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Thanks for the Vovinam and Systema reviews . In the first Systema video, the guy is not even in a guard position, he's just waiting for punches to come...
You're very correct in your criticism. I hate the demo videos because they're very weak and "showy." They're making the same mistake that Aikido and other Asian martial arts have made while trying to advertise themselves in America. The problem is also that this mentality builds weaker assistant instructors, who then open their own schools up and continue to dilute a good style.
Murihei Ueshiba, the founder of Aikido, was first a black belt in Kyukushinkai Karate and also Judo. On top of this, he was a decorated soldier. This guy could fuck some shit up. He created Aikido so that he wouldn't HAVE do break someones shit off every time he got into a fight. The problem with teaching only the gentle wide of things is that people lose sight of the roots of martial arts. They forego the "Beating Whole-Sale Ass" part and go to the "Gentle" side. It's like skipping Steps A & B, and jumping straight to C.
From my time training Systema, I can vouch that it is a very real system. I've used its principles as a bouncer as well as a Marine. The problem again is who you learn it from. I learned it from my Father and Uncle, both of whom were decorated officers in the Red Army. Learning it from someone who got his Instructor Certificate from going to a few seminars may not be your best introduction to Systema.
An example of this is Tai Chi. Tai Chi (or Tai Ji Juan) is actually Death Point Striking. The whole concept of striking someone on the throat or base of the neck and having them pass out, only to die months later, is a real thing. It's been held up by western science, and I'm happy to lead people to information regarding this. But few people realize that this is the original point of Tai Chi, an art most people associate with senior health.
People "learn" it without learning about it. They then form a committee that certifies other idiots as instructors, and gives them free reign to teach Tai Chi. This goes on and on and, a couple generations later, you have a style that bares no resemblance to the real thing. I was almost killed by a Tae Kwon Do fighter from Korea during a sparring match. I was so used to the footwork from Boxing and Muay Thai, that I had no idea of how to read his footwork. Before I knew it, I was kicked full force in my throat, and almost broke my trachea. He was aiming for my chin to knock me out, not kill me by the way. Nevertheless, he finished me that day. You put that same Korean against a "Grandmaster" who's been teaching in the states for 20 years, and my money will be on the Korean.
All styles can be effective. It all goes back again to how you train it and what you're made of.
I'm not an expert in MA, I've trained in Muay Thai, Kali Eskrima (the Dog Brothers actually practice a branch of this style), Penchak Silat, Boxe de Rue (a street version of savate) and had a taste of TKD and Aïkido. I now train in Kajukenbo (Garcia lineage) which is terrific BTW. I live in a town where you easily get attacked (once I got jumped by four guys in their early 30's just because I had looked at them, I was 15) and I've got my share of street fights.
@Ethan: I've read your articles and while I agree on a lot of things (e.g. the importance of physical conditioning, the final advice and the "don't be a hero" thing), I disagree with the style-bashing. While I do think that there are scam instructors who won't get you anywhere and will probably be harmful to you, I think that the styles you've listed as "bullshit" are actually effective when taught properly.
When I trained Muay Thai at my MMA school we sometimes sparred with some students from the local Kyokushin Karate dojo. Those guys were tough as f***. They took kicks well and some of them had amazing kicking power. Their body blows were also something.
I mean, karate/TKD guys use the same moves as you see in the UFC or in K1 kickboxing so it's not the style that sucks per se. I think that the biggest problem of traditional MA is their lack of dynamism/realism in sparring and in competition, plus the lack of physical conditioning. It's not that the moves don't work, it's about learning them in the proper context. If you train Muay Thai and do touch-sparring or if you train BJJ and play grab-ass, you'll get your ass handed to you in a street fight.
I didn't like aïkido classes (I left after 2-3 times) but one of the guys there sweared by it. He was a policeman and told me that aïkido had become his work tool. In the same class, there was also a skinny guy that couldn't beat a 12 years old kid if his life depended on it. He trained to remain fit, the policeman trained to put actual locks on criminals: you could see the difference.
I understand though why you recommended MT and BJJ as they are the styles which didn't get too watered down in the US. But maybe in a few years there will be many MT/BJJ/MMA MacDojos as well.
One possible explanation to the difference between my experience and yours in traditional martial arts could be that in the USA people don't seem to associate self-defense with martial arts as strongly as here in Europe. Like "if I want to protect myself, I'll just get a gun". I live in Belgium and here the weapon control laws are really strict: you can get in trouble when you're caught carrying pepper spray, let alone a gun. So here when you want to know how to protect yourself, your only way is to take MA lessons so I think that people are more serious about it. Plus, it's not a "hype" kind of activity here: it's more "underground" and most people who get into MA are passionate about it. I've talked about that with US martial artists and they had never thought about it that way, how 'bout you?
- Complete the 30 days of discipline program (10 days in)
- Follow the Body of a Spartan program for 6 months (1 month in, training log:
- Be able to approach random girls: still struggling
- Start meditation (work in progress)
- Do Kegels 5X/week (started but not consistent yet)
Right off, let me state that I studied Aikido for approximately 10 years.
Its inclusion in this list is somewhat baffling.
It is more about discipline and self control rather than beating people up (or down).
I will spare you a long winded sermon on what it is or isn't, who/what is better..blah, blah,blah..
I will just say that classifying it as "complete bullshit" as a fighting art, seems to be about the same as calling a carrot complete bullshit as a fruit.
Let me start by saying that this is the best article I’ve ever read about martial arts.
I practiced karate and taekwondo being a kid, and I’ve being practicing sport Brazilian JiuJjitsu and also the original Gracie Jiu Jitsu these last years.
I just have some comments/disagreements:
1) I wouldn’t say judo is just ‘somewhat legit’. Judo is legit since a guy trained in judo would win most of the times against an untrained fighter or even a trained striker. Examples? See Remco Pardoel beating every striker easily in the early days of UFC. That includes a Muay Thai champion like Orlando Weit (being Muay Thai a legit style, don’t miss that).
OK I agree, compared to BJJ Judo is not a complete self-defense system. It lacks of very important aspects: punch prevention, the guard, etc. But still judo will work most of the times if your opponent has no experience on being thrown and ground fighting.
Take into account that Kimura, the best judoka ever, beat Helio Gracie (father of Gracie Jiu Jitsu). Top Brazilian Jiu Jitsu practitioners /masters often have also a black belt in judo.
2) I wouldn't say wing chung is somewhat legit. No way. To me Wing Chun is totally bullshit, at least in practice. The beauty thing about the early UFC’s (and similar events) is that you could see style against style the way they are taught in the dojo. Back in the day, every wing chun guy was beat very easily, even by untrained guys in the cage.
You could say that Karate guys were beat too, but at least they were able to give 'some fight', specially in striker vs striker fights. Wing Chun guys on the other hand were always overwhelmed.
I agree, wing chun has very interesting concepts. Actually Bruce Lee kept many of them in Jun Fan Gun Fu and Jeet Kune Do. But Bruce lee himself found out that wing chung way of punching and stance simply doesn’t work in a real fight. Bruce lee ended up doing something more similar to kick boxing.
3) BJJ is different from Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
I’ve trained both and they are very different. BJJ is focused on sport aspect, they just do grappling and look for points. There is no self-defense program in BJJ. BJJ guys usually don’t event know how to correctly throw, since they always start on their knees.
In Gracie Jiu Jitsu you learn some basic punching, how to avoid/escape from many typical attack situations and a variety of throws. By the way, some Gracie academies like Valente Brothers are so good at the throw aspect that has nothing to envy to judo guys.
Ok I agree, even so, a good BJJ practitioner would win a street fight. The problem to me, is that BJJ is focused on athletes. So, if you are a little and skinny guy who can only train twice a week, you’re gonna get tapped 100 times on every BJJ class and think: this is not for me.
Speed, strength, timing and flexibility are goals/requirements in BJJ. But most people don’t have those attributes. Helio Gracie didn’t have them either. Gracie Jiu Jitsu is not the moves, everyone can do the moves. Gracie Jiu Jitsu is the teaching method. If you are a good teacher anyone can learn it and be able to survive in a real fight against a bigger and stronger opponent.
You disagree? See this two videos of Rickson Gracie, demonstrating how a Gracie Barra black belt doesn’t know the minimum self-defense stuff:
4) I have serious doubts about systems that depends on eye gauging, hair pulling, groin strikes, etc. The thing is, that if you can do eye gauging to me, well I can do that to you too, so we are even. In a real fight I will never give you the distance to you do that.
After all, how do you know those techniques are actually achievable in a real fight since you cannot train them for real in the school? I mean, I am not allowing you practice those techniques with me even if we are partners
Teach a skinny guy eye gauging and groin strikes, then tell him to fight a 300 pounds NFL player and tell me how it goes.
Please see this interview of Rener Gracie talking about this:
Thank you for your thoughts. You added a lot of value with this post.
I agree with most of what you're saying. Wing Chun and Judo were the two I had the most mixed feelings about. My first hand experience in Wing Chun is extremely limited, and I've had two wildly different experiences in Judo. I've been to Judo classes where I was able to absolutely dominate people, but I've also been to Judo classes where the people there were really good. I think it depends on the level you get to. Like you said, top level Judo guys REALLY good and can take most people, low level Judo guys I haven't found too impressive. I think it takes a bit more work to really get good enough at Judo to where it becomes really effective.
As for eye gouging, I get where you're coming from. Bas Rutten made some good points about this in an interview he did with Joe Rogan. Namely, that if a guy has you in a lock and you try to go for his eyes he's just gonna snap your neck/arm/leg/etc. That being said, I think eye gouging and groin strikes do have a legitimate use in self defense situations if you're trying to escape rather than fight. So if a guy corners you in an alley you could jab him in the eyes and then book it.
Again though, thanks for the post and videos. Great addition.
I’d like to add some more comments based on your best point in the article:
“People don't start fights they think they're gonna lose.”
This is totally true. The other guy starts the fight because he is bigger/stronger. He thinks he is gonna win. And guess what, 99.9% of the times he is right. Unless you have something to make things equal. So about this point, let’s go step by step.
5) Modern UFC is no more street-like fight.
They added gloves, weight divisions and many rules. This has created the illusion that you can beat anybody using strikes. Well that’s not the case.
Weight divisions exists essentially because the light weight guy cannot beat the heavy weight guy. And gloves prevents you break your hands/wrists. In a street fight there are not weight divisions, no gloves and no time limit.
In UFC they don’t have to worry about fighting 50 pounds heavier guys. They don’t have to worry about punching too hard and get hurt. They can use all their stamina since they know how much time the fight is going to last. Nothing of this applies to a street fight.
In the early UFCs Royce beat much heavier guys. In the early UFCs many guys got their wrist broken by punching hard. Royce had a fight against Zakuraba lasting 1.30 hours. Helio Gracie had a fight with Waldemar Santana that lasted 3 hours and 45 minutes (by the way, they both lost). So, managing your stamina is very important and changes your fighting approach.
I’ve read many guys on the internet saying: hey, in my dojo we learn the same kicks that Lyoto Machida or St. Pierre does. Nowadays we see UFC figthers doing fancy kicks that didn't work back in the day. But consider that they can do that since they a have a good understanding of distance (learned from real fighting), and if they fail and go to the ground they have an insurance: they know ground fighting. So no, it is not the same fancy kick you do on your mc dojo.
Also consider this: Connor McGregor is a great fighter, terrific boxer. But can he beat Brock Lesnar in a real fight, no gloves no time limit? I seriously doubt it.
6) If you are the little guy, your gonna be on the bottom.
Helio Gracie noticed that japanese judokas didn’t like to be on the bottom. He also realized that as he was so weak, he was going to be on the bottom most of the time. Bingo! That’s the reason for Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
Make this experiment. Put two no trained guys with different weight to wrestle. 100/100 of times the big guy is gonna be on the top, sooner o later. It’s physics, it’s nature.
As Dan Inosanto said in one interview: he had a lot of experience in many many martial arts, but until he found Jiu Jitsu he didn’t know any other style that allow him fight while he is on his back.
So it is not by chance that every guy entering into the cage has to know Jiu Jitsu. The additional styles can vary: boxing, wrestling, karate, muay thai, etc.
7) Let’s forget about previous points, and think your can always win only by striking.
Well, you still have a problem. Striking arts are good for hurting someone, but no so good to controlling someone.
So, if I push you and start a fight and then you punch my face and I bleed, and lose some teeth. Guess what: I’m going to sue you. Yeah, the cops and the judge don’t care if I started the fight. I’m the hurt one and your gonna pay for that.
That’s the great thing about grappling arts, and specially Gracie Jiu Jitsu. When I saw Royce beating Ken Shamrock I was impress not just about the result, but how Royce being smaller had 100% control all the time. That is priceless. With grappling you can control somebody, hurting him is optional.
When I did karate and taekwondo I did’t feel really confident. With Jiu Jitsu I really started to taste effectiveness.
Hi I have a question. I went to a couple of BJJ classes, and one thing I noticed was that they didn't teach stand up and or takedowns, you start the sparring on your knees. I live in Australia and there is very little places to learn wrestling in Australia. There is a place not too far where I live where they teach Judo and BJJ, but your article states that Judo has techniques that are not effective. I'm on the shorter side at 5'6 and have a security job. Would you think this dojo would be a useful for learning practical martial arts:
Or should would be better off learning just BJJ even though stand is not taught?
dagger_01 wrote: Hi I have a question. I went to a couple of BJJ classes, and one thing I noticed was that they didn't teach stand up and or takedowns, you start the sparring on your knees. I live in Australia and there is very little places to learn wrestling in Australia. There is a place not too far where I live where they teach Judo and BJJ, but your article states that Judo has techniques that are not effective. I'm on the shorter side at 5'6 and have a security job. Would you think this dojo would be a useful for learning practical martial arts:
Or should would be better off learning just BJJ even though stand is not taught?
My advice is you try to find a Gracie Jiu Jitsu Academy, or some teacher that learned from some of the Helio Gracie Sons. It can be Gracie Academy, Gracie Humaitá, Valente Brothers and some others.
What you said is what happens in most, if not all, BJJ sport academies.
If you add Judo to Sport BJJ it would be a great complement, since sport BJJ lacks of good throwings, and Judo is most about that. The missing piece in that case would be the punch prevention strategies that you learn in Gracie Jiu Jitsu.
I see that many people in MMA academies just use BJJ for grappling and let muay thai do the job for standing. I think that's workable for athletes and professionals, but that about executives, mothers, etc.? I don't see them practicing such thing. That's why gracie jiu jitsu is so good, is for everyone no matter how weak you are.
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