Martial Arts - Fighting Skills vs. Artistic Performance / by Boaz Aviram

Martial Arts raise two directions of thought. A professional set of skills of Fighting Art, or a fun activity of artistic depiction of self expression using the human body.

People can spend years of training in various techniques in acting fighting scenes until they appear to execute every more effortlessly and impress spectators in their immense skills.

Image, dress, Expression, color and built, all have a psychological effect on viewers perception. In Hollywood, stunt men are being hired to compensate for physical skills that a good actor may lack.

The Human Body is very complex and has immense amount of capacity to develop and hone. However, with years of experience in sports science it is discovered that there are limits to genetics. Even sports competitions that appear to be simple, have somewhat degree of complexity.

The overall feeling of the body, the stamina, the fast twitch muscles the sufficient training, the mental habits coming from years of training and the daily overcoming of muscle pain, nerve pain, lunge pain, traumatic sports injuries push athletes to compete to win.
What if we take an athlete that won a running competition and the following 9 people that arrived at the finish line after him and have them compete with each other 10 more times? Probably the results should be about the same, unless one of the slowest athletes is used to running double the distance at a slower pace.

For short distance running, usually the winners are those that have a fast twitch muscle in their genes. For the longer distance, stamina could compensate for that.

When it comes to Martial Arts, the key to distinguish if they are geared to impress in clean techniques and artistic performance like circus acrobats, or show dancers, or theater acting, or to just arrive to the finish line first constantly being one step ahead of potential opponents.

What helps students to save their lives is efficiency considering the unknown opponent’s most efficient possibilities to reach one of your pressure points first and be able to control and restrict your motion, breathing, and life.

Let’s say you are driving a car. Your ability to get to your destination without hitting the curb, another car, or another pedestrian, is dependent on your awareness, constant vision on the road responding to what you see, process and then accelerate or brake on time. So it is important for you to experience how to do all this at the initial driver’s training.

If you are training in a Martial Art, where your Instructor is in constant control on the acceleration and the brakes by instilling a training method that promotes maximum safety but yet never subjects you to incremental danger, then you will never be able to drive your body in a fight without hitting the curb.

So let’s say you practice ballroom dance and only occasionally step on someone’s toes, you are doing pretty good. You can move around in a group of people in a slow pace or even relatively fast pace, and have a sense of safety to yourself and others.

But if you were trying to hone your martial arts skills you would need to explore a much faster motion faster than boxing which is at the moment the sports that exchange blows and motion in the fastest speed.

Faster than fencing strike or slash and your spectators will not be able to follow the artistic motion of your limbs because it would be too fast.

Let’s say you are doing a complex martial arts standing exchanging kicks blows, grappling standing and on the ground, exchanging attacks and defenses armed and unarmed you need to ensure you do not exclude a vital drill out of your training regimen.

For most sports you have body armor that facilitate development of maximum speed and force with some protection. For example Kendo lets you wear a helmet, some protection and spar with your opponent hitting each other.

Fencing has the same. Yet the constraint of the helmet limiting your vision and therefore timely reaction and the weapon that does not always resemble the weapon you would be using in real life will not get you any closer to reality.

But these are the small stuff of the proper training. The major component is carrying bad training habits from the time these training methods were not available into the luxury world of the availability of the training aids. I am sure you could have always find some way in any era to train with similar training aids that we have now, but not every trainer had the mind to use them.

If you see that after you have a set of techniques applying to each scenario and when it is time to spar, you are leaving the victory to chance, you need to analyze the reasons.

Of course you can say that the loser had a bad day, did not eat enough, neglected his fitness training, etc. But perhaps you mixed techniques that were designed over the years to answer one problem and artistically applied them to another problem because you are used to always train in a ballroom dance pace and never take your sparing to maximum speed possible;

In Pure Krav Maga students learn to always strike in maximum force of at least time and a half of their body weight and maximum speed with contact all from the first three hours of training.

The way a full speed match is kept safe it by shortening the extension of the striking limb to only penetrate a little more than the opponent’s skin.

In Pure Krav Maga one cannot afford letting his students learn techniques and then exchange blows and kicks hoping to win. Any inefficient technique, principle, tactical, option is eliminated.

Therefore you are left with specific approach. A priority based approach that is based on the split second reaction time that you have and your opponent have considering your awareness training to always be prepared knowing your limitation and adding them to the formula of reaction time leaving you with the knowledge when to move before it is too late.

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