The Difference Between Combative Training and Martial Arts

Getting the facts straight

Recently, I was checking the sales ranking for my book on Amazon.com, when I noticed I have finally received a customer review on Amazon. After reading the review, I found myself humbled and dumb founded. The customer who reviewed my book on military knife and hand to hand combat was obviously a practicing martial artist.

He appeared to be one of the “Know it all” types as well. Although much of his review on the layout of my book may be spot on; I was amazed at his blatant ignorance in not knowing the difference between combative training and martial arts. In his own words,”Though the author may know what he is doing in this book, you may already as well. If you took some sort of M.A. class for any period of time that was worth anything, then you would have learned most if not half of these techniques for knife fighting. ” I must agree with him on this.

If you take some sort of martial arts class for any period of time; that is worth anything; eventually you may learn half of the techniques in the book. Although I clearly state in the book that my attempt is not to teach specific techniques, but use techniques as a vehicle to drive home principles; and I admit that there are countless numbers of techniques one can learn, not simply limited to my book. This guy “Cliff” is the example of how many can not distinguish the difference between martial art and combative training.

Distinguishing the difference

Before one can truly distinguish between a martial art or combative training, they must reflect upon the origin of today’s practiced martial arts. The term “martial art”, refers to a war like art; with martial referring to war. It is true that ages ago during the conception of today’s martial arts, the countless numbers of systems and styles were born from military drills and close quarters battle of the time. During the ancient times without the aid of today’s modern weaponry and fire power, soldiers were forced to engage in battle with clubs, swords, daggers, spears and often hand to hand. Warriors of those times began to develop tried and true systems of both armed and unarmed combat, much like today. They understood that military units must gain muscle memory in their tactics of choice and saw the need for regimented systems of combat. The methods and techniques of their day required ways to dismount riders off horse back and break or penetrate wooden armor. It is quite obvious that in today’s combat environment those techniques would be obsolete. Through out generations and over the centuries the ancient arts have been passed from master to student and master to student. The once effective and powerful combative training of the ancients has become an antiquity.

Today the ancient techniques of Samurai and the fighting monks of China can be seen being practiced through training hall windows all over the world. The ancient forms and techniques that were once practical battle tactics have been manipulated by popular media and business ideology. Many practice the ancient martial arts for a plethora of reasons. Some of their reasons are for the very same reasons that the training was developed. People practice for fitness, protection and hobby. Others train simply to preserve the art.

After World War II, the west was introduced to the Asian martial art craze. Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen were exposed to the Asian fighting arts of the Japanese and Philippines and wanted to learn. Many of the indigenous instructors or gurus realized the opportunity to make a buck from the naive westerners and began teaching watered down versions of the fighting arts. Often masters would draw out the training and add flashy, intricate and complicated techniques to the curriculum. It was the flash that would sell to the new western market. Soon even Hollywood would make movies with actors such as Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris demonstrating their athleticism and prowess on screen.

Belt ranking systems were added to help new students feel as if they were progressing and not quit. The once effective techniques for ancient combat were reduced to nothing more than acrobatics with some self protection value. Many of the hidden techniques which were the pride of warriors of old were lost through the simple process of supply and demand. Modern technology and weapons only aided in losing the practical fighting techniques and turning the martial arts into a lucrative but provocative industry. Today there are martial art companies that place their clients on programs known as “black belt plans.”

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