I have studied the arts of personal combat for a very long time. I am fascinated by it, and no matter what I do in life, I am always drawn back to interest in martial arts, the study of war on the small scale, and living the modern samurai way.
There's a plethora of information out there on the martial arts, fighting, and survival. I think it's time I advance my opinions, now that I believe I have earned the right to have one on the subject.
There is no one martial art that is an answer to all problems and situations. General principles may
carry over from situation to situation, but the my "art is the best" syndrome is the recipe for combat disaster. Your Art is one way, and hopefully a very good one, but there are many schools of battle, all of which have strengths and weaknesses.
Proper Martial Path
My particular belief is that one on this path should find a martial art they like and make that their foundation for studying other arts, if martial arts is something they want to do. At some point, usually after about 3 years maybe, it's good to diversify your portfolio, to go outside of your school and comfort zone and see the world of hand-to-hand from other perspectives.
Here's an example of what I mean. I am a karate-ka from way back. Lot's of punching, kicking, and old-school conditioning. At the higher levels of the art you discover softer techniques give you more weapons in your arsenal. Later study of Aikido, ju-jitsu, Judo, or even Tai Chi, gives you greater insight into what you have already learned, expands your knowledge, and can provide a larger path for training and living.
I have met Sandans (3rd Degree blackbelts) who inspire fear and others whose ass I can kick, with or without a black belt. Rank is the most dangerous obstacle to being combat ready. Let me repeat that: RANK IS THE MOST DANGEROUS OBSTACLE TO BEING COMBAT READY.
Rank is ultimately meaningless, except as a measure of how long you've been in a school and how much knowledge you are supposed to have in you. It is not a measure of how good a fighter you are. In the old days, before belt rank in karate was given, there used to be a sign-in board that had your name. The senior students who had been there the longest were at the top of the list.
This whole blog is about proper mindset, so I will try to keep it short. My thoughts about battle might be summed up thus, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight that counts, but the size of the fight in the dog."
The sheer will to win is the most important aspect of training and battle. If this is forgotten in the name of other goals, however noble, you will do yourself a serious disservice. You may still have some effective techniques, but you personally will not be as effective.
The Will to Win cannot be practiced on the couch (unless you are laid up from an injury). The will to win comes from actual physical practice and conditioning with this mindset in your head. If you lose this mindset, you may still be very good, but you will become less of a warrior. Warriors win. That's why you train. To win. Being a good person usually comes as a result of training for lots of reasons, but the whole reason you get out of bed and on the mat is to kick ass, to be a winner in your personal battles, to overcome and win in your interpersonal-battles
Everything else comes second, on an instictual level that is. God and the commandments are first of course, but when it comes to battle, you train to win, and win at nearly any cost. I know there are purists and masters who disagree with my approach, but you learn to fight to protect yourself. You continue to train for other reasons.
How to Train
Conditioning is the most important aspect of training once proper mindset is established. Give me a beginniner who is physically fit who knows a few basics, and he will be much more dangerous than a senior student who can't do a 5 minute jog. The reason is that he has already conquered his mind and his body. He is actually ready for the work of mopping up enemies.
Senior students who emphasize conditioning as a pre-requisite to training--this is a WIN and the way of the warrior. It also hopefully keeps the warrior humble, hopefully, no matter how far he goes in his art, for he knows the body's limits and vulnerabilities.
Especially as you get older, you must condition yourself for battle, to do kick ass techniques in real life, and of course, over and over again on the mat. Without conditioning as the foundation of your training, one cannot expective to be optimally effective in combat. Conditioning is the way of the warrior. Check out the workout over www.akban.org to see what I mean. That is warrior conditioned.
There is much more I can say about the martial way. In my own path, I have found that a return to my foundational mindset and training has given me much-needed perspective. I know how tough I am and hide my weaknesses as much as I can on a daily basis, while improving upon them on my own time behind closed doors, as much as I can.
My weakness is conditioning. My strength is mindset. Somewhere in between are techniques. In every warrior, regardless of path, they all must become one.
Over and Out,