There’s an increasing interest in practical application in martial arts today because people want to see a purpose and value in what they are learning. This shift in focus is the result of a large influence by Jiu Jitsu, MMA and Reality Based Training.
The question is how do we know what we are learning or teaching is relevant to us? It makes no sense to practice disarming a person in possession of a sword or an AK47 because of the extreme unlikelihood of anything like that is ever going to happen in our world. However, to an Afghan soldier this sort of training would be very vital. So the humble martial arts instructor has to be aware what's relevant and useful and that can difficult if they do not have the experience or access to resources.
My focus has been practical application since the mid ‘80s when I first started training the Filipino Martial Arts; that was a big shift from the traditional Karate which I was already doing for well over a decade. It was relevant to my working environment such as working the doors in Sydney night clubs and solo law enforcement and there were times of having to take immediate action (off duty) on rat bags who broke the law right then and there – rapists, car thieves, drunks, thieves, dangerous drivers, serious assaults. Talk about being at the wrong place at the wrong time (Bruce Willis, eat your heart out – no script, no special effects). What do you tell your wife at 5am when you were supposed to be in bed 5 hours earlier. With only a pair of shorts, runners and some worked up courage, five people arrested. The media thrived on the story for months.
Nothing wrong with being a martial artist and not having such life experiences but please don’t flex your muscles and tattoos, flash your belt and market yourself to convince the world you are invincible. I bet, in one real situation, a lot of these 'wanna be's’ would turn to water and jump on Facebook to call for help.
I've always told tournament promoters I am the wrong person to judge self defence events. How do you score someone who defends against 3 attackers with baseball bat, sword and bikie chain and then finishing it all off with a handstand at a World MMA event?
Techniques taught at schools should be relevant and effective. This will only happen if the Instructor has an inquisitive mind by making use of the plentiful resources out there; flashy belts and Dans are not going to help anyone.