How to choose a martial art that works in reality – in the street, in self defense

If you want to learn how to fight, you have to fight.

At MINIMUM, you have to spar.

When sparring is taken out of training, you are no longer learning in a martial art – you are learning martially inspired performance art.

Lack of a sporting component in a style is a huge disadvantage.

Lack of sparring means a school will not produce capable students at all.

All martial arts self-optimise to improve performance under specific rule sets and conditions. If those conditions include fighting under certain rules, the art will continue to evolve toward improved performance under those rules – as long as practitioners are permitted to modify their methods in response to the lessons taken away post-fight/competition. If sparring and sport/fighting are removed, all that remains is opinion and aesthetic preference.

The style will evolve to better fit these preferences, and away from efficacy in a real fight. It will probably look good as a demonstration, otherwise can be practically useless.

That’s all you need to look for – sparring and competitive sports. If the school you’re looking at does not have these things, move on.

00:00 – Intro – my experience

01:47 – How can we tell the difference between styles that work and those that don’t?

03:46 – Demonstrations are meaningless.

05:15 – Martial arts self-optimise to get better at what they are tested against.

06:37 – What tests are appropriate?

10:04 – Why sparring is essential

12:10 – “It’s not the art, it’s the practitioner”

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