Real combat cannot be trained for in a completely realistic manner.
In times of war, special-forces units have been put through war games and combat drills using live ammunition. Predictably, this has led to many training casualties. Equally predictably, the survivors of such training were some of the toughest and most vicious combat soldiers the world has ever known.
In civilian martial arts practice, the price of such training is clearly too high. This is understandable, and furthermore, not everyone studies the arts for self-defense.
What is not understandable and in many cases not responsible is how some instructors sell their martial art by telling their students that non-contact sparring using a limited repertoire of often-nonfunctional techniques does prepare them for the street.
It follows from this that MMA is not a street fight. It’s one against one, no weapons, a large clear floor, some rules and a referee. The differences between this and what may happen in a back alley late at night are obvious.
On the other hand, as a testing area or laboratory, MMA is about the best that’s available — and that’s morally and legally acceptable.
About the author: Erik Petermann teaches martial arts in Cape Town, South Africa.
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