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  1. #1
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    Criteria for effective martial arts?

    What do you consider as key criteria for an effective martial art?

    I know alot of people have probably asked this at one point or another, but I'm still going to beat this dead horse because I'm spoiling for a good round of debate-fu.

    Now here's the issue: From a very brief reading of posts on this site, the general consensus appears to be that effectiveness= proving it "in the ring". I have quite some serious issues with that, as indicated by the subsequent points

    1) Rules? What rules?

    That title is probably one of the most annoying things i've ever heard, often parroted by my Krav Maga instructors. See the problem I have with sports fighting is mostly with the rules. A few of my go-to moves in self defense literally can't translate to sports fighting without myself losing by default from penalties. For example, I tend to do alot of stomp kicks to the groin region when sparring (it's not as bad in Krav because we wear two layers of groin cups and fight 30% power), simply because I do think that if I face a male assailant that would be the one move that could bring a man down to his knees, even if he was Goliath reincarnated.

    But it's not just the "illegal" moves that I have a problem with. The entire environment of sports-fighting is very unrealistic to me. I don't remember the last time I had a fight with someone on a smooth, polished canvas mat, wearing nothing but a small pair of shorts. If anything, Murphy's Law would suggest that you probably be caught in a life-or-death situation in the worst possible attire (ie tight jeans and restrictive leather jacket whilst in a cluttered and crowded bar).

    There are many other points with regards to the issue of using sports-fighting as a criteria for evaluating martial arts that I would like to bring up, but I think I'll get to those abit later if this thread generates some degree of interest.

    2) Sports vs fighting

    I think another issue is that we get so obsessed with winning in a sports fight that we lose sight of what's really more important: surviving in a self-defense situation in real life. No matter how many times we've TKOed someone, or forced them to tap-out, it all doesn't really matter if one day we get stabbed in the ribs and bleed out on the side of the street.

    For me, martial arts can only considered be truly effective if we can use it to survive in real life encounters. The bigger problem is: we can never truly be confident that we could do so. Anyone who thinks different is probably deluding themselves. You can never be sure if your opponent has a rock concealed in his hands, a gun in his coat pocket. Your opponent may be a 5 time MMA champion, or worse, a knife wielding expert. No matter how skilled/badass you think you might be, in a real life hostile situation all that training may just increase your survival chances by 10%. Claiming that putting up a good fight/win in a ring will indicate effectiveness just creates, in my opinion, a dangerous delusion and arrogance that one has become another "deadly weapon", and if reflected into one's daily behavior, could easily get one killed.

    Also, although I really don't think I'm trying to troll here, I just want honest, rational answers to my questions and a good healthy debate on a topic that is quite important since this site claims to be about no BS.

  2. #2

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    Interesting points, but not any thoughts that are new. In fact, many of the points you've made are the typical Traditional Martial Arts critiques of sport fighting. There is a bunch of reasons why its a poor critique, but the worst part (in my eyes) is that TMAs often use it as an excuse to not spar or compete.

    The general consensus here is not "Sport fighting = good". The general consensus is that the most effective martial arts include high quality training against progressively increasing amounts of resistance. It also includes pressure testing against a fully resisting opponent.

    In other words good training should include things like hitting pads, hitting a bag, drilling with a live partner, and full contact sparring (progressive resistance). It also includes two trained people trying to hurt each other (pressure testing).

    Sport styles very generally speaking have had the longest history of training in this manner. Because of that, they have also often distilled down the most useful techniques for fighting against a fully resisting opponent in the most natural and efficient manner. If there is a non-sport system out there that still uses these levels of resistance and pressure testing, it is probably a good system (though often the non-sport systems that claim to spar full contact, for instance, don't actually do so).

    The other issue is the constant claim that sport styles aren't useful for the "streets". The reality is that anyone who is able to handle themselves against a trained sport fighter can usually handle themselves against the average untrained idiot who wants to throw down outside a bar. And sport fighters are perfectly capable of ignoring the rules of their sport to improve the likelihood of victory in a street fight: all you have to do is watch the news to see professional fighters succeeding in non-sport encounters.

    Its true that most sport styles don't address things like being confronted by an armed attacker. This is a unique situation and the best advice is to run away. Ironically, sport fighters are some of the best conditioned athletes in the world and would be better at running away than the average joe. Beyond that, the best styles for addressing an armed assailant (the general recommendation here is Filipino Martial Arts such as Kali, Arnis, Escrima) use something very close to progressive resistance and pressure testing in their training. Obviously full-contact fighting with sharp knives is a terrible idea. But full contact stick fighting and rubber knife fighting is about as close as you can get while not killing off your training partners.

    I always laugh when people bring up Krav Maga as the "best for the street cuz the sport styles aren't ready for the street". Krav is generally made up of techniques from sport styles like boxing, muay thai, judo, and Brazilian jiu jitsu and (unless Human Weapon and Fight Quest lied to me... which is quite possible) require their high level practitioners to first have mid to high level experience in those "sport" styles. What makes Krav ineffective is they remove the pressure testing and progressive resistance and you often end up with compliant partner drills that don't actually teach you to perform your techniques against someone who is resisting.

    There is a load of youtube videos about this (one called "dirty judo" or something like that points out why having high level grappling is great in a street fight - especially when you can ignore the rules of the sport of judo).

    There is a quote about knife fighting I really like: "In a knife fight, you have a 1/3 chance of surviving. If your opponent is better than you, you die. If you and your opponent are equally skilled, you both die. If you are better than your opponent, only then do you get to live". The point? Don't get in a knife fight. Ever.
    Last edited by Krijgsman; 6/07/2014 1:42pm at .

  3. #3

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    Icemaster2340, even if things like this have been discussed before, there is some utility in discussing things like this again, within reason.

    I've realized in life that there is "no magic formula." The variables are many, and always changing. However, a clear understanding of the essential elements of any discipline is always good to go review, especially in a forum where there are always new people coming in.

    In many ways you answered your own question in your writing. You discuss different approaches to training, and some limitations of those different approaches, and you mention some of the uncertainties of an actual fight.

    Developing the behaviors of conflict avoidance may be the best method to reduce in percentages the potential for a street fight. And, since you brought up the legality of some combat moves, even if you "win" you may still lose. In the big picture, conflict avoidance and de-escalation training may be a good complement to your combatives training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    What do you consider as key criteria for an effective martial art?
    Being able to deal with someone at all ranges and intensities.

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    I know alot of people have probably asked this at one point or another, but I'm still going to beat this dead horse because I'm spoiling for a good round of debate-fu.
    Your not intellectually honest enough for a debate. You just want to be up on a soap box spewing out the same old tired out tropes. Why waste your time here with it?

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    Now here's the issue: From a very brief reading of posts on this site, the general consensus appears to be that effectiveness= proving it "in the ring". I have quite some serious issues with that, as indicated by the subsequent points
    If you can't prove it in the ring you can't prove it on the street.


    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    1) Rules? What rules?
    Lets not pretend like street fights and self defense situations don't have their own sets of rules.

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    That title is probably one of the most annoying things i've ever heard, often parroted by my Krav Maga instructors. See the problem I have with sports fighting is mostly with the rules. A few of my go-to moves in self defense literally can't translate to sports fighting without myself losing by default from penalties. For example, I tend to do alot of stomp kicks to the groin region when sparring (it's not as bad in Krav because we wear two layers of groin cups and fight 30% power),
    So your only capable of winning with a stomp to the nuts. Good to know. Here is a thought for you. If your a competent sport fighter your able to stomp someone in the nuts when their are no rules. The stomp to the nuts doesn't take extra practice to pull off vs other stomping. Sports fighters are not Robots. They can do things on the street that are against the rules in their sport. Really its very easy to do so.

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    simply because I do think that if I face a male assailant that would be the one move that could bring a man down to his knees, even if he was Goliath reincarnated.
    Not all guys react the same way when hit in the nuts. Their have been plenty of times while rolling where I have been rocked hard in the nuts and have gone on to submit someone. It sucks like hell to get hit in the nuts but its not always a fight over.

    Also you have to get someone on the ground first before you can stomp on their nuts.

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    But it's not just the "illegal" moves that I have a problem with. The entire environment of sports-fighting is very unrealistic to me. I don't remember the last time I had a fight with someone on a smooth, polished canvas mat, wearing nothing but a small pair of shorts. If anything, Murphy's Law would suggest that you probably be caught in a life-or-death situation in the worst possible attire (ie tight jeans and restrictive leather jacket whilst in a cluttered and crowded bar).
    Have you ever been in a crowded BJJ gym or MMA Gym? Your not rolling in a vacuum you have to be aware of everyone around you so you don't crash into each other. You are really grasping at straws here. I mean really grasping at straws.

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    2) Sports vs fighting

    I think another issue is that we get so obsessed with winning in a sports fight that we lose sight of what's really more important: surviving in a self-defense situation in real life. No matter how many times we've TKOed someone, or forced them to tap-out, it all doesn't really matter if one day we get stabbed in the ribs and bleed out on the side of the street.
    This holds true for any type of fighting. However the more superior my skillset is the less likely this is to happen. If I am capable of knocking mother fuckers out and or of being able to break their joints or choke them out the less likely it is I am going to be stabbed in a fight. The better I can control my opponent the less likely I am to be stabbed. No matter how you slice it the better of a fighter I am the less likely I am to be stabbed.

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    For me, martial arts can only considered be truly effective if we can use it to survive in real life encounters.
    Countless news articles, and videos of Sport fighters doing just this.

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    The bigger problem is: we can never truly be confident that we could do so.
    I think this is where sport fighters shine. Sport fighters constantly get their ego checked and tested. They constantly are put into situations where they are worked over. They know better than anyone else the holes in their game and the problems an unknown opponent can cause them. They also have to deal with unknown opponents often.


    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    Anyone who thinks different is probably deluding themselves. You can never be sure if your opponent has a rock concealed in his hands, a gun in his coat pocket. Your opponent may be a 5 time MMA champion, or worse, a knife wielding expert. No matter how skilled/badass you think you might be, in a real life hostile situation all that training may just increase your survival chances by 10%. Claiming that putting up a good fight/win in a ring will indicate effectiveness just creates, in my opinion, a dangerous delusion and arrogance that one has become another "deadly weapon", and if reflected into one's daily behavior, could easily get one killed.
    Not even knowing how to fight one person with rules is going to get you killed.

    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    Also, although I really don't think I'm trying to troll here, I just want honest, rational answers to my questions and a good healthy debate on a topic that is quite important since this site claims to be about no BS.
    You want answers go and read the 1000s of other threads that cover this topic.
    Of the single rapier fight between valiant men, having both skill, he that is the best wrestler, or if neither of them can wrestle, the strongest man most commonly kills the other, or leaves him at his mercy.
    –George Silver, Paradoxes of Defence

  5. #5
    Holy Moment's Avatar
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    MMA DOES NOT WORK IN A STREET FIGHT!!!











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  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    What do you consider as key criteria for an effective martial art?
    Personally, I feel there are 4 general criteria that make an effective martial art--which, unsurprisingly all originate from my instructors. And a lot of this applies to any activity we do, really. My experience is that if any of these are missing, the whole package tends to suffer. That is, they must all be present:

    1. Random. Even for new students, I feel patterns can be detrimental to being able to act and react properly to an opponent, and reduces skill production rate. Flow drills, energy drills, patterns, etc etc, whether it be in MMA or traditional, dont allow for much (if any) adaptation. Skill is really developed when the drills are ditched for some type of non-patterned environment, ie sparring, randori, etc.

    2. On Target. Strikes, counters, and blocks need to always be on target. Its fine to hit a focus mitt instead of a face, if that is the target. But often I see people get into habits of not following through or just punching away from the target because they are anticipating that their opponent is blocking or redirecting or something. As a side note, I dont see this happen when things are always random.

    3. Real-time. The training should take place in real-time. If strikes, blocks, counters, and techniques are trained at less than real-time speeds, then the timing wont be right when things are sped up. There should always be a push to increase the speed slightly above what someone can handle and challenge them to get the timing right. This allows one to calibrate their movements.

    4. Under Pressure. This doesnt mean balls to the wall, hard knocks, max pressure. It means, if a student can handle some level of pressure and is comfortable at that level, theres not a lot of point to keep sitting there stagnant. If one feels like they are comfortably able to handle a given pressure level, then there is no real increase in capability to deal with more pressure.

    There are a lot of conclusions one could draw from the above list if one were to accept them. A very important one for me is this: Solo training doesnt really meet ANY of the 4 criteria. Therefore, for a martial art to be effective, it also must use partner training pretty much 100% of the time.

    To me, IF the training is good, then arguments over sport vs street tend to be based more on goals, interests, and definition of martial art. Different strokes for different folks...
    Last edited by PlumDragon; 6/07/2014 5:29pm at .

  7. #7
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    /Thread.
    "So, yeah, Zen teachers may well insult you, work you to the bone, hit you with sticks, shout verbal abuse at you, and punch the **** out of you.
    And when the ****'s been punched out of you, you might just find that you're far better-off without it." - Vieux Normand

    "So in short, BJJ wins again. BJJ, and chainmail." - TheMightyMcClaw

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    "Eventually, I realized it doesn't matter what art you train, what matters is the method in which you train. Training in an alive manner, under skilled and qualified instruction, is the single most important aspect of gaining martial skill. All else is window dressing." - JNP : Saying it how it is!

  8. #8

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    Op,
    Crazy as it might be after listening to arguments similar to yours for years I support your journey. I would recommend finding a good sport martial art, and go compete. It will be a lot of fun and a great experience. It will give you endurance, conditioning, and break down the natural reluctance humans have to full contact training. You can't train full time so you can watch various mma completion, boxing, wrestling, YouTube videos of real fights, old episodes of cops, etc. You can also read lots of books on non sport arts. The histories of judo and BJJ will also give you some great insight. Of course nothing happens without training first. By the way I suggested sport training first but if the "real" martial arts are the higher level it makes sense to start with the "simple" sports martial arts. Then you switch to a "real" martial art and they can finish your development if you still believe in that notion.

  9. #9
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    Ice: inexplicably, I just don't feel like heaping the usual obscenity-laced ridicule posts like yours usually conjure up. Maybe I'm tired.

    Anyway, the posts above have covered most of the response I would have given.

    I would perhaps highlight, that your assumption that the ruleset of a competitive art softens it until it is ineffective in self defense is belied by your own description of your training methods. Your 30% groin strikes to a double cup have done little but hide the degree to which a groin strike truly is effective, and robbed you of the ability to actually apply, and to some extent, defend such strikes.

    For a groin strike to be truly effective, you need to trap the testicles between the opponent's body and the striking limb. Due to the elusive nature of the little buggers, most hits will be glancing, or absorbed entirely by the less susceptible pelvic bits. Due to the vulnerability of the testicles, there is a strong instinct to protect them by the target, and a minimal twist, shifting of the leg, et al will make a solid strike impossible.

    The restrictive rules of your training have left you less able to effectively strike the groin and/or exploit the advantage gained by a successful strike, because you have no experience in the actual technique. While it's true that say, a Muay Thai fighter would train to avoid the groin entirely, in a serious defensive encounter, he is free to take a swing at the groin, but his skillset does not rely on an expectation of effect from any attack, due to the continuous, alive training methods.

    Where you expect an attacker to collapse after a groin attack, a striker from a sport style simply attacks while covering himself until the threat is neutralized, irrespective of his targets.

    This is why there are endless examples of sport fighters (or practitioners of other styles trained alive) ending self defense situations, and virtually no verifiable evidence of styles that eschew aliveness and/or competition. Furthermore, when the opposites meet in controlled settings, the results, again, overwhelmingly favor the alive styles.

    It has been observed already that your points are not new, to the point of becoming cliched here. This is true. To demonstrate the extent to which this applies, we have an old sticky cataloging common poor arguments we expect to see. I would suggest you peruse it before you construct any counter-arguments.

    http://www.bullshido.net/forums/showthread.php?t=52223

    PS, don't let Omega get to you. He's just been in a bad mood lately, because you're a fucking moron.
    Last edited by ermghoti; 6/07/2014 9:02pm at .
    "Systema, which means, 'the system'..."

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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by icemaster2340 View Post
    I know alot
    I tend to do alot
    You may be interested to know that it's actually two words: a lot.

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