A conversation at my other internet home someone devolved into a debate about martial arts; which for anyone not in the MA community is rather similar to the debate between 1911
cultists enthusiasts and rabid equally enthusiastic Glock fans.
I believe that the actual debate was on the merits of point-sparring (disparagingly referred to as “slap and tickle”) vs. full contact sparring in the context of which better prepares you for “the street”.
I’m actually quite fond of the martial arts, both the traditional MA with their quite lovely katas and precision; I’m also fond of the more combative based martial arts with their focus on effectively disabling an attacker. Now, in the “combat oriented” arts, there is quite a difference on what people define as “effectively disabling”, but that’s not the point of this discussion.
I also like martial arts that focus on the use of weapons, such as Eskrima, Kendo, Western Fencing, and Defensive Handgun. To me, a “martial art” has always been defined as the study and practice of any technique which prepares one for combat; and in that definition I seem to have the support of (at least) wikipedia.
Currently, my practice of martial arts such as Tai Chi and Taekwondo is limited to their utility as exercise; as my (note the emphasis) personal experience (your mileage may vary) has show that kicking people in the head while they’re standing is of limited utility in actual fights.
Now, before you get mad at me for disparaging your favorite kickfest; I’m not saying that your martial art of choice is bad or ineffective. I’m saying that it didn’t really work for me, personally.
I encourage the study of martial arts, especially for people that carry a firearm on a day to day basis. Not only because it assists with your reflexes, etc, but because it can also provide you with some valuable close quarter fighting skills. Especially if you’re even in a situation where you’re A) unarmed, or B) can’t get your gun out.
Now, if you do decide to look into martial arts for defensive purposes, remember the adage “you fight like you train”. Bear that in mind when selecting a dojo; try to observe classes and see if that particular system seems like a good fit for you.
Finally, try to avoid “teachers” that advocate lots of neck breakers, stomping on people’s necks, etc. While the ability to kill a person with your bare hands has some utility, it has again been my experience that if you’re in a position to kill someone with your bare hands, you’re also in a position to disable them without taking their life.