By Morne Swanepoel
‘Knowledge is not power, the ability to apply your knowledge is true power.’
I am often surprised by how much the word ‘practical’ or ‘effective’ is used to describe a certain Martial Art system. While I agree that many fighting skills are practical and effective within realm of fighting, I question how practical these skills are within modern society and against an aggressive, skilful opponent.
People study Martial Arts for various reasons. The most prominent being for self defence purposes. Now if you are studying the Martial Arts to stand a better chance to defend yourself in the street try and answer the following questions to see if you think along the same lines as we do at Jeet Kune Do Unlimited. Remember that when answering these questions there will never be a definitive ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ but try and answer them in a way that makes the most sense to you.
- Is the Martial Arts primary purpose for impressiveness or effectiveness?
- Do you think that Martial Arts is primarily derived as a sport or a self defence system?
- For Self Defence should we only stick to the techniques that have been passed down through time, or should we just use whatever techniques work for the given situation?
- If you want to know the effectiveness of a technique should you just take your instructors word or test it for yourself?
- If you decide to test a technique, should the test be in a controlled, passive environment? Or should the test be in an environment that resembles a real, all out street fight?
- The amount of possible techniques in Martial Arts is it limited or virtually unlimited?
- The amount of time you have to train each week is it unlimited or limited?
- If the time is limited should we prioritise which techniques and training methods we use?
- Shouldn’t we prioritise training the most probable scenarios along with the most useful techniques?
I have found that most people answer these questions in the same way.
They conclude that most Martial Arts is supposed to be designed for effectiveness in the street using whatever techniques that will work regardless of their origin. You should test the techniques yourself in an environment close to a street confrontation. There is unlimited amount of Martial Arts techniques & combinations, but we have limited amount of time to practise them in and therefore we need to prioritise our training. In a real street fight or limited rules sporting event your opponent will resist your efforts 100%. The only way you can deal with that resistance is to practise against a resisting opponent. We make choices about which road we will take long before we take the step. Sometimes we make unconscious decisions and leave the rest up to fate. I hope that after answering the above questions sincerely you would make sure you are taking the right direction with your training to make sure you reach your goal. Just remember that ‘What is spectacular is not always practical. What is practical is not always spectacular’, and ‘If you want to learn how to fight make sure you train against somebody who is fighting back’
No Rules-Anything goes–Are you ready? is a guideline we use in all our gyms. The Martial Arts circuit has been taken by storm with all the no rules tournaments such as the likes of the Ultimate fighting challenges (UFC’s). These tournaments are great to see which techniques are effective when full resistance is applied but it is still just a tournament. These tournaments will most probably be the closest thing to a street fight but people must not misjudge it with a all out street fight. Let’s compare the two,
Street fight vs. Tournament:
- Ambushes vs. ready– time to prepare
- No pre-fight posture vs. pre fight posture
- No Rules vs. rules
- All attacks & targets allowed vs. tournaments allow limited or no striking to eyes, throat & groin as well as pinching & biting
- Unfavourable variables i.e. multiple opponents, assault, broken glass etc. vs. single opponent, agreed to allow attacks, arranged environment
- Always be ready with no stretching or warming up vs. the luxury of warming up before your match.
- No referee vs. Referee
- No time limit vs. time limit
- No divisions vs. divisions i.e. rank, weight etc.
- Any time vs. tournament date
These are just a few differences, but I am sure you get the picture. So again make sure you monitor your training to ensure that you are training correctly for your goals that you have set. It doesn’t help training pre-arranged forms the whole time if you want to defend yourself in a violent street situation.
All our members at Jeet Kune Do unlimited train techniques that have a high chance of success in a real, all-out situation where life and limb are at stake. My aim and that of all the members of Jeet Kune Do Unlimited is to continue the work that Bruce Lee started and continue investigating the Martial Arts realm for those techniques, training methods and strategies that work in the environment of a street attack. A fight is full of resistance and you must practise against real resistance if you want to be able to protect yourself. Life is full of resistance too, so the lessons you learn training should translate directly to making you a more successful person. Enjoy the process, and apply what you have learned to all aspects of your life!