I never liked the “my style is better than your style” attitude that rolls around the world of Martial Arts.
I do believe there is some truth to it at some levels, yes. I personally believe that some styles are less effective than others, but for the sake of this post, I’m not going to get into which ones and why–plus, I might be wrong. No reason to open up that debate at this time.
What I really wanted to blog about is specifically “Kung fu vs MMA” or really “Kung fu vs anything”.
I love kung fu.
I have been raised with kung fu and I have been personally training and teaching kung fu for thirteen years.
I also love other styles of martial arts and I do enjoy watching MMA fights. Now I don’t know the names of the top fighters or have any favorites or anything like that, I just like to watch them when they’re on and I like going to live fights, that doesn’t mean it’s my passion. In the martial arts world, I definitely would say my passion is kung fu.
That being said, lets take a moment to explore the term “kung fu”.
Kung fu translated means “learned skill”. So in essence, kung fu can be anything. I have amazing cupcake kung fu. Holy crap I should name my business that. “Kung Fu Cupcakes!”… Don’t steal it, it’s mine now. Anyway, What most westerners mean when they say “kung fu” is actually “wushu” which means “war art”. In today’s martial arts world, “wushu” refers to the performance sport. Like below:
(This is an old video but one of my faves)
That’s pretty amazing, right?
But “wushu” didn’t start as a performance sport. It started out as fighting and later developed into a performance sport due to many different reasons, most of which having to do with government crack downs on martial arts practitioners in China and introducing kung fu into dancing, theater, and the rest of the entertainment world–watering it down and taking out the application aspects. There’s also some that would argue the elitist attitudes of some schools/teachers in their refusal to teach their styles to outsiders and their refusal to allow their students to cross train due to their own pride, is hurting the styles themselves. I’ve seen that happen so I can believe it.
But really “Chinese martial arts” includes so much, you can practice many many different styles and they would all be considered “kung fu” so when I started hearing people dissing kung fu vs mma, I was very confused. Especially because everything I saw the MMA fighters doing… I had seen kung fu practitioners do in various forms.
Believe it or not, kung fu has grappling, submissions, boxing, kickboxing, etc etc etc. All of these things can be found in various styles of Chinese Martial Arts. The hard part is finding a good school/teacher that will train you how to actually USE your kung fu. You can’t do it alone and you have to be flexible (mentally.. and sometimes physically).
A good teacher is a good student. A good teacher will teach you how to be a good student. And a good student learns from every situation they’re in. I see kung fu in everything I do, inside and outside of the ring. What people need to focus on is not whether or not MMA style fighting is better than kung fu, they need to focus on the athlete.
If you train only kicks and you refuse to learn how to punch or block, guess what? You’re going to get knocked out. If you train only punches and never learn how to kick or protect yourself from kicks, you’re going to get kicked in the face. If you train only throws and submissions, you just might get knocked out before you get the person on the ground. And I’m sorry to break it to you, but “kung fu” or Chinese Martial Arts has a method for all of these things.. so in a way Chinese Martial Arts are a form of MMA. Maybe not in the technical sport fighting sense, but in the literal sense.
I’m rambling now, but the point is… it’s not the style, it’s the athlete. The best athletes I’ve known are the ones who learn to adapt to other styles even if they’re maintaining their own styles. So be open to learning everything you can and stop trash talking my kung fu. 😉