Riz's Martial Arts Training

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MMA's Contribution to Martial Arts

Following the rise of Mixed Martial Arts (MMA), many Traditional Martial Arts fell under heavy scrutiny for their relative inability to prove their effectiveness in what is possibly the closest mainstream simulation to no-holds-barred street fighting. Early UFC events saw Royce Gracie (and the then relatively unknown art of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu) tapping out opponents from a variety of martial disciplines - many of whom had what were considered to be vastly superior physical attributes. Representatives of Karate, Kung Fu, Boxing, and Tae Kwon Do seemed to be outmatched by their grapple-savvy opponents 9/10 times.

As the rules of MMA evolved (became tamer so as to capitalise the main stage via the pay-per-view bandwagon), a new breed of fighters started to dominate - stand-up fighters who had branched out to complement their striking skills with an effective ground game (or at least enough of one, to sully the submission and positional dominance that the 'pure' submission artists had thus far possessed) but still, representatives from TMA styles continued to provide a poor performance (it is only recently that TMA-based fighters who have branched their skills are coming out on top – though little credit is given to most of their traditional base styles).

The weak performance by those alleged to be top level traditional martial artists in the UFC (coupled with the rising McDojo trends in the US and elsewhere) led to the development of a widespread belief that TMAs are outdated (at best! others claim they were useless from the start). But why? Could the mechanics of a punch or a kick really have changed that much in the last hundred years? In truth, techniques haven't changed (not to any significant degree anyways) - true, people don't have the same lifestyles, or wear armour as was done in the past, but this only serves to make TMAs more effective (no longer a protective barrier to work around/through). 

The crux of the matter is this. The standard of martial arts training in the mainstream has fallen. Here are some of the factors leading to this:

  • 'McDojos' which focus on turning a profit rather than actually teaching the student. 
  • Unrealistic training - usually the fault of the instructor who doesn't bother to teach students how to apply their training.
  • Encouraged Laziness - many MA schools teach one hour classes, twice a week....progress is going to be VERY slow (moreso, if the students are not encouraged/forbid to train outside of class whether it be at a second club or solo) and this is nowhere near enough time to condition and train the body while also training techniques.
  • Unqualified Teachers - I've actually met Karate teachers who've had literally 2 weeks of training. No joke (Needless to say - not only do they provide poor instruction, they are also useless examples). 

MMA has raised awareness in TMAs. Less than 15 years ago, McDojos were only really recognised by experienced martial artists/fighters - now a much wider audience is able to see the amount of hard work martial arts really require, and though many are still only interested in a quick black belt, many more realise that half-hearted training is little more than a rhythmic delusion. Royce Gracie put it quite nicely, "A belt only covers two inches of your ass, and the rest you need to back up on your own." 

TMA practitioners are reminded of the need for realistic application and body conditioning as well as regular training routines. MMA reminds TMA that a black belt means only that, a black belt - if you want to defend yourself, if you want to fight... the colour of your belt will have little effect on anything. The only thing that will help you is training, not just repetition. Remember: Practice doesn't make perfect...Perfect practice makes perfect. 

( Note: Depending on the art, there are many levels of black belt. A shodan - 1st degree - generally means that the student has become proficient with the basics of the art ...don't be fooled into thinking that black belts are necessarily all masters! I know I'm certainly not! )

PS: Happy New Year Everyone! :-)


Post a Comment 4 comments:

The Fitness Diva said...

Just dropping by to wish you a Happy New Year!

Health and success to you in 2009!
Fitness Diva

January 1, 2009 at 9:39 PM

Riz said...

Thanks very much! And a Happy New Year to you!

January 2, 2009 at 1:14 AM

Ikigai said...

As a TMA practitioner, I know MMA helped me realize some deficiencies in my own training. At the same time, it allowed me to appreciate the realistic nature of certain kinds of TMA, as opposed to pure sport fighting.


January 6, 2009 at 11:18 PM

Riz said...

Hey Matt,
Thanks for your comment. I know exactly what you mean; in fact, you summed up perfectly in 2 lines what I was trying to explain with this post!

January 7, 2009 at 2:08 PM

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