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Stylistic Classifications

On this page you will find some classifications and clarifications of modern martial styles based on our own experiences of different types of commercial schools currently marketing their self-defence training and consultancy services in the industry. If they are happy with what they do, then all is well. More often than not, much of the self-declared 'pros and cons 'are little more than marketing hype and many are less than honest about what they actually (can) do or, let alone what they say others don't do. Let the buyer beware!


Classical Martial Art Styles & Schools

Classical schools of martial art, which whilst often very good technically for traditional techniques and skills of warfare, have never really been updated to include modern knowledge systems or adapted to modern day conditions.  The wider knowledge of general and modern security management principles and skills are usually missing.  They have become cultural antiques to be preserved as they 'have always been', and are rarely taught in their full and true form to foreigners, particularly where Chinese and Japanese arts are concerned. The learning cycle is usually a very long-term one, with much politics on the way. Whilst many practitioners may have some knowledge of modern knowledge systems and security management, they are not integrated back into the original system.

Esoterical Martial Art Schools

Esoterical martial art schools are those that for historical or other reasons have chosen to modify the original arts and concentrate on the health or character building aspects of martial arts training.  In many cases, it was because the keepers of the systems (Chinese & Japanese) did not really want to teach the true arts to foreigners or any other undesirables.  These days, in order to compete commercially, many instructors are starting to promote the martial side more, but are usually lacking in realistic understanding of self-defence or in right the training methods. They have become wrapped and cloaked in katas and forms as a way of teaching and recording their system whilst controlling and filtering their students for many years before the real art is ever revealed, if at all. In some cases the practical self-defence knowledge has already been severely diminished or completely lost.

Combat Sports

Styles of martial art that for commercial reasons or other reasons have chosen to focus on the sporting application of martial art skills. To facilitate relatively safe sporting competition, practical techniques are banned, the rules of combat changed and padding and safety gear is worn.  This completely changes everything! Equipment interferes with technique and practitioners regularly change techniques and tactics to fit with the rules and the equipment in order to score points and win a trophy. Most such combat sports are thus forced to concentrate on one particular aspect or set of martial art skills, to the complete detriment of all other real-life practical aspects. The nearest thing to real life has come in the form of the 'Ultimate' tournament and other similar inventions. However, there are still rules, both official, backed up by monetary fines and unspoken ones that are part of a code of conduct for everyone's safety, not to mention legal permits for actually holding such tournaments.

Combat (Oriented) Schools

Schools of martial art, usually commercial that approach self-defence training as if it were a game of football in which there only existed corners, goal kicks, throw-ins and penalties.  Usually, these are commercial quick-fix systems designed for the less educated public or for soldiers who normally fight with machine guns and have only a handful of weeks to learn anything at all about hand to hand combat. Syllabi often consist of a few basic, brutish and somewhat clumsy power (strength and mass) based techniques that are more suitable for bigger, less flexible men and easy for any novice or fool to understand. They are usually derived from, and are hence extracts from other more sophisticated arts initially. 

Conventional (Women's) Self-defence classes

Traditional martial art classes consisting of 1 week (Actual training time if you are lucky) of 101 favourite combat tricks from their particular style. usually techniques taught are all the really nasty ones with little regard for appropriateness in the situation, usually to over-compensate for the students lack of skill and confidence. In a similar vane, over-aggressiveness is also taught as an over-compensation for the same reasons. There is a big difference between this kind of aggressive over-reaction and the cool psychology actually needed based on mind states such as focus, determination and intent. Apparently, strength, fitness, skill, brains, psychology and conditioning have nothing to do with it! This is another commercial quick-fix confidence trick!

Security Management schools

Schools of self-defence based on the knowledge and practical experiences of current day security professionals with little more than the most basic techniques and aspects of true martial arts. The training includes modern defence devices that were not available in the days when the classical systems were devised. The principles, however, are always the same, and these people are constantly trying to reinvent the wheel. Experience is always a vital resource, but experience depends on the knowledge, training and skills you already have before dealing with those situations.  The psychology knowledge is equally basic and limited. In all  fairness, there is always a limit to what can be taught to complete beginners within the training time available, but this is little consolation when you are hospitalised because you created more problems than you solved. A little knowledge can be a very dangerous thing.

Non-violent (psychological) self-defence organisations

Currently, there are several groups or individuals trying to sell non-violent self-defence using purely psychological and communication skills. Whilst the studies of these psychological schools have provided a valuable addition of modern psychology knowledge to the world of martial arts and security management, to sell and teach them as something independent and usually in complete ignorance of the physical aspects and imperatives is quite foolhardy in the extreme. Worse still it demonstrates a clear lack of understanding even of the psychology of the situations they purport to teach! All good self-defense schools recognise and teach that non-violent methods are the best and most commonly useful approach for security, be it in the modern or historical context.  Unfortunately, this is somewhat difficult to achieve without the back-up and integration of congruous use of physical methods and principles. They are but two sides of the same coin!

Legally and by default, the only self-defense we can use involves wrestling and restraining techniques. This simply is not practical for most people. This fact is attested to by the fact that so many door monitors are mountainous men of such physical mass and power that they would not need technique to over-power a client in a wrestling match.  This miss-match, whether with human giants or more powerful predator animals, is exactly why weapons were invented in the first place! Striking techniques are essential to self-defense in combination with wrestling skills. Yet despite this, some wrestling sport combat exponents are still teaching self-defense courses labeled as non-violent self-defense, preaching lesser techniques and similar psychology and communication methods as the quasi-psychology groups.

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