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The Illusion of Martial Arts: From Dancing Mechanics to Real-World Combat

The Illusion of Martial Arts: From Dancing Mechanics to Real-World Combat
Photo by Abolfazl eslami / Unsplash

I was watching youtube videos and came across a channel called Martial Arts Journey, where the main protagonist is disappointed with Aikido and transitions to other martial arts that put more emphasis on stress testing his skills. This is where he had the realisation even though the mechanics of his martial arts is correct there is no stress test application in the training resulting in dancing mechanics.

So, this way of learning a martial art is just preserving the movement. It's not real-life combat.

Unfortunately, I have reached a similar conclusion in my martial arts journey.

I have trained Bujinkan Ninjitsu for a number of years and I was lucky enough to have an instructor that understood the difference between a fighter and a warrior. I remember him telling me that you will never be able to block a punch from Mike Tyson or beat a wrestler, and the philosophy of Ninjutsu states that it's better to run away or use "dirty" tactics to get to your objectives.

and endless to say  I was swallowed up into it, as the techniques would be sneaky cowardly and but...Effective/Deadly.

I started to train and somewhat thought that my martial art was more a way of thinking than a martial art the self-defence element of it was a by-product.  

A few years have passed and by this time I have trained in a number of schools and met different teachers across Europe. At this point, I understood techniques and could do them well, with a willing Uke (willing opponent).

but what would happen if I tried to resist and be awkward?  

This is when the seed of doubt was planted, because when I was trying to use the techniques in sparring situations and it turned out that they were not as effective as I believed them to be.

at this point, I was training for a number of years and I felt that I should be able to defend myself should an attacker appear.

Nevermind the attacker, I could not do that in the Dojo. Of course I was told that there are other strikes you would use in that scenario and the opponent will become willing ... such as punches to the face.

but I did not feel comfortable or confident in my skills to handle the situation should a situation arise.


While training Ninjutsu we were all so static and attacks were one-dimensional .eg. one telegraphed punch with the freeze at the end for you to conduct the technique.

and yes it looked beautiful like Martial arts .... but not realistic.

Fast forward to the present day, I am watching my BJJ instructor show us a technique. and it hits me, he is showing is the technique slowly and methodically and the opponent is static and willing. I chuckle to myself as it brings back memories of my ninjutsu days. However, this time you can rehearse the technique in slow time and as you get better you can apply it in full-force sparring.

and.... it works.

This is my realisation is that all these martial arts were actually full contact at some point but we got soft and stopped applying the techniques in sparring (Randori) my first Ninjutsu instructor was very good and he allowed us to spar to show us how little we know and not to get into a real fight.

So all of these martial arts are philosophical arts for the majority of their students, whether it is Ninjutsu, Aikido, Systema, or Krav Maga. but they will not help the average student. but they will preserve the movement and sense of a club or a following for its practitioners.

For me, I have trained in BJJ for 2 years now, and I feel confident in my ability and I recognise where my shortfalls are and where I have gaps in my overall defence against an attacker. but I think most importantly I would say it has given me real tools to handle idiots.

As the old saying goes, "it's better to be a warrior in Peacetime than a gardener in war."

This is a comment that I heard from one of the youtube videos that really resonated with me and my dissolution with Martial arts as an effective tool in your arsenal.  

"If you cannot fight, you cannot be a pacifist, because you have no choice in the matter."  

Thanks for reading.