Martial Arts as Sport

Throughout the ages people have developed and trained in martial arts to better protect their families, friends, homes and lands.  In times of war or extreme lawlessness martial arts practitioners would get opportunities to test their skills on a regular basis where the effectiveness of their training was immediately obvious due to the result – often life or death.

During peaceful times and in relatively law abiding countries the situation is different though.  People still desire to train in martial arts for self defence, as one violent confrontation gone wrong is one too many, but the threat of violence is far lower so they do not get the chance to test their skills in the same ways as someone would in a more risky environment. 

For this reason throughout the ages ‘sporting’ versions of the martial arts have evolved in parallel with the more traditional training.  These sporting adaptations have several aims.

  • To give participants an opportunity to test their skills in as realistic a confrontation as possibl,  while also providing rules and using equipment that makes the confrontation as safe as possible for both participants.
  • To help participants develop strength, fitness, speed, reactions and courage under the pressure of a competitive environment as this will help them to use these same attributes under the pressure of a real conflict if this ever occurs.
  • To help participants develop control and respect for their opponent.  Not every confrontation needs to be life or death and having participated in a competitive environment the martial artist will be better able to judge and use the appropriate level of force to deal with a situation, minimizing the risk of harm to both themselves and others.
  • To provide entertainment and develop camaraderie between participants.

As mentioned above, these type of sporting martial arts require rules in order to provide safety to the participants, if there were no rules it would not be ‘sporting’.  As such a sports event will never be quite the same as a real conflict and nor should it.  As long as participants understand that sports fighting and real fighting are not exactly the same thing, and that each should be approached somewhat differently, then there are huge benefits to engaging in sporting competition that will flow over into a real conflict situation should one ever occur.  The determination to train, to become faster, stronger more agile, to persist against a difficult opponent will develop character and abilities that will benefit the participant in other aspects of life as well.

I am excited to announce that Long White Cloud Kung is planning to have our first ever tournament in the second half of 2011.  A draft set of rules is on the website in the member’s area.  We will also be holding a specialized sportfighting class once a week for adults.  If this proves popular we will look to add more classes to the schedule.  The tournament will include both sportfighting and forms competition events.  I am really excited about this and think it will add a new dimension to student’s training that will help them to quickly lift their skills to a higher level.

I have embedded a few sportfighting and training related videos below.  Who can help but be motivated by this stuff?


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