So, as I was riding down the road with a buddy the other day we got on the subject of fighting. Go figure huh? The question posed to me was: Who would win in a fight, Mike Tyson in his prime or Bruce Lee? I did not have an easy answer for that. However, it did bring to light an interesting point and concept that I have touched on in the past. A martial art, or a fighting system? Now, before we get going on this you need to know that I have a special affinity for martial arts. I have been studying martial arts for quite sometime and hold it very dear. But, enough about me.
I am asked on a regular basis: “What should I learn for self defense?” or “I want to learn to fight, what do you recommend?”. That is a loaded question the scale of: “What gun should I buy?” The only way I can answer this question is by asking my own questions: What do you want to achieve and How much time do you want to dedicate to the venture? There are a lot of subsequent questions and unique qualifiers that help guide us on the conversation but, these two will get you going.
Time is a big picture question, not short term. If you want to be a professional fighter in a year, I recommend that you stop the fantasy and check into reality hotel. Unless you are prepared to train 8+ hours a day, you can get that out of your head. Additionally, if you want to learn to “fight” I further recommend that you look to Mixed “Martial Arts” competition fighting. Trading punches is for sport; if you want to learn self defense I recommend you learn combatives. You can learn a great deal of combat skills in a short amount of time.
If you only intend on spending as short amount a time as possible in learning combative skills, you would be best off in spending a day or two in a good quality self defense class. The one caveat to these courses is: You have to practice!! There is no way you can gain and retain these skills on the level necessary to recall them in a survival stress situation in a day. This process takes time. Spending just a few minutes a day on the techniques learned in a good course will go a long way.
What I want to hear you say in response to the time questions is: “Until I die or my body won’t let me.”. Regardless of what system or style you wish to pursue, this needs to be a life long journey. I understand that we all have complicated lives. I have had to take breaks from study from time to time, life happens and gets in the way. But, as life allows, I get back into it. This journey of hand to hand combatives is not one that takes a week or year, but is a life long adventure; one with many paths and rabbit trails. Once you set foot upon this trail it captures your attention and passion with fervor. Time matters because martial arts is a long slow process, while fighting systems start punching things day one. The big difference here is; a good martial art will take this long slow process to change and modify your body to prepare you for combat in a way that a fighting system never could.
What you want to achieve is significant because that will ultimately determine the path you take. There are countless martial arts out there, and just as many fighting systems. Your end goal will dictate not only what genre you choose but also the style. To put it in a nutshell: Martial arts will teach you to change and manipulate your body first, then it will teach you to do the same to an opponent. A fighting system will teach you how to manipulate an opponent’s body.
I am not saying one way or the other on either genre. Both have their place and serve their purpose, or neither would exist. I actively train and practice both fighting systems and martial arts. I highly encourage you to do your homework and learn more about both genres before you start down one path. Ancient Adam proverb say: Do not start on a journey unless you are prepared to reach your destination. Meaning this: Do not start something unless you are prepared to see it through. Starting out, bouncing around will do you no good, you will never grow, and you will become frustrated. What ever you choose, embrace it and enjoy it!
What can we learn?
- There are two genres of combatives: Martial Arts, and what we call Fighting Systems. Martial arts are typically comprised of much more that straight combatives. Fighting systems focus on fighting exclusively.
- How much time do you have; or should I say, How much time are you willing to invest?
- What is your end goal with this process? Only you can answer this question, be honest and answer truthfully.
- Regardless of what you choose you must practice and stick with it!
- Do not start on a journey unless you are prepared to reach your destination
- My money is on Bruce Lee…