Martial Arts vs Practical Self Defense

Now here is a subject that is open to debate and will continue to be for a long, long time. As we look at various martial arts and compare them to practical self-defense techniques (also known as combatives) you’ll see that the differences can actually determine whether or not you survive a violent encounter. The below image represents a martial arts self-defense instance when blocking/avoiding/countering a hand/fist strike. You’ll notice that in most martial arts disciplines that there can be anywhere between 4-10 steps to counter such attacks, and its always in slow motion when practiced; even after the technique is learned. Some of that might depend on the students mobility as some just don’t have the ability to practice at an extreme rate of speed. Keep in mind though; if thats the case….why try to learn that technique?

Top 10 Martial Arts Disciplines for Self-Defense and Survival - BookMartialArts.com


Lets look at the images below that is indicative to a combative self-defense encounter – also known as a practical self-defense technique. Notice the obvious move that lands the defensive person to the side of the hostile individual. 2-3 steps is typically all it takes in most situations of attack. This is one of the primary differences between combatives and martial arts: number of steps taken to counter a attack. Obviously that’ll change depending on how the encounter takes shape; but usually not much of a change is needed to actually defend yourself. The other thing you’ll notice is that combatives doesn’t have as much graceful imagery as martial arts demonstrations which indicates a more practical approach.


Army West Point "Combatives" - Preparing for the Close-in Fight - Warrior Maven: Center for Military Modernization

What are the other differences? Well think about how martial arts are considered a sport, just like other sports: Football, Baseball, etc: there are things that are considered illegal or not allowed. Such is the same with martial arts; there are illegal moves that martial arts classes will touch on and that’s all. The instructors will not continuously teach those illegal techniques to where you become proficient and capable in a real life violent scenario.

How about overall practice? With all of the additional steps to learn; if you wanted to learn self-defense by way of martial arts it would take you five (5) times as long to learn compared to if you learned Combatives with similar but basic techniques. Think about it – a 1 or 2 month long academy could teach you similar and more effective techniques in Combatives instead of 5 months of martial arts. Not only is that time saved…but money saved as well. Of course; no matter what training you’re taking; continuing to train is always the best way to keep those techniques sharp, fresh and effective.

Additional cost: buying robes, belts, other gear, sucked into a 1 or 2 year contract? Constant bowing and yelling out random martial arts words that do nothing to help with legitimate self-defense, shall I go on..? Overall; martial arts does have its place in the self-defense world, but keep in mind, the first foundation of martial-arts is fitness as a sport and a way of life as opposed to combatives that is geared to protect your way of life. Thank you for reading!



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