In this blog I’m going to look at the differences between sport and traditional Martial Arts, I’ll explain what each category refers to and why I believe sport based arts are superior.
All Martial Arts can be broadly put into one of the following category’s. Now ,before anyone gets upset, I realise that it’s not quite as simple as this, for instance Thai Boxing has a traditional aspect and is also effective outside the Dojo but I’m going to go into depth on that in another blog post.
1. Sport based Martial Arts
2. Traditional Martial Arts
3. Reality based Martial Arts
Let’s define these category’s for the purpose of this blog.
1) Sport based Martial Arts
A sport based Martial Art centres around competition, most practitioners will never actually compete but the training is geared towards applying your Martial Art on a non compliant partner. Examples are Arts such as Judo, Muay Thai, BJJ and Boxing.
2) Traditional Martial Arts
A traditional Martial Art focuses on replicating a fighting style created thousands of years ago, these arts have a strong emphasis on gradings and essentially the higher grades are the best at copying. Examples include Karate, Aikido, Kung Fu and Tae Kwon Do.
3) Reality based Martial Arts
A reality based Martial Art should focus on self defence skills, this includes awareness, line ups, pre emptive striking and knowledge of the law. Examples include Krav Maga and Kapap.
Ignoring reality based Martial Arts for the time being I’m going to give some reasons why I believe sport based systems are superior over traditional systems. I have studied both and gained black belts in both so I believe I’m coming from an educated view point.
4) No bullshit.
Sport based systems are purely aimed at applying that sport to a non compliant opponent for example the whole purpose of Judo is to throw or submit your opponent and not get thrown or submitted, the whole purpose of boxing is to punch your opponent and not get punched. The training reflects that purpose and wastes no time on superfluous activities.
Traditional Martial Arts will spend huge amounts of time learning and remembering complex katas, walking up and down the dojo punching thin air and practising set moves against a compliant partner who will hold his arm outstretched while you preform three different jumping kicks all while learning another language.
5) Sport evolves, tradition stagnates.
Sport based systems are constantly evolving, new techniques are introduced, training concepts improve and the art gets better and better. The art is constantly tested in training and in competition, techniques that aren’t as efficient are discarded and current champions evolve or are overtaken.
Traditional Martial Arts fight to keep things the same, movements are rigidly copied and innovation is stamped out. You will fail your gradings unless you copy the movements precisely and are in time with everyone else.
6) It’s humbling.
You can’t hide behind your grade in sport based arts, if your technique isn’t good or you lack fitness you will find out quickly when you train with a better partner. Your constantly aware of where you are in the sport and that reigns in egos.
Traditional Arts mainly work with a compliant partner which gives you a false sense of how good you are, your ego isn’t regularly kept in check by being tapped out by a smaller opponent and you never really know if your art would work for real when you need it.
7) It’s bespoke
Everyone is built differently, everyone moves differently and everyone has a different temperament. It there for makes perfect sense that my stand up game isn’t going to be the same as yours, techniques that work for me might be awkward for you and vis versa, eventually everyone who trains in a sport based system develops their own style.
Again traditional arts are replicating someone’s else’s style, it’s probably antiquated and contains techniques that are no longer relevant but you must conform and copy it exactly. I see the point of it when you have a thousand Koreans or Chinese students below you on the parade square, it’s an efficient way to control that amount of people, if one guy turns right and 999 people turn left them he’s clearly done it wrong, but in classes of 15 people it’s just lazy coaching.
8) You progress quicker
Give me two identical twins and six months, put one in a Muay Thai gym and one in a Tae Kwon Do Gym and I’d bet my house on who would win in a fight. One twin would have spent six months hitting pads, heavy bags, sparring and fitness training, the other would have been practising katas, line work and learning Korean.
There is no doubt that the more specific your training is, the quicker you’ll progress and the fitter you’ll become.
9) Grades mean more
There’s a reason there are less BJJ black belts then Tae Kwon Do black belts and that because it’s significantly harder to achieve. You can’t just replicate your way to a black belt with a sport based system, you have to own that art and make it your own. You will fight for your grades and be expected to live that art.
If you’d like to learn a progressive sport based Martial Art then please get in touch below to find out more.