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Do Most Traditional Martial Arts Actually Work?

Photo Credit: Kbidols – Haryadi Andradjati via Wikimedia

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed below are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of, its affiliates and sponsors.

It is clear that some of the traditional martial arts have been effective, yet as of late increasing number of people have claimed most of the traditional martial arts are not as useful as some assume. These people might have a point, but we wanted to examine this and discuss it. There is a lot of grey area here, and we wanted to fill in the gaps that some people refuse to do for you.

Why Most Traditional Martial Arts Don’t Work in Real Life.

The following are some of the big reasons why most of the traditional martial arts don’t work in real life.

1. Don’t learn how to de-esclate

Bruce Lee once said the following in the movie entitled, “Enter the Dragon”

“You can call it the art of fighting without fighting”

Bruce Lee

Lee’s quote here reminds us that the best thing one can do is walk away from physical battle if possible. If you’re realizing that things are getting heated enough to cause violence, you have to know how to diffuse the heated situation FIRST.

Physical violent should always be the last line of defense if possible. But many of the traditional martial arts don’t consider this approach as the number one option before getting into a physical battle. Many of the traditional martial arts emphasize too much on teaching you how to fight first rather than diffusing the situation first.

2. Don’t learn to recognize pre-assault indicators

People have to learn body language to know when and how someone might attack them. Reading the intent as well as understanding a perfectly knowing the environment can all be incredibly important. For example, if the assailant is clinching a fist, that’s a good sign that he/she is ready to attack you and you must be able to spot these pre assult indicators so that you can make a counter move much quicker. However most of the traditional martial arts focus too much on reactive moves while the assilant is attacking you. Action is always faster than reaction so anticipating what is about to happen helps the defender’s to make a sound judgement in that situation.

3. Difficult to learn

Different moves or techniques can take some people months or years to do perfectly. Pretending like they can be done perfectly every single time by a novice is completely idiotic. That is why the best self-defense tactics do not require a lot of special knowledge or long-term training. The best stuff can be as simple as movement, escape, or evasion tactics.

These can be easy, because they usually are done with one to two moves max, and are designed to create space between you and the person attacking you. As a novice, the last thing you need to think about applying in a split-second self-defense situation is a complicated defense concept.

4. Unrealistic training

This is one of the worst, most horrific offenses we’ve seen from martial art instructors. It’s especially a huge problem among those who share their stuff on YouTube. They’ll set up flashy, impressive-looking demonstrations.

Photo Credit: Nick P. via Wikimedia

These videos are always well-rehearsed and everything looks good. Yet if you try to apply some of these methods in real life, you’re more than likely going to get hurt. A lot of the time, the biggest issue avoided is the difference between height and weight and the basic physics involved in how that helps a lot in fights. There is a reason martial arts or fighting overall has weight classes, people. Why is that avoided here?

On top of this, they might teach small stuff that is situational and will only work in those times. Therefore, it cannot help you when your enemy attacks you in a completely different way.

5. Most traditional martial arts have not evolved

When you’re taught a specific martial art, you’re learning it from a person who usually spent years learning and applying those techniques. They learned it from another person who did the same thing.

If they fight someone who differs from this, they very well could see a bad result. Mostly because martial arts are often taught in a bubble where you learn one specific way of doing things and those are applied against other people who learn the same stuff. Yet when you fight outside of this bubble, things can go bad because your art might not translate as well outside your martial art.

The entire idea behind Mixed Martial Arts or MMA is to prove this concept. That one martial art is not always 100% effective against every person you’ll face off with. Most of the time, you have to know your world as well as others. Then know how to modify and evolve on the fly. When something goes south, you must know when to bail and when to keep going. A lot of martial arts do not teach this even in specialized self-defense courses.

Are Traditional Martial Arts Effective In Street Fighting?

The answer to this is both yes and no. If you are an experienced martial artist, there is a solid chance that your martial art could be effective if it came down to JUST hand-to-hand combat. If the opponent has a gun or knife, then your chances of coming out alive drop drastically even if you’re some 9th Dan Black Belt!

What Is The Most Useless Martial Art?

Ultimately, when it comes to self-defense only, there are not a lot of “useless” martial arts. They all can teach you something worthy of your time. Yet if you had to know one that won’t do you as much good, pretty much any that involve weapons. This includes things like Kendo, Kenjutso, Yabusame, and even fencing. Yes, fencing is technically a martial art and yes, it’s incredibly useless to you in a random fight.

What Martial Art Is Best For Street Fighting?

This is not exactly cut and dry because you have to consider if it’s one versus several or one on one. You have to be sure it does not involve weapons too.

One of the most effective in a one on one situation is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu(BJJ). This martial art focuses a lot on effective submissions and takedowns, with some small striking involved. In the UFC’s original run, they were related to “human dogfighting,” due to all the carnage that took place there. Fighters with different fighting styles fought each other to find out who was the best. The very early UFC events were the closest thing to actual street fighting with a very few rules in place. It was almost like a testing environment to find out which fighting style prevails in the end.

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The man who came out on top repeatedly was very well known BJJ practitioners, Royce Gracie. Royce beat every other fighter by using his submission skills. As a result, it’s well proven in the fighting cage to work against many different fighting style.

Which Martial Art Style Is The Best?

If you want to get a great experience and learn how to do a lot of key martial arts techniques, then you should check out Japanese jujutsu. Japanese jujutsu does not get much attention nowadays because of the extreme popularity of Brazilian Jiu-jitsu(BJJ) that gets all the attention when it relates to the topic of martial arts.

Just jujutsu, not BJJ. In BJJ, they only teach BJJ. Meanwhile, in jujutsu, they actually combine a lot of art forms into one. You’re taught things from the regular jiu-jitsu world but you’re also taught striking techniques. You’ll learn about takedowns and wrestling movements. This will include movement on the ground, normally taught in wrestling gyms.

You’ll be taught how to throw opponents, similar to what you might see in Judo or Sambo. On top of this, you’ll learn all about numerous submissions that can be applied all over the body for tons of different situations.


Is Taekwondo Effective In Street Fight?

The answer to this is, yet again, yes and no. Taekwondo is a striking martial art and therefore, it can be pretty effective in fights. Yet TKD is mostly known for its kicking techniques. It’s really the best martial art to learn about every known version of a kick and how to do impressive damage.

Taekwondo kick

Yet in a street fight, you have to know when and where to apply a kick. Plus, you have to be pretty fast and nimble enough to keep yourself balanced in a potentially hostile or problematic situation. It might also depend on who you’re fighting too.

If you’re asking us if a Taekwondo expert could beat a trained, championship-level boxer in a fight, the answer is likely no. As punches can come much faster than it takes to deliver a solid kick. On top of this, you have to consider the potential power in those punches. Combined with the idea that they can close you off and not allow for the set-up of kicks, yet still, deliver powerful punches.

Therefore, it depends on the opponent. The sport is terrific and worthy of your time, but we would not learn Taekwondo “specifically” for self-defense purposes.

Listed above are just an overview of the effectiveness of Taekwondo in a street fight but there are much more. Read the full report on “Is Taekwondo Effective in a Street Fight?” to learn everything there is to know how effective is Taekwondo in a street fight.

Is It Worth Learning Traditional Martial Arts?

Always. Not only can traditional martial arts be a terrific outlet to let out some pent-up aggression you might have, but they can be awesome ways to get some great exercise. Not for nothing, you’re also learning how to do damage to people if you have to defend yourself.

Our main issue with traditional martial art is that students are not being taught properly to prepare them in real life situations. We’d also recommend you learning about body language and psychology too if you really want to prepare yourself in street fighting situations.

Why Is Kung Fu Not Used In MMA?

Kung Fu is one of the most popular martial arts in the world,. So, why are we not seeing great Kung Fu practitioners show up in MMA? The answer is pretty simple. Kung Fu like what you see in the movies just does not exist. This is played up for Hollywood and they tend to exploit Kung Fu as the art they’re using while they use others along with it. Not to mention, add some extra Hollywood magic that you won’t see in real life.

Kung Fu in real life is a great martial art, but it is simply a striking sport. Kung Fu experts simply do not translate to the world of MMA because MMA requires more than just striking. That is not to say that there are no fighters in the UFC or MMA at all from Kung Fu, There are some like Cung Le who uses Kung Fu as his base style. Others like Roy Nelson, Muslim Salikhov, and others either trained in Kung Fu or have experience in it.

Yet people do not make it their only style if they get into MMA. You cannot be a pure striker and last in the world of MMA. Therefore, Kung Fu is technically used in MMA. It is just that it is not the only thing a person utilizes.

What Are The Oldest Martial Arts?

There are a lot of martial arts from the past. Of course, Wrestling & Shuai Jiao are two of the oldest.

In fact, Wrestling itself goes back likely before humans evolved into Homo Erectus. We very well could have been wrestling with each other for over 100,000 years. Yet it was not recorded by anyone until the 20th Century BCE. The infamous Tale of Gilgamesh, which dates back to the 18th Century BCE, references the use of weapon fighting. Things like swords, an ax, bow, and spear were all mentioned.

The Indian martial art known as Kalaripayattu was said to have been invented in the 10th Century BCE. It was likely the very fighting style that kept the Indian land free from major invasions for centuries. On top of this, one could say it gave us our base martial arts concepts that other martial arts used later on or improved upon. Things like joint-locks were utilized as well as the use of strikes using the palm, among many others.

The first Olympics references Pankration, Wrestling, and Boxing as three main sports. The first Olympics dates back to the 8th Century BCE.

By 477 AD, the first Shaolin Monastery was built where they’d develop martial arts styles we still utilize today.