So, which is the BEST martial art in all the world?
Why has this question never been answered successfully?
Of course it’s much more about the practitioner than the system, especially when you look at two guys who have studied the same system for, say 10 years, where one practices twice a week for a 1 hour class and the other studies 5 days a week, 5 hours a day! Obviously it will always be about the practitioner more than about the system.
But… were it possible to factor out that one glaring issue, which many have tried to do for the purposes of pure speculation, there seems to be another issue: It’s what I call the rock, paper, scissor effect of martial arts. Meaning every martial art not only can dominate another but can be dominated by another. Imagine, if you will the scenario of a ‘tournament of martial arts’ where style B beats style C, and enters the ‘final match’ against style A, where he is finally defeated by style A and style A wins the tournament. But what nobody realizes is that if style A had gone against style C, style C would have destroyed style A. This is actually quite common in most sports. Even team based sports. So that if A beats B and B beats C it does NOT mean A is better than C.
It would seem at first blush that this shouldn’t be the case, but there could be a reason that explains all of this. It is, in my experience, due to a flaw that is shared by most martial arts systems and practitioners:
If you don’t train outside your own system you never get to experience the things other people do.
How Do You Fight?
If we look at 3 basic themes of fighting, (you could pick any 3) each martial art is missing at least one of them and this missing piece becomes the weakness of the system until it is introduced to the practitioners for study. Just for discussion, let examine these 3:
1. Fast flying explosive high kicks and double kicks, replete throughout the Korean styles, Hopkido, Hwarang – Do, Tae Kwon Do and the like.
2. In-fighting ‘sciences’, sensitivity based, highly technical hand-ranged techniques commonly seen in chinese southern short hand styles, Fukien White Crane, White eyebrow, Southern Praying Mantis, Wing Chun / Wing Tsun, Southern Dragon, Tai Chi and so on.
3. Single, double leg takedowns, submission holds, and ground fighting as seen in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, MMA/UFC and such.
Most martial art systems and martial artists have this flaw and Wing Chun / Wing Tsun is no different. So let’s start with Wing Chun.
Wing Chun / Wing Tsun has a powerful lineage-maintained curriculum structure which has held the integrity of the style over many years keeping it relatively ‘pure’. The advantages of this are obvious, but there are disadvantages. I have always thought of Wing Chun as the ‘anti-martial art’ but only if it bends to meet current trends in the ‘mainstream’ combat consciousness.
Chuck In Yo Face!
In the late 70s, early 80s, around the time Chuck Norris dazzled everyone with his signature spinning back kick, the combat ‘trend’ to beat was high explosive kicks, which, of course is not part of the Wing Chun / Wing Tsun curriculum. And it’s not that Wing Chun doesn’t have an answer to high combination kicks, but the Sifu (Kung Fu teacher) must have the foresight to introduce the high kick as a question to his/her students. Which means the students must master the attack technique (high kicks) over time so they can present the attack as a question to their training partner even though it is not part of the curriculum. Over the past 10 years or so, due to the growing popularity of MMA, ground fighting techniques have moved into the spotlight. Again, this is not part of the pure Wing Chun /Wing Tsun curriculum. How many youtube videos are there, however, where a self-proclaimed ‘Wing Chun’ guy enters a rule-based MMA ring and watches as his opponent executes a single leg take down. He can only watch it happen because he has never experienced it before. If your Sifu is not integrating the single leg takedown into class, he is doing you a great disservice (at least from a reality-in-combat standpoint). Just like the high kicks, there IS a wing chun answer to the single. You should not have to look outside the curriculum for the answer to these questions. It’s only when these questions are never dealt with in class that a ‘Wing Chun / Wing Tsun weakness’ is exposed.
As another example, the long-ranged Korean based kicking systems suffer a similar weakness: Once an opponent from another style who has been studying high kicks makes it to inside kicking range a problem can emerge. Again, this is only if the instructor ignores these realities.
So, who seems to have it all? Is it mixed martial arts? The name certainly seems to suggest it, but here’s the problem:
“…introduce any rule into a fight and it is no longer a fight.”
Should I Protect My Testicles?
Sadly, some view MMA competitors as being at the top of the martial food chain but in reality, it is actually quite the opposite, but only because it is a rule based system. Try this little experiment. Go to youtube and bring up any – and I mean ANY MMA/UFC fight. Try to find one with some reputable guys – real champions of the sport. Watch the fight and when something interesting happens like a cool submission hold, hit pause to freeze the action. Take a look at the ‘victim’. You will notice that there is always a free hand usually holding onto the submissing limb of the opponent – essentially doing nothing useful to help the situation. You will also notice that 9 times out of 10 that free hand is in range of a vital area of the opponent, ie. the ears, eyes, throat, groin to name a few. So why doesn’t the victim reach back, grab the aggressor’s testicles and rip them off? Why doesn’t he reach up grab the ear and tear it off? Why didn’t he grab the opponent’s throat on the way in which was completely exposed and remove a few inches of the esophagus with a tiger claw or eagle claw or some other pincer type grip? Why didn’t he use the same grip with the opponent’s face right in front of him, as some other limb was in a submission hold, to grab the eyeball within the socket and remove the eye? The answer to all these questions is the same: Ha ha, nany nany po po, you can’t do that ‘cause it’s NOT ALLOWED!
…Seriously?! This is definitely NOT a real fight. Sorry guys. Yet all these things are the very things that REAL Kung Fu guys do, especially the southern short hand guys, Wing Chun / Wing Tsun among them. So I question the integrity of ANY self-proclaimed Wing Chun guy who gets into a ‘rule-based’ MMA ring; an environment which renders almost everything a REAL Wing Chun guy can do as illegal, while simultaneously allowing the MMA guy to do absolutely everything he/she has learned. What wing chun guy (in his right mind) would go for such a raw deal??? Answer, probably not a real Wing Chun / Wing Tsun guy.
Can Anderson Silva Kick my Ass?
Now, hold on a second and let’s give credit where it is due. MMA competitors are professional fighters, where training 8-10 hours a day is not uncommon. Plus we just had a discussion about it being more about the practitioner rather than the style. So, on athleticism alone these guys should be able to hold their own with a respectable presence in most all combat scenarios. But no style is immune to the effects of ignoring certain combat realities, in this case, the destruction of vital areas that are deemed illegal in the ring.
So, how would individual styles evolve if the practitioners were to put away their pride and accept the fact that there may be themes of combat which their style does not deal with? For example, how would MMA change if suddenly all rules were lifted? Would there be critical hit counters to vital areas in response to certain holds or maneuvers that expose these vital areas? I think not. More likely, those holds or maneuvers that expose vital areas would not have been executed in the first place!
In other words, the techniques of the style itself would completely change. Were we to follow this trend of thought, we can guess how the martial art world would evolve if the practitioners of every style were to do the same thing, addressing the shortcomings of their respective systems. In my opinion we would likely find that the resultant evolution of martial arts would have styles end up being more alike than different.
What do you think?