PROS & CONS OF COMBAT SPORTS
There are dozens of combat sports. Some of the more familiar ones are Boxing, MuayThai, Sanda, Kra Maga and MMA. They are called combat sports as opposed to martial arts as the intent is to defeat your opponent in a combat. Martial arts are more holistic and expansive.
You’ll find many similarities in ring fighting that distinguish themselves as cultural. For example, the Burmese with Lethwei, the French with Savate, the Thai with Muay Thai. Area all forms of kickboxing. They all use punches and kicks with various distinctions but many similarities.
It is ridiculous for anyone online to say one is better than the other as it is within the execution, talent, timing, and training of the practitioner that makes all the difference. Some of these sports clearly have more content and history, like Sanda, and are more consequential because of it. But this also requires more creativity, awareness, dedication and response time on the part of the practitioner therefore, it takes longer to learn.
The attraction of combat sports is that it is comparatively easy compared to the complexity of traditional martial arts. Punching and kicking are not complicated. Locks, takedowns and grappling are another story. Combat sports are aggressive, and are a great outlet for emotional imbalance. There are few feelings more rewarding like hitting a heavy bag with everything you have. And so you should. You are training to take another human being down, so, you better develop some power.
There are many gyms that teach techniques and make people feel empowered. We love that idea. However, when faced with a real life assault, unless that practitioner has repeated those techniques 1000 times, and can respond with acute muscle memory and full power, all will be lost. So repetition is as key as developing core strength if your goal is to be formidable. You can’t overpower someone if you are weak, unfocused or not mentally prepared. With continued practice you can develop these very translatable and useful attributes.
There is no reason to get hurt in these classes unless you are learning under an unseasoned instructor. Just because someone has great skill doesn’t automatically make them a good instructor, so don’t be seduced. This is something to consider when finding a school. As you advance you will be taking more educated risks and can expect some twists and bruises, but nothing life threatening.
The only contention I have with all this is that the development of the body without tempering the ego has a tendency to fuel arrogance. A strong body with a immature mind is trouble in the making.
Living in America, where everyone seeks a quick fix, combat sports are a great solution. They can defend your life, increase your physical and mental strength and find camaraderie with like minded students.