I know you’ve heard it before. Heck, if you’ve been training in a particular martial arts style you may be guilty of this yourself. Martial arts style elitism. Otherwise known as “my style can beat up your style”. Here’s a fun experiment: go to Youtube and find a video on martial arts. Go ahead. Anything. If you are feeling lazy try this one or this one or this one. Then, go to the comments below and scan them. Painful, isn’t it? I wouldn’t recommend doing this too often as studies have shown that frequent reading of Youtube comments can lead to brain damage or dementia.
As human beings, we are hard-wired to take immense pride in groups or clubs we belong to. When a child is put on one of the four academic teams you’ll see immediate pride in that team. The team is the best, the other team stinks! You see it on reality shows like Survivor when teams are broken out by men vs. women or Purple buffs vs. Yellow buffs. It’s human nature to band together and immediately create an “us vs. them” mentality.
I think the same is true with martial arts styles and schools. Once you commit to a school and a martial arts style you’ve created a baseline perspective, a lens through which you see other styles and schools. It becomes very personal. “That style has more kicks than mine”. “That style involves more grappling than mine”. “That school has more students”. “That school has bigger jerks”. This is a heated argument that has gone on since the second martial arts style was invented and students learned of each other’s existence.
I don’t think I’m going out on a limb by saying that most martial artists are male. And of these, there’s a contingent of testosterone-soaked, pimple-faced braggarts who will always take school/style pride a little too far. Is BJJ superior to Muay Thai? Is an MMA fighter the ultimate badass? Can a black belt in Judo kick a black belt in Karate? Does School X have lower attrition then School Y? It goes on and on.
In the end, there is no “best” style. There are “different” styles, all with their strengths and weaknesses. Yes, some schools and instructors are better than others — sometimes immensely — so choose wisely. Looking objectively at it, I think I lucked out with my school and my style. Is it perfect? Absolutely not. There are a couple things I would change or at least tweak a little. However, Krav Maga has most of the elements I was looking for in a workout routine and martial arts style and my school is clean, close to my house, and fits my needs. What more could I want?
I think it really all comes down to your goals, your learning style, the make up of a martial arts style and how it blends with your style, and the qualities you look for in an instructor and school. If you can find good alignment with these attributes I think you’ve done well. Shut out the naysayers, trolls, buzzkills, and malcontents who are running about banging their style’s gong. Get what you want out of the experience and quietly smile as the pointless debate rages on.