When it comes to martial arts there are many paths – empty hand or with weapons, Chinese (Kung Fu), Japanese (Karate, JiuJitsu), hard styles, soft styles – and even then there are different strands within disciplines.
Unfortunately practitioners of the different disciplines and strands will sometimes dismiss each others’ training and I always think this is a real shame.
Firstly, because no one style IS the complete system of anything except itself as an art form. To be the greatest fighter, one needs to train across many disciplines covering the four main fighting distances – kicking range (Thai boxing, Tae Kwon Do, Karate for example), punching range (boxing), trapping range or grab the opponent by the scruff of the neck range (Wing Chun or JiuJutsu for example), and grappling range (JiuJitsu for example).
Secondly, most styles of martial arts contain real value and offer genuine benefits to the practitioner. There are people who are pushing the boundaries with the established styles, mixing it up and coming up with new combined disciplines. Martial arts is an evolving phenomenon.
The most important issue is to know why you want to learn martial arts. Stay focused on that. If you are embarking on an MMA mission, and want to be the world’s greatest in the cage then you had better pick out the arts that suit you across the four fighting disciplines, and find instructors and trainers who offer real results in the tournaments. If you are looking for self-control, discipline and a self-development path you may choose one of the more traditional routes such as karate or a system of kung fu. Horses for courses.
So you know why you want to train in martial arts and you have chosen a path. The next most important issue is to practice it sincerely. That means paying attention to where a strike should be focused and finishing the technique at that spot. It means having a real understanding of the meaning of a technique when you execute it – even if you are an advanced student and it is your interpretation of the move, you have to focus on this hidden meaning. That is where the true value is. That is the hidden treasure. For those that will put down the style or technique of another discipline, claiming that the science does not back them up, that their techniques are weak or that they are not authentic or recognised (the list of common criticisms is endless), focus on keeping your own techniques in shape.
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Train hard! Train sincerely! Train for training’s sake. Training brings peace.