Kung Fu vs. MMAAt a time in our life when ¾ of the world can’t get clean water, we have to stop and put things in perspective. There is a lot of conversation about the Traditional Martial Arts vs MMA. The difference begins with the intention of the student training for either of these disciplines. If the student is training in the Traditional Arts, chances are it will affect everything in their life because training with a Sifu helps keep their ego in check. Whereas, an MMA student spars and fights to train for a chance in the ring, or fame / fortune for a title belt, where ego is the key to success. Yet it looks so similar, it tricks everyone.
Both practices have different things to offer the practitioner as well as the community. The Traditional Arts offer us a way to refine our character, so you are at your best in every situation. The goal of the Arts is not to go in a ring and purposely fight someone. That’s not being true and conscious in the 21st century since we have so many other, real, issues to defend ourselves against – like the symptoms of old age, our environment and life-threatening diseases.
The real problem is that we’re making something dangerous famous, to later create a program where it’s rewarded but there is no regulation there. The human mind should also know that if your purpose is to have that skill but do well later in life, there is a way to do that without purposely hurting yourself and someone else.
And the solution is to honor the Traditional Arts — to keep well, fit and balanced in mind, body and spirit. The intention was never to purposely hurt, fight for selfish reasons, or be drawn to the arts only for money and fame. Thousands of years ago, even when the thugs and war lords learned it, they strictly did it for survival, not sport. in china the same Idea was stopped and was replaced by associations that promoted the arts be practice together for the benefit of all Chinese people. To kill or Injure another skilled masted didn’t make sense even in that time instead they used it to help the country become stronger.
If you are even comparing the two side-by-side, Traditional Martial Arts is the only answer to all the problems that we face today – whether it’s from the environment, elements or another person. However, MMA can pay your bills if as a fighter you become successful. The organization itself can create jobs just like the NFL, NHL and other contact sports. But the after-effects of head injuries, bodily harm and other physical issues echo in the athlete’s lifetime.
From Kung Fu, there is continuous sparring and two-man sets; there are solo forms that teach you how to start aligning yourself first, so you don’t hurt anything – to pairing up with a partner to learn timing and distance, putting you on a bag to learn power and speed, and to free spar to develop skill continuously. Over the years, you’ll acquire skill and awareness, sensitivity to your surroundings, listening skills and improved reflexes — changes seen in every aspect of your life.
When taught by a traditional Sifu, there are principles you have to follow which are for life. The arts create humility because it shows you what you have and why it’s worth keeping, so the practice drives you to actually avoid fights / physical conflicts. We’re too busy fighting our own egos and making sure the weapon is in the proper hands, vs intentionally going in the ring to hurt someone.
If we have our tournament judges in traditional competitions focus on skill instead of brute force or technicality to win. If we can keep a safe environment completely opposite to MMA with practices such as Push Hands, Chi Sau, continuous sparring with full-protective gear, we can attract the same amount of people (if not more) than MMA could.
The retired MMA community can benefit from our tournaments by practicing Tai Chi or other healing arts, to train their body and return to the competing world better and stronger. Mixed Martial Arts is a combination of all the applications from all the living arts. It would be like a child saying they have no grandparents because they’ve never seen them, but the child is better because of each person before them and what they’ve all contributed to this one child.
Much like a family, the Traditional Arts are the reason MMA exists today. And like a child, MMA should help inspire each traditional system to spend the time and effort, and they have to seek the proper guidance to discover why the arts were effective in the time that they were used — both for martial and healing purposes. The Traditional Arts do not belong to one style, race, creed or people. It is a product of time and has stood the test of thousands of years. When you meet the true Masters of these respected arts, like GrandMaster Wei Lun Huang in his 60’s and GrandMaster Chen Yun Ching in his 70’s, who have skills only known to be theory in modern times, you finally understand how vast and deep these arts are.
Together, let’s continue to honor the Traditional Arts because it’s honoring the civilized aspects of society. Up until recently, the Traditional Arts didn’t have a circuit to honor the arts and give value to the advanced practitioners. But now, Master Nick Scrima created the ICMAC (International Chinese Martial Arts Championship), where competitors can come from all over the world and have access to showcase their skill, win bigger rewards, meet other Masters and share knowledge in one central place. These students now are trained and skilled with a healthy mind and body to carry them through their life. Whether they want to be a physical therapist, doctor, scientist or a teacher – they now have a better understanding of how the body and mind work.
In conclusion, there is no comparison between the Traditional Arts and MMA. One is an art, and the other is a sport. Those who are fighting in the MMA should be respected for their bravery to enter a ring and fight against another skilled fighter. The reason why MMA is not a real-life self defense in the 21st Century, is only because of the damage caused to the body not because it’s not brave enough or strong enough. Just think if your training involves purposely hurting someone, and you hurt yourself, the next day in the real world you can be in trouble if a fight comes your way. For both Traditional Arts and MMA — your training should never cause fear or injuries on purpose, but instead develop skill over time and with the proper practice.