Western Martial Arts all tend to share certain fundamental traits that differentiate them from their eastern cousins. This is not so much a case of either/or but rather a matter of degrees and general tendencies. There are also certain characteristics that all effective arts will share, regardless of their cultural origin.
When your arse is on the line you need to K.I.S.S. Keep It Simple, Stupid.
Oriental martial arts instructors tend to make a lot of noise about skill and subtlety and ‘advanced’ techniques. Western style coaches talk a lot more about heart, spirit, conditioning and the importance of a focus on the basics.
To be fair, I don’t think this is really representative of true, classically trained oriental martial artists. Real warriors know the importance of simplicity, no matter where they come from. It is most definitely true of the average commercial instructor in business today. Commercially available eastern Martial Arts tend to be too much Art and not enough Martial.
“The best defence is a good offence.” Western martial arts emphasize the advantage gained by seizing the initiative. Eastern martial arts tend to work on a two step defend-and-counter mentality. He does this, then you do that. “We wait for the attacker to attack and then we use his own energy against him.” That’s all crap.
“As far as physical self-defence is concerned, the only thing I found to be consistently effective in thousands of altercations, and watching thousands of altercations involving other people, was the pre-emptive attack… Most people are still teaching block-counter, or letting the opponent attack first, or trap-counter. And it’s all too late. If it’s going to be physical, it’s about learning to hit hard and learning to hit first. This is the only thing that works consistently.” Geoff Thompson
One of the most consistent, fundamental characteristics of western martial culture is our tendency to turn everything into a sport. In fact, I personally believe that we over-do the sports side to the point that we neglect good old-fashioned dirty fighting and basic self-defence.
Competition does serve its purpose though, it keeps us martial bastards honest. No more endless debates about which style is better or “If I was ever in a real fight, then I’d…” Get in the ring and try it out. Put up…or shut up.
A tall man does not fight the same way a short man does. The student cannot be expected to fight the same way as the teacher.
In oriental martial culture, your fighting style is usually defined by the school you train at. The student is usually expected to mimic his “Master’s” movements exactly before he is allowed to begin developing his own methods. Western martial culture does not contain this same tendency towards dogmatism and guru-worship. Our Coaches understand that while there may be many ways to do something ‘wrong’, there are usually several ways to do it right.
Fighting is a physical activity, so by definition you do actually have to be physically ‘fit’ to fight.
I really don’t even know why people bother to argue about this, you need to be in good shape anyway. It makes no sense to spend all your time worrying about muggers and rapists and Secret Chinese Death Matches and then drop dead of a heart-attack.
Tags: Martial Arts