During my life journey through the martial art I have actually experienced a little of each of these categories, as more often than not instructors try to fill in the blanks or gaps, by making up things as they go along and I’m not kidding. Seriously I have experienced this fiction aspect more than you could imagine and fantasy is another whole world, often to the point of what you might see in many martial art movies; however reality does manage to survive to varying degrees.
Judging by main stream modern day movies, we all want to be super human or superheros, saving the day and walking off into the sunset at the end with the beautiful girl. To be honest, I have to admit that I like the exaggerated fight scenes in most action packed movies, however we all have to live in and deal with reality. Dealing with reality is generally not the fun, exciting, romantic part of life, but reality is what we all have to deal with in our lives sooner or later.
Modern day martial art facilities and teachers facilitate this fiction & fantasy side of the martial art to varying degrees to keep their students involved and safe by holding competitions that water down and control the aggressive portions with rules that do not allow overly aggressive techniques where students might be seriously hurt or injured, and that very possibly is a good thing.
Of course, from a business stand point this is commendable for preventing liability and, of course, keeping the facility functioning staying in business. However from the overall development and real-life safety of the students that is not realistic or practical out on the mean streets anywhere. I have run martial art facilities for many years teaching reality, without ever having any student become injured, so I know from my own personal experience that it can be done, without having to insert any fiction or fantasy.
I totally do understand why most martial art facilities keep out various aspects of training, but the end results may hurt the students when reality confronts them. Taking students to the threshold of pain, at least at some point, in my humble opinion is imperative, so that the students knows and even experiences reality. Not knowing or experiencing this reality may hurt them far more when the real world meets them in a dark alley when they least expect it.
Please don’t get me wrong, because I do think tournament sport competitiveness, plus participating in live martial art demonstrations is a very good way for students to develop in a multitude of ways. I have personally coached students that participate in competitive tournaments and demonstrations for many years, however along with the sport and competition side of student development and training they also need to see the reality of martial arts too.
Down through the long history of the martial art, villages have held sport-like fighting competitions, and in some of the more primitive island countries, these fighting competitions were very brutal to say the least, with the competitors suffering and living with serious often debilitating injuries.
In many countries “death matches” were held, sometimes for a sporting event, but more often these “death matches” were held to settle disputes or long standing grudges, very often with hand-held martial art weapons being implemented, and all too often one or even both participants died of their wounds or injuries.
In European countries jousting competitions were often held, where the knights wore full-body armor made of metal, while riding on horseback, charging opponents with long lances to knock one or the other off his horse. And, of course, live blade sword fights have a long history in several countries globally and I’m sure you can imagine the possibility of loss of limbs and deaths.
Probably everyone has heard of the legendary fictional archer known as Robin Hood, who stole from the rich and gave it to the poor.During an archery tournament, he was so accurate with his bow that he split an arrow lengthwise with his arrow, winning the tournament, plus a coveted golden arrow. Of course, today these kinds of sporting events are still held, with a lot of changes of course, where the competitors utilize protective equipment, judges, time limits and of course rules that help protect the participants somewhat.
When the great Bruce Lee and his dear close friend and training partner for the last ten years of Bruce’s short life, Dan Inosanto, were working together developing Bruce’s personal fighting style, now known globally as Jeet Kune Do, Bruce insisted on wearing pads, chest protectors, head gear and shin guards so they could fight full out, minimizing injuries as much as possible.
I met the great Jhoon Rhee in Indianapolis at my friend Bill Superfoot Wallace’s professional full contact match, where Jhoon Ree was the promoter and training coach for Bill’s opponent. Since Bill is the undefeated World Champion, we all know who won the fight. Jhoon Ree was also a friend of Bruce Lee’s, with Jhoon Ree developing safety punch and kick, which were a cross between the finger type boxing gloves that Bruce Lee developed that protected the hands while allowing grappling and the now popular light weight UFC gloves.
It was interesting to say the least, having students that I was training and coaching competing in tournaments where world champions like Jeff W. Smith, Bill Super Foot Wallace, Joe Lewis, Chuck Norris and Ross Scott would often attend as guest celebrity officials and judges.
The essence of the original survival skills that the ancient ones discovered and developed was finding ways to survive, not fight, as in real life and death encounters serious injuries and death are extremely likely. Skills like observation of their surroundings, awareness of everything that was in their environment, stealth invisible movement through their environment, stalking ability to move unnoticed and what held all of this together was tracking. Through tracking they learned how to realistically know creatures in their environment so they could avoid danger.
I know these elements seem like they do not even belong in the category of martial art abilities, but believing that would be so very wrong, as I’m sure many of you have heard of The Ancient Ninja Society, which is a martial art form that I personally have been involved with for over fifty years, and I know first hand that the above mentioned skills are of paramount importance when it comes to survival.
Today’s martial artists mistakenly think that fighting is one of the most important aspects of the art, but fighting is more of a last resort rather than a main focus, as fighting necessitates confrontations and in aggressive confrontations the likelihood of all parties involved suffering serious injuries or death is very real.
Through learning ancient survival skills, you will learn so much more than you could ever imagine even exists, and it will all be applicable in today’s highly sophisticated modern societies, assisting you in ways to survive in today’s world that is just as hostile now as it was for our ancient ancestors.