Facebook is a plethora of various martial arts pages and groups these days. Many of them are pretty decent but every once in awhile you get the old argument going about who’s art is superior and blah blah blah. These types of things get heated and the keyboard warriors abound in droves to jump in and threaten, demean, ridicule and add in their bravado to those posts. It is almost the same as how dog poop attracts flies…they are both full the same rotten, awful smell.
Let’s look at this for a second…the argument of what martial art is superior has been raging all the way back to the time when Robert Trias first began teaching Karate in the USA. Karate versus Judo, Judo versus Tae Kwon Do, Tae Kwon Do versus Karate, Kenpo versus them all and so forth. It is a never ending diatribe of pointless argument with no proof that could ever be brought forth, and for many reasons.
First off it is only opinion that is being stated, sometimes bluntly, online. Some will argue it is their “professional” opinion while others are just hiding behind a keyboard or Youtube video slinging endless and negative commentary about how certain martial arts suck. Professional or not it is only opinion, never fact based because, to prove it, we would have to limit each martial art down to who is the absolute best and then let them all fight to the death. Yes I said death. That is absolute. Taking a beating and recovering from it is not absolute, it just proves you lost. Dying is absolute, there is no coming back from it. Then you have to also understand that there are literally millions of people training in martial arts world wide and somewhere, out there, is the next superstar of that martial art who then would have to challenge the winner of said death match. Said winner gets older, gets lazy in their training or stops improving and guess what?!? We now have a new ultimate martial art…I think you can see where this leads…to an a never ending circle of little boys trying to act like men.
So let’s look at this claim “it is my professional opinion” when someone tries to belittle, downgrade or demean a martial art outside of their own. First off being a professional BJJ instructor doesn’t mean you are a qualified to talk about Karate. Same goes for being a professional Karate instructor, you are not qualified to talk about BJJ. In my 40 years of training now I have been blessed to master my art of Okinawan Karate. It is my foundation and my rock and the “only” thing I feel qualified to give expert commentary on. That being said I also hold black belts in Judo, Jujitsu, Aikijitsu and Tae Kwon Do, with my Tae Kwon Do rank being at 8th degree. So, if I sit down and state it is my “professional” opinion that BJJ sucks then every BJJ student in the world would want to beat my ass to prove I am full of it. I can sit here all day long and say things like “Grappling is not self defense”, “Tae Kwon Do people can’t fight” and “Extreme, or showy, martial arts are a joke” but in the end they are just my opinion based on my preferences in the arts I have studied…they are NOT professional opinions because the are very biased in the method in which they are stated.
So what then is the reality? Does any martial arts actually suck? Well, to be honest with you…NO. People get into martial arts for all sorts of reasons. Many will begin their journey in a Judo school only to expand later to a Karate dojo. Some will begin in a Tae Kwon Do school to expand later into a BJJ one. Just like the commentary I spoke of above it all comes down to personal preference. There are people out there who absolutely hate Karate Kata. They will belittle it, claim it is pointless, claim it is worthless for self defense but they are only stating a very biased, and selfish, opinion. Sadly they aren’t qualified to make such statements because they never actually learned the Kata, the real reason for it nor spent a lifetime studying it like Oyata Sensei or Higoanna Sensei (both men who could tear up attackers in a heartbeat). Then, when it is pointed out that their beloved grappling or combat sport training has Kata they immediately say they do not calling it drills. Well, Kata is drills so there you have it. If you don’t like Kata then don’t like it, stop belittling it because you don’t like it. That is not professional on any standard.
So what does it all boil down to then when it comes to martial arts and actual combat? It is the individual and their ability to take whatever they have learned and use it successfully in an self defense situation. If they use it successfully then people say their art is great. If they do not then people say their art sucks. That’s just plain stupid. BJJ peeps can lose a fight just as easy as a Karate, Judo, Tae Kwon Do person can. They all can win just as easily as the next person too…it is the individual’s ability to apply what they have practiced against an attacker and SURVIVE that matters. The martial art being studied is not to blame if they fail BUT I will state the manner in which one trains does help in determining their outcome in a real life attack. If you have never been hit hard, pushed til you puke or sparred heavily you may struggle in a real life attack. This called training method and that does matter.
So is it ever alright to put a martial art on blast? Actually it is but only when it is apparent fraud. By fraud I am talking about people who may have earned a low rank black belt and all of the sudden they are a grand master of their own created martial art system. That is fraud people…plain and simple. Or that person who opens up a “gym” that never earned rank in any martial art yet advertises you will learn BJJ, Karate, Muay Thai or whatever…they are not qualified to teach the art yet they will charge you for it, that is fraud. Or how about the cult, muti-franchise systems that hand out rank like candy even if you SUCK at the art they claim to be teaching…yes that it is fraud too. Or even worse the guy who buys a black belt, teaches in his basement and learns from videos yet has never had actual instruction in the martial art they claim to teach, that is down right BS fraud.
When it comes to fraud they need to be called out but those people are always going to be right in their own minds because they had a Sensei or coach to teach RIGHT from Wrong. The majority of the keyboard warriors on the internet are these types. They spend hours watching UFC, Youtube videos and think they are qualified to speak as an expert when, in fact, they are just full of their own egos. Sadly the social media world is full of those types.
When it comes to all the gymnastic based “extreme or hyper” martial arts being portrayed at tournaments it is important to note that those are NOT martial arts but rather competitive endeavors that require a lot of dedication, training and ability to pull off. I, personally, am not a fan of it but I am also the first to admit that, when I was younger, I did musical, creative Kata and Weapons kata. I made up Kata for tournaments to win and was pretty successful at it…but I never, not even once, passed it off as being effective martial arts training for combat. It was just sport Karate, nothing more, nothing less. That is where the real issue lies when people start bashing the fancy, flashy stuff…the general public doesn’t realize that it is not actual martial arts so they believe the ones going around smashing the videos on Youtube of kids twirling toothpicks around because it is impractical. While it may be the fact is the only people that deserve to be bashed for that type of thing are the ones that are teaching only that, or earned rank in that stuff because it is not an actual martial art. Sadly there are a lot of schools out there teaching that type of thing and passing it off as a martial art but who do you blame? Do you blame the guy that is doing that or should you blame the guy’s teacher who never bothered to teach him the difference between martial arts and sport stuff? That, in itself, can lead to another 5000 word article for certain.
In reality there is no ultimate martial art system, and never will be, no matter what all the Krav Maga experts want to tell you. If there was an ultimate system, that was superior to all others, then it would be the ONLY system available. Each martial art has it perks, its benefits and its DOWNFALLS. That is a fact, not my opinion. For every my art beats your art video out there you will find other videos that are the same thing. It is about as pointless as arguing politics with a child…sure they can hear what you are saying but they have not been alive long enough to understand it. I’ve been training non-stop for 40 years now. I love my traditional Okinawan Karate that I teach. To me it is amazing but I also have done Jujitsu, Judo and other arts, not to become experts at them but rather to just improve my appreciation of martial arts over all. What I have found is that they all compliment each other and not one single martial art is the best. That being said one should have a strong foundation martial art that understand above all others or they will just be mixed up and never grasp how those concepts from various arts relate to one another.
My Facebook page, my website and even in my classes (and dojo) has dealt with keyboard warriors to people bashing it, just as many other schools and instructors face too. I just ignore them, delete the comments, ban the morons and move on. Only the weak have something to prove and I feel I have nothing to prove. I am an expert, earned, documented and certified, in the art I teach. I don’t claim to be a bad ass or expert in arts I am not qualified on. I don’t claim to be some ultimate fighter guy or the end all be all in self defense. I understand the limitations I have and the areas my art has…but I am at peace with it and love to teach, train and learn. To me that is the ultimate goal of being a martial artist…to train and improve daily. I have been in many violent situations. I have won the majority of them and also had my ass handed me to a few times. Now that I am older I see self defense differently and know the truth about fighting…someone will win, someone will lose and there are NO RULES out in the real world. So I just train, I learn, I improve and I do the best I can…always hoping and praying never to have to use my skills but to be ready if I need to, as well as understanding a crowbar to the head can cure many a tough guy’s attitude. So, today, while others are busy bashing another’s martial art you will find me in my dojo, training, improving and teaching because that is exactly what it means to be a professional at something. There is nothing professional in acting like a egomaniac tough guy, in words nor in action, as I see it. Let it go, open your mind and just enjoy the ride…as they always say in the dojo “Shut up and train”.