Having trained in Kenpo for all these years, I frequently have people ask for my thoughts on full contact karate – also known as MMA. People wonder if I have ever trained for it, and if I would ever train someone else. Please keep in mind that these are not hard facts I am presenting, they are just my thoughts on a particular subject.
I do not agree with full contact karate. In my opinion, it violates everything for which the martial arts code stands. When one trains in the martial arts they hope to gain confidence, self-esteem, integrity, honor, humility, self-control, and compassion. The martial arts code encompasses all these attributes. I do not believe martial arts are meant to be put on display, as that would destroy humility and compassion. Martial arts as a public display invites more violence into someone’s life when the practice of the martial arts is meant to reduce the violence in one’s life. I do not see compassion for others in full contact martial arts.
Compassion doesn’t mean that you take an easy out all the time. You can defend yourself legitimately without nearly killing your opponent.
The martial arts code could be broken down like this.
1. It is better to avoid or walk away from a fight than it is to fight. Anyone can hurt someone; that is the easy part. The hardest thing to do is either walk away, or try to help the person who wants to hurt you. Use of force should ONLY be used as a last resort.
2. It is better to check than to hurt. This means if you can, just push them away or keep trying to block whatever they throw at you.
3. It is better to hurt than to maim. This means if you have to strike back it is better to cause pain than to REALLY hurt someone by breaking one of their bones or knocking them out.
4. It is better to maim than to kill. This means that if I were to defend myself and a person kept coming after me, I would be forced to break a bone or knock them out.
5. It is better to kill than to be killed, for all life is precious and none can be replaced. Of course you have to be able to preserve your own life. Protect yourself and those you care about from death. A life should only be taken when your life or someone else’s life is in dire jeopardy.
I have known many people who have trained in full contact karate. The majority of them do not possess self-restraint, self-control, humility, or compassion for others. It is literally trained right out of them. If you possess these attributes, you may not be a very effective fighter in the ring. Very few people can separate the type of person they are in public and who they are in the ring.
If one of my students wanted to become a full contact fighter not only would I refuse to train them for that, I would try to discourage them for doing it. I would also not stop teaching them Kenpo. There would always be the hope that after a time they would see that it is not worth the risk to their own lives to continue full contact training. People do die from fights like these. The goal in martial arts is to preserve life, not take it way.