Martial Arts vs Fighting sports

It’s a common misconception among people that all ring fighting sports are martial arts. No they’re not.

Even if your “ring fighting sport” is so cool that a practitioner can take on an opponent 100 times his own size, it’s still not a martial arts if it fits the definition of martial arts (or is simply ring fighting only).

It’s just like a BJJ guy thinks taekwondo is useless because they fight with kicks only and won’t be able to do anything in grappling or on ground. Yes exactly, coz both are “sports”, with their own techniques and rules.

So what exactly is martial art? lets find out!

What is meant by Martial Arts?

Most people (mostly other than the ones doing “ring fighting sports”) define martial arts as the art of war. Now this is a really heavy term!

Literal meaning of martial arts is art of war.

A martial artist is someone who can really carry out something more serious and has skills that are useful for warfare.

So you know how to bring down a person and make him “tap”, wow! Do you know how to break his joint? Oh your teacher didn’t tell you how to? He can’t, coz just like you, he learnt “controlled ring fighting sport” only.

In true martial arts, hand to hand combat was only just a “part of skills” the practitioner learned.

Take Ninjutsu for example. They focused on achieving the skills of an assassin and guerilla warfare. Same was with true warfares of China, knowing Kung fu (no not the wushu – sports, and others).


So learning weapons and killing is martial arts?

No, not only that too. You need to know a lot more, including:

  • Survival, yes right, if your “master” didn’t teach you how to survive on your own, you’re just learning a sport
  • Control, leadership and discipline – you don’t have to fight in ring only, but to lead your team
  • Communication skills
  • Weapons (your teacher owns a gun even? let alone teaching how to use it) [oh, you thought those fancy nunchucku are weapons of martial arts only? lol!]
  • Camouflage
  • Unarmed combat
  • etc.

There’s much much more to go!

Isn’t taekwondo, BJJ, MMA martial arts?

Well I can call hiking a martial arts too, who’s gonna ask me? Right!

So a person who spent all his life learning taekwondo, bjj, judo or any other sport wants to feel good and special. So what they do is, instead of really learning a useful skill for martial arts, they start calling their style as martial arts.

What is MMA?

Well it’s a long topic on its own, but just wanted to add a brief description about it here.

Mixed martial arts is not a “style”. It’s name of “competition type”.

E.g. if someone said that they’re having taekwondo championship in your city, or judo competition, etc.

Similarly, there are mixed martial arts competitions, in which all these “so called martial arts” compete instead of competition separately with their own rules.

So now if someone says: I teach MMA (or I learn MMA), ask them to first learn what MMA is. Coz it’s like saying: I’m learning “Concert”. Exactly, you can learn to sing, and then go sing in a concert. Learning a “concert” is a funny statement, so learning MMA is funny statement too!

Which arts are real martial arts then?

There isn’t a school that will teach you martial arts as such. If you’re too much into martial arts, go join military of your local country or so, that will be the most real martial arts you can learn.

If not, then at least learn something that started or evolved as a martial arts and makes you something like a warrior. Which is not any ring sport at all.

Hopefully you’ll have a better idea about difference between ring fight sports like judo, taekwondo, karate, kabaddi, boxing, etc. and a true martial arts.

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3 Responses

  1. ninja says:

    If your Bujinkan or any other teacher taught you all the aspects of ninjutsu, including survival, weapons, assassination, warfare, fighting an army, then you choose the right teacher.

    If not, then I’m sorry you wasted your time over fancy promises 🙂

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