Martial Arts and Violence - The Three Realms

Here is something for all martial artists, not just aikidoka, to consider. The martial arts world consists of three primary realms, where practitioners of each specialize in certain aspects of hand to hand combat. Why consider this? In the larger sense, to increase your understanding and perspective. In a more personal sense, to give you a reason to set aside your scorn for those from other realms.

Each realm deserves respect for what they bring to the table. Sure, there are charlatans in each, but these are more exceptions than they are the rule. If we look to learn to absorb the strengths, we can increase our own skills and understanding.

Let's look at these three realms. I'll call them: academic arts, sport, and crazytown.

Very simply, academic arts are dojo arts that some refer to as ‘traditional’ arts. Students are taught, in a tightly controlled environment, techniques and methods for dealing with an attack. The instruction can include forms and katas, drills, paired practice, etc. It may even include limited sparring or other such exercises which emulate live fire, but are usually very limited in scope to focus on certain technical aspects.

Sport arts are combat sports such as boxing, wrestling, competitive karate, judo, and such. This is where competitors universally accept certain rules and limitations which suit (and even create) their art. The competition is where their art is tested, and competitors are allowed to apply their techniques as best they can under the stress of the contest.

Crazytown refers to violence with no limitations or rules, or where one of the participants is not abiding by any. Police officers, bouncers, bodyguards, etc. have rules which govern what they can and cannot do, but they often have to deal with anything and everything such as attackers with knives, guns, or friends. At the extreme outside edge is the bar fighter or ruffian. He has no rules, might have a few things that work but he doesn’t consider them techniques, they might be more like tricks.

I’ve encountered all three of these types of people, and found that each group has valuable thing to offer the others. I’ve also found it very common for each type to reject or look down upon the others.

Visualize a triangle, with these three each at their own corner. The farther you get from the middle, the more isolated you are from the common center. The closer you get to the center, the more you stand to benefit from the strengths each has to offer. Some practitioners and practice groups are more toward the center than others.

It may take you out of your comfort zone to train with those in other realms, but the investment will pay off when you do. Take stock of where you are, and where your instructor or mentor is too. You may need to spend time with another instructor or mentor to help round out your base of knowledge.

Something to think about…