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With martial arts increasingly including a competitive sports side; competitions are getting bigger, television coverage is becoming more frequent and some are even being included in the olympic games.
I personally think that this is a great thing, it is engaging more and more people with martial arts that they would otherwise not even have heard of. I think of the sport side of a martial art as a ‘shop window’ for the ‘shop’ that is martial arts. I hope that makes sense.
People see two people fighting each other in a a dynamic, fierce and unusual way; this grabs their attention, they walk into the metaphorical shop (they join a local martial arts school) and they then become exposed to the, much broader and deeper, world of that martial art.
That being said, it is becoming more and more common for people to only focus their time and energy on the sport side of a martial art which i, again, think is great but; this leads to people becoming sportsmen and women as opposed to martial artists – the difference (from what i have seen) is subtle if you are looking in from the outside, but there is definitely a difference. Somebody who has focussed only on the sport side of a martial art will inevitably become good at their sport, which often leads to them believing that they are good at ‘fighting in general’.
Of course there are huge differences between being a good ‘sport fighter’ and being an adaptable, resourceful and successful ‘all-round fighter’ e.g.sport fighting is based on point scoring, there is a ring in sport fighting, it is one vs one in sport fighting, etc. – I’m not going to get into the differences because i’m sure you undesrstand and have your own opinions.
I think every master/coach/teacher of a martial art should expose any student, whether sportsperson or not, to the wider spectrum of what martial arts are (and we all know they cover about as wide a spectrum as and discipline there is). The traditions and history of a martial art, the discipline and respect, the formal training, and (what i think to be most imidiately necessary) real fighting/self defence.
I have actually seen, on numerous occasions, people who has excelled at their own rule-bound sport fighting become big headed, arrogant and deluded which, of course, led to them getting into a fight and getting smashed up. This is always a harsh way to learn, but learn nonetheless, that sport fighting is real fighting.
I think for the sake of a students wellfare they should be taught real self defence and encouraged to follow that path, because when the time comes and they need to fight their way out of a dangerous situation they won’t be able, as well as thinking they can – this is such a dangerous situation to be in.
If a student gets into this situation then it is (let me add it is no less their own fault) a result of their training, or lack of, and this boils down to their master/coach – it seems too many coaches are setting their students/athletes up to end up in very dangerous, even life threatening, situations.
“All martial artists should be taught self defence primarily. It is a life skill and a huge tool for personal development. Sports are awesome but they won’t save your life like self defence can.”
Click the link for a fun and engaging self defenc ebook:
Master Luke Robinson