Well, I guess I didn’t get the memo. It seems all I hear these days is that the only “real” martial art is mixed martial arts (MMA). From every corner of the martial arts media landscape, it’s MMA this and MMA that. According to so-called contemporary experts, the only functional martial arts are Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (BJJ), Muay Thai, and Wrestling. Factor into the mix a little Greco-Roman wrestling, judo, and so-called ground and pound, and there you have it – a complete encyclopedia of an “Ultimate Fighting Curriculum” (UFC). Considering the phenomenal global success of the UFC franchise, as well as other MMA fighting organizations, you just might have to agree that only true Martial Arts are indeed being showcased within the hollowed Octagon.
On the other hand, isn’t it difficult to argue against hundreds if not thousands of years of martial arts history from the world’s greatest fighting cultures? What about the warring arts from Chinese, Japanese, Filipino, Indonesian, and African warriors, as well as European Knights and Gladiators, Indian wrestlers, and a myriad of lesser-known practitioners of the fighting arts? Is it time to disregard the proud histories of valiant warriors who faced death in the heat of battle without the safety net of rules, regulations, and the predictable tap-out submission? How about Native American braves who faced humiliation, starvation, death, even extinction if defeated? Should their ways of living a warrior’s life be dismissed by today’s slick media marketing and merchandising? One might argue that a romantic historical view of ancient warriors is fine for Books and the History Channel, but what about the state of war arts right now? Are the strip-mall dojos that litter cities across America today representative of warrior traditions of ancient cultures, or are they most likely filled with wannabes sporting bloated stomachs, unearned ranks, and inflated egos? We’ve all seen the martial arts “studios” with their plastic, dusty trophies representing silly fight-less tournaments and mindless preprogrammed katas. Oh, let’s not forget the Reality-Based martial arts. Are their practitioners the truly gallant men and women from the Military and Law Enforcement communities who fight to protect our nation? Or do they represent the gun-toting, camo-wearing, paintball-playing weekend warriors who sleep all day and guard empty malls on the midnight shift.
Regardless of one’s profession, the world is full of frauds, fakes, and of course the real deal. The world of Martial Arts is no different. I believe there are true Fighting Champions, Traditional Masters, and Real War Heroes. Unfortunately, it’s very challenging to separate the wheat from the chaff. And so I go about my business of training hard with effective sustained effort. I am certainly not a fighting champion, master, or war hero. What I am is a dedicated man who believes I have to work hard, work smart and maintain an objective point of view to what is real. When in doubt, train.
When I watch the UFC, I realize that those fighters represent World-Class conditioned athletes who are truly dedicated to their craft. Do I accept the notion that BJJ, Wrestling, Muay Thai and Boxing are the ultimate fighting methods? No, but I do believe that mixing martial arts is Essential in creating the Ultimate Fighting System for me. The infamous Bruce Lee said, absorb what is useful. My perspective is Extract what is Essential. My personal mixed martial arts are a combination of Kenpo Karate, Wing Chun, FMA, Pentjak Silat, and Tai Chi. I also Box and Wrestle, and have been training in Gracie jiu-jitsu on and off for several years. What is interesting to me is that BJJ is logically built. When a Martial Art is logical, it can be predictable. For me, when an art is predictable it can become defeat able. I have also built several systems such as the Slam Set, Argument of Movement, American Wing Chun Silat and many other systems of which X-Dtac™ (extreme defensive tactics) is my ultimate expression of who I have become. So, yes, I do MMA. I am following Bruce Lee’s model of finding what works for me.
I respect the Traditional Martial arts practitioners who chooses to learn and master a specific art. I have often heard from my gun-enthusiast friends the old adage, “Beware the man who owns one gun, for he truly knows how to use it.” So I suspect that adage would also work for practicing just one martial art. I don’t have a problem with that notion if that is your choice. However, I train with several guns, each representing different functions at different ranges. Guns are quite similar to martial arts in the way: each art – or gun – has different functions at different ranges. I use the model of MMA when pursuing my firearm knowledge. Is there one perfect martial art? I believe the perfect approach to becoming proficient in martial arts is the combination that works for you. Is there one perfect firearm? Again, it’s the combination that works for your needs.
As I mentioned, UFC fighters are world-class athletes. I have little doubt if you choose to talk trash about their craft they would be more than happy to accommodate you in the Octagon. That being said, it doesn’t take a world-class athlete to shred your neck with a blade or to put a little red dot on the back of your head and squeeze the trigger. The point is, let’s all Respect each other’s arts and training methods. Whether an MMA fighter, a Traditionalist, or a Reality-Based Martial Artist, we all have our secured place in the fighting arts environment.