T Nation

Weakness In Your School or Style


It seems that so many martial artists/mixed martial artists are very quick to point out perceived weaknesses in other arts or styles. It occurs to me that quite often they are only speaking from what they have seen or heard- in competion, on youtube, sherdog? etc. and not from personal experience.

So I thought that I would start a thread that asks you- what is the weaknesses in your own style, or in the school you attend. Note that I say school also, because I don't want people lumping ALL of a certain arts weaknesses together.

For example, I study TKD, if I were to talk generally about the style, I would say that practitioners have a problem with keeping their hands up and gaurding the head. However this just simply isn't true at my particular school. You learn very quickly that hands down=head gets hit.

So I'll start it off,

As I said, I study taekwondo, with Walsh Martial Arts Australia. We also learn some elements of hapkido.

I feel that there are several main weaknesses in the school/style, and will try and keep this brief but as clear as possible...

I feel that the learning curve can be quite steep. Although the belt system does a great deal to introduce things slowly and surely, I think that it still takes quite some time before you could actually apply what you have learnt, especially if you have no experience in fighting or in another martial art.

For example, at the white belt (for promotion to junior yellow), you learn the four basic blocks, three basic kicks and two punches. I think the punches you can use pretty much straight away, people don't seem to have too much trouble with them.

But learning to throw a kick that is powerful enough to be effective takes time. Also learning to throw it fast enough that it doesn't get caught, which is a very very dangerous thing in a street fight, takes even longer.

As for blocks, I've never been a fan of them. I'd rather move and not be there, rather than risk missing the block, which happens quite often in the beginning. However most people do find that at least one of the blocks "clicks" pretty quickly and can be useful as a parry or cover, leading into a counter-strike.

And it continues on through the belt levels. I have learnt a "spear hand" strike, which is basically a straight finger tip strike. If I were to try and apply this in a real situation, I would break my fingers. However, my grandmaster can break through 3 inches of pine board with his fingertips. So it's not that the strike is useless, it's just that it takes many, many years to get it to a useful level.

Of course the some of the kicks and some other hand strikes don't take quite so long. After a year of training I feel quite confident in my ability to throw below the belt level kicks and not get caught out. If I landed a solid blow that stunned my opponent that I could quite confidently throw a mid-section kick and not get caught out.

So the weakness is basically a constant introduction of techniques that will take you years and years of practice to be able to effectively use them in a street defence situation.

There are of course many techniques that you can apply much quicker than that, and any practitioner with half a brain will realise which ones are which.

Of course this long-term study of the art is a large part of what it is all about. Dedication, hard, constant practice etc. But not everyone is in for the long haul, and we need to make sure there is enough emphasis on the "learn now, use tomorrow" kind of skills.

The other main weakness that I percieve is a lack of grappling and ground skills. It's just not within the scope of TKD. Hapkido does deal with a small number of throws, very similar to judo throws. It also has some joint manipulation throws. And these can be very useful in certain situations. For example if someone grabs your wrist, or lapel, or tries to get you in a head lock. But in a free-fighting, standing grapple, type situation they are less useful. And although there are several joint locks on the ground, the transition into them is not emphasised. It is assumed that you have been the one to do the throw, then lock their joint. If you happen to be the one thrown, you don't have much of a chance.

So, at this stage in my learning the first issue I brought up is pretty much nullified, because I have been through that first stage, and now have a few good solid skills that I can use.
And as far as the other issue is concerned, it's not going to be addressed by my current school. So once I reach the black belt levels, I will "branch out", and plan to study with a near-by, very highly regarded, judo school. I believe that this will complete alot of the "fighting picture" for me.

I just want to point out that I have been very happy with my current school. The instructor is brilliant and I think that the skills taught are brilliant. I personally have no problem with having to take my time in learning to apply some of the skills. But I can see that for someone who might need the skills a week, or a month, after starting the class, it might not work so well.

Of course it's not going to hurt their ability to defend themselves, and it might have helped abit. I guess that's probably a problem with most styles of self defence, really.

Although it seems that say, in boxing, you are given a large proportion of the skills all at once, and you just practice practice practice a smaller "set" of skills, and you would become proficient much quicker that way, rather than be given some skills for now, some for a few months down the track, and some for a few years down the track. Obviously you would have to split your time between the three, and it would take longer than if you just focused on the "here and now" skills.

I hope everyone understands what I'm trying to say here.

Anyway, I would really appreciate it if anyone else can give some insight into their own school or style. I think it could be a good self-learning tool for us all, and just interesting to help compare styles more fairly than what is usually done.

Thanks for taking the time to read my post!


I agree with a lot of what you said.

I trained at a very traditional Goju-ryu school for about a year. They did the same thing... taught things in a layered fashion, new stuff on top of old stuff, a lot of techniques while stressing the basics. I can't say that it wasn't a good way to teach... but I didn't agree with a lot of the stuff they did.

I was never a fan of blocking systems in general. To me, parry it or slip it. Anything else takes too long and will get you pegged. The kicks were good though- not a lot of bullshit. Their front kick is good, side and roundhouse also. I really should be still practicing them.

I like boxing's skillset the best though. Strong but simple punches that work in combinations. Not to mention, the training is the best for actually fighting... teaching to bob and weave while punching, being trained to keep your eyes open as punches come in... over my year of Goju-ryu, I never learned that. By now, my hands are faster than they've ever been, and through a shit ton of pad work, my punches are way more accurate. Unfortunately, it's hard for me to take any art where you're only punching air seriously anymore. A year there, and not one second on a heavy bag! What the fuck?

But there is a lot of good shit in the TMA's. The holds and locks are great stuff, and the kicks are reliable as long as they're not trying to get you to do flashy shit like high kicks.

Like my other thread said, I've started BJJ because I need to learn some ground shit besides my patented "Attack the throat" technique. I'm pretty one dimensional on the ground.


Yeah I think blocking to the exclusion of anything else will get you into trouble.
In our pre-arranged sparring blocks are always used with body or head movement, so they become more like a parry. But it can be hard stuff for some people to grasp, that we practice the blocks in straight lines, straight forward, in the air, but then in pre-arranged or free- sparring it's not used like that. In our patterns (hyung) it's all this straight stuff, too, no head or body movement with the blocks. Confusing stuff, especially when you are a beginner. Free-sparring helps you learn, but usually someone has to point it out for you.

I think that our front, side and roundhouse kicks are also the most important and useful. Although in sparring it's good to have a few more options to keep the opponent guessing, in a real-life situation that's usually not the deal. Although we do learn high kicks, the idea is always just that options thing. If you can kick high and hard, you can kick anywhere.

I don't know if I mentioned in my original post that I learnt a little bit of boxing. Only a few months, but it was an interesting experience. I definitley liked the way they taught you to move, the body/head/feet movement was just brilliant. There was alot more focus on that than in TKD. And as you said, simple but effective punches.

Luckily for me my instructor, who has been involved in the traditional martial arts for about 30 years, also had abit of professional kick-boxing experience. So he always drills into us the importance of things like keeping our eyes up and open, never dropping our hands, keep chin tucked. He also likes to use kick-shields, focus mitts and thai pads as part of our training. He also encourages things like leg-checks and using our elbows to cover our mid-section. These are things that aren't specifically taekwondo, and that a less experienced instructor might simply not know the importance of, or know how to use effectively.

Anyway, I'm looking forward to hearing about your experiences with BJJ, after this shoulder thing get sorted. It's going to be while before I get into the judo, probably another year. So it'll be interesting to hear about a striker getting into grappling/ground stuff.

Good luck with it!


Hmm good topic. I play Judo and BJJ so here's my 2 cents.

Judo weaknesses...
-Modern olympic rules have weakened the level of ground work tremendously
-Scoring system (one clean throw can win a match) is not ideal for training transition between throws and ground work.
-Reliance on gi
-no striking

Judo Strengths
-Excellent takedowns
-Versatile grappling art (Takedowns, pins, chokes, and armbars)
-Throws leave you less vulnerable to strikes than singles and doubles.
-Judo players can take a fall better than anyone
-Classes are very cheap

BJJ Weaknesses
-Very limited takedowns. Rarely train from standing position. Result is many BJJ players that do not cross-train in no-gi/judo/wrestling cannot get the fight to the ground.
-Limited gripwork
-Reliance on gi
-no striking
-classes are very expensive

-Most advanced ground work (imo) of all the grappling styles.
-Does not require much athleticism
-Many clubs will drill techniques with strikes in mind... close bond w/ MMA.


Thanks chitown, that's exactly the sort of thing I was looking for!

It's a shame to hear that the modern olympic rules/competition rules have had a detrimental effect on judo.
The same sort of thing has happened to taekwondo scince it's inclusion in the olympic games. Although quite alot of the damage has been in perception of the art, not so much detrimental at the club level. If your school is not WTF affliated, that is.

In your experience, do most judo schools focus on competition? Or are there still a large percentage of schools that simply practice for self-defence, or art?

The more I look into it, the more it seems that BJJ+Judo is a very logical choice to practice together. Before starting to look into this, I always believed that it would not be a good idea to practice two arts that were similiar, for example, if I were to go and train in Karate.
It seems though that the different emphasis in judo compared to BJJ (or vice versa), makes it very compatible. How similiar is the ground work in judo to BJJ? Is it or can it be confusing at times because of slight (or large, for that matter) differences in technique, or technique application?

In BJJ, do you believe that in a self-denfence situation that the limited takedowns would be sufficient? This is assuming that the person who you have to defend against has little or no training in take-down defence. How about against someone who does have basic take-down defence, or a small amount (6 months or less) of training, in Judo or BJJ or another grappling art?

Have you got any experience in no-gi work? How hard is it to transfer the gi-specific skills to no-gi? Are there cetain locks/holds/throws that just simply do not work if the person is not wearing suitable clothing? Other than the obvious like lapel chokes, which couldn't be done against a person who was shirtless. I mean- Do most skills transfer over, or is it limited, does it requite a whole lot of extra, specific, training?

Thanks for the reply.

I am determined to make this section of the forums more about the actual PRACTICE of combat sports/martial arts, rather than the WATCHING of combat sports/martial arts.
Not that I have anything against watching MMA, I actually enjoy watching the UFC sometimes. My fav. fighters atm being machida, a. silva, and GSP. But still, it would be nice to see more threads about people who are more activley involved, rather than sitting on the couch watching!



-Learn to take unprotected (real) punches to the body.
-Fighting can be brutal and ferocious like in real fights (aka no bullshit holding back fighting)
-Tournaments do not focus primarily on points
-Learned ability to protect against almost any knee strikes or kicks to any part of the body
-Focus is on tried and true technique, as opposed to flashy movements
-Solid kicking technique
-Strength lies in medium to long range fighting

-Lack of face punches give one a false sense of security and inability to properly fight in the real world (pretty fucked against a good boxer or muay thai guy)
-No grappling or ground work whatsoever makes a kyokusin practicioner vulnerable against anyone who practices wrestling, judo, aikido, bjj, etc
-Weakness to very close range fighting


-Excellent takedowns and throws
-Ability to see and avoid incoming takedowns and throws
- Standing and ground work allow one to be well versed against ground practicioners and stand up fighters (to a certain extent)
- Resistance to being pinned
-Excellent for extremely close fighting

-Lack of striking leaves one unprepared for kicks and punches (boxing, TKD, muay thai, kyokushin, etc)
-Wrestling is a sport and not a martial art and due to the tournament point system, some of the combat ideology and strategy is lost. For example a wrestler will fall and try to land on his stomach instead of his back because he does not want to be "pinned", which sets him up to be easily choked.
-No focus on clothing (no one walks around in a singlet)
-Used to a soft surface and not hard cement ground
-Weakness to distance fighters (long range)


For BJJ what I do, i'd say we start on the ground too much, so we dont learn about about takedowns/ throws, and a lot of guys arn't strong/ well conditioned enough.


Lysak's SENTO Method

-Extremely well rounded (grappling, kickboxing/MT, modern weapons training, "live" drilling/defense of "dirty" fighting tactics and how to integrate them with grappling/striking/weapons, preventative self defense tactics, cerebral/mental conditioning/training)

-Focus on simple effective tactics rather than flashy ones, but can still teach you the flashy ones if you want to learn them (self defense/high stress focus)

-Adaptable to the individual practitioner (will allow each individual to best utilize their natural strengths and give them strategies for fighting different types of opponents)

-Ever evolving and improving (Lysak is constantly integrating in new effective methods from other effective arts and through experiential data)

-Conditioning (Charlie Lysak is a freakin beast when it comes to conditioning as are several of the higher ranking students who do his conditioning drills regularly, but even at the lower ranks conditioning is highly stressed)

-Lack of exposure (there are only 3 currently active schools in the world to the best of my knowledge, so while the quality of instruction/practitioner is very high per capita, you don't have a lot of minds working for you and cross pollination between other methods/systems goin on)

-Lack of publicity (it's a fairly unknown system, so it doesn't attract a lot of highly talented athletes/practitioners; the ones that are there just happened to be local and learn about it via word of mouth; could improve greatly IMO if it was more aggressively marketed towards MMA practitioners and/or some of the black belts decided to enter MMA competition)

-Due to it's self defense overall focus it's not as attractive to purely MMA practitioners/your average person. Plus they seem to get pretty squeemish when you start having them practice things like eye attacks, biting, fish hooking and the like (even though all are safe to train live if you know what you're doing). So, maybe a bit too rough/hardcore for the average person.




Ageed for the most part, i don't know if there is a lack of athletic ability(not by my observation) in addition I have trained(do train) at a couple of places that D'ont emphasize the GI. This is largely because are pretty much MMA geared schools. I started with boxing then muay thai personally. Although some muay thai lacks ground work I still think it is the best striking style.( there are many different schools of MT, some do have techniques other than striking)


By "does not require much athleticism", I just meant that BJJ is suited for the smaller, weaker fighter. There were tons of strong, athletic guys at Renzo's, but they progressed the slowest and usually got worked over by the smaller thinkers.

As far as how judo is practiced, most of the top clubs are competition based. Because the rules heavily favor tachi-specialists, most clubs split tachiwaza (standing techs) and newaza about 70/30 or 80/20. There are a few old school clubs like Oishi's that have a 50/50 split, but for the most part level of ground skills of your average judoka has gone down. Luckily, we can always cross-train in bjj so if one has the time and money bjj is invaluable.

To the question about SD, even though BJJ markets itself as a great SD art I think judo is superior. This is partly from personal experience in little scuffles and partly b/c I've trained with bjj players that will submit nearly everyone on the ground but can't actually get anyone to the ground during standing randori.

Being able to take someone down while staying on your feet and free yourself from someone's grip are invaluable. Scenarios that comes to mind where BJJ would excel... if a woman was defending herself from a rapist, or a policeman was trying to restrain someone until backup arrived... or if you did, god forbid, end up on the ground and had to fight from your back until you were able to get to your feet. As far as SD is concerened, I think that BJJ's sweeps from the back against a standing opponent is much more valuable than a triangle choke or armbar.

I have done no-gi quite a bit in the last year, and it was a bit tricky at first but with some practice it is pretty natural. The same principles still apply, and the mechanics of a throw don't really change much whether you have a gi or not. It is a bit harder to control someone on the ground without a gi, but as long as someone understands the principles behind each technique they should be able to apply it with or without the gi.


C.S.W. is a combat sport that is a unique blend of Catch Wrestling, Shooto, Judo, Sambo, Greco-Roman, Folk and Free Style Wrestling, Filipino Dumog, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu, Savate, Muay Thai, Boxing, and Jun Fan Kickboxing. C.S.W. emphasizes the importance of cross training, integrating grappling, submission and striking methods into a truly mixed martial arts system

Eddie Bravo created a no-gi style of Brazilian Jiu Jitsu called 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu after defeating Royler Gracie via triangle choke in the ADCC 2003. 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu focuses on constant pressure from unorthodox positions such as the Rubber Guard, Twister Side Control, Monkey Mount (Gangsta Lean) and the half guard position known as the " Lock Down." The main premise behind 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu is that the art should keep evolving, finding new ways to attack and counter. Eddie believes that standard Brazilian Jiu Jitsu has become boring and predictable.

The 10th Planet Jiu Jitsu system is also known for its unusual names for techniques and positions. This feature provides mnemonic devices to help students understand discrete nuances in position, which blend into a comprehensive framework for competition. These names also help coaches, who can use a "secret code" to yell out moves during competition while non-10th Planet opponents remain unaware of the advice. Some examples of technique names include DPO, Crack Head Control, The Carni, Straight Jacket, Jiu Claw, and Silverado.

Muay Thai is referred to as "The Art of Eight Limbs", as the hands, shins, elbows, and knees are all used extensively in this art. A practitioner of Muay Thai ("nak muay") thus has the ability to execute strikes using eight "points of contact," as opposed to "two points" (fists) in Western boxing and "four points" (fists, feet) used in the primarily sport-oriented forms of martial arts.

No weaknesses.


BJJ, which has no weaknesses.

Leozinho > Eddie Bravo. And Leo is one of many.


I agree. I love BJJ as a sport, and there are certain things that can translate to self-defense. But the ground-fighting mentality is a terrible one to have on the street, and is very likely to get you maimed or killed.

It is not a self defense art when it's straight ground fighting.


You idiots who are saying your martial arts have no cons are delusional.
Xen, man, i thought you were better than that!


Your best bet in a self-defense situation is not using any takedown at all.

If you must, use the one that you know absolutely inside and out, as that's probably the only one you're going to be able to pull off between the adrenaline and the tunnel vision you're going to have that's going to demolish your fine motor skills.


BJJ and Muay Thai, the main weaknesses for me are that if I am forced to fight on broken glass or lava my back may become slightly chafed when I pull guard.

My main problem where I train is that I am one of the best guys there meaning I don't have people kicking my arse every day.

Am working to get round this by setting up an open mat once a month with a friend (people will be travelling from all over the country to kick my arse) and travelling once a month to take privates with a couple of black belts (5 hr round trip but worth it.)


As part of BJJ we do self defense once a week. We'll do hip tosses and some really basic ways to get people to the ground without hurting yourself. The main focus on those days is to not hurt yourself and not cause permanent damage/get arrested. Many of the guys don't take it very seriously because they expect to brute out most situations. I think many schools don't have a specially designated self defense classes but self defense is a large aspect of BJJ. Also, alot of the self defense principles are what the sport as a whole is built on.

At our school, the weaknesses would be sport takedowns, and a paucity of no gi training. We get a lot of wrestlers/judo guys that already know what they're doing from the feet so it's not covered much. We only do 1 no gi class a week (vs 5 gi). I suppose not having a black belt close is also a weakness of the school.


I am very wary of anything that calls itself a "self-defense" course anymore, even from reputable schools.

90 percent of the shit you see has the terms "self-defense" and "fighting" mixed up.... and they don't realize that those terms aren't interchangeable. That's good that your place focuses on not killing the other person (too often referenced by killer commando experts) and not getting arrested (rarely, if ever, talked about, at least in my experience.)


I train bjj(as well as wrestled for about 17 years). My instructor is a former wrestling college all american, we also have a former all american qualifier and current ufc fighter who has been there from white belt to purple belt. We also have a monthly judo seminar given by Andy Ruggiero. We a re a very well rounded school. With that said I have about 5 years of boxing and kickbxing experience prior to this and I can say that we have some who do not have the ability to throw punches and if they could not take you down they would get knocked out. BJJ is great but it's not the end all. Wrestling for its takedown ability as well as control is near the top of the food chain in my opinion.