Saturday, March 29, 2014

In Defense of Sport Martial Arts

I've written that I'm a martial arts snob and that I practice martial arts primarily for self defense.

So now I'm going to defend the martial arts as a purely sporting endeavor, and how I think the sport martial arts are a good thing for the rest of us.

So, let's define first what I mean by "sport" martial arts.  These include, but are not limited to:
  • Judo
  • Sport Karate
  • Sport/Olympic Tae Kwon Do
  • Boxing
  • Wrestling (mostly I have various traditional or Olympic styles in mind, not the WWE - which is performance)
  • Other grappling or grappling hybrids, like UFC/MMA
  • Muay Thai or kickboxing (trained for the ring)
  • Fencing
  • Shooting and archery for accuracy or points
These arts might be considered an alternative to someone playing other sports, such as football, baseball, rugby, swimming, running, etc.

Sport martial arts are great for the rest of us (combatives, performance and self defense martial arts) for the following reasons:
  1. They make the martial arts more accessible to a wider audience.  Most cultures are into sports of one kind or another, so it's an easy way for a wider range of people to get into and enjoy the martial arts as spectators, and perhaps, as participants. It can be a "gateway" to the less flashy self-defense arts.
  2. They encourage physical fitness.  While not strictly required, I think all of us agree that the more physically fit one is, the better (from a self-defense point of view).  In fact, physical fitness is one of the major reasons many people begin studying martial arts (that's how I started), and get attracted to the sport versions of the arts.
  3. They're fun. Now, I happen to also find getting locked up by an expert and forced to tap out due to the pain fun, but generally speaking, the sport arts are "gamification" of the martial arts, and that taps into a fundamental human desire to play.  Gamification is a hot topic in a lot of other industries and hobbies as a way to keep people engaged, and it works, because all people of all ages generally play.
My Name Is Inigo... meh, you know the rest.
So, while it's fashionable among the self-defense "true" martial artists to sneer at the sport martial arts as being inferior, I submit doing so is actually shooting yourself in the foot (and that, my friend, is a poor self defense tactic).  They are not inferior - they are just different, and sport martial arts events are good for all of us.

I would add that there are numerous examples of sport martial artists using their skills in a practical way for self defense.

Here's where a politician uses a judo technique as he fights a colleague (yes, really - our legislatures aren't nearly as fun as this):

Here's a quick classic TKD high kick in a "street fight" (literally):

Those are just a couple, but if you search, you will see plenty of real world example of sport martial artists engaging in effective self defense in real life.  So, for those who claim the sport arts are no good "on the street", I'm sorry, there's too much evidence to prove that assertion wrong.

Be sure to check out my defense of the performance martial arts.  That's right - I'm going to stand up for the XMA fake weapon flippers, the gymnastical dancers and trickers, the movies and tv shows with completely unrealistic moves, and lawd help me, the WWE.