In Search of the Perfect Combat Martial Art


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People love debate! Some will argue over anything and everything; just to be difficult. I’m one of them! One debate I hear continuously is what is the most effective combat martial art?

No simple answer to this question exists, but depending on your goals almost any art will suffice. The most effective art is the one you enjoy and will stick with.

There are some things to consider when you are thinking about beginning training in the martial arts, or switching from one art to another.


It is my belief that the heart of the person who studies a martial art is more important than the martial art itself. This is especially true if you are studying martial arts to use in a real world combat scenario. A dangerous man is a dangerous man, no matter what style he has chosen to study.

I have seen black belts who were practically unable to defend themselves when confronted with a violent attacker. They were mentally unable to apply the moves they had studied. They were awesome in the dojo, but were helpless in the real world.

Conversely, I have seen people with little formal training defend themselves effectively. What did these people have that the black belts didn’t? They had the mental toughness needed to respond aggressively to their attackers.


The best way to overcome this inability to apply a technique in an actual situation is to use reality-base training.

Brigadier General S. L. A. Marshall, the U. S. Army’s official historian, discovered only 15 percent of soldiers actually fired their weapons with the intent to kill the enemy.

As a result, the U. S. Army altered its training methods. They changed from traditional bull’s-eye targets to popup targets. In this new training the soldier is trained to engage the target as it appears. Since the target is available for a short time, soldiers must quickly identity and engage the target. This conditions them to engage targets that mimic human shape.

Using this type of training the U. S. Army increased combat effectiveness from 15 percent, to over 55 percent in Korea and an astounding 95 percent in Vietnam!


Many martial arts are so grounded in the past that they are unable to adapt to modern combat situations. This doesn’t mean they aren’t worth studying, but you need to know what you are getting.

For instance, Tae Kwon Do is a wonderful art form. But it just doesn’t translate well into street situations.

There are several forms of unarmed combat that utilize reality-based training to enhance the ability of their students to apply the techniques. To qualify as a reality-based martial art, the style must spend a significant amount of time allowing its students to actually fight.


Brazilian Jiu Jitsu is one of the styles that utilize this kind of training. Practitioners of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu spend a significant amount of time practicing their techniques on each other. This practice is often at full speed, with the students stopping just prior to actually harming one another. Trust is important here.

When I studied Tae Kwon Do and Karate we sparred infrequently, and under very restricted conditions. Since these are striking art forms, I understand and approve of the tight control of the sparring bouts.

Unlike Tae Kwon Do and Karate, students of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu can workout against each other every class. This enables them to learn to apply their techniques against live resisting targets.

This training allows them to develop a sense of what works in a confrontation. When they are forced into a situation where they need to defend themselves, there is a smaller gap between what they do in the gym and what they need to do on the street.


We can debate over and over about which art is better. Simply put, the best art is the one you enjoy and can stay with long enough to gain mastery and achieve your goals.

Never forget that when it comes to self defense the heart of the practitioner is more important than the martial art itself.

Secure Publications, is a San Antonio Texas publishing company specializing in “How To" books and special reports designed to enhance our quality of life.

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