Can Someone Be A Good Martial Artist Without Being A Good Fighter?

Robert Lee

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There is a saying fighters fight teachers teach. You will find in the M/A many a instructor is not that great at fighting. Sure the can hold there own BUt they can better instruct another person To become a better M/A It would be great if every M/A was truely a great or good fighter. But they all can not be that I have saw instructors that looked somewhat poorly in there demonstration of and performance. But when you look at there students and see some kind of quality to there training You relize That there instructor can better relay what he has learned as a teacher then what he can do as a performer of his or her style. And many times some of the best fighters Do not have the right method to give instruction. A person to be both has to asorb what they train and make it there own To be able to fight better then be able to relay what they understand in passing it down. Which becomes the right mind set to instruct it. Or should I say help guide another person to find there own use of the chosen M/A Either way there will allways be both and they will be Martial Artists.
 

beau_safken

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MardiGras Bandit said:
While something like this is impressive, I don't think it counts as a martial art. If anything, I'd group it with hunting skills. My dad is a good hunter, and though that requires its own important abilities I don't consider him a martial artist because of it.

Then by that logic, anyone that practices with traditional farming instruments like Nunchuku's, kama's and sai are just playing history rather than being a practioner of martial arts. As they have no application to normal impliments of war as it is being fought today, its just playing with farm tools. So if anything, I'd group these people with Farming skills. They might have a good practical knowledge of hucking rice but not martial arts.

Just because its not 100% practical in a martial sense, doesn't make it any less a martial art. I see where you are going with the idea, but I think I already started a thread on that idea and there was a good discussion about it.

http://www.martialtalk.com/forum/showthread.php?t=32340
 

Flying Crane

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MartialIntent said:
While I certainly respect the opinions given, I personally find some of the replies a little pretentious and bookish in suggesting fighting is *not* the keystone to the building of a good martial artist.

I find it hard to believe there are so many here who feel if they gave up fighting in their art, that they could still become great martial artists. If that were the case, why do we all practise fighting techniques at all? Why are we expending time and effort doing that? Do we train to fight purely for its own sake? I recall saying this somewhere else recently but surely when we dispense with the fighting we take the martial out of the art?

I truly fail to see how a anyone can develop good or great martial artistry without being a good fighter themselves. And no, I'm not specifically talking MA purely as in TMA. If we want to start dealing with the wider dictionary definitions then think of how few of the truly great military leaders from Temuchin to Ike have not had military [ie. fighting] experience themselves.

imHo, it comes down to this - fighting is nowadays seen as an unquestionably bad thing in society at large. And the fact that we engage in fighting as part of our interests and studies as martial artists gives momentum to the implication that we're nothing more than barbarians ourselves. Consequently, this has lead us to become increasingly apologetic over our love of MA and has gotten us forever stuck in these vicious circles of arguing amongst ourselves and eternally citing platitudes such as "we don't really need to fight" and "we can be great martial artists without fighting".

Ultimately, to each of you who holds views to the contrary, I'd ask of you, would you *really* be happy developing the non-martial aspects of your art to the exclusion of the "supposedly" unimportant fighting aspect? Would you believe of yourselves that without training to be good fighters that you can still become truly the best martial artists you can be? And if that's genuinely the case would you be prepared to walk that walk and waive your fighting training altogether?

Respects!

Good post. I find a lot here that I can agree with.
 

Adept

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Carol Kaur said:
Is using one's skills to stop an altercation before it becomes violent being a good fighter?

No, thats just being smart.

Personally, in the way I define it, it is not possible to be a good martial artist without being competent in a real life physical altercation.
 

MJS

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MardiGras Bandit said:
While something like this is impressive, I don't think it counts as a martial art. If anything, I'd group it with hunting skills. My dad is a good hunter, and though that requires its own important abilities I don't consider him a martial artist because of it.

IMO, I'd say that this (the art of Kyudo) would fall into the tradition aspect of the art. Its really no different than training with a sai, kama or bo. Walking around with these items would indeed land us in jail, however, they do have their traditional roots as well as being used as defensive and offense tools in the past.


I can't agree. Outstanding character traits make someone a good person, but they have no relation to martial skills. Similarly, using non combat means to avoid a fight has nothing to do with martial arts, it is conflict resolution. Both these things might be important overall, but that doesn't make them important to martial art skills.

I disagree. A true Martial Artist is IMO, one that would be a humble person, one that possesses fighting skill, but does not necessarily walk around looking to fight. Having self control, self discipline, etc. are all traits of a MAist.

Mike
 

elder999

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First off, I’m not so sure-not having read what Jet Li actually said-of what he meant. Given his Buddhist faith, it might be informed by some sort of Buddhist/pacifist sensibility. It’s hard for me to believe that he really thinks he “knows nothing about fighting,” though it’s entirely possible he’s never been in a fight.

In answer to your question, though-and there have been lots of good answers here, as well as some interesting questions raised, I’d like to point out that we’re human beings, and, as human beings, [bwe’re all fighters[/b], who instinctively “know something” about fighting-though we may never rely upon that ability, or even fail to at times. I don’t particularly care for fists as weapons, but I do teach their use-in part because they are useful at times, but mostly because we’ve been making them since we were born.

Fighting, for the record, is easy-though being a good fighter might be an altogether different story, and have many different meanings-fighting is easy-and, to my view, having to resort to fighting is failure of a sort, with the exception of sporting contests and sparring-which are not fighting at all, and I think that’s what Jet Li meant.

I’ve been training since 1971, when I was 11 years old-over the years, I’ve picked up a variety of Japanese martial phrases: Ikken hisatsu, or “one punch/one kill” and satsujinken/katsujinken, “the sword that gives life/the sword that takes it away.,” but the one that really stuck with me(though I may have screwed up my pronunciation along the way), since first hearing it from Oyama Shigeru, 30 years ago:

arasoi no bugo riso (sp?):”Not to fight is the reason for martial arts.”

Short answer: yes, a person can be a good martial artist and not know the first thing about fighting, or having ever fought.
 

RoninPimp

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Can Someone Be A Good Martial Artist Without Being A Good Fighter?

-Absolutely not.
 

Lisa

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RoninPimp said:
Can Someone Be A Good Martial Artist Without Being A Good Fighter?

-Absolutely not.

Please elaborate on your post. This is, after all, a discussion forum and I am interested in hearing why you think so.
 

Bob Hubbard

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My opinion?
Yes, you can be a good martial artist without being a good fighter.

There is more to martial arts than just fighting. There is strategy, tactics, problem resolution, fitness, etc. I may not be able to fight, but, if I can talk my way out of a situation, based on my training, I'd say I was.

A guy with a gun can win a fight....doesn't make him a martial artist.

I think it's the whole package, not just smooth talking, fancy moves, and a good track record in the cage or street.
 

Jenna

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Some fantastic ideas already!

elder999 said:
arasoi no bugo riso (sp?):Not to fight is the reason for martial arts.
This statement is bang on the money in this discussion, BUT... it begs the question, what does the good or great martial artist who cannot fight then do when the fight seeks him or her out? By taking a beating or fighting badly do they remain as great martial artists or are they in the brutal aftermath nothing more than poor martial artists for not recognising the potential need to be able to fight?

They haven't planned ahead. They have had no failsafe strategy for such a situation. And look, if they haven't gone and gotten themselves put in a hospital bed.

Fighting is a necessity in any great martial artist if for no other reason than NOT including it in one's strategy reveals a lack of preparedness for potential defensive situations.

Fighting and martial art have always been equated in my head. And I'd be surprised if you guys truly felt otherwise. Why are we so keen on separating them out?

Yr most obdt hmble svt,
Jenna
 

Bob Hubbard

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IMO, a true martial artist sees combat as a last resort. Prepares for it yes, but, it's only done when all other options fail.
 

Carol

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Adept said:
No, thats just being smart.

Personally, in the way I define it, it is not possible to be a good martial artist without being competent in a real life physical altercation.

So does a good martial artist always go for a physical confrontation?

Physical and mental skills are not seperable. A person that KNOWS that they can use their physical skills to a given level of effectiveness has a very different mental game than a person that knows they don't have much for a physical game.

Outside of mental skills, character building is not something that I would personally poo-poo. Our arts have largely Asian origins. All this stuff about being a good person...within Asian social bounds (especially in the day), being a good person and being respectful was not optional.

The values of the arts play critical roles. They show the artist that perhaps did not use their fists to get their way, or never flexed their beer muscles, that being a fighter doesn't make you a bad person. When indeed, MA means that good people may sometimes have to fight.

The second role is what happens to the mind when these values are taught. The mind learns discipline. It learns to do what is right over what is easy. Maybe that means going to training instead of being a couch potato. Maybe it means fighting through the extra pain instead of bunking off the next test. Maybe it means being situationally aware instead of blissfully igornant. And maybe it means choosing to fight a threat instsead of hoping a threat will go away.

In every person, Martial Artist or not, the body is more fragile than the mind. The body has more limitations, gets hurt, easier, ages faster, loses its effectiveness quicker. Should we use physical prowess as the primary means of gauging martial artists, then perhaps the only martial artists worth talking about are in their early 20s in peak physical condition.

Is that the case?
 

Gemini

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Frankly I'm lost on the "Good Fighter" part. There's no such thing as a fighter that can't be beaten. There's no such thing as a martial artist who doesn't age and lose physical ability. Do they then become "bad" martial artists? Please. Who's standard then will we use? Define "Good". Simply put, you can't. It's a relative term. One man's ceiling...ya know?
 

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Lisa said:
Please elaborate on your post. This is, after all, a discussion forum and I am interested in hearing why you think so.
-Martial arts are about fighting imo, therefore its impossible to be good at one and not the other. Just my opinion, and not one I'm willing to argue too much. Its one of those things that quickly become sematical and more about how individuals define words than hard evidence.
 

Jenna

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Bob Hubbard said:
IMO, a true martial artist sees combat as a last resort. Prepares for it yes, but, it's only done when all other options fail.
Absolutely correct. But can we claim to be good martial artists if we are powerless to act if a combat situation comes a knocking?

Personally I'd think possibly not, just because we have got such a fatal omission in our set of martial skills. This turns us into instant carrion for the predators. Without some combat skills, aren't we just strategists, theorists, thinkers? Aren't we just half the battle (odd pun intended)?

Yr most obdt hmble svt,
Jenna
 

Lisa

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Gemini said:
Frankly I'm lost on the "Good Fighter" part. There's no such thing as a fighter that can't be beaten. There's no such thing as a martial artist who doesn't age and lose physical ability. Do they ten become "bad" martial artists? Please. Who's standard then will we use? Define "Good". Simply put, you can't. It's a reletive term. One man's ceiling...ya know?

See, I so agree with your statment.

I did MMA/grappling for a few years, love every minute of it. I won some and lost some. Tapped some out and was tapped out by a few too. But because I don't consider myself a "good fighter" does that not make me a good martial artist if I truly go out and try my best and do my best?
 

Kacey

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As I said when I posted questions earlier, I have my own opinion, which I had not yet posted. Yes, I think that you can be a good martial artist without being a good fighter, and without being in a fight. One of the best skills I have learned is how to avoid needing to fight/defend myself in the first place. The confidence one gains as a martial artist is often enough to cause attackers to choose another target - muggers and rapists look for easy targets, especially when attacking women - targets who will not fight back or draw attention to the confrontation. The classic example of this is, of course, from The Karate Kid:

Daniel: Hey - you ever get into fights when you were a kid?
Miyagi: Huh - plenty.
Daniel: Yeah, but it wasn't like the problem I have, right?
Miyagi: Why? Fighting fighting. Same same.
Daniel: Yeah, but you knew karate.
Miyagi: Someone always know more.
Daniel: You mean there were times when you were scared to fight?
Miyagi: Always scare. Miyagi hate fighting.
Daniel: Yeah, but you like karate.
Miyagi: So?
Daniel: So, karate's fighting. You train to fight.
Miyagi: That what you think?
Daniel: [pondering] No.
Miyagi: Then why train?
Daniel: [thinks] So I won't have to fight.
Miyagi: [laughs] Miyagi have hope for you.
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0087538/quotes

I dislike sparring - less than when I started, when it scared the living daylights out of me - but it is still my least favorite part of being a martial artist; I much prefer patterns and step sparring. Do I teach my students to spar? You betcha... but I am also clearly aware of the difference between sparring and fighting.

No matter how all-out a sparring match is, there are always rules that do not exist on the street - and being a good sparrer does not always equate to being a good fighter. The only way to truly find out if you are a good fighter is to get into a life-or-death fight - something I have spent my MA career avoiding. I am reasonably competent at sparring, but I am also fully aware that there is always someone stronger, faster, taller, better trained, more desparate, etc. who could attack me. In 19 years as a martial artist, I have never been involved in a fight outside the ring, and I intend to do my best to maintain that record for the rest of my life.
 

Jenna

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Lisa said:
See, I so agree with your statment.

I did MMA/grappling for a few years, love every minute of it. I won some and lost some. Tapped some out and was tapped out by a few too. But because I don't consider myself a "good fighter" does that not make me a good martial artist if I truly go out and try my best and do my best?
To Gemini and Lisa,
I think those are two extremely relevant points - these terms are all relative. They're relative to you and no-one else. If I really didn't believe I was a good fighter by my own standards then I could never convince myself that I was a good martial artist.

But that sounds way too negative for me though, I would much prefer to say that you both ARE good martial artists and it's therefore a given that you are also good fighters. "Good" must only be by your own standards. Because as Gemini quite correctly states, we win some, we lose some - that is part of combat. That doesn't preclude the idea that we're still good fighters. No-one, but no-one is unbeatable.

I think a lot is lost in this discussion to the terminology and that's unfortunate. I think in combat, whether you might in reality win or lose is not for the purposes of this question important - all that is important is that you have to have a heart to fight - that's what a fighter is to me. From reading your posts, that is not in question and thus, you are good martial artists QED :)

Yr most obdt hmble svt,
Jenna
 

Andrew Green

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RoninPimp said:
-Martial arts are about fighting imo, therefore its impossible to be good at one and not the other. Just my opinion, and not one I'm willing to argue too much. Its one of those things that quickly become sematical and more about how individuals define words than hard evidence.

Not always. The way you approach it is, the way I approach it is. But that way is not for everyone. The XMA guys are incredible at what they do. I sure can't do it, probably never would be able to. And they are martial artists, and very good ones. Same as a lot of Wushu people, very good at what they do, and what they do is Martial arts.

Doesn't neccessarily mean they can fight though, and that is ok, unless they start claiming a 720 spin kick is practical self-defence, or would take out a boxer before he knew what hit him.

Martial Arts IMO, can be about anything, as long as there is honesty to yourself about what it is you are doing.
 

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