Martial Arts - In a Fight, Do They Really Work? By Andre Robert

Discussion in 'E-Zine Articles' started by Bob Hubbard, Oct 1, 2009.

  1. Bob Hubbard

    Bob Hubbard Darth Vindicatus Supporting Member

    Martial Arts - In a Fight, Do They Really Work? By Andre Robert
    By Bob Hubbard - 10-01-2009 01:31 PM


    Martial Arts - In a Fight, Do They Really Work?
    By Andre Robert

    Having trained many years in martial arts, I am confident in my ability to defend myself in most any situation, but what would happen in a real-life scenario? There are many variables to consider before answering that question.

    1. What is the situation? There are a vast number of ways someone may be attacked. It could be a basic one-on-one bar fight, multiple attackers, sneak attack, attacker with a weapon, multiple attackers with weapons, rape attempt, grab from behind, etc.

    2. Which kind of martial art does the person have? There is a vast difference from someone trained in Tai chi than there is from someone trained in jiu jitsu, karate, tae kwon do, hapkido or aikido. Each will have it's advantages and disadvantages.

    3. What level of training do the combatants have?

    Contrary to what your sensei might tell you, no one martial art is going to be perfect in all situations. The evidence of this can be seem in the original Ultimate Fighting Championships. Royce Gracie, a man I've personally trained with and respect a great deal, went undefeated in the original tournaments, using Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, a martial art adapted from Kodokan Judo and Japanese jujutsu, primarily focusing on taking your opponent down to the ground and applying a finishing maneuver such as a choke or arm bar. Gracie was in some cases outweighed by over 100 lbs, yet defeated wrestlers, boxers, kick boxers and karate experts.

    Disciplines such as boxing, kung fu and taekwondo had their weaknesses exposed -- when taken to the ground, they had no idea what to do. While extremely dangerous standing up, these competitors had no chance against skilled wrestlers and grapplers. Not that they COULDN'T win, as a single powerful kick or punch could end the fight at any time, but rather that there was a significant hole in their game.

    Wrestlers and jiu-jitsu experts are certainly not invincible either. If either does not learn stand-up fighting techniques, they are prone to being knocked out by a good boxer or kick boxer.

    This change led to cross-training between disciplines. Now, many hybrid forms of martial arts exist, which are much more effective in real life situations. Still, each martial art has a set of rules for the safety of it's practitioners. No eye gouging, kicks to the groin, hair pulling, and so forth. Real life fights may include all of these things, and if not prepared, all of these actions can end a fight. There is a reason they are not allowed -- they work!

    Now let's look into some of the variables we mentioned above and explore them a little deeper.

    For a standard bar fight, one-on-one, face to face combat, a person with even a moderate amount of martial arts (in this case including disciplines such as boxing, wrestling or military combat techniques) training should easily defeat another person without any training, assuming relatively similar size and strength. (The adage that skill and technique will win over size and strength is largely true, but a 120 lb woman will likely not be able to defeat a 300 lb man unless her skill is substantially greater than his, or she knows exceptional self defense tactics). In this fair fight scenario, any martial art - karate, tae kwon do, muay thai, kung fu, jiu jitsu, judo, aikido, jujutsu, ninjutsu, etc will be extremely effective.

    Against multiple attackers, especially when they have weapons, grappling disciplines such as judo and jiu jitsu are limited. They can still be highly effective, especially for expert practitioners, but many techniques (armbars, the guard and mount) are simply not practical if another person is left to attack you. Stand up techniques, especially kicks such as those used in taekwondo and karate, are more practical against multiple attackers, but unlike in movies, getting attacked my multiple attackers is extremely dangerous no matter who you are, and you are unlikely to win regardless of what disciplines you know.

    Skill level is a huge factor in fight success. I know many people who have trained 10 or more years in karate, but couldn't win a street fight against a person with a month of good jiu-jitsu training. This is not because the discipline itself is not effective - it's because of the actual training they've received. Many dojos do not involve actual contact, and black belts are given out based on forms, practiced in front of a mirror. Ten years of training may equate to excellent form and style and flashy moves, but until you've been punched in the mouth or thrown to the mat, the real-life application of it is questionable. Others have 'fought' in tournaments, with headgear and rules against nearly everything, and a referee to stop action after each 'point.' In a street fight, it doesn't end until somebody is unconscious, gives up, or the combatants are pulled apart.

    To express this, I once witnessed a fight between a black belt in one of the Asian martial arts (I can't remember which), who got in a fight with a skinny, middle aged guy with street savvy. The black belt did a flashy roundhouse kick towards the other man, missing by about three feet. I'm hoping he was just showing off, and not actually aiming for him, but I can't be sure. He followed that up with a loud kiai and kata pose, to which the middle aged guy responded with a swift kick to the groin. Black belt boy crumpled to the ground, and proceeded to get pummeled relentlessly until we pulled the guy off him. This was a result of mirror training vs real life fighting techniques.

    In short, martial arts training IS effective, but doesn't guarantee success. Often the best defense is leaving the situation before it escalates to the point of physical violence.

    Andre Robert has over a decade experience training in several martial arts, including karate, taekwondo, jiu-jitsu, judo and aikido. He has competed in and won numerous amateur MMA bouts and is a contributing editor of

    Article Source:


    Articles by Bob Hubbard.

Share This Page