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Which is the Best Martial Art?

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Which is THE BEST Martial Art?

The question has been asked of me yet again, you know the one.  No matter if I am in Korea, Japan, Thailand, Australia, or my home city of Colorado Springs, every martial artist and wanna be martial artist asks this same question.  The one that goes something like this, "Which martial art is better? Could a Karate guy beat Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Rock, or The Undertaker of the WWE? Could Jet Li beat Mike Tyson? Could McGregor beat Mayweather? Or Maybe could Batman beat the Green Lantern?" You can change the martial art name and change the challenger to whoever you would like it to be. The question remains the same, "Which martial art is better?" That question has been around for many years and I don't think that it will be answered any time soon.

In my home city of Colorado Springs each Karate school will say they are best, discounting the other simply because, well, because they say so.

The UFC (Ultimate Fighting Championships) has addressed this very question by putting people of various styles and systems together to compete. The only real outcome to such a competition was the birth of Mixed Martial Arts. This forced many "traditional" martial arts "masters" and "grandmasters" to open their eyes and admit that there is more to the world than just their "traditional" only system. (By the way we are not against tradition. Our tradition is that we do not focus upon tradition, traditionally speaking, which in itself is a tradition I suppose.) 

Ok, ok, I hear you. "Stop dodging the question and give us an answer. Which martial art is better?" Wow, some of you are so impatient. Well, my answer for now is that there is no answer. I guess that is kind of a Bruce Lee philosophy type answer. But it is an answer. 

I am asked all the time (too much actually) what makes what we teach at CFMAF in Colorado Springs better than the other arts, systems and styles available. Look, if you ask any instructor of any system which style is the best, that instructor will pump his or her system up as being the best. Well, I'm not going to do that. Our proof is in the class. What makes our style what it is, is the fact that it is all styles, yet it is no style at all. (Wow, I am really starting to sound like a cheap Bruce Lee imitation.) It is like water, it conforms to its surroundings yet can be a devastating force. It remains constant in its make up but it is free to change form to address any situation, much like water to steam, and water to ice. The make up of the water is the same, but different in appearance, allowing it to complete successfully the task it is called upon to do. (Hmm, maybe I should be a philosophy major, or maybe not.) 

Here is what I mean. Let's use Taekwondo as an example. Some people love it, some people hate it. Either way we must acknowledge that a Taekwondoist can usually kick (I speak in general terms because it is not the art that necessarily makes someone good, it is the practitioner of the art), but have you seen them punch? YUCK! It's a terrible thing to see. I'm not sure what hurts more, getting hit by their punch or being a spectator and watching them try to punch. Ok, TKD people bring your feet back down to the ground and don't get all ticked off at me. I am speaking in general terms and generally TKD people do not punch well. It is not their "specialty", but they can kill you with their feet. So let's stay with the Taekwondo theme. If you are out on an icy street and someone is attacking you, would it be advisable to kick? Probably not. (Although I would wonder how smart the attacker is to attempt to attack someone on an icy street. If I cannot kick, than he cannot run away either. So I think that it is only fitting that we pair skate, while I begin to educate.) Now that doesn't mean that Taekwondo isn't effective. It just means that in that particular scenario it may not be effective. In that particular style it is dominated by the use of the foot, it is what we call proprietary. It remains bound within its system. 

We could use the example of Judo. In a bar setting Judo could prove to be as effective as the hands of a boxer, and the elbow and knee strikes of Thai Fighter because of the limited space available. But if there is distance between the two combatants, Judo could prove to have its limitations. The reason is due to the distance between the combatants. Judo needs to grab you to perform it devastating trips and throws. Does that mean that it is a "bad" martial art? Not at all. 

Ok, all you other martial artists out there whose systems and styles I have not mentioned, do not begin beating yourself on your chest as if you are Tarzan. I didn't name your system due to space limitations that's all (and because I can't spell some of your styles, but you didn't have to know that). My point is that most styles and systems focus upon certain things; it is part of their tradition and make up. There is nothing wrong with that. What is wrong is that often times these same systems will discount another system by saying, "But what would you do if I grabbed you?" or "What if you are too far away to punch or grab, what would you do then?" Well, the problem there is that they are trying to strengthen their position by minimizing the important position taken by the person they are speaking with. Are you following me? Here is what I mean. It is easy for a kicker to say to a boxer, "What would you do if someone is too far away for you to punch them, but that person is close enough to kick you?" That kicker is attempting to take away the important point brought up by the puncher by relying completely upon his system's strength, the kicks. The boxer's response, "What can you do when I am inside of your feet and you can't kick?" is a legitimate question, but not an answer. Deflecting and redirecting a question by throwing out your own question means that neither one gains an answer. Both people are still as lost as when they presented their questions. No knowledge has been gained because they were too focused on defending their strengths instead of acknowledging their weakness. In a perfect scenario the puncher would gain knowledge from the kicker and the kicker from the puncher. Now both have grown into more complete fighters. 

What a student at CFMAF would say would be something like, "When you are far away, I kick. When you are closer, I punch and trap. Even closer, I elbow, knee, eye gouge, joint lock, head butt, and use pressure points. Even closer, I grab trip and throw. Then when on the ground, I ground fight." Our acknowledgement is that we know that each system and style has its limitations so we use the best from each system. 

Haven't you noticed the recent trend? Some Kempo stylists universally proclaiming ground fighting as always being a part of their system and adamantly states that it is not B.J.J., some traditional Hapkido stylist proclaim the same and so do many other systems (funny how that never seemed to be a part of their systems before the Gracie phenomenon). Traditional Hapkidoist are writing articles about the ground fighting techniques of Hapkido. Tae kwon do stylists are teaching joint locks, throws, and pressure points saying it is a part of their art, always has been, always will be. The list goes on and on. CFMAF simply says yes we took  this from Brazilian Jiu Jitsu/Grace Jiu Jitsu, yes we stole this from Sambo, yes we stole this from TKD and TSD, yes we stole this from Thai Boxing, yes we stole this from Jeet Kune Do, yes we stole this from Wing Chun, yes we stole this from Boxing, yes we stole this from various Hapkido systems, yes we stole this from etc... We simply give acknowledgement to those systems that have contributed to our system of no systems yet style of all styles :). Each of these systems named and many more not named are viable systems and styles and have a lot to offer. So we take from each of them to enhance our style of all styles, yet style of no style at all. 

Now, I have an answer to the question you asked me paragraphs ago. You remember the question "Which martial art is better?" I know, it took me long enough. Just get over it and read my answer. 

The best martial art, hands and feet down, is the one that you choose to practice. As for me and my students we choose the style of all styles, yet no style at all - we choose CFMAF. 

Isaac Costley

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