systems good?

Joab

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I would say all are good for something, if nothing else than providing discipline and a feeling of confidence and perhaps inner peace. Some sifu's and shiians have told me their system is the best, or "all those traditional, classic systems don't work. You'll get killed on the streets if you try any of that, there too complicated!" and the like. I'm sure they believe their system is the best and it probably is for them, but its also good marketing, those other schools compete with them for the martial art students dollar and there are only so many people who are interested in taking any martial art in any given area.

What do you think? Are all martial arts systems good? Are some systems better for certain goals? Is there a specific system that is the best for realistic self defense? All opinions appreciated.
 
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KempoGuy06

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I would say all are good for something, if nothing else than providing discipline and a feeling of confidence and perhaps inner peace. Some sifu's and shiians have told me their system is the best, or "all those traditional, classic systems don't work. You'll get killed on the streets if you try any of that, there too complicated!" and the like. I'm sure they believe their system is the best and it probably is for them, but its also good marketing, those other schools compete with them for the martial art students dollar and there are only so many people who are interested in taking any martial art in any given area.

What do you think? Are all martial arts systems good? Are some systems better for certain goals? Is there a specific system that is the best for realistic self defense? All opinions appreciated.
it all depends on your goals. if your goal is to be high kicker go with TKD, if you want to be a puncher try boxing, if you want go to the ground BJJ or if you want a little of everything try arts such as Kempo or Krav Maga. Go with weapons if you want Arni or Kendo. It just depends on you taste buds so to speak. what may be to bitter for me may be the perfect taste for you.

but yes in the broad sense all systems are good. any systems that can teach you to defend yourself once is a proven system in my opinion

B
 

kidswarrior

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Potentially. Just as they're potentially bad. Electricity is not good or bad until it's applied...but it's always dangerous. An art can be good if applied for the right goals, by a skilled person, or bad -- even dangerous -- if not.
 

14 Kempo

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I believe all arts are good for most people, heavily dependent upon the instructor.

A great instuctor can take a below average art and through his/her teachings can make a less than acceptable art beneficial to most persons, if not all. Things that can be taught beyond the physicality of fighting are things such as self-confidence; emotional control; awareness; trusting your instincts; respecting others; and self-discipline ... among others.

On the other hand, a poor instructor can take even the finest art at make it detrimental to most practioners ... IMHO
 

Twin Fist

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no

well, maybe

what i mean is that the ARTS are good, for the most part, tho some made up arts are crap.

but instructors can be bad, Some can be very bad.

and therein lies the rub

if the instructor is bad, the system is bad

if the instructor is good, they system is more than likely good

but not always
 

terryl965

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I believe all arts are good for most people, heavily dependent upon the instructor.

A great instuctor can take a below average art and through his/her teachings can make a less than acceptable art beneficial to most persons, if not all. Things that can be taught beyond the physicality of fighting are things such as self-confidence; emotional control; awareness; trusting your instincts; respecting others; and self-discipline ... among others.

On the other hand, a poor instructor can take even the finest art at make it detrimental to most practioners ... IMHO


I can only agree with you
 

tellner

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what i mean is that the ARTS are good, for the most part, tho some made up arts are crap.
All martial arts are "made up".

if the instructor is bad, the system is bad

if the instructor is good, they system is more than likely good

but not always

Nope. I'm afraid you're wrong on this one. A good teacher can help a person get the most out of what's there. A smart one will change what's there if it's not useful. But there are systems that are just plain bad. What they teach isn't useful for what people want it to do. And there are some systems which are useful. They might be badly taught, but anyone with an educated eye will look and see some of what's worthwhile.

Let's put it this way. No matter how badly you swing it a hammer will pound stuff. No matter how good you are with it it makes a lousy air conditioner.

French style fencing is superb in its arena. Even if it's badly taught, the basics will have you covering the lines, moving well and attacking efficiently.

Pre-Corbett boxing simply isn't as good as what came afterwards. The use of moblile footwork revolutionized pugilism even under the same Marquis of Queensbury rules. A good coach in the old style couldn't raise up fighters who would win against the new style of movement.
 

stickarts

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Not to sound like a wise-guy, but there are so many systems out there now, and I am only qualified to speak about a few of them, that i couldn't really know if all of them are good or not. I would suspect they all have some value? I would agree the way in which they are used can be good or bad.
 

thetruth

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No all systems are not good. As much as I want to be diplomatic the simple fact is that with all of the new systems out there, there are bound to be a few and I personally have seen a couple so with out going in to detail the answer is no.

Cheers
Sam:asian:
 

YoungMan

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I agree, and I don't care if it comes off as undiplomatic. There are some systems that are simply not good, serve no useful purpose, and really should not exist. But as PT Barnum said, there's a sucker born every minute.
 

MBuzzy

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This is an argument that's been going on for hundreds of years and probably as many times on this site.

It all comes down to personal opinion, but as I can see it, every martial art has something to offer to someone. None are bad, it all depends on what you want out of it. I think that too many people fail to remember that not EVERYONE is involved in a martial art to learn to kill someone.
 

14 Kempo

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Well, I don't know ... I'm going ot have to disagree here on the points being made lately. I can agree that you wilkl find schools out there and instructors that are simply no good. However, it is normally not the art, it is the person that takes the art and butchers it. Not the art itself. I believe everyone here would agree that Kajukenbo is a viable system, and same with Kempo (and I'm not picking on these systems, they just came to mmind), but there are schools out there full of instructors that broke away without a true understanding of the art, then butchered it and sell it. I say, "Not the art's fault, it is the instructor" ... Just my two cents again, guess that make it four cents.
 

thesandman

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There are some arts and systems that were originally developed hundreds of years ago that are simply ignorant. They were developed with a limited or skewed understanding of the body and nature of reality. These styles can be beautiful or interesting, but ultimately ineffective or severely inferior to other styles.

One of the common mistakes in martial arts today is an over exaggeration of the importance of age and lineage. As if a martial art developed long ago is inherently superior to one that was developed more recently. Pride is one thing, but arrogance and ignorance is something else.

That is not to say that there isn't a plethora of people out there trying to sell their "modern" style as being uniquely wonderful when in reality it's something some 1st degree black belt has made up as he went along after leaving his original school due to a personal conflict of some kind.

To answer the original question: No, not all martial arts systems are "good" if we define good as "honest and self aware"

I have attended classes of styles that I thought were inherently bad but was surprised by the instructors knowledge, skill and above all, honesty about the weaknesses in his style. I learned a lot in those classes.

One of the most honest things an instructor can say to you is, "you know, this move isn't practical at all and would never work, but we teach it because it communicates and important idea and shows you how you should be thinking" or something along those lines.

EVERY school teaches some moves that are effectively useless, the bad ones just don't know it.
 

Andrew Green

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I would say all are good for something, if nothing else than providing discipline and a feeling of confidence and perhaps inner peace.

Some, but some seem more about developing false confidence, fear, suspicion and "might makes right" attitude where higher ranking students abuse lower. There are schools that are essentially cults in how they operate, some that are involved in illegal activities, etc. Those are the extreme, and certainly not common. But the full spectrum does exist.

There are a lot of things that go into training beyond the content of the class. The way it is presented, the environment and attitude of the other students and instructor, the mindset you approach it with, etc.
 

14 Kempo

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There are some arts and systems that were originally developed hundreds of years ago that are simply ignorant. They were developed with a limited or skewed understanding of the body and nature of reality. These styles can be beautiful or interesting, but ultimately ineffective or severely inferior to other styles.

One of the common mistakes in martial arts today is an over exaggeration of the importance of age and lineage. As if a martial art developed long ago is inherently superior to one that was developed more recently. Pride is one thing, but arrogance and ignorance is something else.

That is not to say that there isn't a plethora of people out there trying to sell their "modern" style as being uniquely wonderful when in reality it's something some 1st degree black belt has made up as he went along after leaving his original school due to a personal conflict of some kind.

To answer the original question: No, not all martial arts systems are "good" if we define good as "honest and self aware"

I have attended classes of styles that I thought were inherently bad but was surprised by the instructors knowledge, skill and above all, honesty about the weaknesses in his style. I learned a lot in those classes.

One of the most honest things an instructor can say to you is, "you know, this move isn't practical at all and would never work, but we teach it because it communicates and important idea and shows you how you should be thinking" or something along those lines.

EVERY school teaches some moves that are effectively useless, the bad ones just don't know it.

OK, now with this I agree.
 

tellner

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14Kempo, that's why I specify "for a particular purpose".

Most adults do martial arts for - in roughly descending order - self image, fun, social grouping, competition, exercise and self defense. The mix varies a bit, but that's what it usually comes down to. The vast majority of martial arts schools that last more than a year or so fill these needs perfectly well. The usual comforting lie people tell themselves is that while other people are cheap plastic dilettantes they are hard-core modern warriors who train until the floor is slick with sweat and blood. You'll find that one behind Door #1, self image.

It's the hammer/air conditioner thing. Kick-the-dots Olympic TKD schools fill the niche admirably. For what most people are really interested in they are vastly superior to Systema or IDPA or Katori Tenshin Shinto Ryu. The last three exist in much smaller niches for people with somewhat different personal needs. The personal changes required to be a relaxed, efficient killer are severe. Most people do not want either to pay the cost or achieve that result. Nor should they. To get all Buddhist/Hindu for a moment, it's not their dharma.

The problem comes when what people want, what they're getting and what is advertised are different. Self defense is way down the real list for a lot of people. And it's way down the list of priorities for most schools because that reflects what the paying customers want. But the advertising copy usually hypes self defense or the ability to fight because that's part of the self image, fun and social group desires.

Generally it's all well and good. People get what they are looking for. But sometimes what a student is really looking for is a bit different. A person who really wants to be able to fight will be disappointed. A normal school will pretend to give him what he's looking for, but a lot of the time and effort will be wasted on frankly useless rituals, status tests and a very ambivalent attitude towards the approach and mental attributes that would best serve his needs. Someone who isn't just interested in a little bit of awareness and the ability to punch hard but has a compelling reason for real self defense skills may end up badly injured or worse. The ability to unhesitatingly gouge an eye or stick a knife into someone eight or nine times is different than repeating thrilling storiesthri about the mythical Sul-Sa or how tough the streets of Honolulu were in the 1950s.

If a student is seriously looking for martial arts as a vehicle for the Way the mismatch can be even worse. Most schools will at least teach how to punch and kick even if the student has to make some personal changes in when, why and with how much violence. Very few of them have anything on the personal development side beyond the virtue of hard work, fortune cookie philosophy, a few (mis)quotes from the Tao Te Ching and the dojo kun. And quite a few teachers don't realize what they don't have. At least if you're looking for boxing most pistolcraft instructors know enough to point you towards the gym.

It goes the other way, too. A student who wants a good workout, some competition that will stretch him a bit, a nicely encapsulated set of skills and a hobby that gets him out of him rut and into shape will be very happy at the MMA gym or an Association Kendo dojo. He is not interested in being a neckbreaker. And he feels no need whatsoever to tear his personality down to the bare metal so that he can see a rainbow and a heap of maggot-infested corpses with the same detachment.

It's all in what you're looking for and picking the right tool for the job.
 

geezer

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A student who wants a good workout, some competition that will stretch him a bit, a nicely encapsulated set of skills and a hobby that gets him out of him rut and into shape will be very happy at the MMA gym or an Association Kendo dojo. He is not interested in being a neckbreaker...

It's all in what you're looking for and picking the right tool for the job.

Very well put. I'd certainly fall into the "typical" category you describe. Except that as part of my "self image", I like to pretend that I'm a bit more individualistic than most, so I train lesser known arts in semi-private "garage schools" (just like a million other folks, LOL). What really matters, at the end of the day, is that you are honest with yourself.

Oh, and when I meet someone looking for something more extreme, I don't lie to them. Instead I try to refer them to someone who can meet their needs.
 

spectrex

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no

well, maybe

what i mean is that the ARTS are good, for the most part, tho some made up arts are crap.

but instructors can be bad, Some can be very bad.

and therein lies the rub

if the instructor is bad, the system is bad

if the instructor is good, they system is more than likely good

but not always

If they teach kids, red flag
If they lack emphasis on weapons, self defense, and multiple atatckers then, red flag
if all they do is point fight dance, break boards and stand in lines throwing stiff shouldered punches from a stance, dont waste your time....

If you're not ready to face down a mutliitude of armed assailants with guns and knife and come out alive and victorious it isn't martial arts.

also, no high kicks, no jumping kicks
 

Daniel Sullivan

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If they teach kids, red flag
Why? This is such a blanket statement that it qualifies as being completely erroneous. Most here will agree that a school can maintain a separate kids class while still maintaining a strong SD oriented adult class.

If they lack emphasis on weapons, self defense, and multiple atatckers then, red flag
Agreed.

if all they do is point fight dance, break boards and stand in lines throwing stiff shouldered punches from a stance, dont waste your time....
Well, as Telner said, if that is what one is looking for, then it isn't a waste of time. There are people who just want a 'martial' workout. As long as they know that that is all that they're getting, then no problem. If they offer no SD and that is what you're after, then big problem. This is where the customer needs to know what he or she is after and find out if the school offers it. People do endless research on single purchasses, such as a computer or a cell phone, but next to nothing on an MA school. If someone does no research and signs up for class and/or signs a contract, then they have nobody to blame but themselves if they don't get what they're after.

At the same time, it is incumbent upon the school to be honest about what they do offer.

If you're not ready to face down a mutliitude of armed assailants with guns and knife and come out alive and victorious it isn't martial arts.
By a mutliitude of armed assailants with guns and knife, what do you mean? Do you mean all at once? And if so, define multitude (2-5 or 10-20) or a multitude of different scenarios?

While I agree that multiple opponents should be dealt with in an MA with any SD pretentions, I'm much more leary of a school that claims that their art will enable me to essentially face down a firing squad and be victorious. That would be a much bigger red flag than anything you've mentioned.

also, no high kicks, no jumping kicks
Why not? Yes, I am aware that in an SD scenario, you won't be likely to use a high or jumping kick, but the implication in your statement is that if the MA includes high kicks or jumping kicks that it is either a red flag or somehow not a real martial art. If that is what you mean, then I'd ask you to support that statement.

Daniel
 
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