Martial arts have always had an air of mystery, and this explains why there are so many myths and misunderstandings surrounding the subject. Many people instantly think of Bruce Lee when they consider taking up some form of self-defense, and the conspiracy theories around his death add to the sense of secrecy. In reality, people of all ages and from all walks of life enjoy martial arts training, and classes are open to all.
If you’re thinking of learning a martial art, the following myths will help to understand what’s really involved.
1. Having a black belt makes you a deadly fighter.
Gaining a black belt in any martial art is a great achievement, but it doesn’t mean you are a lethal weapon. Black belts in many arts will openly admit that their skills are of little value in a street fight. Earning the right to wear a black belt is evidence of strength of character, self-discipline, dedication and respect. It doesn’t make you invincible.
2. You need physical strength to train in fighting arts.
Martial arts like Aikido use an attacker’s force and weight against them, so little strength is required. Many striking arts work on the basis of speed rather than force. Images of expert fighters with a six-pack and rippling muscles come from the movies, and they aren’t typical of the people you’ll meet in most dojos and training centers in the real world.
3. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fitness is the only effective martial art.
It’s true that experts in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu have dominated competitions in recent years, but it’s not the only effective fighting system. For example, some styles of Karate can be traced back hundreds of years, and have been used on the battlefield. Grappling and ground-fighting isn’t for everyone, and there are many effective martial arts to choose between. Consider what your goals are before you decide on a martial art. For example, do you want to win medals in competitions or learn how to protect yourself on the street?
4. Martial arts training is a waste of time unless it involves full contact sparring.
Learning to manage confrontations, block an attack and deal with an adrenalin rush when threatened are just as important as being able to punch and block. An experienced martial art instructor will teach you a range of life skills for dealing with and managing conflict. Resorting to violence when threatened can escalate the situation to the point where a fight is inevitable. Using your fists should always be a last resort.