YouTube has a lot of great martial arts videos these days. And it’s interesting to see all of the “I’d like to see that guy in the octagon” comments. Or, “you have to wonder how’d they do in a UFC bout”.
I think we are losing track of the many different reasons people decide to study martial arts. We may also be losing track of who our possible opponents might be.
If you want to be successful in the octagon then you better be strong, fast, fit and trained in a well balanced assortment of martial arts before you even step foot inside. That’s the current pinnacle of martial gladiators. If gladiatorship is your goal, then follow that path.
If kicking and punching is your thing, just about any martial art can help.
If increasing your power, peace of mind and a healthy body interest you, along with punching and kicking and self defense, then one would do well to consider studying Tai Chi or Ba Gua from a qualified instructor. Internal martial arts like Tai Chi can certainly help a mixed martial artist or any kind of athlete with concepts like “rooting”, “fa jin”, and “tai chi body”.
If surviving in a tough part of town against armed opponents is your goal, well, martial arts can help, but I haven’t seen Iron Shirt chi kung stop a bullet, so that’s an entirely different requirement that martial arts can’t entirely remedy.
Most likely, any person you’d have to defend yourself against with your martial arts, is going to be under the influence of alcohol with not a lot of training. Octagon level fitness, strength, speed and skill aren’t required to stop drunken Joe at the local pub. Fortunately, many of the people with a lot of training have learned self-control and discipline along with their martial arts, so you’re not likely going to face a highly skilled martial artist in the street.
If a person you have to defend yourself from has studied some martial arts, then you start to measure fitness, speed, strength, depth of study, type of martial art, etc to differentiate who is the better fighter and who is going to win the confrontation. By the way, if your fight lasts longer than 30 seconds that person knows at least as much as you do.
However, if you even have to throw a punch, in a sense you’ve already lost — lost control of the situation and anything could happen. My goal is always to control the situation like one of my old teachers did in this blog post: Last Fight. For me, free beer from an adversary without throwing a punch is the ultimate victory!
So, for all of you who look at martial arts and artists on YouTube, and think, it looks good, but how would they do in the octagon, the answer to that is probably they wouldn’t do well. And that’s okay. That’s likely not their goal. Their goal is likely to improve their health, to be able to keep themselves and their families safer for having martial arts and to share what they’ve learned.