Martial Art is not sport


fist of fury

Originally posted on

Basic Concepts
The Chinese Martial arts were created not as a way to cultivate the spirit. They were created as a way to total efficiency in a real combat situation, therefore, radically differing from what we know as "sport". Things like the term "martial sport" are nothing but a dream; and a very bad one in fact. This conception of "martial sport" can never exist. Or you practice a martial art or you practice a sport. Both (martial arts and sports) are totally opposite in their paths and one could never find a middle term between them. Any attempt to promote a certain sport "taste" to the martial arts will end, as ends nowadays, in putting the glorious past that we have to shame.

Tui shou (pushing hands) competitions, forms (with weapons or not), fighting tournaments. They are not valuable for the true martial artist.

In a way, they do prepare the fighter to a new level of mind developing, in the sense that you have to learn how to control your emotions in order to be succesful in fighting tournaments. But this could very well be achieved without it.

The person who seriously practices a martial art, is not interested in whether or not his/her movements will look pretty or not; is not interested in reaching a certain state of mind (not in a primary plan) like Buddahood or whatever; he/she knows that this are not the primary points. This person knows that instead of pretty movements, he is searching for efficient movements in a real combat situation, and also knows that in order to be efficient in combat his body has to be healthy, because without a healthy body, he can not even train.

The Situation today

Today, there are almost any kind of tournaments a person might imagine, for almost every martial art, and these tournaments are based upon rules that restrict the use of techniques so that the athletes could maintain their physical health. Also, different from centuries ago, our society is more organized. Fighting is not so common anymore, unless you are a bodyguard or something similar. The martial arts are not necessary to keep you alive anymore. But, in the other hand, our Western society is becoming more and more violent and some aspects from the past societies are coming back again with full power. Today, we once more have this feeling that to know an efficient method of self-defense could make a difference in our lives. So in our modern society, these tournaments are used to measure a person's progress in a certain martial art. People also use this tournaments as a kind of thermometer that would indicate how well the athlete would do in a real fight. But exactly because of its rules and limitations, a tournament is far, very far of putting someone close to a real combat situation. No matter how many rules you have (some claim to have few); by the moment you have rules, it's not free fighting anymore.

What usually happens is that people begin to train for the tournament (with its restrictions) and not having in mind a real fight. Certain principles adopted for real fights just can't be used in tournaments as:
1 - The longer you stay in a fight, the more dangerous it is for you.

2 - Look for the main targets as throat, knees, groins, eyes etc.

3 - Show no mercy - no matter how violent it might seem, strike him hard, or else he will strike you first.

The Reality of Fighting

As we can see by some of the principles outlined above, they can never be used in a competition. Plus, there is the psychological factor, that is of the utmost importance in a real fight. In a competition there are doctors, the staff, the judge, weight divisions and timed rounds. When people are fighting in a competition, they are sure that in case they are knocked-down or in case they can't match the opponent, the judge will step in and stop the fight; then the doctor will come and decide if he has conditions to go back and fight more. On the streets, in a real fight, this is not the reality. Street fights are not fair; bottles, chairs, knives and even the hard sidewalk floor could (and believe me would) be used against the opponent. So the mind set is totally different, for in a tournament you might want to take your opponent down fast, but you have restrictions, and if you can't take him down, the worse thing that can happen is that you might be knocked unconscious; after a while you will be safe at home again. On the streets you also want to take the opponent down fast, but you will do whatever you have to do in order to win; anything is permitted, for you know if you can't take him down, he will take you down first, and maybe, if he's a bad guy, you won't be walking again, or worse.

One needs then the warrior mind set; like a soldier. Use whatever you can; do not hesitate. Be fast and when it's over just walk away, because when your are fighting for your life, there is no place for high kicks to the head and other ridiculous techniques.

Some will then argue that if not by the rules many people would die in these competitions. That's true. But the "testing field" of a true martial art will never be a tournament, but the hard floor of the streets, where he has nothing but his skills to depend on.

Today we also have the NHB kind of competition. Although this was pretty normal in Brazil, it's something relatively new in the USA. This tournaments show a different level of reality and they are definitely to be chosen instead of the rest we have out there. But it is necessary to say that although the are more "realistic", they are not real at all. Not real in the sense that the winner of these tournaments, might no be the winner in a real fight, just because of the rules that are used in it. But we really have to admit that NHB competitions are presenting us to more and more very good fighters.

The Winner might not Win on the streets

Nowadays is China, this kind of competition has become very famous. Here it is called San Da, that means "to break-up by beating". This is the new kind of Wu Shu (Chinese martial arts) created by the government after 1949. It uses mainly Boxing punching techniques , Tae-kwon-do kicks and Chinese Shuai Jiao (wrestling) movements. What happens is that all the competitors, no matter which Gong Fu style they practice, fight all the same. This aspect itself is already bad, and to make things worse, what they fight doesn't look like Gong Fu at all; looks like Thai Boxing. Bad Thai Boxing.

So any intelligent person (even a not very intelligent one) knows that each style of Gong Fu has different techniques, different ways to generate power and different strategies to fight. So they go to say, a Xing Yi school. Then they train every day San Ti Shi, the 5 elements, 12 animals, fighting techniques and forms, study how to generate power in a very unique way. And then they go to a tournament and fight, like, Thai boxers. They are, at least, not being honest . Because if you learn a style of Gong Fu with unique characteristics but fight like a Thai boxer or a Kick boxer, you'd better sign up in a Thai box school; you will save a lot of time training something you never use. Some so called "Gong Fu schools" that have home pages on the Net even show pictures of its teachers or students that placed first or second in this kind of San Da (also called San Shou) tournaments.
These kind of tournaments are good only to show people what real Gong Fu is not, and people who train to fight in these tournaments, like pseudo-kick boxers, are only contributing for the extinction of the orthodox systems of Chinese martial arts. (Because I don't want to be unfair, I want to say that are still some teachers out there that teach their fighters (specially in Kuo Shu) how to fight real Gong Fu and real Xing Yi.). Stop for a while and try to picture masters from the past, such as Guo Yun Shen, Che Yi Zhai, Yang Cheng Fu, Gu Ru Zhang. Try to imagine them in a fight. Would they fight like Thai boxers ? Would they use Western boxing techniques and round kicks to the head ?? Would this movements work on the streets?

I am not saying here that the athletes that enter into this kind of tournaments are not tough at all. They are very good fighters, tough guys and we have to admit that they have guts to go up there and fight; that's for sure. But another thing is for sure: what they are doing is not Gong Fu, and they are more than often not prepared for a real fight. What is the sense about saying you won a tournament with rules? With weigh divisions? What is the sense in saying that you won a fight against a guy from your weight category? That's nothing. Should I spend years in a school just to be able to handle someone of my weight? A martial art should give you tools to handle a stronger and bigger opponent. Or else, why practice at all?

So, people wanted to get traditional Gong Fu and make competitions. Because Gong Fu is a war art, they had to make a decision: to adapt the Gong Fu, change it in order to fit the "competition way", or not to make competitions at all. They decided to change the Gong Fu they have learned to fit tournaments. Wrong decision, if you ask me. So we came to a point where many practitioners don't know that what people call Gong Fu today, is an aberration, something different from orthodox Gong Fu. They think this is the real deal, because they have never seen people fight in an orthodox way. Today, Gong Fu is a joke between serious fighters. NHB fighters laugh about Chinese Gong Fu, because of what they see in tournaments. Take one of this San Da tournament winners to China and let them have a go with orthodox people, or even with elite soldiers from the army.

That's why, in a sense, I very much admire some people from Yong Chun (Wing Chun) They know that there can't be a Gong Fu competition with rules. Of course a lot of "wannabes" could hide themselves under this "no competition" concept, but there are a lot of people out there who understand the true essence of Gong Fu.

Of course people who have the point of view I am defending here might be accused of being "barbarians" or of not understanding the essence of Chinese Gong Fu and so on. A lot of people have different opinions then me, and I am willing to talk to them, and I understand the critics. But like in the past, in the old China, and even today in some provinces, the old discussion method is still the best. Two man, face to face, testing their skills. To much talking about Gong Fu is not good. Gong Fu is to be trained and not to be talked about. Just don't expect me to wear gloves and fight like a Thai boxer. No one is invincible. I might lose, you might lose, everybody loses. But losing is being honest to the art you practice, and most importantly, being honest to yourself. For then, even if you lose, you win.
Fighting is something
Some will just never be able to do.
Folks, I removed several posts from here because they were completely off topic and of no real use. Please stay on topic, and keep it polite.

Thank you
martial art is an art plain and simple although it can be used for self defence and sport it is expressing the human body just like art but ithink it is probably more effective in a fight than a paint brush
Hello, Is it a sport? Art? or something else? To many possible answers? But I will share my thoughts. It is what you want it to be. For some it is the sport side (martial tournments). For some self-defense. For some to learn to fight back. For some a form of exercise. For some kids it is a have too.

Now for what it should be? " Aw " this is where some of us need to go? Today after 10 years of training and more or less of 30 yrs of on and off training. After watching videos and reading about real streets fights. This is where martial arts need to go. Not the old traditional ways and the old ways of fighting. Things need to to be updated including the katas (who still fights like they do in the kata's?) Is there such a thing as learning to fight for real?.......Just some comments and thoughts on this.......Aloha

Source of some good info's (Book call " Real fighting and Anything Goes) It may change the way you think of your martial arts? " Mahalo "
Um, some martial arts have been adapted "sport" type competitive purposes, some have not.

Both have their pros and cons and place in the grand scheme of things.

Part of the trick is learning to distinguish one from the other.
The other part is picking your side, sticking with it, and not giving a rat's gluteus maximus what other people think, especially those who crib most of their "martial arts" information from anime and re-runs of Power Rangers on ABC Family Channel and consider the UFC to be indicative of so-called "real" fighting.
In Danish the collective name for all martial arts is "kampsport" which directly translates to fighting sport. For me personally this is a particular irritation, since I do not train in martial arts to take part in ego-boosting competitions, I am aware of what I can and can't do, I don't need medals to verify myself.

In my humble opinion, the name martial arts by it's very nature, meaning the arts of war, suggests a method of dealing with a violent encounter, not standing around telling people how great you are. If some choose to partake in martial arts for a purely sporting reason/ keeping fit etc. then that is perfectly fine by me, but for myself I would rather rest safe in the knowledge that I am able to defend myself than be proclaimed "World Champion" etc, just to be knocked out by an obnoxious drunk.
I understand where the writer of the article is coming from but he misses the point somewhat. Much of the essence in internal martial arts is the creation of power and movement that gets you out of multiple opponent situations. Fighting one on one against people of equal fitness and determination makes for a different situation to the situations that many truly traditional martial arts evolved in.

Also as the number of rules are reduced, competitions do come closer to traditional styles. (I don't mean high kicking post Bruce Lee sports styles). If you look at the way the Gracies fight they hold an almost perfect Pa Kua fighting stance (Dragon Stance).

The bare knuckle boxing of the past had people standing in classic kung fu poses.

The reason UFC does not look far more like kung fu or old style bare knuckle boxing is that it is still young and it allows groundfighting.

I think the author also makes the assumption that a real fight looks like training. It doesn't. You might do a long training flow in a two man form of which only a fraction is used in a real fight. But that fraction changes the course of the fight.

Also he misses out that the other important factor in a real fight is surprise. This will actually affect the moves that you can pull off, as Paul Genge mentioned in the thread 'Doesn't it all go out of the window...', because certain moves (e.g. a jab) require a fighting stance to pull off. Other moves like the chinese 'wave your hands in front of our face with your feet together' - a staple of many kung fu forms - are often performed in surprise situations.
Martial arts (empty hand, firearms, military applications, jousting, fencing, boxing, contact sports.....) all have used sports venues to encourage competition that would lead to striving for personal excellence that would preserve/enhance combat skills/technology/tactics. Places like Aberdeen (sp?) proving grounds and the Army's Ft. Polk are giant 'competition/sports rules' locations where people use sporting rules to ensure a minimum of safety while simulating combat as closely as possible while applying all the skills that military units/personnel will use in the real deal. This is 'competitive' because you are using an opposition force (opfor) to act as the enemy. They operate, at times freelance and sometimes with very specific 'rules' to force units to apply specific skills/tactics to see how well they work. It isn't real, but it is training/competition and 'sporting' to help people prepare for the real deal.

The Olympic events were orginally ALL martial events that directly translated to combat and gave city states to show off their local athlete/soldier champion as a representative of their community ability to fight.

Thank goodness for the general stability/peace that we enjoy but, in terms of martial arts, what that has done is shift the priority of USING SPORT venues to maintain and keep combat skills alive so that they are fresh and sharp when the balloon goes up, to TRAINING FOR SPORT venues as if it was the end goal.

That means that each sport application will have a portion of combative application taken to a high degree of excellence, but may not address other issues.

When a martial artist trains for and in that little bubble, the idea that you have the keys to the kingdom can develop because you never really train outside of that bubble to see where and how your part fits into the larger whole....

'Martial Arts' is not sport IMO. BUT, it can be demonstrate in sporting events to demonstrate aspects of self defense/fighting/tactical skills that are necessary for the whole mess.
Boy this is an old topic that was resurrected!

MA is a general title many groups use. It can be many things because there are many, many 'styles'. Sports in general have a goal - to 'win' (whatever win means).

If your style competes for trophies and titles - then it could be considered a 'sport'

If you style is strictly self-defense - then that is what it is.
Hmmn...almost a oxy-moron word structure-martial art.

If it is to be considered militarily or for combat-no-not a sport

If it is to be considered a art, proficiency, astuteness, disciplined, hard work, then sport atheletes do this or have a art form-yes-a sport as well.
Simply because people have a sporting component to their training does not mean that it cannot work elsewhere - oftentimes it works as well or better.

TMAs have been steadily reducing their actual contact training slowly for some decades now - and it tends to show in their performance in real fights.

The first 3 UFCs allowed throat and groin strikes; FinnFight still does. Only biting and eye attacks were disallowed at first, and those are perfectly legal in the AFC (Absolute Fighting Championships) in Russia. The fact that no one has yet ended any MMA fight with a legal bite, throat strike or eye gouge should tell us something about the difficulty of pulling off these techniques against competent opponents.

I recognize that there is a difference between protracted fights and running away/escaping and that MMA practitioners are criticized for training more for the former, but it may be that you do need to fight in a protracted engagement - and that means conditioning, solid strikes and possibly groundfighting if you get taken to the ground. You don't have to practice MMA to do this (I don't) but there is no reason to attack the people that do.
Rook said:
You don't have to practice MMA to do this (I don't) but there is no reason to attack the people that do.

Likewise, those who train MMA don't have to attack those that dont.

RoninPimp said:
Historical fact: Sports were created to train men for war.
So, might it then be fair to say that sport is not the art, it's training for the art? To me, that seems a reasonable way of classifying the difference between the two.
Personally, I thing Martial Arts is a huge misnomer. It can be both, but at it's core, it's learning to use something that's not designed for it, the human body, for unarmed combat. Of course I'm leaving out FMA, Kenjitsu, and other combatives that use weapons. I think Martial Way or combatives is a much better term than martial art. Besides, much of what we call martial arts doesn't have a military warfighting background. As far as Art goes, what's being created? The human body can only move or be moved in so many ways. I'm pretty sure they have all been figured out by now. Just my $.02.

Flatlander said:
So, might it then be fair to say that sport is not the art, it's training for the art? To me, that seems a reasonable way of classifying the difference between the two.
-Maybe...I'm not really sure. I don't disagree with your statement I don't think....thinking....

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