Sports vs Traditional in terms of Self Defense

Tony Dismukes

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I think that a lot of folks around here consider those other elements you mention (e.g., target hardening, deescalation, lifestyle) to actually BE self defense.
Well, they absolutely are self-defense. You could make an argument that they're the most important portion of self-defense. They're just not the aspect of self-defense which is normally addressed in martial arts training.
Don't get me wrong. I like this definition, and personally, I think if someone has learned how to fight (in any context), it is relatively simple to address the other elements of self defense.
It depends on what you mean by that. If you mean that it's relatively easy to address the elements of self-defense which are relevant to your fighting methods (such as steering away from tactics which limit your situational awareness or mobility or which could lead to legal issues) then I agree. If you mean the totality of subjects like de-escalation, situational awareness, escape and evasion, etc, then I think those could be areas of fairly deep study regardless of your fighting ability.
Also, when you say the other aspects are not normally a major part of martial arts training, I would agree and further suggest that there are other... often better... places than a martial arts school to work on those things.
Yep. Being a great martial artist or a great fighter doesn't necessarily mean you know the first thing about, for example, de-escalation or the legal system. I've picked up a few useful tidbits over the years, but I would never present myself as a subject matter expert on these topics. I try to point my students in the right general direction and try to avoid encouraging behaviors or perspectives which could get them into trouble, but that's about the best I can do with the non-fighting aspects of self-defense.
 

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Well, they absolutely are self-defense. You could make an argument that they're the most important portion of self-defense. They're just not the aspect of self-defense which is normally addressed in martial arts training.
Yeah, I meant that folks would argue those are self defense to the exclusion of other things. And without them, what you're learning isn't self defense. Sorry if that wasn't clear. :)

It depends on what you mean by that. If you mean that it's relatively easy to address the elements of self-defense which are relevant to your fighting methods (such as steering away from tactics which limit your situational awareness or mobility or which could lead to legal issues) then I agree. If you mean the totality of subjects like de-escalation, situational awareness, escape and evasion, etc, then I think those could be areas of fairly deep study regardless of your fighting ability.
Yeah, I highlighted area is the main bit I was trying to say. You don't have to know how to fight to be very experienced at de-escalation. I have mentioned before that I have known thousands of folks, most of whom couldn't fight their way out of a paper bag. And I'd say there are places as good or better to learn and develop these skills than some self defense schools. Particularly if the folks doing the teaching have limited personal experience.

Yep. Being a great martial artist or a great fighter doesn't necessarily mean you know the first thing about, for example, de-escalation or the legal system. I've picked up a few useful tidbits over the years, but I would never present myself as a subject matter expert on these topics. I try to point my students in the right general direction and try to avoid encouraging behaviors or perspectives which could get them into trouble, but that's about the best I can do with the non-fighting aspects of self-defense.
 

drop bear

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Well, they absolutely are self-defense. You could make an argument that they're the most important portion of self-defense. They're just not the aspect of self-defense which is normally addressed in martial arts training.

I think the interview concentrated on street fighting specifically to separate those areas. And for that reason.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Yeah, I meant that folks would argue those are self defense to the exclusion of other things. And without them, what you're learning isn't self defense. Sorry if that wasn't clear. :)
This is why I prefer to use the term "combat" instead of "self-defense". If you are a soldier, a body-guard, a secret service person, ..., the term "de-escalation" won't have any meaning to you.
 
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drop bear

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I think society teaches most people how to function in society. So a very basic concept of survival skills are generally already there.

And I think the skills taught by your average soft skills instructor isn't really all that revolutionary.

I mean do I have to go in to another rant about coopers colour codes?

So the emphasis on soft skills, while nice. In application is generally pointless. Just due to the way in which it is generally handled.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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So the emphasis on soft skills, while nice. In application is generally pointless. Just due to the way in which it is generally handled.
If all MA schools teach students how to hug a tree, the world will be so nice, friendly, and peaceful.

Can any MA school be able to survival without teaching any combat skill?

hug_tree.jpg
 
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This thread's title is "Sport vs Traditional.." I know what "sport" means, but I'm unclear on the meaning of "traditional." That term is quite ambiguous with multiple possible definitions. Is it (A) karate without sparring, just for self-development? Is it (B) karate as it's been commonly taught and practiced for the past 100 years? If so, the sport aspect is an inherent part of traditional. Or are we referring to karate as it was practiced prior to 1920 concentrating almost fully on combat self-defense (C)?
I don't think anything created in the 20th century could be considered "traditional" but that's just my take on it.
 
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Nobufusa

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My reaction? He's an idiot.

Okay, that was a bit harsh... I'm sure he's an intelligent person, and is certainly eloquent in his speech, however, in this area, he is woefully undereducated, on pretty much every level one can think of. His arguments are full of straw-men, false (and incorrect) assumptions, misunderstanding of concepts and contexts, lack of grasp of key areas, and unverifiable beliefs.

To be fair, though, the entire set-up (in the questioning) is, in itself, deeply lacking in any real understanding of what it is even asking itself, as the interviewer/podcaster seems unsure about what he's actually asking about... so there's a lot that would need to be clarified first.

The first thing that needs to be looked at is the context... self defence and "street fighting" are very different in many areas, so thinking of them as being the same, or somewhat equivalent, is already demonstrating a lack of any real grasp of the topic. Without getting that understood in the first place, you can't really move onto what's "best" suited, as we don't know what we're wanting it to be best for.

The second is to understand the variety of training methodologies... not only what is used, but why, and exactly how it is structured. Of course, you also need to understand that the training methods themselves change over the course of study... so minimalist exposure is really not enough to get a real understanding, excepting in sporting methods (in the main... there are still exceptions to that, of course).

The corollary to this is that you also need to understand the intended context of the system itself, which plays into the cultural background of it's development and foundation; in other words, the "Who", "What", "Where", "When", and "Why" of the system itself. This is going to be the largest difference between a "sport" system, a "traditional" system, and a "classical" system (yeah, I've brought another category into it... but that's really the kind of arts that Nobufusa is asking about in the above OP). And, what cannot be ignored (or, at least, really shouldn't be) is that there are numerous arts that cross borders, being both "sports" and "traditional"... as well as other categorisations that can be applied.

Finally, and this is the big one, it's important to note that no martial arts are actually designed for self defence. None of them. Zero. So, there's that.

There's a lot more to unpack, including the comments from Relnick-sensei about Judo (which is accurate in a modern setting, to be frank), however time is getting away from me, so I'll likely come back to do that either later today, or tomorrow. I'll break down John's interview, and highlight the issues as I see them, but, for now, while I see where he's coming from, he doesn't have the education to speak on this, from my perspective... especially when it comes to talking about other arts approaches, that he misses the reality of entirely.
I am very eager to hear your follow up, but a couple points on what you said.

1. John Danaher is a world renowned authority, expert, author and scholar on Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, he coached George St. Pierre to becoming a hall of fame UFC champion, who is to this day, still considered one of the, if not the best pound for pound MMA fighters in the world. So I am a little bit shocked at your dismissal of him. But like I said, your responses and follow ups are always the ones I look forward to most of all. To put it this way, I have a lot of respect for both you and him, so it's a little jarring to see two; in my eyes, titans of martial art knowledge, be at odds with each other. My point here to consider, is to perhaps give some weight and consideration to his background and reputation in writing your follow up. Not to say that you are wrong at all in any of your remarks, but I think your follow-up will be much more comprehensive and interesting, and perhaps even more convincing with this context in mind.

2. I have some background in Judo, nobody is going to tell me that Judo isn't a ferocious martial art. The Judo instructors I trained with in Nagasaki were devastating fighters. One of them easily tore my rotator cuff during randori, and I understand injuries happen in sports, but he did it so skillfully, effortlessly, and effectively, that I simply can't accept the statement that Judo isn't a martial art. Simply put, I would not want to fight a Judo black belt- ever, period.
 

Tony Dismukes

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I don't think anything created in the 20th century could be considered "traditional" but that's just my take on it.
Well, that would eliminate the vast majority of currently practiced martial arts, including a large percentage of those commonly referred to as traditional martial arts.

if you further eliminate the martial arts which were technically founded prior to the 20th century but which have significantly altered their training methods or curriculum since then, then you are left with a very small pool of arts.
 

Hanshi

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As far as I know all martial arts were originally created with combat being the reason . Yes I understand some schools focus on the "sport" aspect (whatever that is) while others teach training tactics from "how to keep from being injured by others" all the way to the "hairy chested he-man take no prisoners" thing. There is a very large overlap of sport vs combat. In fact I'd go as far to say that the "overlap" is larger than what ever differences they may project.

In the Marines rifle marksmanship is drilled by having targets posted with the troops taking up positions on a firing line to shoot at them. The rifle is a tool and nobody can go into combat without having the skills to use it effectively. What we train in the martial arts is how to develop and build effectiveness with those tools. The tools being hand strikes, kicks and "grappling type" techniques. Most martial arts can be edited to remove questionable techniques or at least adapt them to make them relatively safe for competition. Let's face it, survival for the trained martial artist (or anyone for that matter) is not so much a matter of skill as it is of will. The "fight" comes from within and not from without.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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Well, that would eliminate the vast majority of currently practiced martial arts, including a large percentage of those commonly referred to as traditional martial arts.

if you further eliminate the martial arts which were technically founded prior to the 20th century but which have significantly altered their training methods or curriculum since then, then you are left with a very small pool of arts.
I don't believe there are any major change in wrestling, Chinese wrestling, Judo during the 20th century.

Some ground skill may be new, but all stand up throwing skill are all ancient.
 

Tony Dismukes

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Let's face it, survival for the trained martial artist (or anyone for that matter) is not so much a matter of skill as it is of will. The "fight" comes from within and not from without.
This is part of Danahers argument, that combat sports develop this fighting spirit more than martial arts which do not include a sparring or competitive aspect.

Honestly, this is also a major reason for the existence of systems such as Army Combatives or the Marine Corp Martial Arts Program. Unarmed combat really isnt a significant portion of the mission of a modern soldier, but the military believes that the training is useful for building soldiers personal courage, confidence, and resiliency.
 

Kung Fu Wang

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As far as I know all martial arts were originally created with combat being the reason . Yes I understand some schools focus on the "sport" aspect ...
I have learned 2 different ways to execute a hip throw. When you throw your opponent over your back,

- The sport way is to pull his body upward (so your opponent won't get hurt).
- The combat way is to smash his head straight down to the ground (so your opponent will get hurt).

Some training are not for sport.

head-smash-dummy.gif
 
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Damien

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I'd say I actually agree with pretty much everything the guy said in that video, the only problem is with the terminology. Sports vs theoretical (or traditional) is potentially the wrong distinction, because you can spar and do resisting drills without having a sport that you can compete in.

The real distinction should be active pressure testing (in multiple forms) vs not. That was really the point he was trying to make; if you practice against a resisting opponent then you're more likely to be successful in a self defence situation. The problem is that a lot of "traditional martial artists" however we define that term, don't do this. It's a very widely held opinion (outside those that practice traditional martial arts) that combat sports are the future and traditional martial arts are useless for self defence/combat. You see the idea pop up everywhere.

The silly thing is, many of these arts were made for self defence and/or warfare, but the practice and focus of them has changed over time. War, banditry, rivalries, challenge matches etc. were not uncommon and the older styles got used in, and developed out of, these situations. It's all about how you train, and a blend of traditional martial arts and modern approaches is, in my opinion, the optimum. I posted this in another thread already, but as it directly pertains to this discussion:


Now I will say that if you are interested in fighting, picking a combat sport will get you better at fighting faster, because you spend more time on it. But traditional martial arts tend to have a more wholistic approach which I think has broader benefits for the mind and body, and if we want to be healthy individuals into old age, I think this is the way to go. With the absence of specific rules, you can make your training more reflective of a live self defence situation and not have to worry about overcoming built in reactions, like the boxer punching someone in the head and breaking their hand.

As @Tony Dismukes was saying the key issue for arts without a sport is building something which allows them to train safely and not lose the elements that separate it from kickboxing etc. This could be a new sport (the point about wider competition is spot on), this could be plenty of protection, it could be very well done resisted drills, probably all of the above. You want to train to fight in a way that matches the reflexes and tendencies your art builds in you.

Back when I had a school in the UK I was thinking of starting up an inter-club competition which encouraged participants to make use of their styles, to compete without the brutality we sometimes see in MMA (not everyone can go into work with a mashed up face...) and with a focus on a self defence style situation- light open gloves (to allow any hand techniques), helmets (so you can partake even if you need to remain mostly bruise free), a ring with one wall (representative of most streets where something), points for takedowns but only limited time to act on the ground (to avoid the dreaded head stomp from friends).

Unfortunately I never had the time to get it off the ground before Covid and I moved, but maybe one day.
 
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Nobufusa

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While establishing clear definitions of terminology is very important, it does slightly distract from the question at hand about the differences and practicality of martial arts with sparring vs those without. We can continue discussing how we define "self defense" or "traditional martial arts", and other concepts, but I would encourage everyone to keep the original context of the post in mind- which is, what will better prepare you for actual physical combat? Is a combination the best approach? And other such questions.
 

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This is part of Danahers argument, that combat sports develop this fighting spirit more than martial arts which do not include a sparring or competitive aspect.

Honestly, this is also a major reason for the existence of systems such as Army Combatives or the Marine Corp Martial Arts Program. Unarmed combat really isnt a significant portion of the mission of a modern soldier, but the military believes that the training is useful for building soldiers personal courage, confidence, and resiliency.



It's sorta like the old saying: "It's not the size of the dog in a fight but rather the size of the fight in the dog". As the Duke stated in his movie "The Shootist" after Ron Howard's character fired almost as good a group as the Duke had fired; "it's not so much how tight you can shoot but how willing you are to shoot and I've always been willing". But MA training is still needed. My apologizes for any confusion.
 

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