T Nation

Did I Actually Waste All of Those Years of Training as a Martial Arts Practitioner?

Hey there everybody, how are you? So, I am writing this post with regard to my experience as a martial artist for over 12+ years. I am a 3rd degree black belt in the martial art called as well as a certified assistant instructor of the art. So, I just recently realized and learned that martial arts styles including specific martial arts organizations or schools for that particular martial arts style that don’t have their students consistently practicing sufficient sparring are generally ineffective for truly learning and preparing yourself for real life self-defense situations. Now, my martial art style including the organization and school I belonged to that taught me the art, taught me and trained me a comprehensive array of practical self-defense techniques for almost all kinds of situations, ranges of fighting, types of opponents I am against. We had sparring sessions available every week; however, it only happens once a week (sometimes twice a week, but usually not) and it’s optional. I did some sparring over the years and I was not bad at it; however, to be honest I actually never made enough time to practice sparring throughout most of my years as a Hapkido practitioner. So, having said all of that, did I actually waste all of those years
training in that martial, when I could’ve instead trained in an even more practical style like MMA, or BJJ, Judo, Wrestling, Western Boxing, Muay Thai, Krav Maga, or what have you? Did, I actually not learn or develop real self-defense abilities after all?


Go and fight a few people and find out. Only way to know for sure.


Nah brah, you’re good. Now go end those riots.

1 Like

If the only value you see in practicing a martial arts sport is your ability to fight other people, then you should practice fighting other people. If you get anything else out of it “waste” does not seem to be an applicable word.

Running away is pretty good as far as self-defence goes

1 Like

Dude, you can break death, why worry?

When you see dudes using boxing, judo or wrestling or BJJ do you understand what they’re doing? Does your art have an answer for what the other styles are bringing? Practicing your art, have you learned what to do if someone tries to punch you, take you down throw you or arm lock you? It wasn’t a waste if you learned some useful stuff.

I saw Jeff Goldblum lay a guy out with what looked like Hapkido to me.

1 Like

I usetah could do martial arts for many years, too. Sparring can definitely help, but there are often rules (no kicking below the waist) that make it not-so-real. Also, knowing just 1 style, say karate, doesn’t help if someone gets you on the ground. Maybe watch the movie “Dragon: The Bruce Lee Story” as it highlights his realizations of the weaknesses of standard arts and his attempt to eliminate them.

Your training gave you some tools and taught you how to use them. But there are lots more tools available for other purposes. If you know what I mean.

Also I was always taught (in MA) that size and youth often are the deciding factors, and training only helped when the opponents were roughly equal in the first two.

Plus remember the universal rule: to win any fight (from fistfights to wars) you have to be more violent than the opponent.

It’s only wasted effort if you feel it is. There are all kinds of human movement arts, few of which translate directly into one’s ability to defend one’s self. It’s always better to move than not move, so I’d take a well-practiced male ballerina or Kung-fu master in a fight over some random bar denizen. A lot of martial arts seem to be a form of dance with visual similarities to stylized depictions of fighting, and there’s nothing wrong with learning to move that way if that’s what you want to do.

You’ll never know if you can defend yourself until you get to find out. The more you separate yourself from your opponent by training, physical attributes and willingness to fight, the better your chances will be. Nothing is promised, however.

1 Like

You ever get punched in the face?

If so, how did you respond? Did you recoil in fear and make sure that never happens again, or step back and blast 'em one?

Violence isn’t for everybody.

On the other hand, some people are great at it.

You just have to find out where you are on that continuum and go from there.

I can’t imagine that your years of effort were a waste. I’m sure you learned at least something that can be used in a real-life encounter. So, don’t kick yourself (no pun intended) over having spent time studying this art.
That said, going forward, it seems to me indisputable that some disciplines are more useful for quickly acquiring self-defense skills than others. You’ve correctly identified BJJ and boxing as being among them, I think, so maybe now start exploring those disciplines. But don’t waste time or energy thinking about what you should have done; keep honing the skills you have and acquiring new ones. And always hone the “soft” skills as well - that is, awareness, emotional intelligence, conflict de-escalation, etc. You won’t get hurt in a conflict you manage to avoid.

1 Like