“How can you possibly extrapolate the success or lack thereof in bar fights (of all places)to a broad maxim about the effectiveness of martial arts?”
That is an easy question. As I stated, I worked as a bouncer in the largest bar in my county. Our clientel was made up of College students and locals. It was a very rough place. On various occasions I saw several tournament winning martial artists lose badly when fighting with larger, stronger opponents. Does this mean that Karate is ineffective? No, but it does bode poorly for the traditional arts.
As far as the “effectiveness of martial arts”. Martial Artists are supposedly trained to be able to handle themselves in a street confrontation. If I were to give you my eye witness testimony, having had seen several of these “lethal” Black Belts go down in defeat, I would say that you would be better off lifting weights and doing massive eating than studying traditional martial arts relative to its effectivness in the streets.
One eye witness account occurred when one particular Black Belt got into an argument with a College Wrestler. This was interesting as both men were actually the same size.
They took it outside. As they squared off the Karate practioner side kicked the Wrestler and the Wrestler fell backward. As the Karate man moved in the Wrestler recovered and immediately took the Karate man to the ground with a perfect double leg takedown. After several punches to the face the Karate man wanted no more and curled up in a fetal position.
Does this mean that all Karate men can be defeated by all Wrestlers? No. However, that is just one of at least 8 or 10 fights that I witnessed where the Karate guys gave a poor showing. most fights occurred outdoors in an alley where the Karate man would seemingly have room to move.
As to your question of “effectiveness”. I believe that the effectiveness of any martial art can at least in part be seen when it is tested in a real life situation. My point being, I saw several and they did not perform well. Perhaps when they performed their Kata (similar to dance forms) they were graceful. And that is good thing, however not much help in the street apparently. How many of these match ups would you advise that I witness before drawing a conclusion? fifty? one hundred?
Further evidence of the lack of traditional martial artitsts being adept at real fighting was seen in the early UFC’s. As many of you know the early UFC fights pitted various martial artists against each other with almost no rules. The result was that traditional Karatkas did poorly. They were beaten soundly by grapplers of every persuasion! In fact, if you look at todays champions in that sport they are all mostly Wrestling champions who learned how to strike. What does this say about the typical traditional karate man?
I hope that this sheds some light on your question.