When I was a kid I remember wondering what was best, wrestling or boxing. At the time I thought boxing was the best but when karate became popular in the 60’s – the argument became boxing or karate! Well fast forward past the 90’s (was a very confused time) and now if you ask any kid… they will no longer say jiu-jitsu but mma! Why to a teenaged kid that would not even watch a boxing match – MMA is king!
So why am I not impressed with the flavor of the day? I am not out to challenge anyone or trying to get an accomplished martial artist in judo, muay thai, jiu-jitsu, wrestling, or boxing to come over the dark side. But what I do want to do in this post is to examine how effective various martial arts would be in a real fight for an average guy/gal that has a couple of years experience under his/her belt.
I also want to look at some other factors such as the point of each martial art… you know what is it good for anyway? Don’t get mad but if your martial art has lots of rules that don’t easily transition to a real fight – what good is it in a fight (unless you are a world class fighter – then it makes no difference what you learn… it will all work)?
Let’s look at boxing, wrestling, muay thai, jiu-jitsu, judo, aikido and karate (including kung fu with karate as both are similar) in light of how easy is it to learn, what is the goal of the martial art, and does it work in a fight for most people (is it effective in most situations?). Then I’ll look at karate and kung fu in general terms because our stuff is not immune to my criteria (80% of karate and kung fu as it is taught would not work well in a real fight).
Now that I have made a lot of friends and I don’t think I’ve excluded anyone I would like commenters to keep your responsive civil and to the points. I will not post personal attacks but please feel free to civilly disagree and make your points. I will be happy to respond comments.
Boxing is fairly easy to learn the basics but really hard to do it right. One has to get into great physical shape to excel in this sport. The goal of boxing is to win on the street or in the ring with one’s punches. All other strikes are illegal. I do not think boxing would work very well unless you were a good boxer in a fight with someone else that did not want to do anything but punches. Boxing can work in a mass attack if he can avoid the ground so I give boxing two kicks (out of five).
Wrestling is taught in school for most males at some point so there are many good basic wrestlers (as I would categorize myself). Again wrestling like boxing takes a lot of conditioning if one wants to excel at wrestling. The goal of wrestling is mostly sport as it has no defenses against striking unless the wrestler learns additional skills. While the UFC is awash in wrestlers that have transitioned to fighting, the average wrestler can win most fights if he can take the fight to the ground. As most untrained fighters have no defense against ground fighters – wrestling can be effective sometimes. However one cannot easily defend against a mass attack nor avoid a bystander punting a goal at wrestler on the ground so I would give wrestling one kick on my scale.
Muay Thai is a sport that is not easy to learn because of the conditioning. While muay thai does strike with hands, elbows, knees, and feet – the rules do not favor fighting as the groin is not open. I would say that muay thai does come closer to an effective method of fighting because it would work well against a mass attack so long as the fighter does not get taken to the ground. Because of the major conditioning of body parts (deadening the shins for instance) I would only give muay thai three kicks on my scale.
I’m going to lump in jiu-jitsu, judo, and aikido together as one came from the other and share many common moves. While it is true that judo is more dependent on transitional moves (getting the opponent to the ground), jiu-jitsu is more of a ground fighting method and aikido mostly uses ones attack against the attacker, none of these are easy to use and are not really striking martial arts. Practitioners would have to learn striking to effectively survive a real fight with no rules. I am grossly oversimplifying here but my point is still valid. I would say that none of these styles would come out well against a mass attack. So based on the complexity of learning and the lack of striking – I can only give these styles one kick on my scale.
Now let’s look at karate and kung fu as it is taught. No paneca here either. While karate can be a good fighting style – as it is taught it does not have the conditioning of many type of fighting – it is for the common man (read person). Karate learning styles can be easier than most styles as it does not take more than a couple of years to be proficient for most people. Karate can work if a student was taught by a proficient teacher. Karate/kung fu works well against mass attacks if the student is any good. Before I assign karate/kung fu a kick scale consider the types of schools and ways to teaching.
- Some karate/kung fu styles do not allow sparring.
- Some karate/kung fu styles teach non-contact sparring.
- Some karate/kung fu styles teach semi-contact sparring.
- Some karate/kung fu styles teach the equivalent of kick boxing.
- Some karate/kung fu styles are old school – meaning no gloves and flat feet.
- Some karate/kung fu styles are more modern and use pads and move around.
- Some karate/kung fu styles have open groin shots in semi-contact.
- Some karate/kung fu styles give more points for kicks and flying kicks than for punches.
- Some karate/kung fu styles emphasize more conditioning than fighting (karate aerobics).
- Some karate/kung fu styles’ instructors have never been in a real fight.
So let me opine about karate/kung fu styles and weed the 80% of karate that does not work.
If the style does not sparring or uses non-contact sparing I give that style one kick on my scale.
If the style does not have groin shots or gives more points (in training) for kicks or flying kicks than punches – I give that style one kick.
If the style is for yuppies wanting to get into shape (karate aerobics) I give that style no kicks.
If the style teaches kick boxing but no groin shots – I give that three kicks.
If you instructor tells you he thinks it will work if he ever had to get into a fight (meaning he does not know) – Run from that school. Why pay money for something the instructor does not believe in?
If the style allows groin shots in sparring, uses hand/food pads of some kind, moves around, uses semi-contact (can get hard at top levels), the instructor is confident and has fought before, counts the same for a kick or punch… the student has a chance… that is only about 20% of the schools out there.
Lineage means nothing unless it works. All of the black belts, trophy’s, free karate babysitting services and such are just meaningless unless a student and learn how to fight pretty good in a couple of years.
So if you find a good school as I have outlined – I would give that school four kicks – on a five kick scale? Why not five kicks? That is up to the student. I cannot guess how hard the student wants it.
So I want to clarify I do not dislike other styles and I think very highly of them. And I think most any style can be very effective against most attacks – all I reviewed here is if a person only had a couple of years to invest – what would he or she need to learn to fight back!
I am interested in your opinion – please let me know your thoughts!