This is part of a series of articles inspired by an interview with Matt Thornton.  It is a collection common fallacious arguments and strategic errors regarding martial arts efficacy.  From here on, when I write an assertion like, "X works," I mean:

  • Substitute for "X" any specific martial art, system, or technique.
  • "X" is generally applicable in a real fight.

X has Utility Beyond Self-Defense

As Matt Thornton explains, once you demonstrate that a particular art doesn't work, a subsequent objection may be that the art has value outside of fighting.  For example, a spiritual component may be claimed to be present in one art, but absent in another.

This is an attempt to move the goalposts.  Adherence to tradition, historical reenactment, physical exercise, self-discipline, and spiritual enlightenment are often-cited characteristics used to widen the context of the discussion, and increase the perceived value of a martial art.

Generally, when an art is claimed to have benefits beyond combative application, Matt Thorton asks, "What benefits are you getting from [that art] that you cannot gain from Brazilizan Jiu-Jitsu?"  There are good practices within a variety of martial arts traditions besides combative application.  Why not add those positive, non-combative aspects and practices to an art with better-proven combative application?