There is a big difference
The other day, one of my fighters got into it with a friend who trains Wing Chun thru social media. The gist of the argument, before it devolved into who could kick who’s ass, was that fighting in MMA or Kickboxing is much different and quite possibly harder than Wing Chun or any traditional Martial Art. As a lifelong Martial Artist and Combat Sports athlete, my opinion is that they are simply just different BUT at its highest levels Combat Sports is much more difficult.
OK, why would I say that sport is harder than combat? I am not. I am saying that the random encounter that most Martial Artists are training for but will most likely never face is completely different than what an athlete is faced with. I am taking out of this any professionals like soldiers or policemen, the combative techniques they train are another category entirely. The civil practitioner of any Traditional Martial Art or Combat Sport cannot lay claim to any real connection to people that put their lives on the line.
I don’t want to get all into the real vs fake Martial Arts argument. I am leaving it at this, anything I speak of as a Martial Art is a form of training that focuses on real world techniques vs Combat Sports which are arts that are regulated by a scoring system plus are full contact with the focus being to tap, snap, or concuss one’s opponent. I do not consider non-contact arts as Martial so they will not be considered in my thinking this argument thru.
Martial Arts train more for the random encounter. You are training for what I call the “Dark Room”. You walk into an encounter like you are walking into a dark room you have never been before. You flip the switch and see what is there, then you deal with it.
Combat Sports are a totally different encounter. Athletes know of at least the event if not the opponent weeks in advance. They come up with a training routine to prepare. They have the constant stress of knowing what they have gotten themselves into plus they will have most of their friends and family along with whomever the promoter can cram into the venue watching. If you are in the big show, you have millions watching your every move and you know that you have the potential to be the highlight reel, for good or bad, forever. Instead of a “Dark Room”, they have a spotlight on their objective.
Yes, your belt test was tough and you trained a long time for it, BUT passing or failing that test does not go on your fight record, it has no bearing on your ability to provide for your family, and in almost all cases was not broadcast for all to see. Athletes make a living off of their success.
Martial Arts can save your life. The fact is that most Martial Artists will not get attacked or be forced to use their skills. Yes, a small portion will but the overwhelming majority will train a lifetime for a situation that will never come. Combat Sports Athletes are training for a fight they are 99% sure is coming against a guy they are 99% sure will show up at fight time.
There is a big difference going to bed knowing someone could attack you vs knowing with certainty that a guy who has been trained to fight just you is going to fight you at a specific day and time.
Martial Artists train for the unknown while Combat Sports athletes train for the known. Both have their challenges but I have to give the overall challenge handed to a Combat Sports Athlete a rating of more difficult than what is faced by the recreational Martial Artist.
With all the above being said we should just shut our traps and get back to training. Talk is cheap and training solves everything.