Cultural differences are odd. Language barriers are astounding. The two can combine to make a simple misunderstanding a heated flame war. I made a post on Fitocracy’s Martial Arts forum about how we can’t really compare martial arts, and how we each think our art is the greatest. How can it not be? I’ve noticed the weaknesses in other arts which led me to decide on the one I currently practice and I cross-train to patch up the holes. I’ve spent so long doing it that it must be the right choice. It simply must. Nope.
Fitocracy’s martial arts community is diverse. In some ways that’s good. In some ways that’s bad. Think of it like a political divide. Much like how politics has a lot of underlying polarizing issues that constitute platforms for the two party system, martial arts has issues. Except, instead of abortion we have ground game. Instead of gun control we have the self-defense issue. Just like politics we have people who are firmly on either side and unwilling to acknowledge the arguments of those who oppose them. We also have people who ride the middle and are content with that. They fall different ways on different issues. The largest similarity to politics and martial arts is that everyone has an opinion, but the few assholes who are willing to voice it (myself included) drown out everyone else.
So here’s my view quick and simple on what I think the common issues are:
- Self-Defense: I train for sport. I don’t think self-defense is a practical reason to train. I’m not going to knock someone for having it as a goal. Doing martial arts will more likely than not help you if you ever get attacked. I just don’t get why someone would say judo isn’t as good as a style which emphasizes self-defense. If I can kick your ass, how am I not going to kick the ass of an attacker who you can beat? I’d recommend a self-defense class (not a martial arts class) if your primary concern is being raped.
- The ground: I grapple. That automatically puts me on the side of ground fighting being necessary. The argument against the ground is almost always self-defense oriented. It’s also almost always wrong. If you disagree with me about the ground, I invite you there. Come to the ground with me and see what I have seen. Your stance will change.
- MMA: I enjoy the sport. It’s exciting to watch. I think it’s as valid as any other martial art even if there’s not one style to learn. No matter what your background is, everyone ends up having to learn the same set of skills.
- Tradition: I’m not into mixing mysticism or tradition into my martial arts. I understand the point of things like kata (forms). I bow when I’m in judo for the same reason I slap hands in BJJ. However, I’m not into saying prayers in Japanese or facing kami. I don’t even really understand the point of learning Japanese words outside of the technique names. Even that’s only practical as long as everyone learns the names so juji-gatame can be interpreted into arm-bar whether you speak Spanish, English, or Dutch. I count from one to ten, not from ichi to ju.
- Size: No matter what she told you, it matters. Featherweights can win against Heavyweights, but they usually do so with much more experience. Technique can beat strength. Strength and Technique will beat just Technique.