Martial arts skills are far less generalizable than many people would think. I am reminded of an interview I once heard with Joe Rogan who said, “The UFC has proven that Brazilian Jujutsu is the most effective martial art in the world.” That’s a load of crap.

First, this is to take nothing away, or in any way insult BJJ, MMA, the UFC, or anyone who teaches, studies, or competes in those systems. I do not denigrate other systems or teachers as a rule. However, and person that claims that one martial art is superior to another is either ignorant or intentionally misleading people. There is no such martial art – never has been, never will be. I’d like to share a video that I think highlights this:

What you’ll see here is some of America’s most skilled combative athletes going to experience some of the U.S. Marine Corps Martial Arts Program (MCMAP). The most interesting section, to me, is where the UFC guys go to do an exercise called “The Last of the Mohicans.”

Holding a weapon and suited up in armor, they are to run a distance and face multiple opponents who are likewise armed. There are no rules, their goal is to “kill” their opponents. In the video presented, you’ll see a couple of the guys just freeze up until their Marine escort yells at them to attack. Once they begin to attack they are usually taken out by a second assailant.

One of the participants, talking to the camera, admits that he went 4 times and didn’t survive a single encounter. Does this mean that these guys suck? No, not at all.

What you have is people (both Marines and UFC guys) who train specifically to achieve certain goals, under certain conditions, in a certain environment, with certain rules. They are both the best at what they do. However, take a UFC guy and remove him from the ring, eliminate his rules, give him gear he isn’t used to carrying, and face him against multiple opponents and weapons – his skills will only translate so far. Take a Marine who is the best at what he does and throw him into the UFC, give him rules, change his environment and his opponent – again, he’ll only do so well.

Specificity is the key. Martial skills only generalize so far. Want to defend against a knife? Better train that. Want to defend against multiple opponents? You better train that. Do you want to be a good sport fighter? Train that sport.

Arguments over which style is the best have been going on for decades. It’s a waste of time. You should understand why you are training, and make sure you focus on that.

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