“Traditional” vs. “MMA” schools

Let me ask you a few questions.  What would you think if you had to sign up for three or four schools just to earn your high school diploma?  Does that sound like the best way to do things?  What if you didn’t want, or forgot, to sign up for the math school?  Would that make your diploma the same as someone who didn’t have language arts?  Someone that didn’t have science?

I ask these questions because that is precisely how “traditional” martial arts schools market themselves.  They teach a single aspect of combat (or subject to keep with my analogy) and tell you that to learn a different aspect (subject) you’ll have to train in a different school.  But then they also tell you that you don’t need those other aspects because if you are truly skilled in the one they teach, you won’t need any other.

“Traditional” martial arts also claim to trace their heritage back through the ages to the actual war fighting arts of their country of origin.  That is quite an impressive claim, but I’ll refer you to my above analogy.  Do you really think the standing armies of Korea only fought via kicking and punching taught in Taekwondo?  Do you think that the armies if the Philippines only engaged in knife combat?  That concept seems a bit dubious to me.

Most modern martial arts are extremely focused.  They have chosen one or two aspects of combat to become extremely good at.  That’s why we can refer to each as “the art of…”

A man and his wife came home to America in the late 70’s and started teaching a different way.  They brought an art that addressed every aspect of conflict.  Not just punching and kicking.  Not just throws and grappling.  Not just weapons.  Not just the physicality but also the psychology.  He was mocked and ridiculed for “mixing up different martial arts.”  Fast forward 20 years and “Mixed Martial Arts” is all the rage.  As a dojo owner, I don’t go a week without getting a phone call asking if I teach MMA or Cage Fighting.

MMA gyms will have multiple instructors teaching various aspects of combat.  “So-n-so is our stand-up instructor.”  “So-n-so is our grappling instructor.” “So-n-so is our conditioning coach.”  They take a spread of martial arts and blend them together into their own gym’s particular expression.  To be honest, this is very close to how the ancient dojo were developed.  Our own martial art is a blending of nine different family training methods.

What does that say about modern martial arts?  I like to think that it means that MMA is a true expressing of ancient ideas, but updated for sport. “Traditional” martial arts dojo are more suited for those people who only want to learn a single aspect of combat.  Also, those are generally expressed through the field of sports.

I am so happy that my martial art can address every aspect of combat without having to make it a sport.