Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Why Are Martial Sports Superior?

One of my most beloved striking arts is Muay Thai, the ancient sport that's actually a deadly fighting art. To me, what makes it practical (besides the deadly techniques) is that it is a sport!

Just what do you mean, Teodoro??? Aren't sports less deadly than real martial arts???

I have trained in:
Tae Kwon Do (WTF and ITF)

Wrestling (freestyle)
Aikido (Yoshin)
Muay Thai (Thai Boxing)
Western Boxing
Wing Chun (Canton-style)
Arnis (Doce Pares)
Ju-Jitsu* (Wally Jay's Small Circle and traditional, no Brazilian)

*Limited (less than a year)

I relate this to tell you that the styles that make up the core of what I use are Muay Thai, Western Boxing, and a mixture of Aikido and Ju-Jitsu technique. In other words, my core styles are sports (boxing and Muay Thai). Why?

The advantage of Muay Thai training methods and competition, to me, is that it's closer to a "real fight" than anything I've seen in a Karate or TKD match. There is full contact, continuous fighting (no stoppage of action after a score), fighting in all hand to hand ranges, and knockouts. It develops the ability to get hit without freezing, then fire back without thinking. Plus it develops a "killer instinct" to hit first, hard, and finish off a stunned opponent. Those aspects don't exist in most martial arts that don't have a sport component. Even sport TKD builds that fighting instinct, though it doesn't allow much practical punching.

One of the problems with more esoteric styles is that you never "use" it. For example, I've seen many Aikidoka that are so steeped in their system, and only train against it, that they'd have trouble with someone that's untrained, but may be very good against "traditional" technique. In other words, they can't fight. There are exceptions, of course, but if you asked me to bet on a college wrestler versus an Aikido practitioner, I'd take the wrestler. [I'm betting on some hate mail here] Same with some traditional Karate and Kung Fu - you'd have to adapt it to make it work.

Take the UFC as an example. In the beginning two years or so, maybe less, the big thing was to put the different styles in the octagon, and "see what happened!" Well, a few UFCs later, what happened was that the styles blended, and now it doesn't make too much difference. (The only problem with this example is that the padded ring slants it toward takedowns and grappling, then the introduction of gloves made it a punching, not open-hand striking sport. I understand both, 'cause it makes for a more exciting "fight," though it takes the real out of the so-called-reality fighting.) Anyway, why were the Gracies and other grappling sports so successful versus the more traditional styles - practice. Those from other styles that compete a lot - kickboxing/full-contact, wrestlers, Judo players, Sombo and MMA/submission fighting - did very well, too. The only competitive styles that I haven't seen be really successful have been boxing and Sumo, because I think they are too far removed from what happens in the Octagon.

Anyway, I read an introduction in a Gracie Jujutsu book that explained it this way (I am paraphrasing from memory):

  1. There were challenge matches with other schools
  2. The Gracies and the Judo schools competed, the others didn't because their techniques were "too deadly"
  3. The Gracies and Judo players won

What that tells me is that 1) those who use their technique often in competition will be able to use it under stress, as in an attack, and 2) the stress of competition probably prepares one for a similar stress in an attack better than punching at air or doing pre-arranged drills all the time.

Do you agree?


mma blogger said...

I totally agree with your post.

And I think you're right on the money, that sport type martial arts really prepare you for the real thing, on a technical and emotional level.

The only thing I can think of that can defeat sport martial arts is a martial arts that actually practices deadly techniques in real life...but, maiming people for training purposes probably won't win you a lot of friends, and you'll be out of training partners in no time.

Anonymous said...

I agree and disagree. I believe that the people who train in the martial art tend to be defensive and train in order to protect them selves, while people who learn the martial sports tend to be more agressive and want to fight.

If "johnny" has been getting his @## kicked and trains in a martial art like kungfu or karate he may gain the confedence and skill to defend himself, but it would not make him agressive like "butch" who has taken wrestling to get out his violent tendancies.

Taichi for example is a Martial art that concentrates on counter-boxing. The object is to appear weak/soft catch your attacker off guard and cause as much damage quickly as possible. This stratagy is completely worthless in a sport.
In a sport no one wants to hurt or kill there opponent, they just want to win. Most of what I know as a taichi artist is getting to the vital parts of the agressor and strike it with everything.

If a MMa fighter was in a real combat situation He would have to make adjustments just like the TMA artist has to for a sport.

Anonymous said...

I truly, strongly, strongly Disagree!!!!!!!!!

Sport-Type Martial Arts truly cannot prepare you for niether the real thing or the emotional or technical levels. Here's an example:

=Sport, you have 1 on 1 with no 'additional' opponents or weapons.

= "Real Thing", you may or may not have 1 on 1 or 1 on 2, or 1 on 3. You may or may not have weapons. You may or may not be fighting on an icy street or in temps say minus 2 degrees.

Sport Martial Arts= Rules, Safety Nets, You train to score points, knockout, or submit.

Combat Martial Arts= No Rules, little safety, You train to Maim, Disable, or Kill your opponent. You train for single, multiple, or different environment factors, you train for weapons attacks.

The notion that you can 'combine' Sport with Combat is nonsense. Now correct, Muay Thai fighters are awsome fighters and do have deadly skills. But have you ever had a roundhouse kick thrown at you and been able to counter it? Or see it? Have you ever went for the eyes, groin in sport? Have you ever fought to end the fight ASAP (10 seconds or less) as oppose to going for several rounds? Are you allowed to maim, disable, or kill your opponent?

Just because it's sport, doesn't mean it'll work on the street. (I know from experience!!!).

Just my very humble and professional opinion!

Anonymous said...

I stronly disagree!!!!!

1) Using your technique under stress and in sport are two different things.

2) Stress of competition is NOT the same as Stress in Life/Death situations!!!

So, NO!!

I'd also like to say that systems suc has Kajukenbo (older systems) and Jeet Kune Do are NOT sports and train for combat and fighting purposes. Would yo usay that those Systems (because they are not Sport) are ineffective similar as how you described Aikido, or esoteric systems?

Just because a system is esoteric, doesn't mean it's not effective. In fact many of the more 'esoteric' systems are much more effective then MMA, Boxing, Wrestling, or etc... Simply because they aren't spilling the beans!

I might add that JKD may be considered Esoteric, since originally it was a 'closed' art!!

Anonymous said...

Personally, I'd take the esoteric system over any Wrestlign, Boxing, or MMA anyday!

I agree with you having to make certain things adapt to make them work! said...

Great post!

I agree with you on what you say about Muay Thai.along with judo and karate it has been one if my main arts practised for a number of years.

However I still keep karate equal to Muay Thai (for my striking base) as I feel the weaknesses in Muay Thai are what give karate its strengths,mainly being speed and moveing out of the way of a technique rather than taking it.