Aug
04

MMA sucks, traditional martial arts suck more.

By

The title covers a typical exchange between the MMA and traditional martial art crowds when they start arguing. Usually, the arguments are something like this:

  • You need to know how to fight at all ranges, including the ground.
  • MMA is “real” because there are minimal rules and traditional arts suck because they don’t fight for “real”.
  • Traditional arts are better because they focus on fighting without rules and the techniques used are ultra-mega-instantly lethal.
  • MMA doesn’t protect you against multiple opponents or weapons. In fact, MMA tactics get you killed in those situations.

Now at face value, all of these points are valid. There’s something to be said for each of them and to a degree, you can’t really fault the logic behind. There’s only one thing: they’re all totally missing the point. As in, missed it by a mile. More on that later.

 

It reminds me of the old arguments of judo vs wrestling or boxing about 50-60 years ago. Later on karate hit the scene and it was compared to those too. This happened with every “new” martial art or combat sport to hit the big time over the decades. Just page through a few MA rags of 20-30 years ago and read the articles. You’ll find it’s all there.

With the rise of the Internet, it got worse. I’m old enough to have been training in the arts before there were chat rooms and bulletin boards. If you are too, you know what I mean. If you’re not, here’s some perspective: It used to be a big ass argument about who would beat the other in a real fight: Bruce Lee or Chuck Norris. We all know what happened on film at the Colosseum but what if they’d have gone at it for real?

You got long winding arguments that Chuck had fought in and won dozens of tournaments where Bruce never competed in anything so he sucked. The kung fu lovers would counter that Chuck only fought within rules where as Bruce had plenty of street fighting experience where anything goes. These are just two of the arguments  and there were many, many more.

But don’t they ring a bell? Compare them to the latest fad in martial arts land, MMA, and look at the type of arguments I listed in the first paragraph. It’s the same type of logic, over and over again. The inherent flaw in it is the lack of an overall picture regarding violence.  I claim there are a few crucial elements missing in the logic chains. Here’s what I said elsewhere:

I train mostly in Chinese MAs. I have yet to find one that has anything resembling BJJ or any other ground fighting system. All that I’ve seen is moves to get the other guy off/away from you and get up. Shuai Jiao (Chinese wrestling) has almost no techniques where you go to the ground to throw somebody (I know of only one but there might be more). Everything else is just putting the guy down and not following him.

Sanda/Sanshou matches allow all sorts of striking and throwing but no ground work. You get a penalty if you aren’t on your feet in three seconds after a throw, even if you’re the one throwing. You also fight on a platform, forcing you to take your environment into account. If you get tossed of the stage twice, you lose the round. And even though there are mattresses around the stage, it can hurt big time to fall off. I’ve seen broken arms and guys flying into their coaches sitting a long way off as they were kicked off the stage.

All that to say this:

Maybe, just maybe there’s a reason why fighting arts in China don’t go to the ground… The way I learned it, if you fall on the ground, you die. No quarter was given nor expected. You got stomped to death, stabbed, speared, chopped up or run over by horses.

So your goal was not to fall and if you did, to get up as fast as you can. If you wanted to control somebody without hurting, you did the chin na (joint locks) every frikkin’ Chinese style forces you to learn.

The whole key to the previous paragraphs is context. Context is king when fighting is involved. I’ll explain in a bit, here’s some more.

Rules make the fight. Here’s the list of fouls in the UFC:

  • Butting with the head.
  • Eye gouging of any kind.
  • Biting.
  • Hair pulling.
  • Fish hooking.
  • Groin attacks of any kind.
  • Putting a finger into any orifice or into any cut or laceration on an opponent.
  • Small joint manipulation.
  • Striking to the spine or the back of the head. (see Rabbit punch)
  • Striking downward using the point of the elbow.
  • Throat strikes of any kind, including, without limitation, grabbing the trachea.
  • Clawing, pinching or twisting the flesh.
  • Grabbing the clavicle.
  • Kicking the head of a grounded opponent.
  • Kneeing the head of a grounded opponent.
  • Stomping a grounded opponent.
  • Kicking to the kidney with the heel.
  • Spiking an opponent to the canvas on his head or neck. (see piledriver)
  • Throwing an opponent out of the ring or fenced area.
  • Holding the shorts or gloves of an opponent.
  • Spitting at an opponent.

Funny thing how these are the exact same things many traditional Chinese arts will turn to first against a grappler. They won’t go for a sprawl and turn to a mount position simply because they don’t want to be on the ground. They’ll try to wrench the guy’s neck off as they rip his lips off and gouge out an eye. Easy to say then that traditional arts are crap in the Octagon. They weren’t made for it. Duh…

This is one aspect of context. Now let’s follow this line of thinking a bit further:

The UFC is not the only MMA game around. Take a look at Pride and you’ll see differences in the way they fight. The critical difference in rules is this:

  • Pride allows kicking and kneeing the head of a downed opponent who is on his back. This is considered a foul in the Unified Rules, which only allows kicks and knees to the head of a standing opponent.
  • Pride allows a fighter to stomp the head of a downed opponent. This is considered a foul in the Unified Rules.
  • Pride allows a fighter to Spike (piledriver) an opponent. This is considered a foul in the Unified Rules.

As soon as the stomping and soccer kicks start on a downed opponent, you see a totally different fight. The stompee gets into a defensive mode by turtling up or bringing his legs in front, tries to close the distance to grab the stomper’s legs and most of all, looks for an opening to get up. I’ve yet to see one of these situations turn into anything but a frantic attempt at not getting knocked out… I’d like to offer this as exhibit A in my thesis that traditional arts have it right about not wanting to go to the ground.

And there it is: change just a couple of rules and the tactics and techniques used change too. Allowing to strike a downed opponent has a huge impact on the fight game. It forces you to react differently when you hit the ground. Pretty much like in a real street fight…

 

 

Now before you MMA fans starts howling for my blood, here’s some more:

I love MMA and trained in shoot fighting for a while; I had a blast there and would have continued to this day if the teacher hadn’t moved. But MAs and combat sport styles (like MMA) are just tools. They work great within a certain context and not so in others. Of course there is overlap but as Randy said, the differences are just as important.

People should get over themselves and learn to live and let live. I don’t see any military men arguing that the techniques and tactics for arctic warfare are better/worse/easier/etc. than those employed in the desert or in an urban environment. They seem to instinctively grasp the idea that snowshoes are great to speed up a foot soldier on snowy terrain but not so hot for cruising the streets of Fallujah… I’ve yet to see an argument break out over this. But a lot of martial artists seem unable to follow that line of thinking and apply it to their respective fighting arts.

I believe that context (environment) overrules everything you might think about how a fight should go. One small difference in context can force a totally different set of techniques on you. I really, for the life of me, can’t understand why it’s so hard to accept that. But apparently the egos and political crap are more important for a lot of folks. To each his own I guess.

And that’s where it all comes together. Traditional arts come from a totally different time and context. China 500 years ago was not like Boise, Idaho in 2009. You can’t just transpose the arts from that era to today. It doesn’t work like that, life is different today. Back then the situation was not what we live in: you learned to take care of yourself or you died:

  • There was no local PD like we have now. You couldn’t just call for a bunch of cops to come over and deal with the gang of looters/thieves/pillagers/bandits that came to town. Either you hid/ran and didn’t get caught or you fought.
  • If you fought and lost, you probably died.
  • If you fell down you probably got trampled by horses, speared, stabbed with a sword or stomped. And probably died.
  • If the fight with one guy took too long, his buddies would help him out and you probably died.
  • If you survived and were injured, chances were you ended up crippled or still died. Medicine then was not what it is now.
  • In event of a natural disaster, you took charge or you died. There was no fire brigade, national guard or rescue team coming.
  • There was no social security or health care like today. You got sick, injured, ran out of food; you probably died.

When you consider all these bullets (and the list is much longer but I won’t go into it now), think of how stupid it would be for a Chinese guy from that era to spend his time learning a submission fighting system. It wouldn’t make any sense at all. If you showed him those moves, he’d shake his head and think you’re a crazy gwailo…Simply because in that time and context, fighting on the ground was not what you wanted to do to survive. Survival was a daily concern for most folks in those times. They didn’t need adrenal based  scenario training because every day life gave them plenty of that already.

The problem with the whole discussion of MMA vs. traditional arts is this: in many many contexts outside of the cage or octagon, you still don’t want to go to the ground:

  • Any type of war or armed conflict involving hundreds/thousands of participants. A soldier never fights alone so going to the ground with one of them gets you killed by his buddies.
  • Any fight where weapons are involved. Or could be involved because you never know upfront what the other guy brings to the dance. A slit throat while you’re going for an armbar is not a good thing.
  • Any environment that puts you at risk when you go to the ground: rocky terrain, concrete, debris filled terrain, etc. You can hit your head when you slam into the floor, he can slam it into the concrete for you, grab a rock/bottle/whatever to mess you up, etc.

These are just a couple of criteria, the list is longer than that but I’m just trying to make a point here: it’s not MMA vs. TMAs. That’s like arguing if a hammer is better than a screwdriver. They’re both tools and have their limits/uses. You don’t hear carpenters arguing over which is better, right?

In my opinion and experience, it’s the same with fighting arts.  They’re tools and useful in some areas, not so much in others. Pick one you like and know where it works well while not ignoring the weaknesses. Feel free to disagree though, I’m OK with my own choices and you should be with yours.  It’s your ass on the line when that crazy maniac swings a tire iron at your head, not mine. :-)

Just as a parting shot: A soldier on active duty in a not so nice part of the world, a guy who converts people from living to dead said this:

Anybody know of a weapon (other than the rifle) that is best used from the ground?

That one sentence sums up the whole point I tried to make here. I can think of no personal weapon that is specifically designed to work better from the ground than standing up. Let’s expand on that and look at all weapons throughout the history of mankind. I can’ t find any examples. So maybe, just maybe, there is a good reason why going to the ground in a violent conflict is not always a good thing…

Caveat: this is just my opinion and personal experience. I won’t get upset if you disagree with me. However, this blog is my house and so is the comments section. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas there, you’re more than welcome. But rudeness or infantile arguing will not be tolerated. Life’s too short for that crap.

IMPORTANT: 

I’ve received lots of negative comments on this post, which is fine. It’s OK to disagree. That said, please read the comment policy before you share your opinion here. Those are the rules, no discussion.

Also, read the other parts of this post and the post mentioned in Update 2. That’s where I give more background and also say good things about MMA while saying bad things about TMAs. If you don’t read them, it’ll show in your comment and I’ll just delete it without it ever showing up here. I don’t mind arguing but at the very least, we have to be on the same page. If you don’t read these other posts, then you can’t be on the same page. If you just don’t want to, then I don’t want to talk to you because all you’re interested in is saying “Neener, neener, you’re wrong and I’m right.” Life’s too short for that infantile crap.

So either argue like an adult or leave.

 

UPDATE: Here’s part two of “MMA sucks”.

UPDATE 2: For all the haters, check out “From the Octagon to the street” and the two follow ups on it before you start spouting your bile.

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Comments

  1. Narda says:

    Nice post, and read in conjuction with this interesting thread, should be required reading. :)

    http://forums.uechi-ryu.com/viewtopic.php?t=20287

  2. Narda says:

    Nice post, and read in conjuction with this interesting thread, should be required reading. :)

    http://forums.uechi-ryu.com/viewtopic.php?t=20287

  3. Great post! I like your hammer/screwdriver analogy very much so. They are beasts of a completely different nature. I forget where I read it but I also liked the comparison saying that the MMA is much more of a “martial sport” whereas traditional martial arts are “martial arts.”

    What you said about the list of things you can’t do being the first thing a TMA would do is also spot on. I almost got whiplash nodding my head in agreement with you here.

    I think a lot of the conflict of MMA vs. TMA comes from the fact that forums are crawling with teeny-boppers and “internet muscles.” Personally, I don’t care what style anyone practices, but everyone should know that each style has its advantages and disadvantages. What irritates me about some of the newer styles is that they refuse to recognize where their techniques came from, the root of the style, which I think is so important.

  4. Great post! I like your hammer/screwdriver analogy very much so. They are beasts of a completely different nature. I forget where I read it but I also liked the comparison saying that the MMA is much more of a “martial sport” whereas traditional martial arts are “martial arts.”

    What you said about the list of things you can’t do being the first thing a TMA would do is also spot on. I almost got whiplash nodding my head in agreement with you here.

    I think a lot of the conflict of MMA vs. TMA comes from the fact that forums are crawling with teeny-boppers and “internet muscles.” Personally, I don’t care what style anyone practices, but everyone should know that each style has its advantages and disadvantages. What irritates me about some of the newer styles is that they refuse to recognize where their techniques came from, the root of the style, which I think is so important.

    • Wim says:

      Thanks for the kind words, BBM. MMA is indeed more a sport than anything else. A brutal one at that, but still a sport. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It just is.
      I’ve said it in hte past and I’ll say it again: MMA is becoming a martial art in and of itself. It’s changing into a “traditional” art. Pretty soon, it’ll have forms (it already has if you count shadow boxing), it already has lots of conditioning and partner drills, self defense applications are also almost fully there, and so on. The irony is that they’ve ridiculed and demeaned the traditional arts they came from; just like you say. But now they’re becoming one and think it’s normal. Heheheh.

  5. Hey Wim!

    Nicely done. Ground fighting has its place… for me a non-grappler it is as a last resort (If I am pulled to the ground).

    I would argue it is better to know more kinds of fighting techniques than less but in the final analysis – fighting is fighting is fighting… meaning I will pit my cumulative knowledge against my antagonist in a single moment and hope my training pulls me through.

    I liked the clarity of your argument here.

  6. Hey Wim!

    Nicely done. Ground fighting has its place… for me a non-grappler it is as a last resort (If I am pulled to the ground).

    I would argue it is better to know more kinds of fighting techniques than less but in the final analysis – fighting is fighting is fighting… meaning I will pit my cumulative knowledge against my antagonist in a single moment and hope my training pulls me through.

    I liked the clarity of your argument here.

    • Wim says:

      Thanks John. AI agree with you, it boils down to what you bring to the fight and the same goes for the other guy. Ground or no ground, it’s all up in the air.

  7. Great post,Wim. I’m actually glad you managed to put some much needed perspective on things because I’m getting a bit sick of the whole trad/MMA argument, which by the way I never mean’t to get involved in anyway. I wrote a few posts that criticised MMA (mostly it’s commercialism and bad attitude) and got myself dragged into the argument. Now I have to put up with the backlash and petty arguing from certain commentators on my site which I know is just going to go on and on…

    Anyway you did a great job at producing a balanced and insightful article that will hopefully go some way to putting some of these issues to rest. I may just link to this post, if you don’t mind. I think certain people need to read it. Cheers.

  8. Great post,Wim. I’m actually glad you managed to put some much needed perspective on things because I’m getting a bit sick of the whole trad/MMA argument, which by the way I never mean’t to get involved in anyway. I wrote a few posts that criticised MMA (mostly it’s commercialism and bad attitude) and got myself dragged into the argument. Now I have to put up with the backlash and petty arguing from certain commentators on my site which I know is just going to go on and on…

    Anyway you did a great job at producing a balanced and insightful article that will hopefully go some way to putting some of these issues to rest. I may just link to this post, if you don’t mind. I think certain people need to read it. Cheers.

    • Wim says:

      Feel free to link up Neil, thanks. I read some of the comments on your article and I understand where they’re coming form. But like I wrote in my post here, they’re usually pretty much missing the point. The whole argument between both camps is a false one to begin with, it’s useless to argue either way. I tried to avoid that though I’m sure a lot of MMA fans wil not see it that way. And that’s fine. We all have our own reasons to train, more power to them.

  9. Very good points and a fair comparison. As much as I love MMA as a sport it is definitely missing a lot important elements of self defense. However, I think the key word is “Sport”. MMA has had to change in order to be considered a “sport” and to be able to make money as a business.

    I personally would not want to fight any of those guys hand to hand but a knife would change everything.

  10. Very good points and a fair comparison. As much as I love MMA as a sport it is definitely missing a lot important elements of self defense. However, I think the key word is “Sport”. MMA has had to change in order to be considered a “sport” and to be able to make money as a business.

    I personally would not want to fight any of those guys hand to hand but a knife would change everything.

    • Wim says:

      @ Spanish Tutor: I agree. The pressures to become mainstream and make money have definitely changed MMA. But it can’t have it both ways: claim it is “real fighting” while imposing more and more limitations and rules that make it a sport that the public can accept. That said, I wouldn’t want to fight those guys either. Nor would I want to fight a pro boxer or Olympic judo player. At the top levels, all those guys are hell on earth to face.

  11. Dojo Rat says:

    Wim, that was a great post. The final word on TMA vs. MMA.
    D.R.

  12. Dojo Rat says:

    Wim, that was a great post. The final word on TMA vs. MMA.
    D.R.

    • Wim says:

      Thanks John. I doubt it’s the final word but I hope it gives a different perspective to both sides of the argument. If not, c’est la vie. :-)

  13. You get an A for attitude!

    All my opponents go to the ground…and they go alone…and they never come back. :D

    (Your comment spam filter gets an F though.)

  14. You get an A for attitude!

    All my opponents go to the ground…and they go alone…and they never come back. :D

    (Your comment spam filter gets an F though.)

  15. I guess CMA’s have a certain theme. In the last year I’ve probably heard sifu say a dozen times that 500 years ago going to the ground got you a sword in your back.

    Anyhow, it really is a matter of context in my opinion and the debate is often misinterpreted. I may have to post briefly about this myself.

  16. I guess CMA’s have a certain theme. In the last year I’ve probably heard sifu say a dozen times that 500 years ago going to the ground got you a sword in your back.

    Anyhow, it really is a matter of context in my opinion and the debate is often misinterpreted. I may have to post briefly about this myself.

    • Wim says:

      It’s not just CMA Bob, you see it in other arts too. but as I do mainly CMA, I didn’t want to comment on the others.
      Let me know if you d opost on this topic, I’ll drop by.

  17. Dan Cosgrove says:

    God bless the anonymity of the internet, along with Youtube and tv.

    It’s way too easy for these arguments to occur when anyone with an hour of free time can become an ‘expert’.

    I think if traditional martial artists trained and conditioned the way martial sport athletes do… watch out!

    Wicked post

  18. Dan Cosgrove says:

    God bless the anonymity of the internet, along with Youtube and tv.

    It’s way too easy for these arguments to occur when anyone with an hour of free time can become an ‘expert’.

    I think if traditional martial artists trained and conditioned the way martial sport athletes do… watch out!

    Wicked post

  19. Your title hooked me:-) And your arguments are usually such that my first thoughts are “It goes without saying.” I guess it doesn’t go without saying having read the comments, and you said it well.

    Thanks for taking the time.

    DD

  20. Your title hooked me:-) And your arguments are usually such that my first thoughts are “It goes without saying.” I guess it doesn’t go without saying having read the comments, and you said it well.

    Thanks for taking the time.

    DD

    • Wim says:

      Thanks Dennis. And it was indeed fun to find a title. Some of those I discarded were a bit more… emphatic? :-)

  21. Danny Young says:

    Great Blog Wim. I agree, you don’t want to go to the ground. Thanks for making clear the Apples and the Oranges!~ All the Best, Danny.

  22. Danny Young says:

    Great Blog Wim. I agree, you don’t want to go to the ground. Thanks for making clear the Apples and the Oranges!~ All the Best, Danny.

    • Wim says:

      Thanks for the kind words Danny. I especially don’t want to go to the ground at Bob’s school. They twist people’s ankles around poles and stuff like that… ;-)

  23. Steve Holley says:

    In the words of my FTO in 1978 ” If you’re on the ground, boy, and you’re not handcuffin’….you’re losin’ “. See this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXNroQ1-dWs

  24. Steve Holley says:

    In the words of my FTO in 1978 ” If you’re on the ground, boy, and you’re not handcuffin’….you’re losin’ “. See this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VXNroQ1-dWs

  25. [...] of reconciliation I am recommending all of you read this article by Wim Demeere. It’s called “MMA Sucks, Traditional Martial Arts Suck More”, and it goes some way to clearing up the debate that has been raging between die hard [...]

  26. Mike says:

    Very good post!

  27. Mike says:

    Very good post!

  28. Phillip Starr says:

    Very well done, Wim! I often emphasize to my students that many, if not most, of the MMA people misunderstand the whole point of MMA. First and foremost, it’s a sport. And if you ask a participant about the objective of an MMA match, they’ll almost always insist that it involves knocking their opponent unconscious.
    And they’re wrong. The objective is…TO WIN THE MATCH! After all, it’s a sport and the name of the GAME is to win! And that doesn’t require that you render your opponent unconscious at all.
    However, on the street the objective is to NOT LOSE. And there’s a real difference.
    Thanks for the blog! Well done!

    • Wim says:

      @Phillip. Thanks for the kind words. It still baffles me to see the amount of disinformation presented to the public about the traditional arts as well as MMA. Sports will always be sports, no matter how brutal they become. Heck, even the ancient gladiators sometimes fought with referees to guide the matches. SD is an entirely different animal but people refuse to believe it. Like you said, the focus on not losing and getting out in one piece is totally different. Which is I still train to run fiercely in the face of danger. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Wim

  29. Phillip Starr says:

    Very well done, Wim! I often emphasize to my students that many, if not most, of the MMA people misunderstand the whole point of MMA. First and foremost, it’s a sport. And if you ask a participant about the objective of an MMA match, they’ll almost always insist that it involves knocking their opponent unconscious.
    And they’re wrong. The objective is…TO WIN THE MATCH! After all, it’s a sport and the name of the GAME is to win! And that doesn’t require that you render your opponent unconscious at all.
    However, on the street the objective is to NOT LOSE. And there’s a real difference.
    Thanks for the blog! Well done!

    • Wim says:

      @Phillip. Thanks for the kind words. It still baffles me to see the amount of disinformation presented to the public about the traditional arts as well as MMA. Sports will always be sports, no matter how brutal they become. Heck, even the ancient gladiators sometimes fought with referees to guide the matches. SD is an entirely different animal but people refuse to believe it. Like you said, the focus on not losing and getting out in one piece is totally different. Which is I still train to run fiercely in the face of danger. :-)

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Wim

  30. Taijirich says:

    What a great blog. Wim, you do such a great job and write so clearly about this subject, I am simply amazed. This coming from a guy that writes for a good part of my living.

    I really like what you said, it sums up what I have been saying for quite some time now. I have been so frustrated by the crap that has spewed from certain sources. It may date back to the challenge days from the Gracies where this is what they were planting. We only ever heard about the times and dojos whereBJJ came out on top.

    Thanks for another well written blog.

    • Wim says:

      @Rich: Thanks Rich, I appreciate it.
      The really weird thing, the part that is so often left out, is where you ask professionals: LEOs, SpecOps operators, Doormen, whoever, what their preferred fighting range is, you never seem to hear “the ground”. On the contrary, it seems to be the last place they want to be. These are the same professionals who get claimed to use all the nifty MMA ground stuff in all those spiffy advertisements. I’d say there’s a big discrepancy there. But when you point it out to “believers”, they refuse to accept it. Oh well…

  31. Taijirich says:

    What a great blog. Wim, you do such a great job and write so clearly about this subject, I am simply amazed. This coming from a guy that writes for a good part of my living.

    I really like what you said, it sums up what I have been saying for quite some time now. I have been so frustrated by the crap that has spewed from certain sources. It may date back to the challenge days from the Gracies where this is what they were planting. We only ever heard about the times and dojos whereBJJ came out on top.

    Thanks for another well written blog.

    • Wim says:

      @Rich: Thanks Rich, I appreciate it.
      The really weird thing, the part that is so often left out, is where you ask professionals: LEOs, SpecOps operators, Doormen, whoever, what their preferred fighting range is, you never seem to hear “the ground”. On the contrary, it seems to be the last place they want to be. These are the same professionals who get claimed to use all the nifty MMA ground stuff in all those spiffy advertisements. I’d say there’s a big discrepancy there. But when you point it out to “believers”, they refuse to accept it. Oh well…

  32. Paul says:

    I’ll stir the pot. I think the argument that TMI is more for real war type fighting and MMA is a sport has some holes. Most of the TMIs I have seen have much more of a basis in dueling than war. In a real war with weapons and more than 10 people on a side, the purpose of unarmed combat would have been to get a weapon. Also great pains would have needed to have been taken when using weapons not to hit your friends. Most of the TMIs I have seen move as if they were on a football field with no friends to consider. If we are talking about dueling one on one, going to the ground is fine, especially if you are better at it than your opponent.

    In broad strokes the Gracie’s taught us that if you have a weakness, it will be exploited.

    MMA, I hope will teach us that if you cannot get up off of the sofa without help, knowing the secret thing and haveing the sacred lineage will only make you more supprised when you get your ass whipped.

    • Wim says:

      Paul,
      I’m a bit lost here: where did I (or anybody else here) make the argument that “TMI is more for real war type fighting”? Color me confused.

  33. Paul says:

    I’ll stir the pot. I think the argument that TMI is more for real war type fighting and MMA is a sport has some holes. Most of the TMIs I have seen have much more of a basis in dueling than war. In a real war with weapons and more than 10 people on a side, the purpose of unarmed combat would have been to get a weapon. Also great pains would have needed to have been taken when using weapons not to hit your friends. Most of the TMIs I have seen move as if they were on a football field with no friends to consider. If we are talking about dueling one on one, going to the ground is fine, especially if you are better at it than your opponent.

    In broad strokes the Gracie’s taught us that if you have a weakness, it will be exploited.

    MMA, I hope will teach us that if you cannot get up off of the sofa without help, knowing the secret thing and haveing the sacred lineage will only make you more supprised when you get your ass whipped.

    • Wim says:

      Paul,
      I’m a bit lost here: where did I (or anybody else here) make the argument that “TMI is more for real war type fighting”? Color me confused.

  34. A great article! Like yourself, I started martial arts before there was Internet and know that these types of arguments have been around for a while. I remember the old, chambering the fist at the hip in karate rather than the chin like a boxer argument. 2 different techniques. The boxer gaurds his chin in a sporting style event where no pulling is allowed, and the karate fighter is preparing to pull/control his enemy with one hand while striking with the other which is intedned for the no rules streets.

    I think these types of arguments will always go on as long as there are styles. BJJ vs Judo is another. When people understand that there is a time and place for each technique, then they will start to learn.

  35. A great article! Like yourself, I started martial arts before there was Internet and know that these types of arguments have been around for a while. I remember the old, chambering the fist at the hip in karate rather than the chin like a boxer argument. 2 different techniques. The boxer gaurds his chin in a sporting style event where no pulling is allowed, and the karate fighter is preparing to pull/control his enemy with one hand while striking with the other which is intedned for the no rules streets.

    I think these types of arguments will always go on as long as there are styles. BJJ vs Judo is another. When people understand that there is a time and place for each technique, then they will start to learn.

  36. Rex Tan says:

    I passed MMA as my topic in school for my thesis(not really thesis I’m still in high school), my teacher changed my topic to Which is better MMA or TMA. You stated that you can’t compare MMA to TMA, what should I do? armbar my teacher? lol…

    • Wim says:

      An armbar on the teacher could be fun, that’s for sure.
      I’m not saying you can’t compare, only that the comparison isn’t necessarily worth much. It just depends on your POV. So by all means, compare away. :-)

  37. Rex Tan says:

    I passed MMA as my topic in school for my thesis(not really thesis I’m still in high school), my teacher changed my topic to Which is better MMA or TMA. You stated that you can’t compare MMA to TMA, what should I do? armbar my teacher? lol…

    • Wim says:

      An armbar on the teacher could be fun, that’s for sure.
      I’m not saying you can’t compare, only that the comparison isn’t necessarily worth much. It just depends on your POV. So by all means, compare away. :-)

  38. Raul says:

    As always, who knows how – is doing it! Who doesn’t – is just criticising others. Or, in the case of people comparing martial arts among them, are just arguing for the sake of arguing!
    Usually, many more Occidental people love to compare the martial art A with the martial art B, than Asian people.
    The main reason is the difference of approach: for Occidentals, a martial art is something fancy, allowing to the student to kick somebody’s ass. For an Asian, a martial art is a way of life, allowing him to improve himself, by competing with himself only!
    Therefore, as a Japanese master was saying: competition destroys karate.
    Of course, a martial art has as ultimate goal the neutralisation of the enemy – that’s killing him, most of the times.
    It would be a shortage of combatants if every single sparing would end with a dead opponent :))
    So, most of the people are attracted by martial arts because of the superficial image of the Winner. And most of them are giving up after couple of trainings: and than, they start to compare martial art A with martial art B…

  39. Raul says:

    As always, who knows how – is doing it! Who doesn’t – is just criticising others. Or, in the case of people comparing martial arts among them, are just arguing for the sake of arguing!
    Usually, many more Occidental people love to compare the martial art A with the martial art B, than Asian people.
    The main reason is the difference of approach: for Occidentals, a martial art is something fancy, allowing to the student to kick somebody’s ass. For an Asian, a martial art is a way of life, allowing him to improve himself, by competing with himself only!
    Therefore, as a Japanese master was saying: competition destroys karate.
    Of course, a martial art has as ultimate goal the neutralisation of the enemy – that’s killing him, most of the times.
    It would be a shortage of combatants if every single sparing would end with a dead opponent :))
    So, most of the people are attracted by martial arts because of the superficial image of the Winner. And most of them are giving up after couple of trainings: and than, they start to compare martial art A with martial art B…

  40. Raul says:

    Oh, by the way: I enjoy the study of the leg kick – A guide for devastating low kicks…
    Thank you very much!

  41. Raul says:

    Oh, by the way: I enjoy the study of the leg kick – A guide for devastating low kicks…
    Thank you very much!

  42. Wazachi says:

    I decided no to read any other comments prior to writing my own, and I apologise forwith for any offense given or grammatical errors. Firstly I find it a breath of fresh air to find someone who obviously has spent their fair share of time exploring the art of death. Make no mistake this is the key prinicple most people disregard. A fight in the ‘real’ world is ALWAYS life or death, regardless of laws or the ‘escalation of force’ if someone attacks you in everyday life, they care not for your existance, and so desire your departure from this world. EVERYTHING has value in its own way, learning that something is NOT useful is just as important as learning that some tactic technique or weapon is not useful, knowledge and experience is power. Ego will forever trap those that think more of themselves than any human can be worth. Every Sensei/Teacher shows only but THEIR understanding of what they teach, and u gain only yours, never judge a style on one or even a thousand different students. My final thought which is something I’ve started to become aware of in my own training, there is a BIG difference between training for self defence/killing/fighting purposes and training to perfect techinque/skill/ability. Whilst these seem to be similar, the actual mindframe desired and existant during each is vastly different and one is only just related to the other. Someone who truly knows what there lessons teach, and I am not one, will always have the calm insight and awareness to open a can of absolute hell on any who face them, regardless of school style or technique, the streets IS a school. LIFE is a dojo and we are all only human. All we learn is but ideas past-ed on to us, none of us CREATED martial arts, we simply walked up to someone who passed on to us an idea/thought/lesson that they had when it was taught to them. We all die if its our time, and flesh and blood against steel is no contest. This very argument or involvement in it takes time away from your search to better being able to protect yourself and those you love from the evil inherent in the world of men. These are my thoughts, at this moment. Take it easy.

    • Wim says:

      Thanks for the feedback Wazachi. I agree with most you said, except for this: “A fight in the ‘real’ world is ALWAYS life or death, regardless of laws or the ‘escalation of force’ if someone attacks you in everyday life, they care not for your existance, and so desire your departure from this world.”

      A vast majority of fights for the average citizen are not about life or death but more about dominance and other psychological/emotional reasons. In those situations, the aggressor doesn’t necessarily want to end your life. Thought it can of course always escalate into that.
      That said, if you’re a US soldier in Afghanistan and a local picks a fight with you, you better assume he’s out to kill you.
      I’d say it’s shades of gray, not black or white.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Wim

  43. Wazachi says:

    I decided no to read any other comments prior to writing my own, and I apologise forwith for any offense given or grammatical errors. Firstly I find it a breath of fresh air to find someone who obviously has spent their fair share of time exploring the art of death. Make no mistake this is the key prinicple most people disregard. A fight in the ‘real’ world is ALWAYS life or death, regardless of laws or the ‘escalation of force’ if someone attacks you in everyday life, they care not for your existance, and so desire your departure from this world. EVERYTHING has value in its own way, learning that something is NOT useful is just as important as learning that some tactic technique or weapon is not useful, knowledge and experience is power. Ego will forever trap those that think more of themselves than any human can be worth. Every Sensei/Teacher shows only but THEIR understanding of what they teach, and u gain only yours, never judge a style on one or even a thousand different students. My final thought which is something I’ve started to become aware of in my own training, there is a BIG difference between training for self defence/killing/fighting purposes and training to perfect techinque/skill/ability. Whilst these seem to be similar, the actual mindframe desired and existant during each is vastly different and one is only just related to the other. Someone who truly knows what there lessons teach, and I am not one, will always have the calm insight and awareness to open a can of absolute hell on any who face them, regardless of school style or technique, the streets IS a school. LIFE is a dojo and we are all only human. All we learn is but ideas past-ed on to us, none of us CREATED martial arts, we simply walked up to someone who passed on to us an idea/thought/lesson that they had when it was taught to them. We all die if its our time, and flesh and blood against steel is no contest. This very argument or involvement in it takes time away from your search to better being able to protect yourself and those you love from the evil inherent in the world of men. These are my thoughts, at this moment. Take it easy.

    • Wim says:

      Thanks for the feedback Wazachi. I agree with most you said, except for this: “A fight in the ‘real’ world is ALWAYS life or death, regardless of laws or the ‘escalation of force’ if someone attacks you in everyday life, they care not for your existance, and so desire your departure from this world.”

      A vast majority of fights for the average citizen are not about life or death but more about dominance and other psychological/emotional reasons. In those situations, the aggressor doesn’t necessarily want to end your life. Thought it can of course always escalate into that.
      That said, if you’re a US soldier in Afghanistan and a local picks a fight with you, you better assume he’s out to kill you.
      I’d say it’s shades of gray, not black or white.

      Thanks for stopping by!

      Wim

  44. Wazachi says:

    bare mistakes. Meh

  45. Wazachi says:

    bare mistakes. Meh

  46. Wazachi says:

    a wise warrior never fights an enemy on a equal grounds, a battle should be decided before it starts. A competition between to athletes is exactly that, but done in good humor and yes with honour. Alls Fair In Love And War. For REAL. P.s I wouldnt fight ANY of those UFC/PRIDE prize fighters, they train/live/work as a fighter, I do it because its one of the few things that give my life meaning other than my love and my arts, works just a pay check at the moment. I give those guys more respect than can be expressed because they live through hell and pain and physical torture as a way of life, in a ‘contest’, as far as instant comitment to a fight goes, they’d beat me, because i live in a world where to fight would mean the end of m freedom and my life, but I know what I can do and I know what I cant, that is all important.

  47. Wazachi says:

    a wise warrior never fights an enemy on a equal grounds, a battle should be decided before it starts. A competition between to athletes is exactly that, but done in good humor and yes with honour. Alls Fair In Love And War. For REAL. P.s I wouldnt fight ANY of those UFC/PRIDE prize fighters, they train/live/work as a fighter, I do it because its one of the few things that give my life meaning other than my love and my arts, works just a pay check at the moment. I give those guys more respect than can be expressed because they live through hell and pain and physical torture as a way of life, in a ‘contest’, as far as instant comitment to a fight goes, they’d beat me, because i live in a world where to fight would mean the end of m freedom and my life, but I know what I can do and I know what I cant, that is all important.

  48. dillon says:

    I think a lot of the flack against TMA is focused against “mcdojo” type facilities. In that context MMA does better prepare you for the street because you do spend time training against a resisting opponent. That being said TMA training that is less focused on belt advancement to turn a profit provides good prep for the street (this of course requires an instructor knowledgeable in application of kata).

    my 2c

    • Wim says:

      I agree Dillon. Just as there are McDojo type MMA schools now, TMA schools that focus on money instead of quality won’t prepare you for anything more than a pie eating contest. But such a nuanced statement is usually lost on those who drank the cool-aid.

  49. dillon says:

    I think a lot of the flack against TMA is focused against “mcdojo” type facilities. In that context MMA does better prepare you for the street because you do spend time training against a resisting opponent. That being said TMA training that is less focused on belt advancement to turn a profit provides good prep for the street (this of course requires an instructor knowledgeable in application of kata).

    my 2c

    • Wim says:

      I agree Dillon. Just as there are McDojo type MMA schools now, TMA schools that focus on money instead of quality won’t prepare you for anything more than a pie eating contest. But such a nuanced statement is usually lost on those who drank the cool-aid.

  50. TKDDIURYL says:

    exellent post, and very good points. ever since i started doing traditional martial arts that didn’t really focus on ground fighting i kept hearing these arguments that fights always go to the ground and if we don’t know ground fighting we’re pretty much done for.

    it’s good to know that ground fighting isn’t everything, and that standing up is a much better option that getting down and dirty(if you know what i mean?) i don’t mean to bash any one MA, but this reminds me of the guys who argue that BJJ is the best art, because fights almost always go to the ground. a friend of mine who does BJJ got into a fight, and whilst he was trying to put one guy into a submission, another guy came with a bottle and almost planted his face into the concrete.

    that’s when he admitted infront of us, that BJJ is very useful agianst one opponent, and better in MMA, but less effective on the street where there could be multiple opponents. btw, i do TKD and Hapkido.

    • Wim says:

      A good friend of mine who loves BJJ had a similar experience. He was doing an awesome ground & pound and the next second, he woke up in an ambulance because a buddy of the guy he was fighting kicked his head in.
      Nothing wrong with MMA or ground work, not at all. But these are just tools, like all other arts. They all have strong and weak points.

  51. TKDDIURYL says:

    exellent post, and very good points. ever since i started doing traditional martial arts that didn’t really focus on ground fighting i kept hearing these arguments that fights always go to the ground and if we don’t know ground fighting we’re pretty much done for.

    it’s good to know that ground fighting isn’t everything, and that standing up is a much better option that getting down and dirty(if you know what i mean?) i don’t mean to bash any one MA, but this reminds me of the guys who argue that BJJ is the best art, because fights almost always go to the ground. a friend of mine who does BJJ got into a fight, and whilst he was trying to put one guy into a submission, another guy came with a bottle and almost planted his face into the concrete.

    that’s when he admitted infront of us, that BJJ is very useful agianst one opponent, and better in MMA, but less effective on the street where there could be multiple opponents. btw, i do TKD and Hapkido.

    • Wim says:

      A good friend of mine who loves BJJ had a similar experience. He was doing an awesome ground & pound and the next second, he woke up in an ambulance because a buddy of the guy he was fighting kicked his head in.
      Nothing wrong with MMA or ground work, not at all. But these are just tools, like all other arts. They all have strong and weak points.

  52. John Moore says:

    Great post and intelligent discussion on the topic.

    I do believe that even making distinctions between traditional and non-traditional arts has limited use. After all BJJ is a descendant of Kodokan Judo (Called Kano Jui-Jitsu back then). I agree that comparing styles without context is practically useless.

    There are ground fighting heavy styles of silat, for example, because combat was done on muddy slopes in that particular region and standing was difficult. Different context – different tactics.

    It is interesting to note that the U.S. Army, after interviewing over 900 soldiers involved in hand to hand combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, has decided to de-emphasize ground fighting in its combatives curriculum. They are being smart and matching the tactics to the mission and the environment.

    • Wim says:

      Thanks John. Everything related to MAs and SD has fads. We had judo and karate 50 years ago and earlier. Kung fu in the 70’s, then ninjitsu, etc. Now, it’s MMA that is seen as the holy grail. that’s fine by me, I have no problem with that. But just as people back in the day figured karate fighters were unbeatable, in 20 years we’ll say the same thing about today’s MMA fighters. Everything evolves.

  53. John Moore says:

    Great post and intelligent discussion on the topic.

    I do believe that even making distinctions between traditional and non-traditional arts has limited use. After all BJJ is a descendant of Kodokan Judo (Called Kano Jui-Jitsu back then). I agree that comparing styles without context is practically useless.

    There are ground fighting heavy styles of silat, for example, because combat was done on muddy slopes in that particular region and standing was difficult. Different context – different tactics.

    It is interesting to note that the U.S. Army, after interviewing over 900 soldiers involved in hand to hand combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, has decided to de-emphasize ground fighting in its combatives curriculum. They are being smart and matching the tactics to the mission and the environment.

    • Wim says:

      Thanks John. Everything related to MAs and SD has fads. We had judo and karate 50 years ago and earlier. Kung fu in the 70’s, then ninjitsu, etc. Now, it’s MMA that is seen as the holy grail. that’s fine by me, I have no problem with that. But just as people back in the day figured karate fighters were unbeatable, in 20 years we’ll say the same thing about today’s MMA fighters. Everything evolves.

  54. [...] MMA sucks, Traditional Martial Arts Sucks More. [...]

  55. [...] Wim Demeere’s Blog – MMA sucks, traditional martial arts suck more About.com – What is the best type of martial arts? [...]

  56. Garry Hodgins says:

    Excellent post Wim. I particularly liked the way you contextualised the reality of what self defence meant for people in Ancient China. I think that the psychological awareness of what violence is and how it tends to happen is an area of study which has broadened my perspective as a martial artist and helps us to have a similar understanding of the reality of violence in our own society. I’m beginning to understand how preparing for MA competition, while providing excellent physical conditioning and devastating power in techniques can distort our ability to live in the real world and pre dispose us to expect violence to follow a pattern which suits the way we train. Obviously, any competitive MA can broaden his awareness of how stuff happens by keeping an open mind and learning from guys who have been there for real on the street. I’ve had the misfortune of having a few ” real ” experiences of violence in my life and now believe the greatest lesson I’ve learned from training is taking responsibility for my health and trying to break negative patterns of behaviour ( still making those mistakes but they become fewer every year ). Thats the gift I’ve been given, good health, energy, a bit of self confidence and the knowledge that I will not be a nice experience for any person or people who choose to try to hurt/humiliate/maim/kill me or anyone else in my immediate environment. Just my thoughts. All the best for 2011.

  57. Paolo says:

    Hi Wim,

    I’ve been into MA since I was 12-13. I started with Wushu then moved on to different methods of Chinese boxing.
    I would love to thank you for this post and the great work you put into this blog ( just starting mine from scratch and there’s a lot to be done…)

    This is the first post I read online in years about comparing martial arts that has actually explained plain and simple why doing that it’s a waste of time that moves you away from the original context of traditional Chinese boxing. In the midst of keyboard warrior it is a rarity to find something like this…

    The only thing I would expand the topic it is how traditional MA (expecially in China) are strictly connected to the Classic Text of Military/Warfare, Literature and Philosophy/Religion.
    In that context TMA have so much more to grasp and learn than winnin a match in the octagon or a trophy ( with all the due respect to all the MMA guys out there and with no intention of diminishing MMA training!)

    • Wim says:

      Thanks Paolo, glad to hear you liek the blog.
      Re. The connection between CMAs and military/religion/etc. there are a bunch of books out there already. Also, my teacher has done loads of work in that area already. As he speaks and reads both Mandarin and Cantonese fluently, whatever I can bring to the table pales in comparison.

  58. [...] advantage that is hard to overcome. Is it possible? Yes. Is it easy? No. I’ve written enough about this in the past so I won’t go over my reasons for saying this once [...]

  59. Benjamin says:

    It was nice that you pointed out the rules in the current UFC. Those didn’t exist when it rolled out in 1993. You could kick a man when he was down, rabbit punch to the back of the head and punch to the throat. Go watch the old tapes and you’ll see all of that activity. And guess what, traditional martial artists still could not use their “too deadly” moves effectively. What the origional UFC did was expose the lack of training of TMA’s in ground work and surprisingly in standup as well. And not just ground work but how to finish a fight. TMA guys were breaking their hands on each others heads trying to finish a fight and couldn’t. Grappling is more effective at finishing fights , especially with choke holds.

    Another counter to your point is that all the stuff you tma’s “can” do in a fight; groin kick, strike the eyes, strike the throat, we can do as well. I find it compeletly ridiculous that TMA’s expect grapplers to not throw punches with them and to not go for vital points. We can, and we will. One thing we’ll do as well is slam you into the concrete and after you realize your collar bone broke from the impact you get to be choked unconscious. Concrete is the perfect place to grapple. Once again tma’s assume a grappler is going to go for an armbar and get slammed on his head. Have you ever watched a high level grappling match? It’s about gaining dominant position. Not every grappler is going to pull guard, lay and pray for a submission. Most in fact are going to take you down and remain ontop of you. And if you’re unlucky enough to have this occur on the street, you get to eat knees ,elbows and fists for your trouble. All before the fight ending choke or arm lock, and there are many armlocks that don’t require me falling to my back.

    Should a fight go to the ground every time? No. I don’t want to be on the ground in a club , bar or parking lot. But I have been and knowing how to grapple saved me from a world of hurt. Any thing can happen in a fight and one of those things is tripping on something and falling down. I was shocked, SHOCKED you had the gaul to repeat the “the street is covered in glass” myth. Sidewalks and parking lots are not littered with glass, syringes , and weapons for you to pickup at will. Its a myth TMA’s makeup to fool the public into thinking they know what they are talking about. Because TMA’s teach the deadly ancient art of (insert name here) and because it work in a battlefield 2000 years ago then it must be good for today. Wrong. The same analogy would be to say “hey guys, bow and arrows worked fine 2000 years ago. Let’s use them against tanks.” Absurd.

    Because of the rule of law and the fact that even if you defend yourself you can still be charged with a crime, if you severely injure the other man. TMA arts are not useful in today’s society. Telling a judge you were justified in jamming your fingers into a man’s eyes because he picked a fight with you won’t work. As you pointed out, we don’t fight to kill we fight for other reasons today. Grappling and MMA are perfect for modern confrontations. Modern fights ( with rare exceptions) are one on one. If you watch videos of fights you’ll see that even the crowd watching will enforce this ethos on those who are fighting. A crowd will rise against someone who tries to but into a one on one fight. MMA is great for that. Grappling also lets you decide the level of force to use. Say its a drunk picking a fight with you. You can take him down and hold him till the cops arrive. You can choke him out and walk away, he wakes up and only suffers a sore neck later. Or you can snap his arm like a twig. It is all up to you. TMA’s primarily practice punching/kicking and know only a few wrist holds and throws (all practiced seldomly in a live situation). Suffice to say tma’s don’t know how to take it easy on someone.

    What about a weapon? What about multiple attackers? The TMA fall back talking points. Here’s the truth. If an attacker has a knife you had better run. Period. If you try to take it away you will be stabbed. Don’t believe me. Tell a training partner to use a sharpie as a knife and tell him to stab you as you try to take it away.Tell your partner no matter what not to “let” you take it. You’ll see real quick how many times you get stabbed before you can even catch his arm. So, TMA’s fail against weapons too. Only thing you can do against a knife is run, or be the first to pull one out. Second we have the “grappling doesn’t work against multiple opponents” arguement. No, it doesn’t. And neither does any tma out there. There are FEW times if any that one person can take on and take out two to three people. That is fact. The only answer TMA’s have is that such and such art was “designed to fight against multiple opponents.” Bull. The only sure way to take out a gang of men intent to do you harm is with a weapon.

    It was a nice blog, well written. But you made the same old and tired arguements that have been disproven dozens of times. I will agree its all about context. But let me leave you this to ponder. If you can’t beat mma guys and grapplers with the rules, what makes you think you can beat us when we don’t have to play by them either?

    • Wim says:

      Benjamin,

      It’s OK if you disagree with me, that’s perfectly fine. That said, I feel you’re picking and choosing parts of what I wrote when it suits your arguments. Please also read the other parts of this series, they’ll give you a bit more context on what I wrote.

      Just a few things:
      <<Grappling is more effective at finishing fights , especially with choke holds.<<
      I think you're wrong. All the times Chuck Liddell or Wanderlei Silva knocked people out with punches and kicks was no less effective than grappling. If you check their fight records, you'll see they accumulated KOs with striking, not with grappling. And there are a lot more fighters who do the same thing. Some prefer grappling, some excel at striking, some can do it all. The one isn't better than the other.

      <<Another counter to your point is that all the stuff you tma’s “can” do in a fight; groin kick, strike the eyes, strike the throat, we can do as well.<<
      The point isn't if you can do these things, the point is if you make them an integral part of your training or not. If you train MMA for competition (which is what this post was about ) then you don’t train in that stuff because it isn’t allowed in the Octagon. What you will be ingraining in your training is all the techniques that are legal. You’ll train real hard so you can do them without thinking, at an instinctual level. That excludes training all those fouls at the same level: you can’t have those reactions kick in when you compete or you get tossed out. So those techniques won’t be ingrained. Well, if you don’t ingrain them, how will they come out correctly in a SD context. By magic? Or do you think you don’t need to train those things and can do them easily? IMHO, you need to train what you want to use so I think you’re stuck there.

      << One thing we’ll do as well is slam you into the concrete and after you realize your collar bone broke from the impact you get to be choked unconscious. Concrete is the perfect place to grapple. <<
      An throws never get reversed right? It absolutely never happens in the UFC that a fighter doing a throw ends up at the bottom anyway? I think not. So the one breaking his collar bone on the concrete could very well be you…

      <<It’s about gaining dominant position. Not every grappler is going to pull guard, lay and pray for a submission.<<
      If that's what you think I wrote, you missed my point entirely.

      << I was shocked, SHOCKED you had the gaul to repeat the “the street is covered in glass” myth. Sidewalks and parking lots are not littered with glass, syringes , and weapons for you to pickup at will. Its a myth TMA’s makeup to fool the public into thinking they know what they are talking about. <<
      Please re-read that part. I said no such thing, you're deliberately exaggerating. I listed a number of contexts where grappling is not the best solution, that's all. I did not say every street was littered with potential hazards. I said some are. I say so because I’ve fought in them and used what was on the floor to end fights or turn them to my favor. Friends and students of mine have done the same thing. So I know for a fact that you’re wrong if you say streets are always the sterile environment you claim them to be.

      << The same analogy would be to say “hey guys, bow and arrows worked fine 2000 years ago. Let’s use them against tanks.” Absurd. <<
      The absurdity is you taking something I didn't write, put the words in my mouth and then claim I'm absurd. I repeat, please read the entire series.

      << Modern fights ( with rare exceptions) are one on one. If you watch videos of fights you’ll see that even the crowd watching will enforce this ethos on those who are fighting. <<
      I humbly submit you have only seen fights in one social circle of society. In many, many places, the crowd joins in the fun as soon as the fighters hit the floor or if the wrong one is winning. Case in point.
      One of my best friends (a very good grappler) was ground and pounding the crap out of the guy who jumped him. Last he remembered, he was beating the crap out of the guy from a mount position. And then he wakes up in an ambulance. Turns out the guy’s buddy kicked a field goal with my friend’s head while he had his back to him.
      These are not isolated incidents, I can list many, many more.

      <<TMA’s primarily practice punching/kicking and know only a few wrist holds and throws (all practiced seldomly in a live situation). Suffice to say tma’s don’t know how to take it easy on someone. <<
      You seem to have a very limited knowledge of what TMAs actually do if this is what you think.

      <<Here’s the truth. If an attacker has a knife you had better run. Period. If you try to take it away you will be stabbed.<<
      The only problem is that those who use knives for actual killing/maiming attacks won't show you the knife before they strike. You won't get a chance to run if it's a committed attack meant to take you out. IOW, chances are good you won't know a knife is involved until it's being used upon you.
      And nobody but you mentioned taking away the knife…

      << There are FEW times if any that one person can take on and take out two to three people. That is fact. The only answer TMA’s have is that such and such art was “designed to fight against multiple opponents.” Bull. The only sure way to take out a gang of men intent to do you harm is with a weapon. <<
      Your assumption is that you have to "take out" multiple opponents. Nobody but you is claiming that. The goal is not to fight them but to get away from them, which is vastly different.

      <<But you made the same old and tired arguements that have been disproven dozens of times. I will agree its all about context. <<
      I'd say the same thing about you. You twist my words out of context, put others I didn't write into my mouth and cherry-pick arguments. I don't agree with that.
      Here's the thing: you can't say you agree with me that it's all about context and then disagree when I point out how the context applies. That just doesn't make any sense.

      <If you can’t beat mma guys and grapplers with the rules, what makes you think you can beat us when we don’t have to play by them either?<
      First, you seem to think I'm claiming TMA practitioners can never be beaten. I never wrote that. Second, I train with MMA fighters all the time. They come to my school for additional training in their stand-up game as well as stand-up grappling. It's always a lot of fun and the respect is mutual.
      Third: In case you missed it, here's what I wrote:

      it’s not MMA vs. TMAs. That’s like arguing if a hammer is better than a screwdriver. They’re both tools and have their limits/uses.

      Fourth, you seem to assume I don’t train in grappling, ground fighting or MMA. All of that is wrong.

      As I said, please read the follow up articles for more information. I think you’re missing the bigger picture. Also, you might get something out of this interview with Mark Mireles, who teaches MMA at Big John McCarthy’s gym. You don’t have to believe me, that’s fine. But if you think an MMA specialist and decorated LEO is full of it when he says MMA isn’t the same as SD or the street, then I guess nothing can convince you otherwise and further argument is futile.

      All this said, I do appreciate you taking the time to write your comment. I don’t agree with you, but that’s not a problem. You write from your perspective, I write from mine. We both live in different places and societies, dealing with different problems. I’m comfortable with my training and I’m guessing you are with yours. In the end, that’s all that counts and let’s hope and pray neither of us ever has to face the grim reaper again.

    • Brandon says:

      I have always believed in the saying that “there are no superior martial arts, just superior martial artists.” The fact that you say with so much certainty that MMA is superior to TMA is just plain biased and well, ignorant. When I say ignorant I don’t mean stupid, but simply a lack of understanding of what a REAL martial art is all about. The problem is that all these MMA guys base their opinion on what a TMA is on the McDojo they see down the road. All martial arts share universal strategies and tactics. That’s a word you don’t hear anymore… strategy. And this is one thing that’s missing not only in most TMAs, but MMA as well. You don’t know what you don’t know. When I watch a UFC fight to me it resembles a boxing match in the beginning where both guys “peck” at each other. Then there will be a few leg kicks. And, almost 99% of the time one of the two initiates a take down of some sort, usually accomplished by a tackle. This is not strategy. Strategy includes evasiveness first and foremost. Ever heard of body change? Or a strategy of one? In other words, not playing a game of cat and mouse but getting the job done in one move. Yes, this is a real strategy and it’s sound and logical. This is ultimately the problem with most martial arts nowadays is there is no understanding of body positioning and strategy to quickly gain control of an encounter. and you say that TMA are useless in today’s society? As if MMA somehow reinvented the wheel. These old strategies worked 400 hundred years ago and they still work today, IF you have an understanding of what was being taught back then. Kata training is not even practiced in MMA! This is the core of any martial art. Only those who do not understand what kata is or how to apply look at it and see it as useless. It would be comparable to tossing out the bible and saying, “I don’t need this, I can do it better on my own.” Or “I don’t really understand the use for it, so it’s no good to me.” This is incorrect thinking. And the one rule of self-protection outside of a training environment is you do what you have to do to survive. Yes, sticking your thumb in another man’s eye is not always necessary, but if that’s what it takes then so be it. The seriousness of the situation merits what kind of measures are to be taken. To wrap this all up it comes down to this. TMA that employ the strategies of old are very dangerous when being applied by the right person. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have received competent instruction. If only it were so easy to just drive down the road and sign up for lessons and wha-bam you’re a killing machine. I don’t see a real martial art’s place in MMA for this reason, because of the way the training is done. It would not only violate every rule out there, but the fights wouldn’t last long either, and someone would come out seriously injured. And if you HAVE to go to the ground that’s because you can’t fight well on your feet. Not saying ground fighting is all bad, but realistically it’s not the ideal place you want to be. So much info in the information age but where is the truth at?

    • Jan Hammerbacher says:

      Personally I find this whole distinction between MMA and TMA a bit artificial, in the end there are no MA’s, there’s only techniques. And as far as grappling goes, there’s nothing more traditional than that.

      I have a brown belt in judo (TMA), however when I watch BJJ video’s I rarely see something (beside leg bars) that I haven’t seen before during ne-waza training. In fact people seem to forget that BJJ is derived from an old judo style called Kosen Judo which in its turn is derived from Japanese jujutsu which in its turn is derived from old samurai arts and so on. Wrestling and Boxing even go back to the ancient Greek, you can’t get any more traditional than that.

      I agree that context is everything, and since context changes all the time so do martial arts. MMA is just that, an attempt to adapt very old Western and Eastern arts to a modern sports-oriented context, and as such it definitely has its value but it is not the alpha and omega of martial arts either. The best art is the one you like most.

      As far as self-defense goes, neither MMA nor TMA can guarantee your survival, these situations are violent and chaotic and the outcome is always impredicable. The best strategy, no matter which art you do, is always 1. avoidance (run away, talk your way out of it) and 2. if you have no other choise than to fight, stick to what you do best and try to stay alive.

  60. Ray says:

    Great article, interesting comment by Benjamin, and competent counter by Wim! Your style of writing is funny and informative and your command of English is really good if it is a second language. Nice one!

  61. geo says:

    I see it as the more styles you learn the better you are off.i love Transitional martial arts,but i also train in mma.the problem with mma guys they think they are on top of the food chain and that’s not true, trust me i see it all the times these guys are hot headed.i will never want to go to the ground in a street fight.Ignorance and underestimate your opponent in the streets will get you kill.i miss the good old days when we all learn what martial art was really about respect, kindness

  62. BelfasKalista says:

    Really like the O.P. I don’t like fighting but happen to live in a place that’s had a 600 year old sectarian war going on. There are people who will kill you just because of the faith you are born in to, that simple.That’s where my martial arts start. I’m not interested in the trivial, ego based nonsense of fighting but what happens when someone seriously wants to take your life.

    My 3 main arts, in order of when I started training in them, are Ving Tsun and FMA, muay Thai as well as training in judo as a kid.

    One day, while out running, I got attacked by 4 guys (partly my own fault for adhering to a routine) who were armed with common weapons, a claw hammer and a bashed up baseball bat. I got hit across the nose with the bat as I ran but luckily, I had good training. My training worked (actually, I only used FMA) and I’m here typing this post. If I used MMA, I’d be dead now. MMA people go on about most fights ending on the ground. Well, those stats don’t take in trained fighters (I’ve seen boxers lay out multiple opponents in my bouncer days) and MAs today are not willing to put in the time to take things slowly and develop attributes, such as good balance.

  63. BelfasKalista says:

    As Columbo might say. just another thing, the guard. Now, look at the guard, remove the groin box. See a problem?

  64. Yattix says:

    Excellent post, I’ve linked to it from a YouTube video I did on the same subject here:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8x_YIEamjrI

  65. The Sergeant says:

    Gentlemen, please calm down.

    I am serving in my country’s army for nearly 20 years now. You are not very clear, what you mean with the term “martial art”. In my job, we are able to make a lot more differences between a martial sport (modern fencing), a traditional martial art (Jiu-Jitsu), system for self defense (civil Krav Maga) and the close combat systems for military purposes (hand-to-hand combat training program taught at military academies).

    I understand, that the term “martial art” is highly overused by amateurs.

  66. Rob says:

    Your argument is completely false because you think “going to the ground” means “pulling guard”. i.e. going to the ground and being on the bottom.

    Of course that’s stupid! The guard is one of the dumbest things in combat it would never work on the street with stomps, eye-gouges, throat attacks etc.

    TAKING someone down though … how would those attacks protect against that? The wrestler on top still has full mobility while the guy that just got taken down (your kung fu fighter for example) has none. The wrestler has far more opportunity to gouge, throat punch, hair pull etc. Contrary to your argument, it doesn’t take a whole lot of training to do that, anyone can do it.

    So basically a single takedown negates all of kung fu, not the other way round. Yes, you don’t want to be “taken down” to the ground. But taking the other guy down is easily the easiest way to beat him down, just watch any street fight.

    • Wim says:

      Rob,
      – I’m the only one who knows what I think, so it isn’t all that wise to assume knowing my thoughts… For the record, you’re totally wrong; that’s not what I think about going to the ground at all.
      – I in no way, shape or form said you shouldn’t take somebody to the ground. Never. Not once. If you like, go ahead and quote me where I did.
      – A single leg take down negates nothing at all. You seem to be under the illusion that traditional martial arts don’t teach defenses against a single leg or other takedowns. Or that they don’t train for what to do when they end up on the receiving end of one. As if there were no takedowns before MMA shot to the forefront…
      – There were many grappling styles and techniques in traditional martial arts before MMA got popular. These didn’t rely on the single leg as their only technique, even though they do teach it. The point is: there are many, many other techniques besides the single leg that put an opponent down on the street. Many of which don’t necessitate following him there like the single leg does. Which leaves you in a tactically better position than with the single leg…
      – Read my interview with Mark Mireless (do a check on his resume and where he teaches first…), in particular his answer to the question re. the most common misconception people have about grappling systems. IMO he is dead on and you are unfortunately one of those people he is talking about.

      All that said: it’s your ass on the line, not mine; If you feel confident using a single leg as your go-to technique for self defense, if you feel going to the ground is the best way to put somebody down, then by all means you should do so. I never claimed it can’t work, only that there are better and safer ways to accomplish the same thing.

      Also, please read the follow up articles and posts on this topic. You might get a more nuanced view on my opinion of this topic.

      Finally, I’m not trying to convert anybody. To each his own. If you are happy with your training, that’s all that counts; I’m happy with mine.

  67. Herb April says:

    Fantastic article Wim! I recently purchased your PAD MAN dvd set from Amazon.Com after first seeing it listed on the GoldStarVideo.com website. Very impressive material my friend. I like the way you think my friend. I have been involved in combative sports and martial arts since the late fifties when my dad began to teach me boxing basics. I always go back to boxing whenever I need my noggin re-stabilized because of all of the martial arts fads and secret deadly b.s. promos that pop up every few years. The current fads, MMA and BJJ, are so ridiculous that I cannot get myself to watch MMA matches at all because if I want to see what is usually presented, all I have to do is hang around low-down bars in bad-ass sections of my home town ( Chicago ). Sometimes, when the combatants don’t just draw knives or guns to “get it over with,” you can see some fights that put MMA matches to shame…and if someone has the brass to try grappling and floorwork in a bad-ass bar, that floor will be their coffin. Better to get the hell out of there, or even better, don’t hang out in bad-ass bars or sections of town! By the way, did you know that when my friends in the DBMA ( Dog Brothers ) suggested to the UFC people back in the 80’s that they add “weapons” to the UFC MMA mix, they were rejected by the president of the UFC and told that DBMA was too violent. Ha! But today the DBMA “Gatherings” have evolved far deeper into combat reality than UFC MMA matches ever will. And DBMA has punching, kicking, choking, armlocks, etc. included with sticks, knives, clubs, tri-sectionals, nunchakus, and whatever other weapons the combatants agree upon. Everything but the kitchen sink. Which is what you might be confronted with in a real back alley brawl ( best to glance up when doing the deed in an alley or on the sidewalk because your opponents mother may be aiming the kitchen sink at your head from the third floor living room window! )! Sorry for the digression. I am going to share this article on my FACEBOOK page, and I hope that more people get to find out about your “way of thinking” about these matters. I also hope more people purchase your PAD MAN video in order to develop a solid basis upon which to develop a pad training regimen that really works for them and their objectives in survival training, sport, or self-defense. By the way, one of my training inspirations since the 80’s was someone that you may know; Ramon Dekkers. A brilliant champion of champions. A true living legend. Bruce Lee never achieved the level of fighting ability that Dekkers did. Ah, but movie stars are movie stars ( Which is not a put-down of Bruce. He did a lot for martial arts with his films and with his JKD methodology and philosophy. Nuff said! ). http://youtu.be/p25o2OAk924

    • Wim says:

      Hi Herb,

      Thanks for the kind words ans also for buying the Pad Man video. I had a lot of fun making that video and am reasonably happy with the result. There’s also a part 2 on the way for that one, in which I show how to do the “advanced” stuff like setting up combinations, how to train for specific goals, etc. the more people buy the Pad Man video, the faster Part 2 comes out, so thanks for helping out on that front. :-)

      I like MMA as a sport, it’s a great way to stay in shape and as a combat sport it makes you pretty versatile. But for self-defense, there are perhaps better choices. That’s all I tried to say in this article. Didn’t make a lot of friends that way though… :-)

      I remember Crafty Dog mentioning that a long time ago in a video I once saw. Makes sense. Then again, the UFC had a specific agenda to begin with so I doubt they would have enjoyed the Dog Brothers there even without weapons. :-)

      I agree, Ramon was and still is one of the most impressive people to ever have set foot in a ring. Back in the day, he didn’t even have to show his passport when he arrived in Thailand; everybody knew him. Which is pretty impressive for a falang. He still teaches a lot of seminars worldwide so if you ever have a chance to train with him, I would go for it.

  68. Yamada says:

    An art cannot suck because it doesnt fight. It depends on the fighter. There are no serious martial artists these days. So forget it.

  69. You know, Wim, I was about to write my own article about the whole “TMA vs. MMA” argument. I had already laid out my points and counter points explaining why it is a false argument and a false choice.

    And then I read YOUR article and realize I couldn’t say it any better.

    Jeez! You’re such a jerk sometimes!

    Osu!

  70. Lucian James says:

    Martial Arts is a tradition of combat practices. Whatever strategies and techniques between the MMA and the traditional one, it all depends upon the viewer if they will adapt it or not or they found them sucks! But still, nice article…

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