The more things change, the more they stay the same. This is never truer than in martial arts. Historically accurate, traditional martial arts have spent generations perfecting the techniques of hand to hand combat and weaponry. Defensive tactics is modern curriculum taught to law enforcement and security professionals as a means to defend one’s self and to subdue attackers. A comparison of modern and traditional techniques proves that it is nearly impossible to improve on centuries of warfare experience. The ancient techniques are still applicable in modern self-defense and defensive tactics situations.
Muso Jikiden Eishin-Ryu, the Japanese swordsmanship taught at ArtFit, goes back roughly 425 years. It was used by the samurai of Tosa in ancient Japan. This ancient discipline has paved the way for law enforcement defensive tactics training. Martial Arts instructors and law enforcement officer Walt Bushey says, “the law enforcement defensive tactics that I teach is contemporary and designed for my job as a Deputy Sheriff. Yet, I find myself using similar, if not identical techniques in both disciplines. The shooting posture that I use and teach in law enforcement is identical to the basic sword posture taught in swordsmanship. The same techniques taught to prevent an attacker from grabbing your sword hilt, four centuries ago, works perfectly today in preventing an attacker from grabbing an officer’s duty weapon.” There are many examples of sword techniques that are still completely functional as modern self-defense techniques. The act of raising a sword over one’s head with both hands, in preparation for a downward strike, would seem to be a single purpose movement from a bygone era. However, holding ones hands together and utilizing the same movement works as a simple, yet highly effective, means of blocking a punch or strike aimed at your head. Grabbing a sword with a two hand grip and cutting upward, then turning 180 degrees and cutting downward seems only applicable in sword fighting, but grabbing an attacker’s forearm exactly like a sword while executing the same movement results in a forceful and controlled throw of an attacker. Although swordsmanship is no longer the basis of warfare, its techniques are proven effective, even in modern situations.
Karate, like swordsmanship, is still as useful today as it was at its inception. The difference in traditional Japanese karate and modern defensive tactics is simply history and culture, not the physical technique. Both traditional karate and modern defensive tactics teach self-defense. Karate teaches the use of force in greater detail and imbues the foundations of discipline, courtesy, and respect while broadening the mind of the student to another culture. This is what makes a Karate class the best environment for children. Defensive Tactics teaches the same techniques as a professional adult curriculum. The fundamentals are the same, but the emphases of the training changes. Defensive tactics concentrates on the use of force. Discipline and respect are assumed to be already ingrained in professional adults. Karate’s emphases on the art form and culture are the only things that make it different from modern defensive tactics that are taught to professionals. Both the modern and traditional discipline proved an effective self-defense curriculum with different focusses to fulfill different needs.
Modern and Ancient Martial Arts
Modern society has brought a different need for the techniques that began centuries ago, but the fundamentals have endured. Walt Bushey has studied and taught both modern and ancient martial arts. He said, “As a student of both hoplology (warfare) and personal martial arts, I research both historically and physically how techniques work. It never ceases to please me that things passed down to me from centuries ago are fully applicable in modern times.” Some things don’t need reinventing.