Monday, September 15, 2014
Continuing on, what is a “real” martial art? I’ve seen 12-year olds awarded Black Belts in
several prominent styles. Indeed, lots of colored belts have been given to young children and adults
alike, all for the sake of commercialism. Can any of these “practitioners” fight a real martial artist
without losing their lives in the wink of an eye?
A real martial art used in lethal combat provides the skilled practitioner with reasonable
odds of surviving a physical life-or-death conflict against a similarly skilled individual where the
loser makes the first mistake.
Where does one find real martial arts? There are far too many places in the world where
people must still fight to survive and some nations allow death matches to be held officially or
secretly. Find a martial art that’s generally successful in lethal combat and you’ll discover that
unnecessary moves are absent along with colored belt ratings. People usually train without
uniforms, mostly in non-commercial settings, and sometimes in secret.
There are fascinating examples of how martial arts can get off track, devolving into dance
moves, but sometimes the true art remains hidden. In the Philippines during the long Spanish
occupation, practicing martial arts was punishable by death. Martial artists hid their amazing arts
within what looked like dances to the untrained observer, keeping Arnis, Kali, Escrima, Largo Mano,
and other treasures developed over many generations alive. While effective, this necessity can lead
to false teaching practices.
It’s lucrative to erect a school and hand out publicly recognized ranks of achievement, such
as colored belts, to elevate the social status of students who are proud to receive an award for
dancing rather than dedicating thousands of hours of hard time enduring the painful, difficult,
frequently injurious training and special diets that develop a real martial artist.
So how can one tell what’s real? Most people trust what their teachers say. Unfortunately,
training hard doesn’t mean you’re learning anything significant. Finding a truly knowledgeable Sifu,
not a dance teacher, who is willing and able to pass on real techniques, is quite difficult.
One can ask three simple questions to determine if a martial art is true: Does it work only
against itself and not against other styles? Is combat over in seconds? And, is death the most
common result? If not, it’s probably a sport.
Next we’ll identify some real martial arts, explain myths such as blocking, and sift through
layers of sand to reveal some hidden techniques.