There are a wide variety of martial arts and I wanted to show you a classification scheme that is used within the Water Mountain that can help you make sense of that variety.
Martial arts emerge to solve different problems.
Often times, in the modern era, people have forgotten, overlooked, or simply never learned to look at martial arts from a problem based approach. This leads to matching the wrong tool to the job.
Let’s say you have a box of tools. It’s a great box of tools and you have spent years building it. You have an excellent screwdriver, an excellent hammer, a terrific saw, and a shiny set of wrenches.
What could possibly go wrong with such a great set of tools? How could you ever fail with them?
Your job–Paint a house with those tools.
With a screwdriver? Can’t be done.
It’s not that those tools are wrong. It’s not even that you don’t know how to use those tools. It’s that there is amismatchbetween the tools you have and the task that is at hand.
The 5 Tactical Problems List
The basic problem of a combat art is the elimination and pursuit of threat.
Now, I am not using a euphemism for killing when I say elimination. Elimination includes killing but can equally involve disabling, or the removal of weaponry. Threat means someone or something that possesses the ability to render damage. For example, in the ancient era a threat could cover something as unusual as a war dog.
Combat also covers the defense and preservation of others.
Fighting is typically done for pleasure (of the participants or an audience), establishing alpha dominance (who has the bigger pair), self-development (the struggle makes you better), sport, or reward (dollars in the pocket). These 5 goals do overlap, and that is the reason they are included in the same category.
The function of self-defense is to create an opportunity to flee.
The reason for this is very simple. You can not be harmed, if you can not be touched. An attacker can not deliver force into your body, if your body is out of reach.
Now, sometimes to create that opportunity for flight, you can use your voice. Sometimes you will have to gouge out an eye.
Self-Defense is of course the constant pursuit of an escape opportunity, and people really do need to be conditioned to properly escape. Most people linger way past the good time to be there.
Escort is the movement of a person from one place to another, typically with minimal harm to the person being moved and to the person doing the moving. Escorts often involve some form of restraint.
Well-being includes satisfying the need to exercise, relieve stress, and to learn how to fully use the body. Often times, this vital need is poo-pooed by martial artists that are focused on other problems. However, the lack of fitness is the source of almost all disease in America and kills many more people than an attacker could even remotely approach.
Let us also not forget that it is physical tissue that performs a martial art, and the more fit the tissue the better the technical elements of an art can be performed.
The Cost of a Mismatch?
From a tactical perspective, it is unwise to use a martial art for a problem that it was unintended for. Such mismatches dramatically lower the level of success that a practitioner has when dealing with a tactical problem, much like trying to paint a house with a screwdriver.
The first step to avoid a mismatch it to understand the solution set that a martial art provides.
You can plug any art into this scheme presented above and you will see very quickly how to classify it. It is certainly possible for an art to cover more than one area, but remember, each additional problem increases the number of training man hours that are needed to become skilled and the number of hours you need to keep your skills well-maintained.