In the first two parts of this series we discussed the Pros and Cons of two of what I consider the three pillars of Martial Training. We looked at Self Protection Systems, and Combat Sports. In this last segment of the series we will look at what I call Conventional Martial Arts.
What are Conventional Martial Arts you ask? To explore the subject better, I have divided them into two categories: Traditional (TCMA) and Modern (MCMA). It is also crucial to note here that what is today and MCMA may end up as a TCMA in the future.
TCMA are martial arts that are typically at least about a century old, they tend to come from Asia, including Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, and also have a formalized social structure within the group. For example, they will have a founder, who has most likely passed away, an elder or most senior representative which in the rare case that they are still alive will be the founder, and they will also have a ranking and organizational structure. In some cases they will even have articles of incorporation and are run like a company.
MCMA are martial arts that have been developed more recently, perhaps maybe a few decades old, usually by a charismatic person previously trained in TCMA or even Combat Sport or Self Defense system, that combines or re-organizes, or updates their previously learned information into a methodology that suits them and their students.
What's the Same?
TCMA and DCMA both tend to have a ranking structure of belts and grades. Some have certifications and teaching licenses as well. The curriculum of study is organized in such a way that in order to achieve a certain rank, the student must show a certain level of proficiency in part of said curriculum. The syllabus is usually organized so that the easiest parts of the art, sometimes referred to ad the "basics" are taught first and then more sophisticated movements are learned later.
TCMA may place a little more emphasis on "forms" or pre arranged sets, whether they are solo or with partners. Special attention tends to be given to performing and repeating a technique or set of movements precisely as the founder executed it.
The sparring is usually very symmetrical, that is to say the participants are using solely their art's skill against each other., and depending on the art, may be light to moderate contact in nature.
Although MCMA may have solo forms, they may place more emphasis on two ore more participants engaging in drills or the application of their art against a human body. They also tend to embrace safety equipment allowing for more contact even if their sparring tends to be symmetrical.
The structure of TCMA and MCMA, with its emphasis on following the originator or the founder, compounded with a rank structure makes it a fertile ground for the growth of a cult or cultish behavior. The wearing of uniforms and the implementation of ceremonies where the leader is shown subservience takes away from the individual and enhances the presence of a "hive" mindset.
Another potential problem is stagnation of movement. Let's be honest people today do not fight the way Japanese samurai fought centuries ago. This applies to allow the noble warrior cultures through history, be they Russian, Chinese , Indonesian or whatever. Culturally in America we are not involved in the Sam kinds of fights that the founders of TCMA were. In MCMA the same problem shows up because the body composition, physiology, background and personality of the founder is not the same as that of the students therefore the art may not be best suited for everyone
The Good Stuff
TCMA and MCMA in general have mastered the art of transfer of knowledge . Because of their organization and structure, they are very effective at transmitting their message and having it replicated accurately by their proponents.
They also make an effort in promoting good qualities and values such as respect, honor, courage, perseverance and other human traits that promote a positive development of a human being. Something that is usually missing from training in Combat Sport and Self Protection Systems.
The Sum Of It All
These three most recent blogs have addressed the main three divisions of what I see as martial training methods. There are some of what I call , Hybrid Systems out there. For example Defence Lab Street Dynamics ( formerly KFM) is a MCMA that started as , and still emphasizes, Self Protection as its core tenet. The have developed a structured way of passing information and exploring different areas of street confrontations in a logical and methodical way.
Gracie Jiu Jitsu is a MCMA that came from the traditional martial art of Jiu Jitsu and was updated to emphasize self protection , but then developed into a Combat Sport now known as BJJ.
With enough research you may find other examples. I believe in embracing the positive aspects of all three training methodologies while keeping the potentially negative issues in check. I offer all three to my students and allow them to decide on their own which track to follow.
I truly believe we can all learn much by investigating all three areas.
Copyright Tony Torres