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The Dumbing Down of Traditional Martial Arts

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Many of the traditional Oriental martial arts have been severely dumbed down for a number of social, political, and sporting reasons to the point where a lot of what is taught in many martial arts classes simply would not work in a real-world self-defense scenario. Taking traditional Karate, for example: many people are taught a number of “blocking” movements against punches and kicks.

What is wrong with this? Well, to start, these blocks are usually practiced against only Karate techniques (especially straight punches), whereas research indicates that most real attacks are swinging haymakers and grabs. So why practice so much against attacks we are not likely to see, and not against attacks that we are likely to see?

The truth is that these “blocking” movements were probably originally intended to be used in an entirely different way when first practiced. Let’s just suppose that the old masters had a movement that can be used to break an arm. When Karate was introduced into the Okinawan school system, do you think they wanted to teach that kind of thing to young children? Or would you teach them to use the movement for blocking a straight punch, which is much safer for youngsters? There are many other factors affecting the way that Karate (and other arts) are taught.

I’ll be writing about how our martial arts became dumbed down and how we can make them more practical for real self-defense again (as they were originally designed to be).

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About Charlie Wildish

  • I am looking forward to your coulmns, Charlie. Welcome to Blogcritics!

  • Thank you Victor, I’m looking forward to writing a few 🙂

  • Brian aka Guppusmaximus

    Yes, nice article:)

    Though, I know for certain this hasn’t completely happened with Aikido. There’s a school in Cambridge, MA. that doesn’t hold back on any of the principles and techniques involved in learning this martial art. And, I know if you seek out any of the Senseis taught by Steven Seagal, you’ll definitely have a real-world based learning experience…

  • Charlie

    Hi Brian
    Thanks for your comments. I’m sure anybody taught by Steven Seagal will know their stuff 🙂
    I think there are pockets in most martial arts where some people teach the full stystem in a practical manner. But it can take a bit to find them sometimes.