Sometimes I speak of Ninjutsu and sometimes I talk about Survivalism and Prepping, the ever dreaded when the Shit Hits The Fan or SHTF. SHTF can take so many forms and not all of them are end of the world disasters. Take the conditions from which Jews lived in the Warsaw Ghettos or the way the poor in many nations live. Sometimes when SHTF is simple stuff like being falsely accused of a crime or having a car repossessed. One thing leads to another and the show ball effect takes place and while the rest of the world goes about it's day... You find yourself neck deep in "shit."
So what are martial arts? And how should they help you come SHTF?
Martial Arts fall into a series of categories and sub-categories.
The new trend in Martial Arts is cross-training, due to the sport of MMA. So many people have to train in one art at a time & martial arts markets compete over gets the business. The blunt honest truth that no one wants to tell is that by and large martial arts are worthless... And some punk with a gun can take it all way from you.
So lets ask the hard question, why train in martial arts at all?
The surprising answer, because you need to. You need physical exercise you need to health and fitness and you need to be able to defend yourself with a gun or knife because sometime they aren't handy and we drop stuff... This is why I was being specific in the saying Martial Arts.
Traditional Arts either focus on self-defense application with "too deadly to spar" kata (non-resistant training compared to Karate solo-forms called Kata) or they embrace rules and competition called Randori (Free Exercise) such as with Judo. Arts like Karate call these striking drills Kumite (Free Fighting "Sparring") and Kendo calls in Shiai (Competition). Typically in arts like Judo, Japanese terms, culture, philosophy and etiquette are learned as their goal is to spread Japanese culture. In many Chinese traditional styles, Chinese terms and etiquette are also taught but they place a greater focus in fighting then on spreading Chinese culture.
Traditional arts have one huge defect, they exist to spread or pass on a tradition and cultural influence... Both Morihei Ueshiba the founder of Aikido and Jugaro Kano the founder of Judo built their arts around this aspect. While Ueshiba was more spiritual in his focus & Kano more practical in his, both arts have spread aspects of Japanese culture and philosophy around the world.
Competition Arts focus on how well one performs techniques and competing within a specific set of rules. This more well know in MMA but can be seen in Sport Karate & Sport Judo (off shoots of Kano's original vision). They include arts like Sansoo (Chinese Kick Boxing), Muay Thai (a Thai sport variation of the combat art Muay Boran), Brazilian Jiujutsu & even the Western Arts of Boxing or Wrestling.
Competition arts focus on fitness and techniques. They often exclude the more dangerous elements reserved for combat or self-defense and water down their techniques. Its not about the techniques they use but the ability to beat another person with them. Competition arts like Kano's original form of Judo used competition as a metaphor for life and conflicts, you overcame adversity by "rolling with the punches" and flowing around a head on challenge with meeting directly. Funakoshi's philosophy for Karate-Do was different, meet adversity head on and face challenges with perseverance. Like Judo, Shotokan Karate-Do used competition as a metaphor for life and life's hardships.
Self-Defense Arts tend to focus on doing damage. So they rarely, use "safe" or Competition friendly techniques. They often focus on things like knife hand strikes, eye gouges and groin strikes because they need to inflict pain quickly and break contact with the aggressor or threat. Some traditional art teach their philosophy and culture through the traditions of a particular branch of martial arts lineage.
What you are shopping for isn't always what you are buying... For example, I won't "Out" anyone here but... There is a certain group online who lives for the expression of the history and traditions of Japanese culture. Now sometimes, they do teach real Japanese history and sometimes they add their own lies to it. They claim to be more legitimate because the head of their tradition is in Japan.
Of course, I am a Collins from a Branch of the Family that left Ireland came here before the Civil War. I could spin you a tell of ancient Irish fighting arts used by my family during the civil war and go back even further to Cork County Ireland with myths of Celtic warriors and such. I'm from West Virginia, my father is from Virginia and my mother from West Virginia. Both places have lost of history related to the Civil War and some of the bloodiest battles & skirmishes were fought here using tactics passed down from trapper, fur traders and Indian fighters (specialized soldier who adopted Native American tactics to European &, later American, technology). My family roots span from Ireland to colonial Virginia & spread up and down the east coat... But that would all be Bull Shit and no more creditable then some old Japanese con-man and his cult of pseudo-mystical ninja telling half-real Japanese history and half-made up garbage.
These same people teach otherwise effective techniques with some made up history all to convince you to buy a proven lineage. But they don't have the lineage they claim and the otherwise effective techniques aren't taught effectively. They are basically, selling you on a made-up "Warrior Lineage" and effective techniques but don't deliver either. You can train in a fly-by-night course that teaches you "Killer Commando Combat Self-Defense Secrets". I can spend all day telling you what is wrong with the self-defense industry or I can waste less time by telling what it done right about self-defense arts...
1. Self-Defense techniques are gross motor skill movements. They don't need a lot of time to learn, think of them as fighting hacks, but they do need regular training to maintain your skills. If the course doesn't have a formula for expending your training or offer additional courses of study to expand that training it might be worth in the long run.
2. Self-defense Courses that simulate combat conditions, teach awareness, and criminal tactics to avoid threats and conflicts are great systems for practical application. As opposed to whipping out a "Color Code Awareness" worksheet without telling what to be aware for.
3. Self-Defense Course are great when they mix the "culture shock" of simulated combat conditions with a grading process. They aren't grading you for rank they are grading you on progress. run you through the threat situation before training, give you some good training and run you through a different situation of similar intensity. This also gives you an idea of the value of your training.
Now lets ask something else... What does this have to do with SHTF?
First off, like I said not all SHTF situations is a World Ending event. Sometimes the world is here but, the world you live in has fallen apart. You might find yourself homeless from a house fire, a messy divorce or a number of other possible situations that might leave you in a bad place, in a bad way... More then fighting or teaching Japanese history (real or BS), they should teach you to be mentally tough and emotionally strong...
They should teach you to deal with life, not just fighting or a mugger. Martial Arts should test you, try you and build you up. They should teach you to think and act with purpose and to aways be working to develop yourself even outside the Dojo, Gym or Kwon.