“My Martial ART is better than yours!”
Right about now you are thinking what style does this punk do?
Really that question can only be answered truthfully, by the individual, as it is a personal opinion. It becomes more a question of why do you do a martial art? Some of the key factors for undertaking the study of martial arts are self defence, health/fitness, social and personal achievement. These reasons will cover over 90% of people and why they decided to study a martial art. Let’s look at these factors a little more closely so we can understand why people study the martial arts. Then we can look at what styles are obviously the better ones.
It is common knowledge that people look to martial arts for self defence, after all that is what they are all about, right? Well if we go back far enough to that monk on a mountain in 3AD, it was probably why he first decided to categorise some ways to hurt someone in defence and viola’ we have a martial art. So we all turn up at the nearby Dojang/Dojo/Kwoon or Gym to learn how to “kick butt” and defend ourselves, but realistically is this why we stay training? For most the reason changes over time with maturity and it either becomes the health/fitness benefits, the social gathering of like minds or even the personal achievement they realise, be it from improving their self esteem, their confidence or from a sport aspect from winning or being a leader in their style.
When we understand the fact that we are all individuals and we realise that we are all studying the martial arts for ourselves, and then taking into account the aspects above, it then becomes which style is the best? Now this is where we need to realise that there is no one perfect or ultimate style, regardless of how passionate you feel about the one you are studying right now. Today it seems every style promises to cover all the aspects we are looking for and in reality most martial arts do touch upon each of them; however they also focus or prioritise one aspect above others. This is an efficient approach; after all we have heard the term “Jack of all trades – Master of none”. Styles have a focus be it Tradition, Sport/Competition, Health, Self Defence or even Performance.
Does that mean that one is better than another? Yes, after all if you desire to win gold at the Olympics your choices for a martial art are limited. If you want to compete against others for glory and recognition the styles you can choose from grows. This shows that depending on what each person wants to get from their study of the martial arts, a style or styles will be better suited to help them achieve those goals. If we follow this logic it becomes a personal journey in finding and learning a style that is going to give you the best path to your personal goals, the style that achieves this is in fact the best one, at least for you.
This leads onto the problem that students will undertake a style and then later on change styles. Is this a bad thing? Really this depends on why they left. If we realise that styles have focuses and we know that students mature in a style, and what they want to achieve in life can change. It becomes more of a question will this style continue to give me what I want or do I need to look somewhere else to achieve my goals. This has in some way been a driving force behind the eclectic or blending of styles, as people grow and realise that they need more from their style. Instead of changing styles they are adding or enhancing the one they currently study by adding attributes from another.
We step onto the path that is martial arts for a very personal journey and we seek to grow through our studies. We all have personal wants and needs and that is where a particular style can be the best. So this is the reason each style is the Best for someone.
When it comes down to it the martial arts have a wide variety of appeal and a wide variety of benefits. As an instructor the best way to grow your style is to understand and be true to what aspects your style specialises in. This ensures that if you are a style that focuses on competition then you attract people who are or want to be competitors. You have to remember that not everyone is suited to your style, however by being true and attracting the right people each student will know that they are studying the best martial art.
“My Martial ART is better than yours!”
Grandmaster Geoff J. Booth