Why are there so many martial arts?

Why are there so many martial arts?

“Not All Martial Arts are Created Equal”

Martial arts can be listed into four categories: Combat Sport, Cultural Fighting Art,  Reality Based Self Defense and Commercial Martial Arts. 

The Martial Arts Brand
When you think of arts like Brazilian Jiujutsu, Krav Maga, Judo, Tae Kwon Do, Shotokan, Kung Fu, Wrestling and Boxing you think of different techniques and cultures that surround those styles.

That’s not an accident.

Martial arts were developed to promote either sport competition, national pride or both. If Tae Kwon Do looked like Shotokan Karate or BJJ looked like Judo, no one would ever pay attention to the newcomer. 

Most of us were taught to believe these newer arts were “better” or “improved” but the truth is that they were created to either make money, promote a nation’s culture or both. 

Cultural Fighting Art
Any system rooted in one nation’s culture and draws on it’s mythology is a cultural fighting art. They use forms (kata), traditional weapons and specific self defense counters to specific types of attacks and in some cases sparring. Aikido, Kung Fu, Kendo,  and Shotokan Karate are examples.  

Combat Sport
These are competition based arts that allow you to compete against a live opponent in a controlled setting with a specific set of rules designed for safety. Sports like Judo, BJJ, Wrestling, Boxing, Sambo, Kick Boxing and MMA fall into this category. While there is a country of origin associated with these some of these sports, the focus is usually placed on the fighter rather than the style. 

Reality Based Self Defense
Systems specifically focused on self defense are Reality Based Self Defense or RBSD. The purpose is to gain the tactical advantage over your adversary by whatever means at your disposal. RSBD does not adhere to a country or set of rules. It is hyper focused on self defense. Target Focus Training and The Self Defense Training System (SDTS) are two such systems. 

Commercial Martial Arts
These are the schools that have “a little of everything”. They offer traditional style martial arts with an eclectic collection of weapons, grappling and self defense. They segment their programs to try to offer everything possible to their students. Most modern martial arts schools take this approach. One day your doing Katas (forms) the next day you’re grappling and then another day sparring and self defense.



While all of these systems are wildly different, they all claim to teach you self defense which begs the question…

Which is best for Self Defense?


You decide…

Below are four representative self defense videos to the same attack.

While you’re watching ask yourself these questions:

  1. Do I have to be skilled to do these techniques? 
    What good is the self defense if you don’t have the time or athleticism to master it. 
  2. Are they too complicated to remember under extreme stress?
    Under FEAR INDUCED STRESS you will lose control of your fine motor skills. 
  3. Can I do it against someone much larger and stronger than me?
    You will be attacked by someone larger and stronger than you. 
  4. What if the attacker is armed?
    Most times you won’t see the weapon until it’s too late.  

Traditional Martial Art – Aikido defense vs. Two Handed Grab 

Combat Sport – BJJ vs. Two Handed Grab

Commercial Martial Art – Tai Chi/Wing Chun (this guy is crazy) vs. Two Handed Grab

Reality Based Self Defense –  SDTS vs. Two Handed Grab

Any questions?

Train Honestly,
Damian Ross
CEO/Founder The Self Defense Company





Published by theselfdefenseco

Founder, The Self Defense Company