'The style is only as good as the martial artist' -Revisited

Giorgio

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Reading these boards, and any other literature on martial arts, you often come into the phrase 'The style is only as good as its practicioner'. I assume that this phrase was used to silence the debate on which martial art was 'best'. I have been trying to get this round my head, but haven't managed yet.

Now I accept that a lot of arguments over which style is better results in a lot of petulance and flared tempers, which is never good. However, I don't see the logic in saying that every martial art is equally good, as long as the practicioners are trained enough. Each style is unique and different, with different rules, assumptions and values. Are we supposed to assume that, despite their infinite variations, they all magically come out to be exactly as good as each other to practicioners with the same experience? I think not.

For example: Muay Thai does not teach groundwork. Thus, it is severely deficient should a fight ever come to the ground. But a practicioner of BJJ or MMA (If you want to consider MMA a style by itself) has no problems on the ground. Now go the other way and consider the statement again 'the style is only as good as its practicioner' That implies that a master of muay thai of 20 years training and a master of tae kwon do of 20 years training, of equall skill and talent, are equally good. But what if the style only uses one hand? What if it has no kicks at all? In fact, any incompetent can invent their own style and start teaching it, and many do. Just because it's called a style, doesn't make it sacred and 'just as good as any other'

No. Styles are different, and some are better or worse. Until we discuss, test and experience, there is no reason for any of us to assume that tae kwon do, karate, or tai chi are just as good as each other, by virtue of being a martial art. Tae kwon do has not been around for more than 70 years, and aikido is equally recent. The same goes for american kenpo, BJJ, and many other martial arts currently found. This is why events such as K-1 or MMA are so fascinating.

I think the statement 'the style is only as good as the martial artist' is intellectually stultifying and kills what could be a very interesting debate.

I also realise that this is a very inflammatory topic, so please, answer with care and politeness, and I'll do the same.
 

Kacey

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I agree... and I don't.

A more talented and/or hard working martial artist is a style that is deficient in something - say, groundwork - may nonetheless be more effective in a fight.

A less talented and/or hard working martial artist in a style that is more well-rounded - that is, more inclusive of a variety of types of fighting - may win a fight with the martial artist described above, if the fight develops into an area that the more talented and/or harder working martial artist has no direct experience/training with.

There are too many variables in any situation to say, decisively, that any one martial art is "the best". The MA that is "the best" for one person may not be "the best" for another - any MA can be more or less suited to a person's personality, preferences, physical abilities, and so on, as can any instructor's style. The "best" martial art for any particular person is going to vary so widely based on variables that have nothing to do with the art itself that there is no one "right" answer - only the answer that is right for the person who is learning a particular art.
 

jks9199

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There's no ultimate or perfect martial art. While some may offer more options for various ranges than others, the others may make up for that with more in-depth training and understanding of the ranges they work with. BJJ practitioners, as a general rule, are great at grappling -- but not so great at striking, especially if they have to deliver a strike a medium or long ranges. Boxers are, in general, fantastic punchers -- but they don't kick, or defend against kicks. Some styles include weapons; others don't. (At least not until some well meaning person tries to graft whatever they thought looked cool into their system...)

But, as a pretty reliable rule, if you take two people of roughly equal experience and training within two different styles -- it's going to come down to whoever did those extra few reps in practice, or who has more heart. To use the scenario that started this thread, if a Thai boxer fights a BJJ grappler, under rules that are balanced to give both guys an equal opportunity instead of favoring one fighter or the other -- the Thai fighter will try to keep the BJJ guy to a stand-up game of strikes and punches, while the BJJ guy will be trying to get a hold of him, and take him to the ground during a clinch. Assuming no great disparity in skill... it's gonna come down to who gets the lucky shot in that works first.

And when it comes to real self defense... Sure, there are some systems that are more practical and relevant (not too many folks wander around wearing katanas, so iado or kendo aren't typically going to be as immediately practical as judo or kali/escrima, for example) than others -- but, speaking from experience, the first thing that goes out the window under a real attack is pretty technique! Most folks fall back on a very small subset of what they've practiced the most. So, we're back down to the person making the art look good... or not.
 

Andy Moynihan

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Well, most people who have had no formal training appear to grapple on natural instinct as a direct *result* of no formal training--apart from making/using weapons, humans' earliest form of fighting was to wrestle, before we even knew how to *fight*, we wrestled. Certainly I'm sure our distant predecessors used limbs to strike with, but striking in a scienced manner came a bit later because , from a purely "Man vs. Wild" perspective, human bodies , compared to other natural creatures, are not optimized to be used as weapons--even the strongest among our species don't have muscles and strength the way a gorilla or a yeti has muscles and strength, we don't have claws, we don't have jaws and teeth in the same way a bear, tiger, or crocodile has jaws and teeth. We don't have horns, we don't have natural armor the way a turtle, alligator or armadillo has--just a ribcage over our organs and a skull over our brain and good luck to you.

Our bodies aren't naturally optimized to be used as striking weapons, so it takes more training to GET them turned into striking weapons than to wrestle. That doesn't automatically render such training useless.

The thing you have to remember when you enter a discussion of "this" is better than "that" with regards to striking arts/takedown arts/groundwork/whatever, is this:

Striking and grappling were never *intended* to be taught seperately. And back in the way-back-when, they weren't. The seperation took place largely in the late 19th/early 20th centuries because of several factors: The disappearance of the old ways of war in an age when gunpowder was rising in dominance, a desire to keep the old traditions and "fighting spirit" alive anyway, and certain teachers , due to their own preference/temperament/physical makeup, choosing to emphasize certain techniques and dropping others, and *BOOM* thus were born "styles".

That's really all there is that I can see to it* shrug *.
 

morph4me

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I agree with Kacey. It seems to me that if we were to say that one style is better than another it would follow that everything else being equal, in any competition, the better style would win, every time, and that obviously doesn't happen. For instance, if we were to say that Muay Thai is a better are than Krav Maga, and I'm not saying that, then if we were to pick 100 practioners of each art, all with 10 years training 2 hours a day 3 days a week, then the Muay Thai practioners would win 100 out of 100 matches by virtue of a superior art. If one art proved to be the best, the others would quickly die out, why learn an inferior art?
 

FearlessFreep

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When all things are equal, size wins
When all things are equal, strength wins
When all things are equal, conditioning wins
When all things are equal, training wins
When all things are equal, experience wins
When all things are equal, dedication wins

Things are never equal



Very few people who take self-defense seriously, for example, will constrain themselves to one 'pure' art. This is where you get into the situation that "it's not the art it the artist", as someone who is serious about the martial arts as a means of self-defense will go beyond the 'pureness' of the art to develop a style of self-defense either within or outside of the art, Thus, someone who does Taekwondo and who adapts Taekwondo for groundfighting and close range fighting is a better Artist than someone who constrains themselves to just the forms and point sparring. Because an art is what you make of it.
 

CuongNhuka

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By your logic, Cuong Nhu is inferior to Western Boxing simply because Cuong Nhu is 42 years old, and boxing is a few thousand years old. Yah, do me a favor and go to a Cuong Nhu school and say that. The Sensei will laugh in your face. We're more traditional (in some ways) then many other traditional styles.
 

Rich Parsons

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Reading these boards, and any other literature on martial arts, you often come into the phrase 'The style is only as good as its practicioner'. I assume that this phrase was used to silence the debate on which martial art was 'best'. I have been trying to get this round my head, but haven't managed yet.

Now I accept that a lot of arguments over which style is better results in a lot of petulance and flared tempers, which is never good. However, I don't see the logic in saying that every martial art is equally good, as long as the practicioners are trained enough. Each style is unique and different, with different rules, assumptions and values. Are we supposed to assume that, despite their infinite variations, they all magically come out to be exactly as good as each other to practicioners with the same experience? I think not.

For example: Muay Thai does not teach groundwork. Thus, it is severely deficient should a fight ever come to the ground. But a practicioner of BJJ or MMA (If you want to consider MMA a style by itself) has no problems on the ground. Now go the other way and consider the statement again 'the style is only as good as its practicioner' That implies that a master of muay thai of 20 years training and a master of tae kwon do of 20 years training, of equall skill and talent, are equally good. But what if the style only uses one hand? What if it has no kicks at all? In fact, any incompetent can invent their own style and start teaching it, and many do. Just because it's called a style, doesn't make it sacred and 'just as good as any other'

No. Styles are different, and some are better or worse. Until we discuss, test and experience, there is no reason for any of us to assume that tae kwon do, karate, or tai chi are just as good as each other, by virtue of being a martial art. Tae kwon do has not been around for more than 70 years, and aikido is equally recent. The same goes for american kenpo, BJJ, and many other martial arts currently found. This is why events such as K-1 or MMA are so fascinating.

I think the statement 'the style is only as good as the martial artist' is intellectually stultifying and kills what could be a very interesting debate.

I also realise that this is a very inflammatory topic, so please, answer with care and politeness, and I'll do the same.

Giorgio,

Please take what I have to say with a grain of salt.

I used to know of some guys who had no formal training but were some of the meanest and deadliest people on the street. So because their art is just street skills passed down, then it is not equal to others? Or it has no value? I think not, I think it has value.

Yet, I know of some guys who did TKD in the 70's and early 80's who used it for self defense and did not need to kick to the head to win. They had good hand skills and good skills for kicks to the lower part of the body. They also understood basic principals of not going to someone else's strength. So they would dance out and away of those trying to grapple with them.

On the other hand I knew some guys who were good wrestlers and they trie d to go to the ground. Of course this worked. Again it was in an era wiht those wround who would not jump in just for fun. In the early 80's I saw this change. I mean, I literally saw how people would jump in because they thought they could get away with the cheap shot and "WIN" a fight.

I saw some people use tactics of some rushing the bouncers while others punched them and usually knocked them out. I also saw them begin to kick them in the body and head with their steel toed boots. I was busy trying to get through and also check on the "rest" of the people egging them on. Including the "group" of young women with the Dobbermen pinchers and Pit Bulls on the choke chains. I was able to get to them to stop the punishment. I ended up fighting three at a time, and got hit so hard one of my eyes crossed. I continued to fight with an eye closed, as I knew if I went down I would be next on the "Kick Parade". I did end up on the ground not because they were able to get me there, but I tripped on one of the guys down already. I got into the door frame, and used my legs to keep him off of me. And even when he tried to jump up and land on me, I caught him and kept him away. I got up as soon as I could, but I used my environment and did not give into being knocked out. My art at the time was an FMA that deals with sticks and knives, and also empty hands. I was not untouchable, no matter what their skill set was. Any one is touchable.

But, if a person has it in them, to learn a system, they can learn some techniques it does not matter the technique if they know it when and how to use. If they stay within their game and control the situation so they can play within their game. So when someone makes the comment that MMA needs to be presented as the best art, I have issues. Let one of them who could easily beat me on the ground for their condition and training hours, but if they grapple with me and I pulled a training knife ;) which I have done to surprise peeple, and it changes the whole game. Yes it is a game, because MMA and other forms of competition have rules.

So, the comparison of years of training in one art to another is not the same. Saying one art is the same as another I agree as not true as they obvioussy are different. But to say it is the person and not the art, is the way to say it. If a person is absolutely serious about bringing it then it matters not their training, but their intent. Training can give people confidence. It can give them perseverence, and if they have been hit in their training, maybe they understand they will not die from it and continue on.

If you wish to debate, that is your opinion. Just remember that people will bring knives and friends who jump out from no where to help beat you while you are on the ground or tied up even while standing.

In the end, the person is absolutely certain they want you, it would take a team of people who are willing to die for you, and even then, depending upon the collateral damage you still might be in danger of dying.

So, I have to ask, what about this tired old debate, can you bring that is new?

I mean I can understand, arguements about ground fighting, as it is a good skill to have, and kicking to keep distance and this is another good skill, and weapons, and disarms and ..., the list goes on. But as soon as you QUANTIFY it with style names one then opens it up to making silly comparisons and in the end it is about the person and not the art and how serious they are. I can find someone from any art that has been training for years, that could still beat outside their comfort zone, and or just because they are not serious enough.

So please excuse my confusion about how this could be a good debate?

Why not take the time to truly present a solid argument if you can, or do you wish to throw items out to see the people react, so you can be an internet troll? So what will it be? Will you dazzle me with a great arguement or was all this so you could watch everyone and then in the end say we just could not discuss it like adults. ;)
 

exile

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Reading these boards, and any other literature on martial arts, you often come into the phrase 'The style is only as good as its practicioner'. I assume that this phrase was used to silence the debate on which martial art was 'best'. I have been trying to get this round my head, but haven't managed yet.

Well, a lot of things are built into the phrasing, no? For example, saying that this phrase is meant to `silence the debate' itself makes a particular claim—that one of the logical stances in a debate is inherently a debate-killer—which isn't in the least obvious! If the `debate' is predicated on an assumption which itself is open to question, and someone chooses to question that assumption, exactly how does this constitute an attempt to `silence' the debate (as vs., say, resolving the debate in a certain direction which you yourself may not like to see it resolved in, which is more the way I would put it)?? If two people are arguing about whether the present King of France is bald or not, surely someone who points out that the basic premise of the debate—that there currently is a King of France—is false, isn't attempting to `silence the debate' but to correct a serious misimpression which the debate depends on. `Silencing' a debate in contrast is much more a matter of, say, my threatening to have you arrested and to have legal action taken against you for having the debate. Your usage suggests that you regard a perfectly possible, defensible position (which, if true, would show the misguided nature of the debate) as inadmissible to the discussion—an odd stance for someone to take who's complaining about debate being curtailed by fiat, no?

And just where is there a bona fide `debate'? I've seen literally dozens of such `debates' about which MA is the `best', or which of two MAs is better, consisting in every case of nothing but assertion and counterassertion based on at best anecdotal evidence, dueling YouTube videocasts of Muay Thai fighters decking TKD exponents and TKD exponents decking BJJ exponents and... ad nauseum, and—mostly—of proponents repeating to each other their deeply held gut reactions and intuitions about the way things are, as you do below. To have a debate, you have to have a (i) well-defined question to which (ii) people bring bodies of evidence that are publically available and subect to documentation. When the Columbia and Stanford debating teams take each other on over the issue of whether government intervention on behalf of failing corporations benefits or hurts the national economy, you can see both (i) and (ii) in action. But exactly what does `Martial art X is better than martial art Y' denote?—what specific points would have to be proven to show that that claim receives more or less support than its negation? If it were wrong, how would we know? What would have to be demonstrated? Has anyone in any of what you're calling `debates' on that claim ever answered that question, let alone actually provided even a bit of the kind of evidence that would lead a disinterested set of referees to agree that the claim had been justified for some X and Y, or any X and any Y?


Each style is unique and different, with different rules, assumptions and values.

See, this statement embodies the kind of vagueness in the `X is better than Y' claim that I was just complaining about. Is the issue whether X will win in a tournament scoring setting over Y under Y-conditions and Y-rules more than Y will win over X under X-conditions and X-rules? Or does it mean that faced with the same range of untrained street attacker attempting to fatally injure the defender, X will lead to the survival of the defender more times than Y will? Or something else? Just what is it you're claiming? Can you make it explicit? Before you can talk about a debate, you need to make it clear what it is you're debating so that everyone understands the point at issue, because only then can the kind of evidence that would bear on the issue be identified. Whether or not it could, practically speaking, ever be provided is yet another question, but we're still very far from getting to that point, eh?

Are we supposed to assume that, despite their infinite variations, they all magically come out to be exactly as good as each other to practicioners with the same experience?

Again, `as good as each other' under what conditions? And regardless of those conditions, why would magic be involved? If the issue is ensuring survivability of defenders against a violent untrained attack, and if such attacks are (as the work of Patrick McCarthy and others strongly suggests) very similar across times and places, and consist of a quite limited set of what PMcC calls `habitual acts of violence' that initiate the attack, then the convergence of different styles on a set of core techniques that counter these HAOVs and then dispose of the attacker according to one or another strategic plan (use a strike to incapacite, as in TKD the other karate-based arts, inflict incapacitating joint damage, as in Hapkido, Aiki-jutsu and various other arts, etc) wouldn't be magic; it would simply reflect Darwinian pressure. Use of adjectives like `magically' are a good example of the kind of thing that troubles me about this sort of discussion: it takes advantage of the fact that the issues in the alleged `debate' haven't been framed carefully enough that we might be able to say, whoa, mate, the fact that MAs X, Y and Z all could be equally effective against a double-hand grab preparatory to a head-butt doesn't have to be magic at all! So the passage from your post that I've just quoted is, I think, a good illustration of why this whole kind of discussion will get nowhere until the actual point at issue is framed a lot more precisely than you've done so far.

I think not.

Yes, that's all very well, but it doesn't supply any information that bears one way or the other on the outcome of the `debate'. You're just repeating your conviction that there's something there worth debating, without saying just what it is or how we might decide it.

No. Styles are different, and some are better or worse.

And here you're still simply repeating the (as yet unclarified) assertion, the one that we might be able to debate if we knew just what the specific claim was that you're making. So far you haven't done that, let alone provided any evidence. So the preceding statement is just another repetition of the original claim.

I think the statement 'the style is only as good as the martial artist' is intellectually stultifying and kills what could be a very interesting debate.

Once (yet) again: it can only be a debate of any kind, interesting or not, if the point at issue is defined precisely enough so that we know just what kind of evidence would bear on it and if some party to the debate then goes on to supply that evidence. What I find stultifying, I have to say, are recycled chestnuts that no one seems able to get down to brass tacks about, with the result that the parties to the pseudodebate wind up throwing anecdotes at each other, or trotting out `what-if?' scenarios that are covertly predicated on one of the very assumptions under debate, or any of a score of ways of begging the question. Make it clear just what you're claiming and what kind of evidence would support/undermine the status of that claim; until then, there's no issue to debate on the table, let alone any actual debate on the table. Right now, the only thing we genuinely have is the table itself...
 

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Can I make a small point about martial arts and self defence? I know a man who will defeat any martial artist no matter how good they are, he's not skilled particularly, he's a gangster and considered a hard man ( I will give his name to anyone who wants to pm me so they can google it) he will win because he really really doesn't care about anything. He doesn't care if he tears you to pieces, he doesn't care if he gets hurt.He needs no reason to kick off. He's probably certifiably insane and it's very very scary. All the normal things in his head are turned off. He has a few guys like him working for him, he also written books and to be honest his books are funny but for fighting him, never. Just a thought when people are discussing the best martial art, perhaps it's being insane thats best!
 

theletch1

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Can I make a small point about martial arts and self defence? I know a man who will defeat any martial artist no matter how good they are, he's not skilled particularly, he's a gangster and considered a hard man ( I will give his name to anyone who wants to pm me so they can google it) he will win because he really really doesn't care about anything. He doesn't care if he tears you to pieces, he doesn't care if he gets hurt.He needs no reason to kick off. He's probably certifiably insane and it's very very scary. All the normal things in his head are turned off. He has a few guys like him working for him, he also written books and to be honest his books are funny but for fighting him, never. Just a thought when people are discussing the best martial art, perhaps it's being insane thats best!

I know that I'm enjoying it!:)
 
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Giorgio

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First of all, to Cuong Nhuka ( I hope that's spelled right ), I was not implying that the newer a martial art, the older it is. Sorry if you took it that way, but that wasn't part of my point.

Exile, thanks for your thorough assessment of my post, and you raised some very good points. My argument was sloppy. I was simply questioning why the debate was silent because of this phrase 'the style is only as good as its practicioner'. I was not trying to open the debate as to which martial art was better. But now that you've raised that issue, let's address it.

You're right. The first thing you have to do is define what is meant by 'better', i.e. how we quantify a martial art. Since this is a very difficult and subjective thing to do, let's assume that a martial art's value is determined by its effectiveness in hand-to-hand, unarmed combat, in a real-life situation. Martial arts were not devised primarily as a means of fitness, or even mental discipline, although these elements may have been important. They were devised as a means of combat, and this should be the primary value we use to quantify them. I am sorry to exclude weapon styles, but it makes the whole debate a lot easier and avoids the digression into which weapon is more effective, which inevitably ends up with guns.

So, now that we have established that the 'best' martial art is the one which is most effective in real life, unarmed combat situations, let me make a caveat. I never, nor did I intend to, propose one martial art as 'the best'. I realise many of you are very defensive about this debate, so I'll make that clear. I was merely saying that a judgment CAN be made, and that certain styles ARE worse than others, on whatever grounds of 'better' or 'worse' that you choose to select. That is the purpouse of this debate. Not to establish the 'best' martial art, but the possibility of quantifying a martial art along pre-determined criteria.

thanks for your responses, plese continue!
 

theletch1

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I must respectfully disagree with the premise that you can quantify an art based on its effectiveness in unarmed combat...or combat at all for that matter. I will grant you that most martial arts were developed as a means of combat and many still hold dearly to that criteria. However, the reasons people study the MA are as varied as the people themselves. While someone who is on the path for combative reasons would, indeed, agree that more combative arts are the best and certainly some more than others an individual who is seeking personal growth through training would probably see those arts with a more spiritual aspect as the best. It all boils down to the mindset of the individual doing the evaluating. So, you see, when taken from a larger world view there is no single "best" art. There are many different "best" arts.
 

exile

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The first thing you have to do is define what is meant by 'better', i.e. how we quantify a martial art. Since this is a very difficult and subjective thing to do, let's assume that a martial art's value is determined by its effectiveness in hand-to-hand, unarmed combat, in a real-life situation. Martial arts were not devised primarily as a means of fitness, or even mental discipline, although these elements may have been important. They were devised as a means of combat, and this should be the primary value we use to quantify them...That is the purpouse of this debate. Not to establish the 'best' martial art, but the possibility of quantifying a martial art along pre-determined criteria.

OK, that's a reasonable starting place (though others, like the Letch, might disagree and present quite reasonable reasons for doing so)&#8212;and now comes the interesting part: how would a meaningful quantification of a given MA's combat effectiveness be carried out? Let's assume that you're right, that MAs were devised primarily as tools for self-defense in eras when people pretty much had to make their own personal security for themselves (I myself have no problems with that conception of the MAs). That implies, I think, that we can agree that the main notion of self-defense in this context would be that which an ordinary person, seeking no trouble with anyone else, would need in the face of an unsought violent encounter with someone who meant to do them harm, when there was no way to avoid or evade physical contact. If that's the model of SD we're interested in&#8212;the ability to bring enough force to bear on a dangerous violent assailant to deprive him of the physical ability to continue the attack&#8212;then the relative effectiveness of two different MAs X and Y would seem to require that we take a pool of practitioners from X and a similar pool from Y, partition the two pools on the basis of combat ability so that we're not comparing the results of a muay thai novice with those of a fifth dan Gojo-ryu instuctor who's moonlighted as a doorman and bouncer at a Glasgow biker bar for the past ten years. We then form pairs n pairs <x1,y1>... <x-n, y-n> of MAists, one who does X and the other who does Y, with both members of each pair at the same level of expertise, and subject them to the same range of attacks by experienced untrained street attackers at the same (advanced) level of skill (in order to ensure that the nature of the threat all the pairs encounter is in effect the same). Then we tot up the results and announce the winner. By hypothesis, we've eliminated the possibility of skewed results based on mismatches in the skill level of the practitioners of the two different arts in setting things up this way, and we've also kept the level of the threat constant. So on this basis, given enough trials, one might argue the only differences that will yield a statistically significant result will be those that reflect the inherent suitability of the MA as a self-defense system.

The problem is, it seems inconceivable that one could actually conduct such a controlled experiment... how it could it actually be carried out?

&#8226; How, to begin with, could one actually determine that for any j, the pair <x-j, y-j> are actually of the same level of ability? The whole thought-experiment rests on the assumption that one can really carry out that determination, but what would be involved in doing so? Same number of years in the respective arts, or even years of fighting experience, wouldn't necessarily be any guarantee, because one of the two might simply have more inherent talent than the other. So the only way would be to get a series of assailants for each pair and check whether after x-j and y-j had each fought each of the assailants, that they had a comparable record... no, it just doesn't bear thinking about!

&#8226; How could you get enough people to participate in such an experiment as the defenders that the results would be statistically significant?

&#8226; Even more difficult, how could you get enough untrained but violent attackers to participate for the results to have any quantitatively reliable meaning? Think about it: if x-j did his or her job well enough, that attacker wouldn't be in shape to take on y-j very soon, and very likely wouldn't want to ever.

&#8226; To what extent would such an experiment&#8212;consisting of a bunch of people who were volunteering either to be violently attacked, or to launch such an attack on defenders many of whom would very likely be quite dangerous for anyone to attack&#8212;be representative of the ordinary street attacker and trained MA practitioner? How could we tell?

[/I]

I'm not trying to be difficult, really! But think of the incredible problems such an experiment would pose&#8212;the ones I've listed are just scratching the surface... honestly, G., I don't see how it could possibly be staged. And without somthing along these lines, how could one make any quantitatively well-founded claims about how X can be expected fare against a street attack, as vs. how Y can be expected to fare?
 

Rich Parsons

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First of all, to Cuong Nhuka ( I hope that's spelled right ), I was not implying that the newer a martial art, the older it is. Sorry if you took it that way, but that wasn't part of my point.

Exile, thanks for your thorough assessment of my post, and you raised some very good points. My argument was sloppy. I was simply questioning why the debate was silent because of this phrase 'the style is only as good as its practicioner'. I was not trying to open the debate as to which martial art was better. But now that you've raised that issue, let's address it.

You're right. The first thing you have to do is define what is meant by 'better', i.e. how we quantify a martial art. Since this is a very difficult and subjective thing to do, let's assume that a martial art's value is determined by its effectiveness in hand-to-hand, unarmed combat, in a real-life situation. Martial arts were not devised primarily as a means of fitness, or even mental discipline, although these elements may have been important. They were devised as a means of combat, and this should be the primary value we use to quantify them. I am sorry to exclude weapon styles, but it makes the whole debate a lot easier and avoids the digression into which weapon is more effective, which inevitably ends up with guns.

So, now that we have established that the 'best' martial art is the one which is most effective in real life, unarmed combat situations, let me make a caveat. I never, nor did I intend to, propose one martial art as 'the best'. I realise many of you are very defensive about this debate, so I'll make that clear. I was merely saying that a judgment CAN be made, and that certain styles ARE worse than others, on whatever grounds of 'better' or 'worse' that you choose to select. That is the purpouse of this debate. Not to establish the 'best' martial art, but the possibility of quantifying a martial art along pre-determined criteria.

thanks for your responses, plese continue!


Not to be baiting here, but I still have not seen anything from you yourself to add to the over all debate. If you think it is such a good idea, one would think you might have some insight or a point on this, and not just agree with some educated and well written members of this board.
 
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Giorgio

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Okay, to begin, deLetch, I accept your point about martial arts having come to mean more than just self defence, and has enshrined attributes such as physical skill, flexibility, and co-ordination as valuable things in their own right, despite how their practice was originally intended. This is fine, and although it is not how I wish to practice martial arts that way, I cannot fault those who do. That is why I stressed that before you can quantify martial art is better or worse than another, you have to establish the criteria for 'better' or 'worse'. Ostensibly, TKD will allow you to express more flexibility and fluidity of movement than BJJ or Muay Thai, and Karate and Muay Thai will show greater feats of physical conditioning than Tai Chi or Eskrima. It is important to establish the terms of the debate before having it.

But, as I said, I'm not trying to determine the 'ultimate' martial art here. I'm just arguing for the possibility of differentiating in terms of quality between them.

Which brings me to exile's point. It is a fair point that the most reliable and scientific method to test the hypothesis of whether one martial art is better than another is to run a series of samples, and I think you supplied a very good outline for how such an experiment would work. However, as you pointed out, this would be very difficult to do, and is ultimately not very feasible. However, I don't think that obviates the possibility of a debate on it. Obviously we can never group together and test this in person, but the purpouse of this message board is to provide a forum for debate. I agree that there is a limited amount we can thrash out on paper about something as personal and physical as martial arts, but I do believe that discussions can be fruitful.

For example, instead of quantitatively trying to prove one martial art is best, how about establishing the criteria first (stand-up self-defence, self-defence against groups, disarming weapons, general health, etc.) and then establishing from there which the best martial art for the stated purpouse would be. There is much that can be brought to this kind of debate on a forum such as this, with so many experienced martial arts practicioners. Everyone could pitch in with stylistic features of the art they practice, particular techniques that would be useful in the given situation, and also with weaknesses they have found in other martial arts (representatives of which would obviously then have the right to address). I don't want to empirically prove the superiority of one martial art or another, merely open the debate and demonstrate that martial arts do vary in quality in certain circumstances.

Most importantly, I think that this would allow us to discern which martial arts are inappropriate for given situations, and thus tear away the harmful silence brought by the recitation 'the style is only as good as its practicioner'. I do not want to insult any particular martial art here, but I fully believe that there are certain martial arts which, either by the inexperience of their founder, or by their age and subsequent transformation into a sport-form, have no place being taught as a self-defence method for real life. Opening the debate would let us find out which martial arts are good for what, without descending into flame wars.

sorry for the long post, and thank you for all your replies.
 

Rich Parsons

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Okay, to begin, deLetch, I accept your point about martial arts having come to mean more than just self defence, and has enshrined attributes such as physical skill, flexibility, and co-ordination as valuable things in their own right, despite how their practice was originally intended. This is fine, and although it is not how I wish to practice martial arts that way, I cannot fault those who do. That is why I stressed that before you can quantify martial art is better or worse than another, you have to establish the criteria for 'better' or 'worse'. Ostensibly, TKD will allow you to express more flexibility and fluidity of movement than BJJ or Muay Thai, and Karate and Muay Thai will show greater feats of physical conditioning than Tai Chi or Eskrima. It is important to establish the terms of the debate before having it.


But, as I said, I'm not trying to determine the 'ultimate' martial art here. I'm just arguing for the possibility of differentiating in terms of quality between them.

Which brings me to exile's point. It is a fair point that the most reliable and scientific method to test the hypothesis of whether one martial art is better than another is to run a series of samples, and I think you supplied a very good outline for how such an experiment would work. However, as you pointed out, this would be very difficult to do, and is ultimately not very feasible. However, I don't think that obviates the possibility of a debate on it. Obviously we can never group together and test this in person, but the purpouse of this message board is to provide a forum for debate. I agree that there is a limited amount we can thrash out on paper about something as personal and physical as martial arts, but I do believe that discussions can be fruitful.

For example, instead of quantitatively trying to prove one martial art is best, how about establishing the criteria first (stand-up self-defence, self-defence against groups, disarming weapons, general health, etc.) and then establishing from there which the best martial art for the stated purpouse would be. There is much that can be brought to this kind of debate on a forum such as this, with so many experienced martial arts practicioners. Everyone could pitch in with stylistic features of the art they practice, particular techniques that would be useful in the given situation, and also with weaknesses they have found in other martial arts (representatives of which would obviously then have the right to address). I don't want to empirically prove the superiority of one martial art or another, merely open the debate and demonstrate that martial arts do vary in quality in certain circumstances.

Most importantly, I think that this would allow us to discern which martial arts are inappropriate for given situations, and thus tear away the harmful silence brought by the recitation 'the style is only as good as its practicioner'. I do not want to insult any particular martial art here, but I fully believe that there are certain martial arts which, either by the inexperience of their founder, or by their age and subsequent transformation into a sport-form, have no place being taught as a self-defence method for real life. Opening the debate would let us find out which martial arts are good for what, without descending into flame wars.

sorry for the long post, and thank you for all your replies.

Fine I will go first.

The best for empty hands is the art I teach.
The best for blunt weapons is the art I teach.
The best for edged weapons is the art I teach.
The best for trapping range is the art I teach.
The best for grappling range is the art I teach.
The best for kicking range is the art I teach.

Now prove me wrong. Also go about proving that everyone else and what they teach is wrong.

Your first paragraph is about others point of views.

Your second paragraph is your genuflection to not acting like a troll. But to still get your adjenda out there. Why not just come out with your adjenda and allow others to ask you to defend it. Instead of asking others to do all the arguing for you on your behalf?

Your third paragraph is about others points of view.


Your fourth paragraph is you once again not really adding anything but slowly making a step forward so someone else will try to quantify something for you and then in the end you can step back and say it is not your words but someone elses. You might think this is a personal issue for me and or with you it is not. It that I have seen this before, and it is so boring. Just to sit back and watch people think they are getting something over on people. Once again if you actualy have something to offer on this subject give me something new in your words.


Your fifth paragraph goes forward with restating how you wish to try to debate this, but I still do not see original content by you. Also why did oyu not define the boundaries of your debate the first time? Or teh second time I asked. Or heck do it now.
 

meth18au

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Most importantly, I think that this would allow us to discern which martial arts are inappropriate for given situations, and thus tear away the harmful silence brought by the recitation 'the style is only as good as its practicioner'. I do not want to insult any particular martial art here, but I fully believe that there are certain martial arts which, either by the inexperience of their founder, or by their age and subsequent transformation into a sport-form, have no place being taught as a self-defence method for real life. Opening the debate would let us find out which martial arts are good for what, without descending into flame wars.

I wasn't going to jump into this thread. But you state that you 'fully believe' that some arts (for whatever reasons) have no place being taught as self defence methods in real life. This statement shows us that you have clearly formed opinion of which MA's are 'effective' and which one's are 'ineffective'.


So put your opinions/agenda out there, and give your reasons why, then debate can occur. Why ask others to to put their opinions forward, and debate, if you won't do so yourself? I guess that goes in line with what Rich is getting at with his posts.



I don't want to empirically prove the superiority of one martial art or another, merely open the debate and demonstrate that martial arts do vary in quality in certain circumstances.


Begin to demonstrate, and I'm sure other will come to the table and a true debate can start!!!

:)
 

brianlkennedy

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I have often heard the buzz phrase you mentioned at the beginning of this thread. It is nonsense. I will compare it to auto racing, it is like saying there are no good cars only good drivers. Absurd.

The problem breaks down into three components:
The technical aspects of the system
The training methods used
The individual training the system with the methods.

If the system is technically unsound or if the methods used to train the system are poorly thought out then it does not matter how much talent or drive the individual has, he is not going to have much success. He is driving a station wagon with flat tires in a Grand Prix. The great failing of most (90%) of the traditional Chinese martial arts on this planet is not that the systems are technically bad but rather the training methods are ****.

Take care,
Brian
 

morph4me

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Okay, to begin, deLetch, I accept your point about martial arts having come to mean more than just self defence, and has enshrined attributes such as physical skill, flexibility, and co-ordination as valuable things in their own right, despite how their practice was originally intended. This is fine, and although it is not how I wish to practice martial arts that way, I cannot fault those who do. That is why I stressed that before you can quantify martial art is better or worse than another, you have to establish the criteria for 'better' or 'worse'. Ostensibly, TKD will allow you to express more flexibility and fluidity of movement than BJJ or Muay Thai, and Karate and Muay Thai will show greater feats of physical conditioning than Tai Chi or Eskrima. It is important to establish the terms of the debate before having it.

Agreed, what are the terms of the debate?

But, as I said, I'm not trying to determine the 'ultimate' martial art here. I'm just arguing for the possibility of differentiating in terms of quality between them.

The arts that specialize in grappling are better at grappling than the arts that specialize in striking.

The arts that specialize in groundwork are better at groundwork than the arts that specialize in striking.

The arts that specialis in striking are better at striking than the arts that specialize in grappling and/or groundwork.

Which brings me to exile's point. It is a fair point that the most reliable and scientific method to test the hypothesis of whether one martial art is better than another is to run a series of samples, and I think you supplied a very good outline for how such an experiment would work. However, as you pointed out, this would be very difficult to do, and is ultimately not very feasible. However, I don't think that obviates the possibility of a debate on it. Obviously we can never group together and test this in person, but the purpouse of this message board is to provide a forum for debate. I agree that there is a limited amount we can thrash out on paper about something as personal and physical as martial arts, but I do believe that discussions can be fruitful.

You seem to be in the minority

For example, instead of quantitatively trying to prove one martial art is best, how about establishing the criteria first (stand-up self-defence, self-defence against groups, disarming weapons, general health, etc.) and then establishing from there which the best martial art for the stated purpouse would be. There is much that can be brought to this kind of debate on a forum such as this, with so many experienced martial arts practicioners. Everyone could pitch in with stylistic features of the art they practice, particular techniques that would be useful in the given situation, and also with weaknesses they have found in other martial arts (representatives of which would obviously then have the right to address). I don't want to empirically prove the superiority of one martial art or another, merely open the debate and demonstrate that martial arts do vary in quality in certain circumstances.

I think we all agree that different martial arts vary in quality in certain circumstances, so there is no debate to be had.

Most importantly, I think that this would allow us to discern which martial arts are inappropriate for given situations, and thus tear away the harmful silence brought by the recitation 'the style is only as good as its practicioner'. I do not want to insult any particular martial art here, but I fully believe that there are certain martial arts which, either by the inexperience of their founder, or by their age and subsequent transformation into a sport-form, have no place being taught as a self-defence method for real life. Opening the debate would let us find out which martial arts are good for what, without descending into flame wars.

I know several high ranking, highly skilled martial artists that would have difficulty successfully defending themselves because they wouldn't be able to bring themselves to hurt another person and, as Tez pointed out, I know several sociopaths that would beat someone and leave them laying in a bloody heap and go out to dinner. The individual determines how effective or ineffective his self defense will be, not the art.
 

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