I read and study martial arts at least as many hours out of the dojo as I do in practice

I think this is EXTREMELY important! An instructor can only show a fraction of what he/she knows in a classroom setting. The student must expect to do their own research, enquiry, analysis, reflection and synthesis in their own time. It's like going to Open University.


First, unless your body works a different way from everybody else in the world, the body mechanics of ANY art are going to be the same. Your arms and legs move from the same points, your hips and backbone work the same way, and your parts are all located in the same places... so what makes one art different from the other?

I don't have the exact quote, but I think Bruce Lee once said, martial arts are all the same, unless you have 4 arms and 4 legs...


To answer that question, I teach students that "karate is a hitting art", "Judo is a grappling and throwing art, as is jujutsu", Aikido is a blending art based on swordsmanship and jujutsu. From that, you should understand that some arts are force delivery, others use body mechanics to manipulate the body, and others use blending techniques to "accompany" the attacker's body in creating a technique.

Now, how's that for MMA?

I think it's important to note that each art/system/style tends to focus on a small part of a larger whole, although certain arts like jujitsu and kempo are fairly well-rounded - containing essential elements of striking, kicking and grappling. Some tend to focus more on different aspects than others. It's basically strategic specialization - developing one's strengths to counter someone else's weakness.

Again, it's up to the student to discover this outside of a normal class setting. Cross-training is perhaps one option, but I won't go into the arguments for and against cross-training. That's an argument for another thread.


there are a lot of preconceptions out there, and it's a real surprise when they suddenly are attacked back with hitting techniques in aikido or judo or jujutsu... first reactions... "Oh, but that's not (insert art of your choice)"...

It really cheeses me off when someone says that... It just shows how much or rather how little they understand. There is a heck of a lot of atemi waza in judo and aikido - or at least opportunities for it. Just because it is not usually practiced in a classroom setting, doesn't mean they don't exist. Certainly, when one is just learning a specific technique, one doesn't expect to be smacked or choked. Usually that is up to uke to decide if nage's technical holes need plugging. And nage should thank uke for "teaching" them.

The role of uke cannot be understated. It is the more important half of the art. When I'm uke for my students, I really make them work, otherwise they get smacked, kyusho'd or countered. And I expect them to do the same when they are uke for me. Sometimes they get lucky... mostly they don't.