adjective \i-ˈfek-tiv, e-, ē-, ə-\
: producing a decided, decisive, or desired effectAn effective martial arts system should produce practitioners that possess the skills to protect themselves and their loved ones in every phase of civilian armed and unarmed self-defense.
As a practitioner for over twenty years, I’ve been asked many times what I believe is the most effective martial arts system. First you should understand what your martial arts system was intended for; i.e. sport, tradition or self-defense. While some martial arts systems are effective in a controlled environment or intended to respect the conditions of the past, I define an effective martial arts system as one that lives in today’s world against today’s threats. Some martial arts systems have changed originally being designed for self defense, but morphing into a sport. Be sure to get a firsthand look at the way the martial art system is presented and a school’s approach to the training. Here are four general guidelines that have helped me determine what makes an effective martial arts system.
- An effective martial art system should take an inexperienced individual and develop high levels of skill.
In the Counterpoint Tactical System, we have a carefully designed curriculum that systematically guides a practitioner through entry level skills to advanced skills. This curriculum is setup as blocks. Once a practitioner learns the blocks they are able to easily connect and build with them. Many martial arts have no curriculum to develop skill sets, leaving naturally gifted practitioners to demonstrate the effectiveness of their martial art. I question if this effectiveness is the result of the martial art or the person’s natural ability. In order to be considered an effective martial arts system, the system must improve the practitioner’s skills regardless of their ability or lack thereof.
- An effective martial arts system should teach a practitioner to use their skills in a spontaneous situation without rules or regulations.
Many martial arts systems are based on knowledge of memorized patterns. While this initially has value, the intent of any effective system should take a practitioner to a level where they can deal with any situation. I have studied a system where a majority of the training is spent memorizing techniques only to never use the techniques in actual sparring. To be considered an effective martial arts system, the tactics you train must translate to sparring. In the Counterpoint Tactical System if a technique cannot translate to sparring then it is discarded. On the flip side, I have practiced a martial art with much less memorization and it was effective only because of the vacuum it existed in. Realize that if you are practicing a martial art where you can’t strike an available target at any given time; you should question the system’s effectiveness.
- An effective martial art system should teach practitioners the skills to survive in all ranges of combat against single or multiple opponents that could be unarmed or armed.
This is one guideline that really sets many martial arts apart. To be an effective martial arts system it should deal with all ranges of combat. In addition, it should have modern weapon considerations like knife and gun tactics.The founder of the Counterpoint Tactical System, Master Zach Whitson, has established the approach of starting from your feet and striking, then grappling from your feet, and lastly ground fighting. He states that, “Mobility and the aptitude to stop a threat with a single decisive strike is the most important idea on the street with multiple opponents and weapon considerations.” There are many martial arts systems that focus on one range of combat or defend against only one opponent. While the system might be effective in that controlled environment, this is not the world we live in.
- An effective martial arts system should promote a lifelong practice rather than a short career.
To be considered an effective martial arts system it should be a system that can be done at various stages of your life. As we age we lose physical attributes like strength and endurance. Though we can rely on these attributes for many years, eventually you will need something else. In the higher levels of the Counterpoint Tactical System, internal martial arts becomes a focus teaching practitioners attributes like refined technique, breathing disciplines, and increased mental awareness. These attributes will complement your aging body and allow you to protect yourself and your loved ones well into your older years.
While there are other factors one could list, these are four general guidelines that I have found and have led me to my effective martial arts system. I hope that you will find yours!