June 29, 2022

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Reconciling with Traditional Martial Arts

4 min read

What happened to traditional martial arts?

When I first came into the gun world it was fascinating the number of people who would smack talk the idea of mixing fighting with weaponry. For lack of a better word, we will just call it integrated combatives.

It was just a couple of degrees away from blasphemy for me to even suggest the idea as relevant.

Today the idea seems to be the new gold rush. I have seen combat sports athletes become more and more interested in the exploration and implementation of integrated combatives.

It becomes much harder to knock an idea when you have a person with years of competition under duress developing instructor level weapon skills in a fraction of the time of most people.

Today the scoffing is done at the traditional martial combat arts. To be fair, I have done my own bit of mockery towards some of the traditional arts. Some of it is justified. However, much of what I see is coming from pure ignorance.

The gold standard for martial arts now is the Brazilian jujitsu black belt. Aside from it being extremely difficult, with Brazilian jujitsu is a young martial art. It is relatively easy to find out if you earned that belt or if you bought it.

Even more so the justification to always carry your gun now uses the jujitsu black belt as the example. If combat capability or effectiveness in an unarmed situation were determined on a “not effective” to “very effective” scale people would certainty rate jujitsu as very effective. At the same token, they would rate traditional arts as anything from not effective at all to outright laughing at the mention or consideration.

Training Methods and Techniques

To play devil’s advocate I have to highlight something very important about what distinguishes combatives training versus martial arts training. Martial arts are about the techniques within the martial arts system, while combatives are reductive with techniques and training method focused. Martial arts have training methods as well, however not all training methods are created equal.

Kata; a choreographed pattern of movements is meant to help individuals master movement patterns. My argument is the movement patterns without the context is a resisting or attacking opponent is just going through the motions.

What the grappling arts do better than almost every traditional martial art is the training methods they use to develop the techniques they are working on.

Traditional martial arts aren’t ineffective because of their techniques it is because of the training methods they use. That is hurting the perception of their consistency and relevance with real fighting. Are we so ignorant as fighters to think that these cultures and codified systems have lasted centuries because they don’t work?

What did traditional martial arts need is modernization. We need more of the traditional martial artist to go the route of Tiger Schulmann’s. Not the commercialization necessarily as much as I mean by embracing the new.

When Royce Gracie first dominated in the early UFC events, the magazines rushed to print all things “counter grappling.” On the other hand, Tiger expanded their curriculums to include Grappling, kickboxing, and so on.


Uriah Hall, a devastating knockout artist, and professional MMA fighter comes from Tiger. Lyoto Machida has a karate background, Stephen “Wonderboy” Thompson comes from karate, Michael “Venom” page, Michelle “Karate Hottie” Waterson, etc. You get my point.

People with traditional martial arts backgrounds exist in the highest level of mixed martial arts competition. The question(s) then is how and why?

I would like to propose the argument that it is from subjecting their traditional techniques to modern training methods. Sparring with a combination of grappling mastery that has brought about a resurgence in traditional techniques appearing in professional MMA competitions.

Their training wasn’t/isn’t abandoned, it was adapted.

In my opinion, if the traditional sects can blend old school discipline and mindset with the modern training methods we are in for some interesting times.

To go back to my original point of integrated combatives exploration; imagine being told you don’t need to strike in a “real world” fight. How ridiculous of a concept would that be? This is my view on martial artists of any background avoiding firearms training.

Remember the Cautionary Tales

They are just as wrong and just slightly less vulnerable than the guys avoiding martial arts training. Let the Alex Gong and Preston Davids stories serve you as cautionary tales. If you’re unable or unaware of fighting people as if they might be armed well then you just might get murdered approaching a fight like a challenge match… At least that is the lesson in my mind.

*The views and opinions expressed on this website are solely those of the original authors and contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Spotter Up Magazine, the administrative staff, and/or any/all contributors to this site.

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