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

bluemtn

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There are good fighters out there- boxers, wrestlers, regular martial artists, etc. Even average joe on the street can be a good fighter. Martial arts, on the other hand, isn't all about fighting. You learn to defend yourself (basically escapes and such), then you have sparring- which isn't always seen as "streetwise" for certain circles. It depends on how well you carry yourself, how you handle each situation and get out of it that makes a good martial artist. It all comes down to you as a person. So yes, I think you can be a good martial artist and not a good fighter.
 
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MardiGras Bandit

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My general principle is this: Avoiding fighting has nothing to do with martial arts, nor does philosophy or anything else that has no actual value in a fight. These are somthing entirely different, although they are quite often taught along with martial arts. I define martial arts as the system, not the associated philosophies. Most people don't want to fight and most people haven't been in one. This fact doesn't make them good martial artists. The only thing that makes someone a good martial artist and a good fighter are skills that can be applied in a fight to protect oneself and defeat ones opponents.

Take this example: There are two martial artists. The first is humble, doesn't pick fights, and is reasonably skilled. The second is arrogant, mean, and fights whenever he can. He is also far more skilled then the first guy. Who is the better martial artist?

I say the second. He might be much worse of a person, but martial arts isn't about personality, it's about fighting. He is the better fighter, and that makes him the better the martial artist.

There are people who can do incredible feats of athleticism who are often considered martial artists. The guys who do Wu Shu can do incredible things, things I can't come close to doing. But Wu Shu is no more a martial art then theatrical sword fighting (before everyone jumps on my back, I'm talking about the non-combat performance part of the art). Jet Li (I'll try to find his quote, I think it was from a DVD interview) is one of these people; he is commonly considered a great martial artist, but he admits he can't fight. They may be great athletes, but if theatrics is all they do then they are not good martial artists.
 

Kacey

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I ran across this in the novel I'm reading, and I thought I would quote it here, as it seems relevant to my opinion on this issue:

"Art of warrior is to know when to fight," she said quietly. "And whom... are you a warrior, or just a fighter?" Dark Nadir, Lisanne Norman

In my opinion, a good martial artist is a warrior - not a fighter - under the distinction made in this quote. Should a martial artist know how to fight? If it is appropriate to the art he or she practices, then yes. Does a person need to be a good fighter to be a martial artist? Not in my opinion.
 
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MardiGras Bandit

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How can a person be a warrior if they can't fight? I can know when a fight would be approporiate, but if I lack the skills to act on that knowledge then I'm not a good martial artist.

I'm not saying these things are not important, just that they are not important to martial arts. Having good common sense or street smarts might keep someone safe, but it doesn't make them a martial artist. Likewise, a person could be a good martial artist, but lack the common sense to keep themselves out of trouble. The two skills are independent of the other.
 

elder999

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A martial art might be, as some have defined it here, any skill that gives you an advantage in a martial (i.e. conflict) situation.

That might include conflict resolution skills, general fitness and health, and, yes, although some don't like to admit it - firearms skills definitely come under the strict definition of "martial" "arts".

The martial artists of old - from Japan and China to Europe and ancient Greece, emphasized this in their training. The Western notion of the Renaissance Man is similar to the personal philosophy of the samurai - true warriors were supposed to be as knowledgeable about horses, siege warfare, politics, theology, poetry and calligraphy as they were with a sword. Id find the Musashi quote from Go Rin No Sho, but it doesnt seem worth it here:some on one side are going to believe what they want, and others what they know to be true.

To me, though, if you only study the physical drills of the martial arts, you will never be anything more than a good fighter. If you practice /study the code of the warrior and all aspects (moral, spiritual and ethical) of martial discipline, you will be a martial artist.

I think it comes down to this: one term is very open to interpretation (martial artist) while the other (fighter) is relatively cut and dry. if you say that someone is a good fighter, there is generally going to be a pretty clear measuring stick for that statement (once you've established a venue, that is). a good point fighter has presumably won a lot of matches. a good NHB or full-contact fighter has won a lot of bouts. a good streetfighter has persevered in a lot of altercations. etc.

A good martial artist. Thoughthe standards for that will vary because the definition will vary.For some people, it encompasses more spiritual, more, or artisitic elements. for others, the definition is essentially identical to 'good fighter.'

I suppose that for one, it's highly dependent on your values- for the other, your values aren't really the issue.
 

Edmund BlackAdder

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To answer the original question, yes. Being a good fighter is not a requirement for being a "Good" martial artist.

Being a good fighter means you are a good fighter.
Period.
It doesn't make you a martial artist, a warrior, or a soldier.

There are many levels of "martial arts". Some focus on sports, some on street, some on combat, some on the 'deeper' with power to heal as well as harm.

But it is more than just beating people up.

MartialArtist:
Person who studies the Martial Arts

Warrior:
A warrior is a person habitually engaged in combat. In tribal societies, warriors often form a caste or class of their own. In feudalism, the vassals essentially form a military or warrior class, even if in actual warfare, peasants may be called to fight as well. In some societies, warfare may be so central that the entire people (or, more often, the male population) may be considered warriors, for example the Maori or Germanic tribes.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warrior

Fighter:
someone who fights (or is fighting)


Martial Arts:
Martial arts, also known as fighting systems, are bodies of codified practices or traditions of training for unarmed and armed combat, usually without the use of guns and other modern weapons. People study martial arts for various reasons including fitness, self-cultivation (meditation), mental/character development, and self-defense.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martial_artist

Martial:
military or warlike, as in: During the emergency, the town came under martial law.
www.business-words.com/dictionary/M.html

Artist:
Artist is a subjective term which describes a person creative in, innovative in, or adept at, their endeavors.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Artist
 

Grenadier

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There are plenty of ways someone can be a good martial artist without being a good fighter. The martial arts isn't solely about one's physical combat abilities. There are so many facets within the martial arts, and physical combat abilities comprise but one such facet.

Just as an example, some people are excellent teachers, and are able to convey the knowledge of the martial arts to others. Many of these folks aren't going to be classified as being good fighters for one reason or another. Perhaps they've experienced some terrible injury, or other ailment. Maybe they've been hit by some sort of sickness, such as cancer.

Even though such individuals might not be able to withstand a physical fight anymore, does not change the fact that they are still excellent martial artists. If anything, they do more for the martial arts by helping create more martial artists, whereas someone who has excellent combat abilities isn't necessarily going to be helping others.
 

elder999

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Grenadier said:
Just as an example, some people are excellent teachers, and are able to convey the knowledge of the martial arts to others. Many of these folks aren't going to be classified as being good fighters for one reason or another. Perhaps they've experienced some terrible injury, or other ailment. Maybe they've been hit by some sort of sickness, such as cancer.

Even though such individuals might not be able to withstand a physical fight anymore, does not change the fact that they are still excellent martial artists. If anything, they do more for the martial arts by helping create more martial artists, whereas someone who has excellent combat abilities isn't necessarily going to be helping others.

Which brings up a really good, and last point. I'm a pretty good fighter, at least I used to be-unlike Kacey and some others, I've always enjoyed sparring, from the very start-and, while I've tried to avoid violent encounters, circumstances haven't always allowed me to, but I've managed to stay alive and relatively unijured-the only measure of success when one fails by resorting to, well, the last and only resort: violence. I also did..... okay in various tournaments,Golden Glove boxing, judo shiai and the like, once upon a time....but I'm 46, now-while I'm still a young man, I'm approaching the day when I won't be, and can already feel a difference after rolling around with guys half my age, and less....when I'm 67 or 70,or 75, should I live so long and no longer much of a "fighter" at all (though, maybe still able to put up a fight) will I still be a good martial artist, if I ever have been?

Funakoshi was 96 when he died, and Ueshiba was 83. Were they good martial artists? Were they still (if they ever were) good "fighters?"
 

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MardiGras Bandit said:
My general principle is this: Avoiding fighting has nothing to do with martial arts, nor does philosophy or anything else that has no actual value in a fight. These are somthing entirely different, although they are quite often taught along with martial arts. I define martial arts as the system, not the associated philosophies. Most people don't want to fight and most people haven't been in one. This fact doesn't make them good martial artists. The only thing that makes someone a good martial artist and a good fighter are skills that can be applied in a fight to protect oneself and defeat ones opponents.

Take this example: There are two martial artists. The first is humble, doesn't pick fights, and is reasonably skilled. The second is arrogant, mean, and fights whenever he can. He is also far more skilled then the first guy. Who is the better martial artist?

I say the second. He might be much worse of a person, but martial arts isn't about personality, it's about fighting. He is the better fighter, and that makes him the better the martial artist.

If this is your view of the arts, you're certainly entitled to your thoughts. However, it may be good to take a look at other viewpoints. You may be surprised at what you see. Then again, if someone refuses to open their eyes to what else is around there, the experience will always be limited.

I've had more than my share of times when things could have turned ugly. Fortunately, the majority of them were solved with words. Personally, I dont go looking for fights, I stay out of problem areas, and I stay aware of my surroundings. I'm always trying to think ahead, trying to think if throwing down is really going to be worth it.

Lets see...throwing down, getting arrested, getting injured, having to take time off to go to court, lose a day or more of pay from work, and most important, having a record of causing disturbances, breach of peace, etc...or............Verbally defusing the situation, and walking away. If he wants to call me a wimp for not fighting, thats fine, as I've been called worse.

I'm not saying its not important to have fighting skill, but being humble is also a part of it.

Mike
 

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To have the skill and not know how to use it is one thing but not knowing how to fight is another that like saying u learn the moves but dont know how to use what u got. Thats hopeless
 

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then perhaps the only martial artists worth talking about are in their early 20s in peak physical condition.

Is that the case?

Not in those words, but yes. The best martial artists are young, strong men in peak physical condition with an excellent training ethic and syllabus.

elder999 said:
Funakoshi was 96 when he died, and Ueshiba was 83. Were they good martial artists?

Earlier in their lives, they certainly were. Later in their lives, they became great martial arts instructors but were no longer as competent as they used to be.

I'm a big fan of compartmentalisation. To me, martial arts is simply fighting. Fighting in the ring, in the dojo, in a bar or on the street, or even on a battlefield. It's all just martial arts. I seperate the mental benefits of martial arts, and the non-physical aspets, because they are not strictly tied to martial arts. Chopping wood for an hour or two a day, or learning to play a musical instrument will yeld the same mental benefits of martial arts training. Perserverance, discipline, and so on. Does that make all trombone players martial artists? Of course not.

A good fighter is a good martial artist. A good teacher is just a good teacher, unless he is also a good fighter and then he can be a good martial artist as well. All teachers have something to offer, and many have significant impact on the lives of many young people. But that doesn't make every teacher in every high school a martial artist, nor does it make the martial arts instructor who cannot fight a martial artist. Or to be more accurate, being a good martial arts instructor does not automatically make one a good martial artist.

At least, not the way I define it.
 

Drac

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Yes!!! Me !!! I do not, have not, will not consider myself a good fighter..I am an excellent self defense instructor...
 

DeLamar.J

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If you can't fight, than you are not practicing martial arts. I dont understand how this can even be debated. The word martial does have a meaning, maybe some people should look it up.
If you can't fight, your art is not martial. Or maybe it is, but you just suck.
 

charyuop

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Martial comes from the old Roman God of War Mars from there Martial Art, Art of the War...but that is not the point.
I am sure that there are in military life Generals around the world that wouldn't last few minutes against Privates because of age and physical conditions. Does that mean a General is a novice or not mastering the Art of War?
A person can master perfectly a Martial Art, but never develop that quickness of reflex that will make of him a good fighter. Does that mean he is a novice or doesn't know Martial Arts?

In my opinion (and here I go against almost everybody hee hee), Martial Art and fighting are two completely two things, almost the opposite. Martial Art as the word Art implies, it is a knowledge, a something that you learn and master for your own purposes. Fight is an action done towards another person, something lead by your personality rather than your knowledge. To be a good fighter you don't necessarily need to know Martial Arts because if fighting is in your character your aggressive personality will provide you the tools to fight (of course to be the top you need training, but that is not the point). On the other hand a Martial Artist has the knowledge closed in him/herself and it is that knowledge (as also in being able to practice the Martial Arts...form, kana and mentality) that makes of him/her a Martial Artist.
 

Adept

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Martial Art and fighting are two completely two things, almost the opposite.

This is where I think the crux of the argument lies. As far as I'm concerned, 'martial artist' is synonymous with 'fighter'. So to me, the question reads:

"Can someone be a good fighter without being a good fighter?"

To which the answer is obviously no.

Martial Art as the word Art implies, it is a knowledge, a something that you learn and master for your own purposes.

I would say that any given martial art is a method for fighting in a particular way.

To be a good fighter you don't necessarily need to know Martial Arts because if fighting is in your character your aggressive personality will provide you the tools to fight.

Those tools are aspects of the martial arts.

On the other hand a Martial Artist has the knowledge closed in him/herself and it is that knowledge (as also in being able to practice the Martial Arts...form, kana and mentality) that makes of him/her a Martial Artist.

I'm not sure I folllow this part.
 

Kacey

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Let me ask a question that will, I think, demonstrate my point of view.

My instructor's instructor, who is an 8th degree black belt who has been actively involved in martial arts for 40 years, is no longer as physically capable as he was because of age, and also because of injuries incurred during his service in the military which left him with bad knees. His knowledge and understanding of TKD is broader and deeper than any other person with whom I have had prolonged, in-depth contact. While he is no longer a tournament fighter, I have no doubts about his ability to defend himself, should the need arise. Is he a martial artist? In my mind, there is no doubt that he is - because, like the general compared earlier to the private, his understanding and experience more than makes up for the lessened physical abilities caused by age and injury.
 

DeLamar.J

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Martial comes from the old Roman God of War Mars from there Martial Art, Art of the War...but that is not the point.
I am sure that there are in military life Generals around the world that wouldn't last few minutes against Privates because of age and physical conditions. Does that mean a General is a novice or not mastering the Art of War?
A person can master perfectly a Martial Art, but never develop that quickness of reflex that will make of him a good fighter. Does that mean he is a novice or doesn't know Martial Arts?

In my opinion (and here I go against almost everybody hee hee), Martial Art and fighting are two completely two things, almost the opposite. Martial Art as the word Art implies, it is a knowledge, a something that you learn and master for your own purposes. Fight is an action done towards another person, something lead by your personality rather than your knowledge. To be a good fighter you don't necessarily need to know Martial Arts because if fighting is in your character your aggressive personality will provide you the tools to fight (of course to be the top you need training, but that is not the point). On the other hand a Martial Artist has the knowledge closed in him/herself and it is that knowledge (as also in being able to practice the Martial Arts...form, kana and mentality) that makes of him/her a Martial Artist.
I think an old man who has proven himself in his younger days is a very obvious exeption. I dont think anyone would ever argue this. However, when you have someone whos physical condition and age is not a factor to be be considered, if they can't fight, then their art is not martial.
 

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Let me ask a question that will, I think, demonstrate my point of view.

My instructor's instructor, who is an 8th degree black belt who has been actively involved in martial arts for 40 years, is no longer as physically capable as he was because of age, and also because of injuries incurred during his service in the military which left him with bad knees... Is he a martial artist?

Yes.

But he's likely not as good today as he was twenty or thirty years ago. He's probably an excellent instructor, but thats a seperate thing, as far as I'm concerned.
 

DeLamar.J

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Let me ask a question that will, I think, demonstrate my point of view.

My instructor's instructor, who is an 8th degree black belt who has been actively involved in martial arts for 40 years, is no longer as physically capable as he was because of age, and also because of injuries incurred during his service in the military which left him with bad knees. His knowledge and understanding of TKD is broader and deeper than any other person with whom I have had prolonged, in-depth contact. While he is no longer a tournament fighter, I have no doubts about his ability to defend himself, should the need arise. Is he a martial artist? In my mind, there is no doubt that he is - because, like the general compared earlier to the private, his understanding and experience more than makes up for the lessened physical abilities caused by age and injury.
Like I said before, I see this as a obvious exeption. What I have a problem with are people who dont have an age or physical issue, teach martial arts, and cant fight. There art is not martial if they cant fight, and I dont feel they should call it martial arts.
If an old man has proven his art in his day, then his art is martial. Some of the old masters are the best teachers you could ever have, and thats because they could fight very well at one time.
 

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