For those involved in UFC and competitive fight organizations, knowing aspects of several martial arts are a requirement. No one can survive, yet alone win with just a stand-up game or a ground game. It was individuals such as Georges St. Pierre and Randy Couture, who were the complete package and thus, the great champions. But for the rest of us who do not regularly partake in the "joy" of an elbow-to-the-chin, I pose the question, "Is MMA really good for martial arts as a whole?"
Part of learning an art is the "-do" aspect of it. Do in Japanese is the same as Tao in Chinese, which of course, translates as "the way." When treating the art with the proper respect, one recognizes that the way is not just about learning a technique; rather, it is about the whole picture. It is a way of finding the best version of yourself and helping others do the same via a martial art. It is not the technique that is mastered but the message the technique is trying to teach the student.
In many ways, this debate reminds me of my prior profession, that being an Acupuncture Physician. I spent 4 years learning this healing form, covering topics such as herbal medicine, microsystems, theory, points and a long host of others. Chiropractors and MDs, by contrast, spent a weekend. One (1) whole weekend trying to memorize some points and techniques.
It is not about learning to put a needle into a patient based on a book or something you learned in a lecture. It is not a modality but rather, a complete healing system. Taken in pieces, it becomes reduces to a trivial method akin to taking aspirin when a person gets a headache. Yes, it may work but did you really get to the root of the problem and correct it? Did you address the individual as a person or just go after masking the problem?.
I think taking bits and pieces from other arts and trying to weave them (or jam them) into your current art misses the whole point. Archery is not Kyudo. Learning to throw a front kick is not "knowing" karate. Getting out of a headlock with something you saw on a YouTube clip is not understanding Silat. The deep meanings take years, if not an entire lifetime to grasp.
MMA is a sport and each participant deserves credit for their courage to step inside the ring and the countless hours of dedication to training it took to prepare. For those called to the expression, follow your path. For those who are not desirous of that path, do not confuse sport with art. Mind you, one is not "better" or "worse" than others. Simply distinct and very, very different. Different goals, different methods and different outcomes.
In an era of "hacking" and looking for the quick fix, one of the big adjustments we as martial artists all could make is adding a little patience into the mix. Take the time to learn an art, learn a -do, not just a method or a trick. By maintaining its purity, we offer the true respect that the arts deserve
David Orman is the head instructor of Central Florida Systema, located in Winter Garden which he has overseen for the last eight years as the first person in Florida to receive Full Instructor Certification in Systema.. He has been training for 32 years and also holds black belt rankings in Aikido, Karate and Kumdo, and he is currently studying Toyama Ryu Batto Do.