Martial arts training can comprise aspects of self defence, but unless the art has been specifically devised for that purpose recently, it isn’t the same thing.

It’s not that you don’t do it. I’m sure that if you are a form practitioner interested in bringing a functional purpose beyond postural exercise to your forms then you do. It’s just that some people seem to pay no more than lip service to actual analysis when arriving at their applications.

Is this all too obvious? Then ask yourself honestly, how many of these do you really adhere to?

One of the most prevalent myths I’ve noticed over the years in the martial arts community is efficacy of hitting men in the groin as a one-stop solution to the problem of physical violence.

In all of my books and videos there are deliberate differences between my kata and my paired application (oyo) that has resulted from my analysis (bunkai).

“Practicing a kata is one thing, engaging in a real fight is another.”

Gichin Funakoshi, Twenty Precepts

There is a difference between training (for development and/or testing of skills) and utilizing those skills outside of your training, whether in a competitive format, in scenario training or in an unsolicited violent situation.

What we do in training is a game. That is true whether you are competing in any of the top-level martial arts competitions or whether you are engaging in the most realistic self defence training possible.

To kick or not to kick, that is the question.

When it comes to applying martial arts techniques in self defence, context and training methods determine the results. We get good at what we train for.

Kata, for most of us, is fixed. It is a set construct that we learn and rehearse. It does not vary very much. Over time different instructors have figuratively taken the same block of ice and carved away at some of the edges, added on smaller blocks, broken it down into lots of blocks and reassembled it in a different way, or taken chipped off elements from lots of different blocks to form a new block for others to replicate.

As a state of matter, ice is limited. It is strong, incredibly strong, but not adaptable. It can be cut to fit shapes, but then is limited to those shapes. It is limited to predictable fixed scenarios.

“In war it is all-important to gain and retain the initiative, to make the enemy conform to your action, to dance to your tune. When you are advancing, this normally follows; if you withdraw, it is neither so obvious nor so easy. Yet it is possible. There are three reasons for retreat: self-preservation, to save your force from destruction; pressure elsewhere which makes you accept loss of territory in one place to enable you to transfer troops to a more vital front; and, lastly, to draw the enemy into a situation so unfavourable to him that the initiative must pass to you.”

Don’t share our secrets! I’ve come across this refrain in the Traditional Karate Community a number of times. It usually crops up when a person posts a video online where they demonstrate a drill they’ve been taught or a new thing they’ve worked out. Sooner or later somebody pops up and berates them for sharing […]