With the coming of the UFC and MMA’s domination in the sport, many people now look at traditional arts as useless, especially when it comes to fighting. The common statement is “if Kung Fu is good then why isn’t in the UFC”? And if you took UFC as an example of fighting value you would be right. Now, I won’t get into why I think there aren’t any kung fu fighters in the UFC (I’ll save that for another time); instead I’d rather explain the difference between fighting (as in competition) and self-defense.
First off, I am not one of those “traditional” artists, who says I will use so and so deadly technique in a real fight and it’s not allowed in the ring, blah blah. For the most part that’s nonsense. The guys that fight in the UFC and similar venues, are professional fighters. They have incredible strength, skill, endurance and most importantly a lot of fight experience. If you want to fight in these tournaments you need to be a professional fighter. Period. But that does not mean that you are unable to defend yourself. So, what is the difference fighting and self-defense? Everything!
In a true self-defense situation you have no choice. You either fight, or are seriously injured, or killed. You are not trying to win, you are trying to live. There are no rules, you can throw things, use a weapon, strike vital areas, and run away. Most likely your attacker, is not a professional fighter, so odds are you have more training and experience than them. You are not trying to be champion of the world, you are just trying to get out of a harmful situation. And if you really think about it, the thing of it is that even if you are a great fighter, once someone has a knife, or especially a gun, everything changes. The best UFC fighter in the world, is no match for a 100 lb. armed woman, who knows how to shoot.
Now you may be asking “ well if that’s the case what’s the point of training?. Simply put and to take a cheesy quote from the Karate Kid, you train so that you don’t have to fight. Is this silly? Not at all. Once you learn discipline and dedicate yourself to an fighting art, you learn a lot of things about yourself and you behavior starts to change. You no longer are involved in situations (such as “tough” bar at 2am) not because you are afraid, but because you are aware of a possible situation and you avoid it. Again, the main purpose of martial arts is self development, not to show off how tough you are. If you are constantly getting into fights, you need to reevaluate your life, not get better at fighting. Taking from my own personal experience, once I got heavily involved in my Kung Fu training (at about 22 or 23) I no longer wanted to go out partying. Not just because I had something better to do, but because I was exhausted from training! When you’re getting up at 5am to train, you tend not to go out drinking all night. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to become a hermit. It just means that you tend to make better choices, you are able to see potential problems and ultimately avoid them. Also, because of your training, you learn to stay calm in volatile situations and can deescalate, or remove yourself from the situation. Confidence and calmness goes a long way, but you won’t get that without proper training and respect for what can happen in a fight.
So what’s the best art for self-defense? The one that helps you develop as a human being. Other than that, I prefer the Ruger SR9C.