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My approach to martial arts training has always been tempered by a need to marry it with some level of functionality. When I was younger, I was only interested in functionality. If it wasn’t relevant to the street application, I wasn’t interested. This, I now understand, is a very narrow view. There are many aspects of my current practise that are not relevant to the street. For one, the technical problems one encounters at high level BJJ, are rarely encountered in the street - but are nonetheless, interesting problems to try to solve; and in doing so, I improve my ‘problem solving’ abilities. Secondly, there are many benefits to be enjoyed in technical martial arts training apart from the ‘self defence’ benefits. There are the aforementioned ‘problem solving benefits’; but there are also health benefits, social benefits, etc. Simply put, we may begin martial arts training for one reason, but continue martial arts training for many, many other reasons. As I have said before, the simplicity got me there - but the complexity kept me there!
Having said all of that though, my personal bias is toward that approach to training that remains closely connected to ‘real world’ scenarios/applications. I enjoy all aspects of BJJ training; I enjoy the various nuances of the X-Guard, I am intrigued by the new Worm Guard, I find the complexities of the Berimbolo variants to be both intricate and stimulating; but … my personal bias is toward fundamental (yet technical) Jiu Jitsu concepts. I guess I find sufficient beauty and depth in the more fundamental elements of this art we love. I do not feel a need to ‘go out on a limb’ to find the fruit that keeps me interested.
I have experienced the harsh light of day when it comes to applying learned martial arts skills under the pressures of real street encounters. I learned quickly that practise on the mat or in the gym was somewhat removed from the realities of actual fighting; and so my predilection for the functional. Being exposed to the harsh light of day can be a tough experience; but it can be an enlightening one (pun intended). All practise can be rewarding; it just comes down to personal bias. JBW