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.
It's Not the Art, It's the Artist
This is, in some ways, the complement of No True Scotsman. It is often trotted out to explain how a practitioner of a less effective art can defeat the practitioner of a more effective martial art. It is often used in place of one or more specific claims about the winner.
Sometimes, the claim is being made that the winner possesses superior physical attributes (size, speed, strength, endurance). This is a significant determining factor in many fights, and shouldn't be discounted. If a martial art relies on great physicality, that doesn't invalidate it. However, it reduces both the number of potential practitioners of that art, and also the range of age and physical capability over which you will be able to utilize it. As with "X works on the untrained," this is not a logical fallacy, but rather a strategic consideration.
Often the implication is that the winner utilized superior training methods, practiced more diligently, worked harder, etc. That is, through their dedication and virtue, they have achieved a level of efficacy few others do in their art. This may be a condemnation of the art, that its training methods do not regularly produce students who are effective. This is a testable assertion, and we should look back to video of MMA fights, and cell phone or security camera footage to judge. How many people make that art effective? Is the artist in question an anomaly?
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