Archive for March, 2010

The Dangers of Promoting Cage Fighting as The Ultimate Test.

March 2, 2010




For some time now I’ve been worried about the trend of submission fighting that has swept the Martial Arts world. Before I start let me first state that I have nothing against submission fighting. Indeed at the clubs I teach at we enter such competitions and I’ve won a few Kumite style competitions myself. What’s worrying me is that this form of martial arts is now being advertised as the ultimate test of an artist, and subsequently groundwork has usurped classical self defence techniques in many clubs and arts.

I constantly see statistics published that say 95% of fights end up on the ground. I’d love to know where these statistics came from and who conducted such a poll. I’m not proud to say that I’ve been in a few street fights myself and not one of them has ended up on the ground. Indeed, the ground is absolutely the last place I would want to be! How many people are brave enough to attack anyone one to one? Not many that’s for sure! The people who would have the confidence to do so are probably trained to some extent themselves and therefore, in my experience at least, less likely to cause a fight. So if we assume that people who are going to cause trouble will probably have their friends with them, all that can be gained from following your assailant to the ground is a kick to the back of your head by his friend(s) and probably much worse.

Ju Jitsu, my preferred art has been around for centuries as everyone in the Martial Arts world knows. Other arts such as Karate, Aikido, Taekwando (in all it’s forms) and many more have stood the test of time. They have all stood that test, both in the modern world and in the ancient battlefield because they work. They work as a form of self-defence first and foremost, not as a means of point scoring. They can all be adapted to competition style bouts, but ultimately they are forms of self-defence designed to protect a practitioner from real aggression. When I was learning I was always taught that the last place you wanted to be in a fight was on the ground and I teach the same thing to my students now. A classical Jujutsuka would only go to ground if he had no choice, and it is good to have techniques to use when you get there, but they should be done quickly with the aim of getting to your feet as quickly as possible. That is self-defence, and that is what should be taught in my view.

The current popularity for groundwork has come about due to the popularity of submission fighting and so called no holds barred competitions which often claim to have no rules, which of course they do. If they did not, people would be losing their sight or worse! Again I have nothing against these competitions. Also let me say that I love groundwork. These competitions are exactly that though, competitions. They are good to watch, and they are a good test of one martial artist against another to a large extent. While there are rules however, they can’t be as true a test as the battlefields of Japan were. They also only pit one artist against another. Not one against many as would probably happen in a street situation. Therefore it should be made clear that groundwork training is mainly for competitions and not for the street. Classical Ju Jitsu, the same art that has been practised for centuries is ideal for the street. Let’s not get the two mixed up!